History of Wonderlic

Our expertise has a long and storied past involving football players, aircraft carriers and the most famous cognitive ability test in the world.

1930 – 1940

  • E.F. Wonderlic begins distributing the world’s first short-form cognitive ability test, the Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT), from his home.
  • E.F. Wonderlic becomes the first Director of Personnel for Household Finance Corporation.
  • Applied Psychology publishes E.F. Wonderlic’s studies on the scientific analysis of job applicant abilities as a continuing business practice.
  • During World War II, the U.S. Navy uses the WPT to select candidates for pilot training and navigation.
  • Douglas Aircraft Corporation works with Wonderlic to solve employee placement and training problems.
  • The National Industrial Conference Board (now known as The Conference Board) publishes E.F. Wonderlic’s second study on the scientific analysis of job applicant abilities as a continuing business practice.

1950 – 1960

  • E.F. Wonderlic publishes the first normative study of job applicant test scores.
  • E.F. Wonderlic and Associates, Inc. is established.
  • The second normative study of job applicant test scores is published, setting the standard for the decennial publication of WPT data that continues to this day.
  • Son of E.F. Wonderlic, Charles F Wonderlic Sr., becomes the second generation of Wonderlics to lead the growing organization. He adds the Hay Battery of clerical and psychomotor tests.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted and prohibits employment discrimination on basis  of race, color, nation origin, religion or sex. This act created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is the federal agency that interprets and enforces federal protections against employment discrimination.

1970 – 1980

  • Wonderlic publishes the third decennial study of job applicant test scores, this time by job title, race and national origin. Today, these studies remain the most comprehensive of their kind and provide a rich resource for examining the questions of test fairness, bias and validity. Combined with government and academic analyses, Wonderlic’s studies have conclusively demonstrated that the WPT measures employee job performance potential without regard to race or nationality.
  • Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys begins using the WPT to forecast player performance. The test is still used today by the NFL in their annual Combine, as a pre-draft assessment of player mental skills.
  • Wonderlic addresses the needs of postsecondary trade and technical schools by revising the WPT for education. This new test, called the Wonderlic Scholastic Level Exam, is one of the most popular student assessments on the market today.
  • Charles F. Wonderlic, Jr. takes over company leadership. Under his guidance, the company experiences rapid growth and expansion of the products and services offered.
  • Carl B. Dodrill publishes a study of the WPT in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. This study found that the WPT was an accurate measure of full-scale adult intelligence. In April of 1983 and February of 1998, Dodrill publishes follow-up articles examining the long-term reliability of the WPT as a brief measure of intelligence.
  • The fourth decennial study released by Wonderlic establishes the relationship between median job applicant scores and minimum scores required for acceptable job performance.
  • The results of validity studies on the Wonderlic Scholastic Level Exam are published in the Wonderlic article “Admissions Testing in Vocational and Technical Training Schools.”
  • The American Council on Education approves the Wonderlic Scholastic Level Exam as a valid predictor of vocational training success.
  • The U.S. Department of Education approves the Wonderlic Scholastic Level Exam for Title IV Ability-to-Benefit (ATB) testing.

1990 – 2000

  • The fifth decennial study from Wonderlic is released, expanding upon the relationship between median job applicant scores and minimum scores required for acceptable job performance.
  • The Association of Test Publishers is established, with Wonderlic as a founding member.
  • Wonderlic releases a new test, the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test. This new assessment ties test results directly to job requirements for DOT and O*Net, and uses modern Item Response Theory for scoring.
  • The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test – Ability-to-Benefit is approved by the U.S. Department of Education for ATB testing. The Ed adopts many of Wonderlic’s ATB program procedures in their new regulations.
  • Wonderlic continues to add new tests, including the Comprehensive Personality Profile (CPP) and Personal Characteristics Inventory (PCI)
  • Wonderlic unveils PhonApp and WebApp.
  • Wonderlic publishes their decennial WPT study that looks at trends in comparison with previous studies.
  • Wonderlic Online is launched, allowing customers to securely administer and score tests via the Internet, track candidates and make quicker hiring and admissions decisions.
  • Wonderlic releases a revised version of the original WPT called the WPT-R , which updates the questions and scoring algorithms.
  • Wonderlic Data Exchange becomes available to clients, allowing for seamless data sharing between Wonderlic Online and external databases.
  • Chris Young, Wonderlic’s Director of Research and Development Operations, is appointed to the U.S. Department of Education’s Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. He aids the committee in establishing new regulations for ATB testing.

2010 and Beyond

  • Following approval by the U.S. Department of Education, the Wonderlic General Assessment of Instructional Needs is launched, ushering in a new era of testing for the Adult Basic Education and Workforce Development markets.
  • Wonderlic undergoes a complete rebranding, with the unveiling of a new logo and website.
  • Wonscore from Wonderlic is introduced as the first cloud-based, self-service pre-employment testing platform, giving small and growing businesses access to a powerfully simple “single score” result for any job candidate.
  • Wonderlic develops process for engaging employers to identify and rate the hard and soft skill competencies they value most when making hiring and development decisions.
  • This process is used to develop competency-based hard and soft skill assessments and digital badges.
  • Noting the growing soft skills gap and lack of effective training materials Wonderlic develops online Soft Skills Training Bootcamp.