The NFL Scouting Combine incorporates a wide variety of tools to evaluate the physical and mental acuity of potential NFL players, including on-field skills, speed, strength, quickness, reliability, personality, and cognitive ability. The NFL Combine has used Wonderlic test scores to assess cognitive ability as part of its athlete evaluations since the 1970.
The NFL Scouting Combine uses the Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT-R), which measures a person’s ability to think, learn, solve problems and follow instructions – all critical traits a football player needs to have, particularly one coming into the NFL, where gameplay is much faster and decisions must be made in the blink of an eye. The Wonderlic test does not measure whether or not a potential player can read, spell, or do math; it doesn’t look at their motivation and their personality on or off field. There are other test for measuring these traits.
Can a player understand the playbook, know where they need to be on the field, make intelligent decisions, learn quickly…? These are all things that are VITAL when teams are making draft decisions – especially when two or more players have very similar physical skills. Given that teams are making million dollar decisions with each draft pick, they should consider all the available indicators of a player’s abilities – mental and physical – and the Wonderlic test results are just a piece of that.
Wonderlic regards the confidentiality of test results as a top priority. We do not release test scores to anyone except appropriate NFL Combine representatives. Therefore, any Wonderlic test scores reported by the media are not official and potentially inaccurate.
Because Wonderlic has updated the test repeatedly over the decades, and different forms are in use, it’s very difficult for anyone to get their hands on actual test questions. And if they did – the odds are very low that those are the same test questions that will be on the actual exam the player takes. This test has been around long enough that Wonderlic has a very large library of validated, reliable test questions. We have very stringent security measures in place to protect the integrity of the test (as well as the scores from all test takers). In fact, if the actual test questions were available ahead of time, then a substantial proportion of test takers would have very high scores, which is not the case.
You can’t fake a cognitive ability test. Either you know the answers or you don’t. Research shows that when a player takes the test several times using different forms, they are likely to get the same score.
The original form of the test was developed in 1937, with new forms being created and released frequently. In the past few years, the test underwent a major update with new item types that incorporate new findings in the science of testing.
One of the advantages to using a test that has been around this long is the sheer volume of data that supports the use of the Wonderlic. There are thousands of independent studies that show the test is valid predictor of performance in a wide variety of situations. In addition, tens of thousands of organizations worldwide have enough confidence in the relevance and usefulness of Wonderlic test scores to include them as part of their evaluation of millions of job candidates annually.
“The Wonderlic test is one of several evaluations that we use to get a complete picture of the athletes. All of the methods the NFL Scouting Combine uses are valuable tools, each providing a unique set of information about each player. The more insight teams have before the draft, the better decisions they can make. Wonderlic has been a valued partner of the Combine and the NFL for decades and we fully intend to continue that partnership into the foreseeable future.”
– Jeffrey Foster, NFL Scouting Combine
You can read more about Wonderlic Test Scores and the NFL Combine on our blog.
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