The Wonderlic Test

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The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project running through mid-July detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.

The SAT is to college as the Wonderlic is to … ?

Answer: The NFL, for those brushing up on their analogy skills.

The 50-question, 12-minute test administered annually at the scouting combine is an entrance exam of sorts for the NFL—even if the scores aren’t publicly released and its impact on the draft is both uncertain and varied. The test was developed in the 1930s by a Northwestern graduate student, E.F. Wonderlic, as a short-term cognitive test for companies to screen potential employees. Legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry is credited with introducing it to the NFL in the 1970s, to assess the mental aptitude of prospects. Test-takers answer questions related to math, vocabulary and reasoning, and receive a score between 0 and 50. The link between a player’s score and his career outlook is hotly debated, as are the ethics of teams or individuals leaking players’ results to the media. NFL teams have explored other means of testing a player’s off-field cognitive capabilities, but the Wonderlic is fast and simple—and, like the 40-yard dash, now a customary part of the pre-draft mystique that builds every spring.

— Jenny Vrentas

NFL 95: Read the Series