Instead of an IQ Test, American Footballers take the Wonderlic Exam, Here’s Why:

IQ tests are a group of standard tests that were made to describe a person’s intelligence just by stating a particular score. In 1912, William Stern coined what we now call IQ tests. While it can be improved upon, first off, it tells us the situation of the person’s intelligence in the now. There are several forms of it, given several names, but essentially, they test a person’s intelligence.  

The more popular one is the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale that tests various components that are used to determine a person’s intelligence. These components include matrix reasoning, memory, processing speed, vocabulary, etc. In spite of the fact that the Wechsler Adult Intelligent scale and several other IQ tests are popular, (though not in the UK, despite having similar sports like Welsh Rugby), you may be surprised to know that in the USA, footballers take the Wonderlic Exam (also known as “the Wonderlic test”, as opposed to any other regular IQ test.

The “Wonderlic Exam” whose full name is “The Wonderlic Contemporary Cognitive Ability Test” is a tool that serves as a measure for the cognition of employees within an organization. This test was created in the year 1936 by Wonderlic E.F (he named the test after himself), and has since been modified by various people, especially in the 1990s. Hence, the Wonderlic Exam tool we have today is one which has been modified over time.

It has a total score of 50, as there are 50 questions to be answered, all within the space of one minute. Thus, it measures the speed and accuracy of the candidates taking the test. Since it has various segments, it is able to measure vocabulary, mathematical, as well as the reasoning skills of those who take the test. A score of up to 20 is satisfactory, and a candidate that scores this is deemed to be averagely intelligent. Those who score 10 are deemed illiterates. 50 is a perfect score, of course. It is also noteworthy that only 5% of people complete this test.

Thanks to the modifications made over time, there are four segments of the Wonderlic test. These segments are: the skill segment, the personality segment, the cognitive ability segment, and the behavioral liability segment. Many people try out the sample test questions on while preparing for this test.

Why Do Many Footballers take the Wonderlic Exam Instead of the IQ Test?

Footballers take the wonderlic exam simply because this is what the National Football League (NFL) has adopted and used over time. The NFL uses this test as one of the tools to determine who gets drafted into the organization, especially as the new season approaches. The use of this tool by the NFL started as far back as the 1970s, and it is still a very relevant tool today, although it’s not used in Welsh sport.

Since this is the official tool used to test for cognitive ability by the NFL, many players take the wonderlic exam, as opposed to taking the traditional IQ tests. Since we now know that footballers take the wonderlic exam because of the NFL, it is time to examine why the NFL makes use of this tool in particular.

Why Does the NFL use the Wonderlic Exam?

The major reason why this test was picked over others by the NFL is the fact that this test showcases how a person performs under pressure. This is a major way in which it stands out from other tests, as great performance under pressure is very important to determine the success of a player. 

The score a candidate gets can also serve as a pointer as to the kind of behaviours a potential player display. For instance, getting scores that are too high or too low may indicate that a player may not exactly fit into a team setting. 


Whether there are better tests to serve its purpose or there aren’t, the NFL seems to be pleased with what the wonderlic exam achieves. It doesn’t look like any other test would be used for this purpose soon. Hence, it is wise for potential players to prepare for this test.