Updated 23 June 2021
If you thought leaving school or college would mean the end to having to take unexpected quizzes or exams, sadly you are mistaken.
With many employers investing a lot of capital in the hiring process, some businesses ask their candidates to take an exam to gain a better understanding of their skills and cognitive abilities.
This allows hiring managers to quickly exclude talent that might not show the skill set they are looking for. One such psychometric test is called the Wonderlic test.
What Is the Wonderlic Test and Who Developed It?
The Wonderlic test is a useful resource for businesses to identify talent. It saves companies time and money, providing them with the right candidates for the job. Wonderlic is a powerful assessment platform.
Wonderlic specializes in motivation assessments, personality tests and cognitive exams – each one helps employers gauge a candidate’s overall personality, ability to problem-solve and motivation towards the job.
Some hiring managers rely on this test to ensure the potential candidate will fit in with the company’s culture. As mentioned above, this can save them a lot of time.
These assessments are likely to take place right at the beginning of the interview process; some companies might ask you to take the test before the initial phone conversation or first meeting.
This is also useful to the candidate as they find out sooner rather than later that they do not fit with what the company needs and so can move on quicker to the next application.
If you have not finished college or do not feel ready for tests on your knowledge, there is no need to feel nervous. The Wonderlic test does not assess how smart you are academically – it tests your aptitude and gives employers an idea of how you tick as a person as well as a worker.
Also, your score can be improved by practice.
The Wonderlic Personnel Test
This assessment is the most popular of Wonderlic’s pre-employment tests. It is the one most employers use during the interview stage. It is usually administered online but can also be a physical test.
The original Wonderlic test consists of 50 questions with 12 minutes to complete as many questions as possible.
By making the test against the clock, it shows potential employers how efficiently you solve problems in a short period of time.
Do not worry if this seems a bit daunting – most people who take the test do not complete the full 50 questions. Just answer as many questions as you can.
You are not penalized for wrong answers, so it is better to try to answer than skip a question. You might get it right.
There is also a short version called the Wonderlic Quick-Test or WPQT – the quick version consists of 30 questions with only 8 minutes to complete as many as you can.
Some of the Wonderlic test questions you might receive will be detailed later in this article, but can consist of number sequences, word association and problem-solving equations.
It is more like a game than an examination and it will determine your quick-fire responses to situations and problems.
What to Expect With the Wonderlic Personnel Test
Once you have been given notice that you are to undertake the Wonderlic, you should have enough time to prepare for the exam. So, ensure you use this time productively.
Here are the areas of questions you might expect to see:
- Verbal reasoning – These help the employer understand your language skills and how you read certain sentences. This is most useful for positions mostly dealing with words; for example, journalist graduates or advertising executives.
- Patterns – Analyzing and completing patterns helps a recruiter understand your analytical skills and how you use logic.
- Fact recognition – This will help the hiring manager determine your speed at giving correct, fairly simple responses to certain statements. It can demonstrate decision-making skills and your overall cognitive abilities.
- Word problems – These are number equations written as sentences. This shows math skills incorporating both numbers and words.
The format and order of the questions differ each time so it is important to keep practicing.
Each practice test you take will be different from that of the other, it is good to shake things up a bit so you can deal with every eventuality.
The type of questions can also depend on the company and position you are applying for. The company will often request a tailor-made test to ensure they are receiving all the feedback necessary for that role.
For example, if you are applying for a managerial position, the score required to pass might be higher than that of a junior executive.
Please note: No calculators are allowed; the Wonderlic test needs you to use basic mental arithmetic.
You can use a pen and paper to show your workings out. This might help with some of the math and wording problems.
You can also skip a question and come back to it later if you have the time. However, it is good to answer all the questions you can as quickly as you can, so if you feel a question will take you a very long time to work out, just make a guess and move on.
What Does the Wonderlic Test Measure and How Is It Scored?
The Wonderlic test measures a candidate’s IQ and cognitive ability.
You might have taken a similar test while at school, so you might be familiar with the format of them and the reasoning for taking the test.
As mentioned above, the Wonderlic test is a speedier way for hiring managers to eliminate the candidates that will not work in the position they are hiring for.
The company will get a tailor-made test from Wonderlic Inc for each role. So, if they are hiring a project manager, they might want more problem-solving and word association questions, whereas, if they want a software engineer, they might want more logic questions, pattern solving and equations.
Regarding the final score, the hiring manager will receive your score and a benchmark.
The benchmark is a score that the recruiter has set that they would like to pursue candidates at. If you reach or exceed the benchmark, your score will be labeled 'Pursue'.
For instance, if the employer has set the benchmark at 30 and you have scored 32, you will be labeled ‘pursue’ because you achieved higher than the benchmark, and the employer can take you through to the next stage.
For jobs such as retail or factory workers, the benchmark of the exam is likely lower than that of a higher-ranking position. They can be as low as 14 to 16.
However, for jobs in finance, the employer might have a higher benchmark of 31 or more. Positions higher up the company structure have higher benchmark scores. If you score lower than the benchmark, the score’s ‘Cautionary’ or, if it is very low, ‘Not Recommended. This means your chances of reaching the next stage are low.
The average score for the standard 50-question Wonderlic test is 21 and this is the benchmark most mid-level jobs will set.
This is lower for the Wonderlic Quick Test version as it has less time and fewer questions – although each correct answer in the WQT awards 1.66 points.
For the original test, one point is awarded per question. So, if you answer 30 of the 50 questions correctly, your score will be 30. Whereas to get a score of 30 on the WQT, you need to get 18 of the 30 questions correct.
In short, the test is designed to measure the general mental abilities of a potential worker. Each question has a purpose in enabling the employer to recognize the candidate’s quick-thinking and cognitive strengths. There is plenty of studying and prepping to do before this test to help you reach a good benchmark and prepare you for the next stages.
Please remember that, even if you have scored lower than the benchmark, you are not unintelligent. There could be several factors affecting your score such as:
- Lack of sleep – Your brain might be tired, and you might not be able to function as quickly as you normally would.
- Too much practice – Ironically, there can be a thing as too much preparation. You can overload your mind, and this can hinder you at the end of the day.
- Not enough time – When doing test runs, time yourself to see how quickly you can answer the questions. If you did not get this down pat during practice, in the test itself you may have run out of time rather than being unable to correctly answer the questions.
- Nerves – Nerves can get in the way of many things, like taking a test, especially when you really want the job. Try relaxation techniques so you can take the test with a clear head and answer as many questions as you can.
How to Prepare for the Wonderlic Test
Here are some ideas to help you prepare so you can complete the test to the best of your ability.
- Take practice tests – This has been mentioned many times within this article, but it is the best way to prep for the Wonderlic test. Not only will you get to see first-hand how the test is formatted, but you will get an idea of the questions and the time limit. There are many sample tests you can do beforehand.
- Work on your weaknesses – Sample tests can help you determine areas you might be lacking in. You might be great at the language questions but weaker on logic and patterns. This will then allow you to determine the skills you need to brush up on before the test.
- Time yourself – Set a timer to acclimatize you to working against the clock. Maybe set the clock at 30 seconds per question and lower it as you go along. To do 50 questions in 12 minutes, each question can only take 14.4 seconds!
- Read the instructions – Each test will come with a set of instructions on how to proceed. Make sure to read this section thoroughly before you hit start on the test.
- Take note of your progress – It is important to measure your progress, to see yourself improve and so you know what to work on. You should also brush up on your percentages, ratios, fractions and decimals if math equations are not your strong point.
- Get a mentor – Some people genuinely enlist the help of a tutor to be successful on the Wonderlic test. Sometimes two heads are better than one. If this test is something you might need help with to get the job, then it might be worth looking into.
- Get plenty of sleep – As mentioned above, lack of sleep can be the reason you score low. The night before the test you might feel nervous, so start your bedtime routine earlier than usual to give yourself plenty of time to wind down and get good shut-eye. Try having a podcast playing on low volume as you drift off to give your mind something else to focus on. Sleep will help you feel revitalized and refreshed on the day – you will be raring to go.
To get you started, here are few sample questions you might receive, divided by section.
Logic and Pattern Recognition
These questions measure your spatial recognition and your ability to analyze patterns and sequences.
Question:Which letter would touch ‘X’ once this shape has been folded into a rectangular based pyramid?
As you can see, you have to use your ability to visualize three-dimensional models and consider logically how the piece would fold up. The more you practice these questions the easier and quicker it will become.
Verbal and Reasoning
These questions will measure your ability to identify synonyms and comparable words.
Question:_Wild is the opposite of:
This might look quite simple especially if you are good with words. However, some questions in this category might be harder than you think, especially under time pressure. When taking preparation tests, write down possible questions and keep testing yourself.
Quick Fact Recognition
These questions are more about the speed of answering the questions. They seem simple but investigate the speed of your comprehension.
Question:Which item would you not drink?
c) Bicarbonate soda
d) Coconut water
This is an easy question. But when you are on the clock you might think twice about your answer. You can time yourself to read the question and make a good decision with enough time spare if you practice.
These types of questions involve both numbers and words to answer the question.
Question:Jimmy makes $2,000 a month and saves 20% of his monthly earnings. One year on, how much has Jimmy managed to save?
This is the type of question where a calculator might come in handy, but, unfortunately, calculators are not allowed in the Wonderlic test. You will have to rely on your brainpower and trusty pen and paper. Brush up on your mental arithmetic to ace this section.
Overall, taking a Wonderlic test is a good way to increase your knowledge in general and it gives you the chance to use a part of your brain you might not have used before.
If you are not sure whether a future employer will need you to take a Wonderlic test or not, it might be worth spending some time doing practice tests just in case. Such brain training will be good for you regardless.
Not all companies will ask you to do a test. However, more and more employers are using Wonderlic or other psychometric or aptitude tests in the hiring process nowadays, so it is good for it to be on your radar.
If you are asked to take the test, try not to worry too much. Just remember to practice, practice, practice so you are good to go when you are scheduled to take the test.
There are many tools and resources you can use to help you prepare.