Testing Pro Football Players

Teacher & Employment Testing

A Los Angeles Times investigative reporting team has discovered that the National Football League (NFL) requires all prospective draftees to take a widely criticized test of "general intelligence." The Wonderlic Personnel Test is given to hundreds of the country's best collegiate athletes by the NFL's scouting combine.


According to the newspaper, prospects are downgraded in the draft if they score too low -- or too high -- on the test. Apparently the NFL wants young men who can follow directions, but who are not so "smart" they challenge them.


The Wonderlic is a 50-question pencil-and-paper exam which is administered in just 12 minutes (see sample questions from the Wonderlic catalog). Promoters say Wonderlic scores accurately assess "Ability to learn the job," "Ability to understand instructions" and "Ability to adapt and solve problems." It claims to predict both training potential and employment performance in hundreds of occupations.


In fact, the Wonderlic has been widely challenged for both racial bias and lack of job-relatedness. Richard Seymour, an attorney with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who specializes in testing litigation, has written that the Wonderlic is a "recidivist" exam, "often litigated and condemned."


The NFL has not revealed whether it has ever done a validity study of the Wonderlic's accuracy, fairness and relevance. Nonetheless, pro football is one of the increasing number of employers where "if you can't pass, you don't play" refers to a simple-minded test, not real performance.


Sample Questions

The hours of daylight and darkness in SEPTEMBER are nearest equal to the hours of daylight and darkness in

(1) June (2) March (3) May (4) November


Assume the first 2 statements are true. Is the final one:

(1) true (2) false (3) not certain

The boy plays baseball. All baseball players wear hats.

The boy wears a hat.


A train travels 20 feet in 1/5 second. At this same speed, how many feet will it travel in three seconds?

Wonderlic questions reprinted from E.F. Wonderlic Personnel Test, Inc. 1992 Catalog.