10 Things You Need to Know Before You Take Your Wonderlic Test
Alex Hollis, Wonderlic Expert & Founder of Beat the Wonderlic
3 April 2017
Did you just find out you have to take a Wonderlic test? If so, you came to the perfect place.
In this article, I will:
1. Explain what a Wonderlic test is
2. Answer the most common questions people have about the Wonderlic test, and
3. Walk you through all of the things you need to know before you take your Wonderlic exam so you go into your test prepared.
My goal with this post is to help you feel a little less stress about taking your Wonderlic test and to help you go into your exam confident and prepared.
You are not alone in stressing about your Wonderlic Test.
Tell me if this is how the series of events unfolded for you:
- You are searching for a new job and find the PERFECT career opportunity. This job is one that you would love to do and you are more than qualified to do it.
- You apply. Your resume is perfect. Your references are in order. You prepare for an in-person interview and feel nervous, but confident.
- The recruiter contacts you. They love your resume and invite you into the office for an interview – yay!
- This recruiter gives you your interview schedule and at the top of this schedule is “Wonderlic Test”. You read this and go…”wait…a test!? But I have been out of school for years! What the heck is a Wonderlic test”?
If this describes the situation you are in, don’t worry. You are not alone. This is the exact story I hear several times each day.
Let’s walk through all of the most important things you need to understand about your upcoming Wonderlic test together.
If you are stressed, just remember:
The Wonderlic test is beatable.
1. What is the Wonderlic test?
Simply put, the Wonderlic test is the most common pre-employment cognitive ability test. In English, that means that the Wonderlic is an IQ test given to job applicants.
Hiring is a very difficult (and expensive) thing for employers to do, so they sometimes look for ways to quickly eliminate applicants. The Wonderlic test is a quick exam that allows employers to make immediate decisions about whether to hire someone or not.
The test is called “the Wonderlic” simply because that is the name of the company that creates the exam (Wonderlic, Inc.).
One thing you should note is that Wonderlic, Inc creates a whole bunch of different types of Wonderlic tests. You may have come across this if you Googled “Wonderlic” and saw that there is a Wonderlic Basic Skills Test, there are Wonderlic Personality Tests, etc.
As a rule, whenever you hear just “Wonderlic test” this refers to the Wonderlic Personnel Test (which is also sometimes called the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test). This is the most common pre-employment exam and the test we are talking about in this article. If you are unsure which Wonderlic test you are taking, check out this article: What Wonderlic Test Am I Taking?
There is no need to get overwhelmed by how many variations of Wonderlic tests there are. If you were told you are taking a “Wonderlic Test” then it is the Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT-R).
2. What does the Wonderlic Test measure?
The Wonderlic test is similar to an IQ test. Wonderlic, Inc describes the Wonderlic test this way:
“The Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT-R) helps measure general mental ability, widely accepted as being one of the single best predictors of job success. It helps measure a candidate’s ability to understand instructions, learn, adapt, solve problems and handle the mental demands of the position.” – Wonderlic, Inc.
Now, I always tell people this because it is absolutely true: the Wonderlic test does NOT test how smart you are. It simply tests whether you know the strategies you need in order to finish the test on time and maximize your score.
I have seen extremely intelligent people perform very poorly on the Wonderlic simply because they did not know how to take the test. You should think of the Wonderlic as a game.
If you learn how to play the game and you practice, you will absolutely beat the test.
“The Wonderlic is a game. If you learn how to play it and you practice, you will absolutely beat the test.”
The Wonderlic Test is a game.
If you learn the rules and practice playing, you will beat the game.
3. How long is the Wonderlic Test?
The Wonderlic test is 50 questions long. You are given 12 minutes to answer as many questions as possible.
There is also a short version of the test that is sometimes administered to job applicants before they come in to take the full exam.
This short version is called the Wonderlic Personnel Test – Quicktest (WPT-Q) and contains all the same types of questions. The only difference is that the test is 30 questions/8 minutes rather than 50 questions/12 minutes.
The Wonderlic Test is 12 minutes long.
You will only have 12 minutes to answer all 50 questions.
4. What is on the Wonderlic Test?
The 50 questions on the Wonderlic test are made up of four different categories of questions. These categories are:
A. General Facts & Quick Recognition
These include questions that require you to quickly order dates, identify patterns and answer general knowledge questions.
Here is an example:
Which of the following is the earliest date?
- Jun. 21, 1989
- Jul. 11, 1988
- Jun. 20, 1988
- Jul. 28, 1989
- Jun. 12, 1988
In the example above, the correct answer is Jun. 12, 1988.
B. Logic Questions
These include deductive reasoning and spatial recognition questions.
The correct answer would be A.
C. Verbal Reasoning
Verbal reasoning questions include analogies, identifying synonyms, and comparing proverbs.
Two of the following proverbs have similar meanings. Which ones are they?
- A) The fly follows the honey.
- B) A golden hammer can break an iron door.
- C) Fortune favors the brave.
- D) A barking dog never bites.
- E) Hitch your wagon to a star.
The correct answer is C&E.
D. Word Problems
The mathematical word problems on the Wonderlic test include questions requiring you to calculate average, ratio and percent.
There are also operations with decimals as well as algebraic word problems.
Here is an example:
Four individuals pool money together to start a new business and agree to split the profits equally. N invests $6,000, X invests $2,000, Y invests $8,000 and Z invests $4,000. If the profits for the first month were $100,000, Y receives __?__less than if the profits were divided in proportion to how much they invested.
$15,000 would be the correct answer.
Quick Sample Wonderlic Test
If you want to try a quick, 10-question sample Wonderlic test to get an even better idea of what’s on it, click the NEXT button below.
5. Can you use a calculator on the Wonderlic test?
Unfortunately, you will not be allowed to use a calculator on the test. The test is proctored, which means that someone will be watching you take it.
You can, however, use scrap paper and a pen or pencil.
If you are stressed, just remember:
The Wonderlic test is beatable.
6. How is the Wonderlic Test scored?
The Wonderlic test is 50 questions long and you are given 12 minutes to answer as many questions as possible.
You earn 1 point for each correct answer you give and 0 points for any unanswered or incorrect questions.
If you answer 23 questions correctly, then your score is a “23.” The highest possible score on the Wonderlic test is 50.
7. Can you skip questions on the Wonderlic Test?
You actually can skip questions and come back to them later in the exam, even on the computerized version of the test.
This is what you will see on the computerized version of the exam before you hit “submit”:
8. What is a good Wonderlic score?
The company at which you are seeking employment or promotion will have a pre-determined target score for the open position. So, in essence, the best answer here is “it depends.” But here is what we do know:
1. The average score is a 21 (42%).
2. 2-3% of test-takers finish the exam in the allotted 12 minutes.
Percentage of Test-Takers Who Finish the Wonderlic
3. Your target score should be above the average score of the position you are seeking. Wonderlic, Inc. reports that the following are the average scores broken down by occupation (scores given in percent):
- Systems Analyst 64%
- Chemist 62%
- Electrical Engineer 60%
- Engineer (General) 58%
- Programmer 58%
- Accountant 58%
- Executive 58%
- Reporter 58%
- Teacher 58%
- Investment Analyst 54%
- Electronics Technician 54%
- Salesperson 50%
- Nurse 46%
- Bank Teller 44%
- Cashier 42%
- Firefighter 42%
- Skilled Craftsman 36%
- Security Guard 34%
- Welder 34%
- Warehouseman 30%
The chart above reflects the averages as reported by Wonderlic, Inc. This does not mean that if you are applying for a job as an executive you need to score a 29 (58%) to get the job since the required score varies from company to company. However, you should use this information as a benchmark. If you are applying to be an executive, you should be shooting to score above a 29.
One more thing I can show you is what the report on your score will look like to the hiring manager. The following is a sample report for the Wonderlic Personnel Test – Quicktest. The score report for the WPT-R is identical. You may not see your score report, but this is what your hiring manager will see:
In the above example, Angelo Lopez is interviewing for a supervisor role with this imaginary company. The company established that, for this position, a 27 is their target score. Angelo just made it as he earned a 27, which is the minimum target score established by this imaginary company for the supervisor position.
Had he scored between a 24 and a 26, the report would have advised the imaginary company to use caution in pursuing Angelo as a candidate.
Had he scored below a 24, the report would urge the company to not bring Angelo in for an in-person interview.
9. What happens if I fail my Wonderlic Test?
99% of the time, if you do not score the minimum required score defined by a company you will not get the job. There are actually times when, after a candidate fails their Wonderlic test, the candidate is told that the interview is over and they can go home.
There are some companies that will allow you to take the exam twice, but this is very rare.
10. How to pass the Wonderlic test.
The Wonderlic test scares a lot of people and for good reason. It is a high stakes exam – your job depends on it. It is also challenging because of the strict time constraints (50 questions in 12 minutes means you only have 14 seconds to answer each question). Combine these factors with the fact that many test-takers have been out of school for a while and you can certainly understand why the Wonderlic is so intimidating.
However, the Wonderlic test is beatable. It DOES NOT test how smart you are. The Wonderlic is a game and if you learn the rules and practice playing the game, you will absolutely do very well on the test.
Here is how you should prepare for the exam:
1. Take a timed practice test. You should familiarize yourself with all the types of questions on the exam and what it feels like to take the test with the timer in place. Getting a feel for the timing of the exam is a critical step in increasing your score. I recommend trying my free Wonderlic practice test if you haven’t already.
2. Learn the strategies you need to know. There is a very special way you should approach your Wonderlic test that will allow you to maximize your score. Think of this as learning the rules of the game that will allow you to out-perform your competition and beat the exam.
3. Review how to solve the types of questions that are tested on the Wonderlic. Study proverbs, how to multiply and divide decimals, analogies, etc. Most of these questions are difficult to solve just because you have not seen them in a long time.
4. Practice, practice, practice. Once you know the Wonderlic strategies and have reviewed how to solve the types of questions on the exam, then it is time to practice. The more practice tests you take, the more confidence you will have going into the real thing.
The easiest way to do all of the above and be fully prepared for your exam in only 3 hours is to take my self-paced online Wonderlic course. The course includes:
- The Wonderlic strategies you need to know to finish the test on time and maximize your score. This alone typically adds as many as 10 points to your score.
- A step-by-step review of every question type on the Wonderlic. Don’t remember how to multiply decimals? No problem. I show you how and also show you tricks to answering all these questions even more quickly and easily.
- 5 full practice tests with answer explanations.
If you are interested in taking my online course, click here or click the “Learn More” button below.
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