Wonderlic Tests

What Is a Wonderlic Test?

Wonderlic tests are a set of hugely popular cognitive ability tests produced by Wonderlic Inc. They’re used by employers to quickly test the general mental ability of a large number of candidates at once.

There are different kinds of Wonderlic tests but the most common is the Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT-R). If you’re given no other details, it’s safe to assume that’s the one you’ll be taking.


  1. When Might You Expect to Take a Wonderlic Test?
  2. What Does the Test Aim to Measure?
  3. Format and Question Types
  4. How Is It Scored?
  5. How to Prepare for the Test
  6. Key Tips
  7. Further Reading

When Might You Expect to Take a Wonderlic Test?

You can expect to take a Wonderlic test early in the recruitment process. It’s designed to be a quick and easy test to give out to a mass of candidates, with results that can be used to narrow the field down fast.

Depending on the employer, you might take the test online at the very start of the recruitment process, or it could be taken in-person at an assessment centre or before an interview.

Typically, Wonderlic tests are used for graduate-level roles. And they’re extremely common. If you’re applying for several jobs at that level, you are almost certain to come across a Wonderlic test at some point.

Suffice to say, this guy would probably have got a good score in a Wonderlic test.

What Does the Test Aim to Measure? 

As a cognitive ability test, the Wonderlic tests have similar aims to most IQ tests. The producers of the test say that it helps to measure “general mental ability”, including “a candidate’s ability to understand instructions, learn, adapt, and solve problems”.

So the test’s aims are quite general, and the questions are abstract to reflect that. You’ll work on some language and word problems, some abstract pattern recognition, and logic and fact recognition, among other things.

With all that said, don’t think that because the test aims to measure ‘intelligence’ that practice won’t help. Being familiar with the format and practising the questions will absolutely bring your scores up.

It is not the case that failing the test means you’re ‘not intelligent’, or that passing it means you are. There is no single test out there that gives an entirely unbiased, definitive measure of intelligence, partly because intelligence itself is extremely difficult to define.

Format and Question Types

On the Wonderlic Personnel Test, you will need to answer 50 questions in 12 minutes. There is also a short version of the test (called Quicktest) that has 30 questions to answer in 8 minutes.

Therefore, to complete all the questions you’ll need to answer a little over four questions per minute on average. That’s tough, so it pays to be familiar with the format and question types, and focus only on working out the answer.

Here are the main types of questions you’ll encounter:

Quick Fact Recognition

These are questions that should, essentially, be quite easy; but it’s speed that matters here. These questions test whether you can quickly confirm simple facts.

A question might require a very basic level of general knowledge (such as in the example below). It could also require you to pick the earliest date out of a list or identify how many names within a list are duplicates.

The trick here is to balance speed with accuracy. As these are the ‘easiest’ questions, you should be able to go through them much faster. But don’t rush – it’s better to take a second longer than rush and misread the question.

(Source: http://wonderlictestsample.com/50-question-wonderlic-test/)

Solution: The correct answer is: desert. The word 'dessert' is a sweet treat you have after your dinner (which you can eat) but the word 'desert' is a sandy landscape (and is an item you should not eat).

Logic and Pattern Recognition

These questions test your spatial reasoning, your ability to recognise and extrapolate patterns, and whether you can work through problems logically.

For this section, you will really benefit from practice. Get used to the kinds of patterns you’ll need to recognise (such as these folding patterns) and you’ll get much better and quicker at doing them.

(Source: http://wonderlictestsample.com/50-question-wonderlic-test/)

Solution: The correct answer is: E. When the shape is folded it turns into a 3D pyramid. The corner 'A' will touch corner 'E'.

Verbal Reasoning

With these questions, you’ll be working with language. This might include working out metaphors, common sayings, anagrams, identifying synonyms and antonyms, and so on.

The example below has two steps. First, you must rearrange the sentence, and then you must decide whether the statement is true.

You shouldn’t have too much trouble answering most of these questions. Again, the issue here is doing it quickly. Practise to get used to the questions and you’ll get much faster.

(Source: http://wonderlictestsample.com/50-question-wonderlic-test/)

Solution: The correct answer is: True. The sentence is 'a spider has eight legs', which is true.

Word Problems

This type of question will include a mixture of words and numbers.

Essentially, your job is to use the words to work out what each of the numbers are, and then perform the necessary mathematical operations on those numbers to arrive at the answer.

(Source: http://wonderlictestsample.com/50-question-wonderlic-test/)

Solution: The correct answer is: $5,400. Work out 15% of $3,000. This is $450. Then you need to work out how much would be saved after a year. So, that would be 450 x 12 as there are 12 months in a year.

How Is It Scored?

On the standard 50-question Wonderlic test, each question is worth 1 point. That’s scaled up to 1.66 for the Quicktest; a 100% score in both tests is 50 points.

The Wonderlic company says that the average score is 21. The score you will need to have a good chance at the job you’re applying for will depend entirely on the role.

Lower-skilled jobs, such as working in a warehouse, might only require 15. Something more highly skilled, such as working in data analytics, will probably require a score of 30 or more.

Depending on the benchmark for the role, the employer will receive your score alongside a label that’s based on that benchmark. For instance, if the benchmark is 32, a score of 34 would label you as ‘pursue’. Slightly lower than the benchmark will be marked as ‘cautionary’, while much lower will be ‘not recommended’.

If you receive the ‘not recommended’ label, it is almost certain that you will not progress any further in the recruitment process.

How to Prepare for the Test

The Wonderlic test can be crucial – you need to pass it to move on to the next stage. But it’s also tough, so you need to be ready. Practice is absolutely vital.

Practice not only helps you answer the questions more accurately, but it also builds your confidence, speed and mindset. You can read as many articles about the Wonderlic test as you like, but the only real way to improve significantly is to practise.

So, how should you prepare for the Wonderlic test?

1. Practise Each Type of Question, Untimed

First, get used to what kinds of questions you’re going to be asked. Don’t stress yourself out with the time pressure just yet. Become familiar with the questions themselves.

While the test is supposed to not rely too much on your knowledge (as it’s a cognitive ability test), some general knowledge and aptitudes will be required. Make sure nothing catches you out.

2. Timed Practice Tests

Find as many online [Wonderlic practice tests] as you can and take them in as close to test conditions as possible.

That means set everything up as if you’re just about to take the test for real. Stick rigidly to the rules (such as no calculator, no googling, and so on) and the time limit.

Keep practising this to get used to the timer and to answering the questions under pressure.

3. Remember to review

As part of your practice, it’s also very important to review your practice tests.

Every time you take a practice test, don’t just look at your score and move on. Look through your answers.

Start with the incorrect answers. For each of these, ask yourself why you got it wrong. Were you unfamiliar with the format? Rushed it due to the time constraints? Made a silly mistake in your working? Just didn’t get it?

This will help you to pinpoint where you need to improve; whether that’s going faster or becoming better at a particular type of question.

Next, glance through your correct answers. Congratulate yourself if you can see a marked improvement - it’s always worthwhile to see your progress, but also be honest with yourself. If you guessed any of the answers and happened to get them right, consider why you guessed.

Finally, look at the test as a whole. How many questions did you manage to get through? Remember that only around 2% of candidates actually finish the test, so it’s very normal to have missed some.

To work out how many questions you should be answering, try and find out what rough benchmark score you need. Depending on your average accuracy, you’ll need to be able to answer that many questions plus around 6 to 12 more as a buffer for incorrect answers.

Key Tips

Here are a few key tips to help you succeed alongside regular practice: 

Do your research

The best place to start is with articles like this one. Figuring out what the Wonderlic tests are all about is the first step.

Gear up

While you’re not allowed a calculator, you are allowed other things that might help you. A piece of scrap paper and a pencil, for instance, can be incredibly useful. On the mathematical questions it can be used for calculations and remembering numbers. On the logic and pattern recognition questions it can be used to sketch out patterns if you’re more of a visual thinker.

Also, remember to bring water with you. Being thirsty can be highly distracting and staying hydrated helps your brain stay sharp.

Get plenty of sleep and a good breakfast

Don’t stay up all night practising just before the test. That will only harm your performance. It’s really important for your brain that you are well rested and well fed, so try to make sure you get eight hours of sleep the night before and have a good, healthy meal before you leave for the test.

Process of elimination

Working out the answers to some questions can take valuable time. To answer the questions fast enough, you’ll probably need to use some shortcuts. 

One thing that can be useful is to eliminate answers as soon as you approach the question. For example, say you’re given a mathematical question like 39 x 24. You begin by doing 9 x 4 which is 36. This immediately tells you that the answer ends in 6. So, you can now cross out any answer that doesn’t end in 6. If you’re very lucky, there’ll only be one left. But otherwise, you might be able to quickly ascertain something like, “B is definitely too high, and C is the only other answer that ends in a 6, so that must be it”.

Stay calm

One of the most difficult things to practise with any test is managing the pressure and stress that comes with the actual, real test itself. You can make your practice tests as similar to the test as possible, but you can’t make them as meaningful as the real thing.

So, if you’re someone who gets very stressed, or even panicked, by tests, it is a good idea to practise staying calm

Some good ways to stay calm can be to do breathing exercises, listening to a particular kind of music just before you go into the test, as well as meditation or physical exercise. Try some different things and see how you feel. 

Further Reading

You may be interested in these other articles on WikiJob: