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Wonderlic Test: Can you pass the exam NFL prospects take at the Combine?

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The most scrutinized and controversial part of the combine, aside from hand measurements, doesn't even take place on a football field.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Combine is underway, and things are already getting interesting. Jared Goff has been criticized for having small hands, several players have been scrutinized for refusing to participate in certain drills and plenty of others will likely endure a fair amount of warranted and unwarranted criticism--perhaps from their results on the notorious Wonderlic test.

A week-long job interview, the NFL Combine is one of the strangest, most unique events in sports. Physical tests give players the opportunity to show off their speed, while coaches and staff evaluate a player's intangibles through measurements and the sit-down test. That sit-down test, the Wonderlic test, has been criticized for for not actually being able to distinguish between good and bad players; game tape trumps physical tests every time, right? However, several players have been able to boost their draft stock--and therefore, make more money--by impressing with their test score.

In a sense, the NFL Combine is a lot like the standardized tests high school students take in preparation for college. Students who don't prepare for the test often see negative repercussions in the form of less scholarship money or rejection from universities. Similarly, athletes who prepare for the combine set themselves up for success, while those who do not often lose out on potential money.

The Wonderlic test is a rigorous 50-question exam that has seen players produce mixed results. The standardized intelligence test has been used since the 1970's in efforts to measure players' cognitive abilities. Players have 12 minutes to complete the test. The score ranges from 1-50, and the average score is reportedly a 20. Players are deemed literate if they can score a 10 on the exam.

Critics of the Wonderlic test point out that, like the SAT and other standardized tests, the test is culturally biased, favoring people coming from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. There's also little to no direct correlation between a football player's on-field intelligence and a positive Wonderlic score. Notable players such as Calvin Johnson (41), Eli Manning (39), Andrew Luck (37) and Aaron Rodgers (35) have received exceptional scores, while there are also Hall of Famers who got below-average marks, including Jim Kelly (15), Dan Marino (16) and Terry Bradshaw (16).

Studies have been conducted to see if the test actually has a connection to football, but none have demonstrated positive and significant correlation between the results of the Wonderlic and future success in the NFL. Interestingly, 2009 research inquiry discovered a small negative relationship between scores and performance among tight ends and defensive backs.

Questions vary, but here are a few samples:

  • A race car travels 100 feet in .5 seconds. At this rate of speed, how far will the race car travel in a minute?
  • A candy maker makes two sizes of candies. Using the smaller size, a full jar will contain 120 pieces of candy. Using the larger candies a jar will contain 80 pieces of candy. If a store has room for 15 jars and they want 1560 total pieces of candy, how many jars will contain smaller candies?
  • Mike is 11 years old. Jim is twice as old as Mike. When Jim is 50 years old, how old will Mike be?
  • Leg is to Pants as Head is to _________ ? Choose one: Shirt, Shoulders, Hat, Shoes.

How do you stack up against the NFL's best? Here's a sample test.