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Finding a truly unbiased and accurate measurement of a person's intelligence has always been an elusive, and in many ways controversial, goal of many test developers. During the 1930s, a pioneer in the intelligence testing field named Eldon Wonderlic developed a very short test which purportedly provided potential employers and educators with a general idea of an applicant's general intelligence level. This test became known as the Wonderlic personnel test (WPT).
The purpose of the Wonderlic personnel test is not necessarily to assign an actual Intelligence Quotient or IQ number to test takers. Instead, the test provides some idea of an applicant's intellectual strengths and weaknesses relative to the requirements of a specific job or assignment. Positions which demand stronger mathematical skills, for example, may require a higher than average Wonderlic personnel test result.
The test itself consists of a series of English, reading, math and logic problems which increase in difficulty as the test progresses. In fact, the first set of questions is generally considered quite easy for testers with average intelligence. The final ten questions or so are considered to be the most difficult, although not out of the realm of possibility for college-educated test takers. There are no penalties for right or wrong answers, and the basic Wonderlic personnel test can be administered in 12 minutes.
Employers and recruiters may administer the Wonderlic personnel test as part of a larger application process and use those test results to determine if an applicant has a general aptitude for the position. The test results are usually given as a number, with 20 or 21 considered average, much like a test score of 100 would signify average intelligence on a Stanford-Binet intelligence test. Test takers may have to score at least a 20 for hiring consideration in some situations, and even higher for positions requiring higher cognitive skills and aptitude.
Perhaps the most common use of the Wonderlic personnel test occurs in organized sports, especially American football. Recruiters and coaches need to know if potential recruits have the cognitive skills to learn complex plays from a team playbook and mesh well as a unit. It is said that legendary football coach Tom Landry placed a significant amount of emphasis on the test scores provided by the Wonderlic personnel test, and even certain simulated football video game programs include a modified WPT session to determine which positions a player is qualified to select.
Obviously a test as brief and generic as the Wonderlic personnel test is not designed to produce the same clinical results as a more extensive intelligence test battery such as the Stanford-Binet series. The results of a WPT should generally be considered a rough guide to an applicant's cognitive skill level and general aptitude, not overall intelligence. The Wonderlic personnel test works best as a quick assessment tool during the application process, but should not be used to justify any illegal discriminatory actions.