History of the Wonderlic Test

The “Wonderlic Personnel Test” was designed and invented in 1936 by E.F Wonderlic, during his time as a graduate student at Northwestern University’s Department of Psychology, this was also where he distributed and piloted his test to fellow students and members of his department. At its inception, the test was designed to help employers evaluate their prospective employees, as well as help in the selection and creation of teams within a workplace, allowing for those with constructive and complementary personalities to be placed into groups with a greater chance of success.

That said, its original purpose was evolved and then implemented by the United States Navy during World War II to quickly evaluate the large numbers of people eager to join the war effort, predicting whether they would be a good fit as either pilot or navigator. As it evolved and grew to include a wider variety of tests, there were an ever-increasing amount of industries and institutions eager to adopt it and personalize it to their needs, which eventually led to the Wonderlic test being introduced into the NFL.

In 1970 Dallas Cowboys Coach, Tom Landry, implemented the Wonderlic test for the first time in NFL history as a method of predicting player performance. Since then, it has been a regular part of the NFL Combine and is often times a factor in whether or not someone seems like a good draft pick. After having proven itself an effective and worthwhile method of evaluating performance, the test was adapted to a vast array of industries and occupations, all with their own unique set of questions, including unique parameters for interpreting how a given result might play out when taking into account the personality of the person taking the test.

Over time, the test proved itself so effective that the Rule of 26-27-60 was born and quickly became the dividing threshold between players destined for greatness, and those with only a glimpse at NFL success. Broken down, the Rule of 26-27-60 states that the best performing quarterbacks will score a 26 on the Wonderlic test, start at least 27 times, and have a pass completion rating of 60 percent or higher. Time and again, the Wonderlic test has been consistent in predicting performance and success across a variety of sectors and industries, allowing the time it takes to find top performers to fall to a fraction of what was previously necessary to properly evaluate someone.