Strengths and Weaknesses of the Wonderlic Test

How good is the Wonderlic test?

Does it really work?

You raise such questions and get entangled into long hours of futile debate. Subjective opinions, interests of the industry, and personal biases may lead you either to extravagant claims or absolute rejection of the Wonderlic exams. However, when you analyze the deafening noise of supporters and opponents, you find a mixture of strong and weak points.

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wonderlic test

In psychometric, the reliability means consistency of the scores when you are re-tested with the same or an equivalent form of a test. It can also be checked with reference to particular selection of items, behavior sample constituting the test, the role of different scorers, and other aspects of the testing situations. With such information, you may predict whether the test will be reliable or not.

The Wonderlic IQ test offers such empirical data that helps you to measure its reliability. The objective calculations and skillful interpretations help psychologists to decide whether it is fit for all situations or not. There are sixteen parallel forms of the Wonderlic test and each contains 50 questions which are to be solved within the time limit of 12 minute.

Interestingly, the reliability of the Wonderlic IQ test with such brevity is stunning. The psychologists have observed reliability of .90 within the same form and more than that in parallel forms.

Wonderlic IQ Test VS Other Intelligence Tests

Some psychologists have noted strong correlation between the reliabilities of the Wonderlic IQ test, Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test.

Dodrill (1981) has reported a correlation of .91 between scores on the Wonderlic IQ test and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. Leverett (2000) has reported about the same level of correlation between the Wonderlic exam and Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test.

For such strong correlations, four new forms of the Wonderlic quiz have been introduced for the education counseling purposes. They are called the Scholastic Level Exams but still need time and effort to become reliable enough.


The critics have observed that though Wonderlic IQ test has attained a lot of respect for the claims of reliability but it still lacks some solid arguments.

Wrong Interpretive Guidelines

Like any standardized intelligence test, the Wonderlic IQ test contains interpretive guidelines to help the examiners as well as to maintain a uniformity of form and content. The critics suggest that the interpretive instructions of the Wonderlic test are arbitrary and unnecessarily restrictive.

For example, the manual suggests that when you score between 16 and 22, you have a limited capacity for anything other than routine tasks. However, these scores correspond to the IQ of 93 and 104 respectively, which is a normal range of intelligence. Do you think that people of the average IQ test score are incapable to perform any thing else except the routine jobs?

Unfair to Different Races

The manual also lists cutting scores for over 75 occupations. It raises the specter of an under-trained personnel officer over-interpreting individual scores. Consequently, the results are problematic to the racial minorities. The race differences for the Wonderlic scores are significant (Geisinger, 2001). The African Americans always score low than their white Americans. It is sick to believe that people can be inferior or superior in intelligence just for their racial differences.

Unfair to Non-English Speakers

The Wonderlic test is a speed IQ test. You have to solve all the items within twelve minutes. It has such a heavy reliance on speed that points are added for candidates at the age of 30 or above to compensate for the well known decrement in speed that accompanies the normal aging. This situation is unfair for the foreigners whose native language is not English. They are unfairly penalized (Belcher, 1992). The evasion of time limit may help fairness a bit but the testing industry and supporters of the Wonderlic test do not support this idea.

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