It's that time of the year, when professional football hopefuls assemble in Indianapolis for the National Football League's annual Combine, where they'll participate in a round of activities to test their physical prowess.
Yet scouts are looking at more than just strength: They're also administering intelligence assessments to test cognitive function and better understand how players think.
The two tests are the Wonderlic and Athletic Intelligence Quotient. The Wonderlic has been around since the 1930s and was introduced to the NFL in the 1970s, while AIQ has only been administered for less than a decade.
The Wonderlic may have gained its notoriety from football, but it's more commonly used by Fortune 500 companies to help assess job candidates.
Both exams have at least one thing in common: NFL coaches and scouts are relying on them now more than ever. With that in mind, I decided to take the tests myself and see how I measured up.
The Wonderlic test is 50 questions in 12 minutes, meaning you have to work quickly. There are a lot of basic math and vocabulary questions, along with logic questions and visual puzzles, like mixing and matching images. I scored a 35 out of 50 on the test. According to the company, that puts me at about the 95th percentile of people who take the test. The typical American adult averages 21.
I was honestly surprised by the score. The test seemed easy to me, and I expected to get at least a 45. But clearly, there must have been trick questions, or I guess I didn't really know what I was doing. Because the test moves so quickly, there isn't a lot of time to figure out the right answers: Test takers get less than 15 seconds per question.
"A lot of what we are measuring is processing speed, which you can tell is very important in any athletic role," said Rebecca Callahan, VP of product at Wonderlic.
"The sports side of our business with the Combine and teams is actually the smaller side of what we do," said Callahan. "Most of our work is with organizations large and small that are using cognitive ability alongside other predictive factors like personality and motivation to help find the right fit for an individual in a particular role."
Callahan said the Wonderlic is a "great data point in hiring, and it can be significantly less biased than other parts of an interview."
A major factor that the Wonderlic exam measures is the applicant's "ability to learn," said Callahan. "If you have a high degree to learn, then you will be able to memorize plays and rules, and you will benefit more from coaching and training and practice. All of those things play heavily into your performance on the field."