ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jose’s monthly parking fee for April was $150; for May it was $10 more than April; and for June $40 more than May. His average monthly parking fee was ____ for these 3 months.
J) $66 K) $160 L) $166 M) $170 N) $200
Which THREE of the following words have similar meanings?
A) observable B) manifest C) hypothetical D) indefinite E) theoretical
Did you take a few minutes to think about these two questions? Did you have to tap into your critical-thinking skills? Did they confuse you, or did you handle them with ease?
Congratulations. You just answered two questions on the Wonderlic’s sample exam.
You got a taste of not only what NFL prospects go through as part of pre-draft testing at the NFL combine, but also a taste of what Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh last year did at his program’s quarterbacks camp — A4: Ann Arbor Aerial Assault.
A portion of the 450 aspiring college quarterbacks took the Wonderlic, a standardized test consisting of 50 question to be answered in 12 minutes. The test serves as a tool that evaluates an individual’s problem-solving skills and aptitude for learning.
Harbaugh gave a wry smile when asked why his camp administered the Wonderlic.
“Maybe we aspire to be the NFL’s 33rd team,” Harbaugh said in June 2016. “We’ve got a lot of players and a heck of a lot of coaches out here, so it feels like it.”
An unorthodox camp
The quarterbacks camp for this year is scheduled for Saturday at Michigan, and past sessions have been unorthodox. At the camp last year, quarterbacks fielded baseballs hit by defensive coordinator Don Brown outside of Glick Field House. Other quarterbacks participated in a game of dodgeball.
Dodgeball inside Glick Field House pic.twitter.com/iXKDKf70Pb
— Rachel Lenzi (@RLenziCMG) June 18, 2016
In nearby Oosterbaan Field House, even more quarterbacks stormed through bouncing castles in a timed obstacle course.
One more attempt pic.twitter.com/01FyMyUimN
— Rachel Lenzi (@RLenziCMG) June 18, 2016
Just before the noon hour at last year’s camp, former passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch told a group of quarterbacks to get their pencils ready — they were about to take the Wonderlic exam.
Why the Wonderlic?
The Wonderlic is an 80-year-old test commonly administered to NFL draft hopefuls, but was designed as a test for potential employers to determine cognitive abilities of prospective hires. Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry utilized his education in industrial engineering at the University of Texas in many of his organizational principles, and used the Wonderlic in the 1970s to gauge and forecast player performance and aptitude.
In the last five years, it’s also become a point of debate, because it’s not necessarily an accurate reflection of an individual’s intellect, cognitive abilities or social skills. A study in 2009 of 762 players from three draft classes found no correlation between intelligence, as measured by the Wonderlic test, and NFL performance — except for tight ends and defensive backs.
“We found in no cases was cognitive ability related to [football] performance,” John W. Michel, an assistant professor at Towson University who co-authored the study, told the Washington Post in 2011. “We did find a negative relationship for tight ends and defensive backs. For defensive backs, it was the most pronounced; basically, the lower you scored on the Wonderlic, the better you performed.”
Edward Krupat, the director of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Evaluation, wrote earlier this year for Sports Illustrated’s website that the Wonderlic is outdated. Krupat outlined three guidelines for a more balanced test.
The test the NFL needs, Krupat wrote on SI.com, “should be free of the cultural and racial biases that the Wonderlic and many other cognitive and psychological tests have been accused of. Second, it should be a test that is hard to game. Players and their agents shouldn’t be able to figure out what evaluators want to hear so that they can offer up answers that will make them look good, regardless of what they truly think or believe.
“Third, the test should be predictive of on-field performance. Players’ scores should correlate with some index of NFL success — at least one study suggests that the Wonderlic holds virtually no correlation with the player’s NFL future. Most importantly, the tests should be at the cutting edge of how psychologists think about intelligence today and based on modern cognitive science.”
The NFL implemented the Player Assessment Tool in 2013 to augment the Wonderlic at the combine. The Player Assessment Tool gauges qualities in an individual’s personality and cognitive abilities such as motivation, competitiveness and mental toughness.
Michigan’s quarterbacks camp opens at 9 a.m. Saturday. No word on whether Michigan will implement the Player Assessment Tool test — or the Wonderlic — in its A4 agenda.