The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test


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The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test, or WBST, is categorized as Ability-to-Benefits, or ATB, testing. ATB testing is intended to discern whether an applicant has the aptitude necessary to benefit from admission to postsecondary school training programs. These tests are independently administered examinations that have been approved by the Secretary of Education as part of the requirements for Title IV Federal financial assistance. Postsecondary students that have not received a high school diploma, or equivalent, are required by the Higher Education Technical Amendments of 1991 to successfully complete and pass the WBST test for postsecondary schools participating in the Wonderlic Program to receive this federal funding. The U.S. Department of Education approved use of the WBST for this purpose under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 on October 25, 1996.

The Wonderlic test is intended to measure the applicant’s basic adult language and math skills. The skills tested generally are those the applicant would have learned in high school English and mathematics courses. Successfully passing the WBST with a minimum score or above shows postsecondary school establishments that the applicant has the level of knowledge and the ability needed to benefit from their career training programs. In addition to being used to determine whether the non-high school graduate will succeed in the classroom, it can also be used to identify job applicants that can perform the job functions required in an entry-level position. For this reason, it is often used by government agencies and private businesses in addition to schools.

Wonderlic Basic Skills Test Content

The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test has been designed to serve multiple purposes. It can identify both prospective students and job applicants with the aptitude to succeed in postsecondary career programs or entry-level positions. It successfully achieves this goal by measuring the levels of General Educational Development (GED) of the applicant. These levels have been defined by the U.S. Department of Labor in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and have shown to be an accurate representation of the applicant’s capabilities to accomplish the written and computational requirements in the program or position.

At its core, the WBST is simply a measure of the applicant’s basic language and math skills. The test itself is composed of two different sections, a verbal section (Test of Verbal Skills) and a quantitative section (Test of Quantitative Skills). In accordance with ATB determination requirements, the tests will be administered in sequence, with the verbal test being taken before the quantitative test. It has been found this sequence helps put applicants at ease as the verbal section presents questions that can be answered using the skills already used on a daily basis. You will have 20 minutes to finish the questions contained within each section.

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WBST Test of Verbal Skills

The WBST Test of Verbal Skills contains 50 questions that will measure your language skills; the primary content domains have been designed to cover a broad range of these skills. You will have a total of 20 minutes to respond to each of the questions, which may fall under one of three of the following categories:

  • Applied:
    • Reading comprehension, sentence construction, grammar and meanings of words.
  • Explicit:
    • Meanings of words, grammar and construction of sentences.
  • Interpretive:
    • Use of diagrams, charts, tables and graphs.

Three Primary Content Domains

The WBST Test of Verbal Skills covers a broad range of language skills by distributing questions with the following three primary content domains:

1. Using Information in Multiple Formats

Within this primary content domain, you will be asked to locate and understand information you are given in various different formats. This will require the use of written information, such as literature and “how to” instructions.

2. Recognizing the Meaning of Words

Questions that fall under this content domain will ask you to correctly recognize the meaning of a word, either familiar or unfamiliar to you, within its given context. To do so, you will need to complete a sentence by selecting the most appropriate word from the given choices.

3. Identifying Correct Grammar

For this content domain, you will need to understand standard sentence structure. You may be asked to complete sentences or recognize errors in given sentences, such as incorrect subject/verb agreement.

WBST Test of Quantitative Skills

The WBST Test of Quantitative Skills consists of 45 questions designed to test your understanding of mathematical skills that would have been learned in high school. The questions will cover a broad range of mathematical content that presents in three different formats:

    1. Applied: Practical application of math operations.
    2. Explicit: Algebra, direct computation and quantitative evaluation.
    3. Interpretive: Use of diagrams, charts, tables and graphs.

Three Primary Content Domains

Like the WBST Test of Verbal Skills, the WBST Test of Quantitative Skills covers a broad range of mathematical skills by distributing questions within the following three primary content domains:

1. Basic Computation

Within the primary content domain, you will be asked to use basic addition, subtraction and division. You will respond to questions that deal with whole numbers and units of measure, include metric units of length and weight.

2. Basic Computation and Quantitative Evaluation

Questions that fall under this content domain will ask you to perform basic computations involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. You will also need to compute rates and percentages and interpret line, bar or pie graphs.

3. Algebra and Geometry

For this content domain, you will need to understand how to compute rates, proportions and percentages. You will also encounter questions that require you to solve variable expressions and equations, in addition to calculating length, angle, area or volume. You will also need to know the Pythagorean Theorem.

A Note on Decimal Fractions

The WBST Test of Quantitative Skills is not intended to assess your abilities in precision of measurement or significant digit rules. For this reason, you may need to round to get correct responses on some questions and may assume responses should be exact. For examples of what you can expect on the WBST Test of Quantitative SKills, be sure to take our Wonderlic Basic Skills practice test.

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What to Expect on Test Day

The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test is a standardized test, which means it is administered the same way every time. You will be given the same instructions and time allotment as other applicants taking the test, and your answer sheet will be scored the exact same way. The only thing that may differ slightly from applicant to applicant is the testing environment, which may be a school, library or other location which has been deemed appropriate; however, because the environment has been shown to have a significant impact on how an applicant scores on the test, each location will remain essentially the same for administration purposes.

You will need to have the following materials prior to beginning the WBST. These will be provided by the test administrator:

  • Two No. 2 pencils
  • WBST test booklets
  • One ATB answer sheet

There will also be a clock or timer monitored by the test administrator to time each of the test sections.

The ATB answer sheet is a machine-readable bubble form. You will use the same answer sheet to respond to the questions in both the Verbal and Quantitative Tests, in addition to the demographics section of the WBST. Use the demographics section in the beginning of the test to practice filling in your responses. You will be required to use a No. 2 pencil on the answer sheet.

Your testing session will begin with a 10-minute long demographics section. This will be followed by the 20-minute timed testing periods for each of the two WBST tests. Each of the tests will include practice items, which can be completed within 5 minutes. To qualify for ATB determination, you will be asked to complete both the verbal and quantitative tests in the same test session, with the WBST Test of Verbal Skills presenting before the WBST Test of Quantitative Skills. To be as best prepared as possible for both sections of the WBST, test yourself with a WBST practice test and take advantage of our Wonderlic Basic Skills study guide to master content areas where you may not perform as strongly.

Administering the WBST Untimed

If you have a physical or mental condition that may prevent you from completing the test within the time limit in a manner that would accurately reflect your abilities, you may be able to take the test untimed per Wonderlic’s Accommodations Policy; however, this determination will need to be made prior to testing day. If you are approved for the untimed version of the Wonderlic test, your test administration will combine the 20-minute timed session followed by an untimed period. You will use the same test from for both of these, but will receive two separate scores. As your untimed score will have a statistical adjustment, it may be possible to pass on either of the sessions, but not the other.

Scoring the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test

To qualify for Title IV Federal financial assistance, you must receive the following minimum scores or above within the same testing session as set by the U.S. Department of Education:

    • WBST Test of Verbal Skills: 200
    • WBST Test of Quantitative Skills: 210

Your ATB answer sheet will be sent to Wonderlic, where it will be processed within three days after the date they received it. Your sheet will be scanned and an analysis will be run to identify any problems with your test administration. Following the scan and analysis, your official score will be sent to both you and the school, if applicable. If you receive a passing score, you will see the word “PASS” in the “Ability-to-Benefit Status” box of your score report. Otherwise, you will see “NO PASS.”

Retesting the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test

If you believe your testing session may be inaccurate, or it was incomplete due to unforeseen circumstances such as a school announcement or fire drill, you may need to retake the WBST test. You may be able to retest as early as the same day as your initial test administration, or you may need to reschedule for another time. If you have any doubt about your session, please speak with the test administrator at your testing location.

Wonderlic Basic Skills Test Study Guide

Mometrix Academy is a completely free WBST review resource provided by Mometrix Test Preparation. If you find benefit from our efforts here, check out our premium quality Wonderlic Basic Skills Test review book to take your studying to the next level. Just click the WBST study guide link below. Your purchase also helps us make even more great, free content for test-takers.

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Wonderlic Basic Skills Test Customer Success Stories

Our customers love the tutorial videos from Mometrix Academy that we have incorporated into our Wonderlic Basic Skills Test study guide. The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test study guide reviews below are examples of customer experiences.

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Wonderlic Basic Skills Test – Customer

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by Mometrix Test Preparation | This Page Last Updated: January 13, 2023