Another acronym?

Hold up for a second–be very careful not to confuse the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test with the Wonderlic Personnel Test.

The WBST is just what it sounds like–a basic skills test. It contains questions on rudimentary high school-level mathematics and verbal reasoning skills. While the test is timed, the limit is reasonable, and most people have at least enough time to read all of the questions before the clock stops.

Straightforward and to-the-point, the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test, unlike many of the other Wonderlic psychometric assessments, doesn’t contain any surprises.

Usually given to prospective employees during the hiring process or administered to eager students as part of the college application process, the WBST helps institutions determine whether applicants have the essential skills they’ll need to either perform well in an office or engage in more intensive training in the pursuit of a certain career path.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test including a general overview, the material covered, the required passing score, and even some sample questions to get you started.

About the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test:

The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test lasts a total of 40 minutes and contains 90 questions divided into two separate sections. On the first half, you’ll be given 50 multiple choice questions on reading and language, and on the second half, you’ll be asked to complete 40 questions on basic mathematics and numerical reasoning.

Each section lasts 20 minutes, and you’ll be given four answer choices for every question. Plus, the entire assessment can be completed online either at an assessment center or even in the comfort of your own home.

Widely used in businesses and colleges across the U.S., the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test evaluates how well you’ve acquired general knowledge and fundamental life skills through your education. While you won’t see any questions on quadratic equations or dangling modifiers, you will be expected to calculate percentages, analyze short texts, and extract information from simple graphs.

Essentially, you’ll be asked to answer questions involving situations you probably encounter on a regular basis. If you have to calculate tax, make a payment in another currency, write a report, or even send a professional email, you’ll need to prove that you can manipulate numbers with some degree of ease, extract important information from a body of text, and express your thoughts logically and articulately in writing.

Put another way, the skills tested on this exam are skills that you’ll be using anyway to navigate all sorts of everyday situations. So if you haven’t learned these skills by now, you’ll need to pretty soon anyway.

What Material Does the WBST Cover?

Just like colleges want to know that incoming students can handle basic arithmetic, companies don’t want to find out that the secretary, for instance, that they hired to write up reports doesn’t know how to use prepositions properly or can’t read a line graph. Businesses need to know that they can rely on all of their staff members to handle data with care and communicate clearly and effectively.

Officially, the test breaks down as follows, as you can see in the sample report posted down below. You’ll see exactly how all of this plays out in the Basic Skills test sample questions we’ve included for you at the bottom of the page, but for now, we’ll just provide you with a general outline.

Verbal:

Grammar: Verb tenses, identifying errors, pronoun-antecedent agreement, capitalization

Sentence Construction: rearranging words to form a sentence.

Vocabulary: Completing sentences with the proper word, defining given vocabulary words

Information Retrieval: recording important facts.

Reading Comprehension: Answering basic questions about a short text.

Quantitative:

Numbers & Operations: Performing basic operations using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division

Fractions: Comparing and manipulating fractions

Algebra: Write and solve simple one-variable equations

Geometry & Measurement: find perimeter, area, distance, angle measurements

Data Interpretation: Reading graphs and charts

Applied Word Problems: Rates, time, percentages, ratios, and decimals
Applied Business Problems

Who Needs the WBST?

Students and professionals from all over the United States take the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test for various different reasons. While usually companies use the test to fill entry-level positions, it’s actually used in a variety of ways.

For instance, many nursing and nurse’s assistant programs require applicants to take the WBST. Anyone working with patients in a hospital needs to know how to perform calculations in their head quickly and accurately.

While a large percentage of nursing programs ask for the Wonderlic SLE or Wonderlic Personnel Test, other institutions prefer the basic skills assessment because it’s more straightforward and provides colleges with a very detailed report explaining exactly where a certain candidate compares academically in relation to his or her peers.

You might be surprised to learn that the WBST is also given to anyone who wants to open up a Subway franchise. While the employees who work at the restaurant may be paid minimum wage, running a fast food restaurant isn’t easy. By requiring businessmen to take the WBST, Subway hopes to scare off any hopefuls who cannot balance a checkbook or generally manage their finances.

Lastly, the test, or at least a very similar version of the test is required for any students applying to receive ATB status. The Ability to Benefit program is a government initiative that helps students without a high school diploma or equivalent certificate to attend a post-secondary degree-granting institution and apply for federal aid.

Wonderlic Basic Skills Test Passing Score:

On the WBST, you’ll receive separate scores for both the verbal and quantitative sections. Both tests are graded out of a total score of 500, and the grade and GED level equivalent will be marked along the top of the document for both subjects. If you’d like to receive ATB status, you’ll need at least a 200 on the verbal section and a 210 on the quantitative section.

In most cases, the school to which you’re applying will list the passing score it accepts on its website. If the exam is used as a general admissions exam, the school should list different scores for different programs depending on the level of difficulty.

Because each school is unique, it’s impossible to generalize. What may be an excellent score at one school will be rejected somewhere else. So, you should make sure to check the website of your top schools. Thankfully, even if you fall short on your first attempt, you can take the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test a total of three times before submitting your application.

If you’re applying for a job, there’s unfortunately no way to ask the interviewer what score he expects from you, but you can get a general idea of what to expect by taking a look at this sample score report.

Basic Skills Test Sample Questions:

We’ve included a short Wonderlic Basic Skills Assessment practice test for you here. You can try each of the questions on your own and then check your answers against the ones listed at the bottom of the page.

  • 1. Which of the underlined portions, if any, contains an error?
    Living in Alabama, Lisa was never seeing snow in her life, so she was amazed when the small white flakes started drifting down from the sky. No error.

    1. Living in Alabama
    2. Was never seeing
    3. Life, so
    4. Started drifting
    5. No error.
  • 2. Select the word that best completes the sentence.
    We thought he had made his connecting flight, but then he called to ____ us that he was still in the airport.

    1. Promise
    2. Tell
    3. Express
    4. Inform
    5. Thank
  • 3. Choose the word that is closest in meaning to the underlined word.
    He couldn’t distinguish the shadowy forms at the end of the corridor.

    1. See
    2. Hear
    3. Discern
    4. Watch
    5. Notice
  • 4. Lisa is three times her sister’s age. If Lisa’s sister is currently only 5, how old will Lisa be when her sister is 25?
    1. 75
    2. 28
    3. 33
    4. 8
    5. 35
  • 3. 91/7=
    1. 13
    2. 84
    3. 23
    4. 98
    5. 12

Answer Key:

  1. B- You should really say “had never seen” here and not “was never seeing.
  2. D- While tell works, inform is really more accurate.
  3. C- If you can distinguish something, you can perceive it clearly.
  4. E- If Lisa’s sister is 5, Lisa is 15, which means they are 10 years apart. So, when her sister is 25, Lisa must be 35.
  5. A

While the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test may seem intimidating, you can rest assured that with a bit of practice, you should have nothing to worry about.