If given the series of numbers 4810, 48, 481, 4801, and 408, you could easily tell which number is the least (48) and which is the greatest (4810). On the Wonderlic® test, however, they like to throw decimals into the mix and that can create some confusion. Look at the same digits in a list, with decimal points added:
Now tell which is the least. (Hint: It’s not 48 anymore.)
It’s scratch paper time, but you’ll need to do it quickly. Begin by writing a list of 5 decimal points, aligned vertically, like this:
Then, write the numbers listed with the decimal point in the proper place.
If it helps you to keep the columns straight, you can fill in zeroes (0) for any missing places in each number:
If you remember that each place moving to the right is worth less in value, it’s easy to find the number with the least value: .408 (Note that 481 is still the greatest in this list, but what would happen if the decimal point was in a different place, such as in 4.81?) That little point really does make a difference!
Whether you choose to answer or skip this type of question on the Wonderlic® test should depend on two things: how well you respond to visual input (graphs and other pictorial-type stimuli) and how complicated the graph and question are. If you like graphs and they are easy for you to read because they show a picture of data, that’s a plus. If the graphs you see at first glance are fairly simple (one line versus two and not too lengthy), you should probably give it a try. If only one or neither of these is true, it’s probably best to just skip visual matching (questions with graphs) items and go back if you have time. Remember, very few people finish the entire test and there are many questions that require less time commitment. Also, if you find out, once you’re into the question, that it’s taking too much time, skip it and move on. Your best bet is to practice some of these before the test and find out if you have the knack for doing them quickly. Here is a sample visual matching question and some hints for addressing it in an expedient manner:
Question: Josiah’s goal was to improve the distance he could throw a ball and he kept a record of the distance thrown in feet for five days. These distances were 78, 84, 88, 91, 80. Which graph shows this progression of his ball-throwing skill?
From the list of distances in order, you can see that they rise each time until the fifth point, at which the average score drops dramatically. So, you’re looking for a graph that shows an upward slope through the fourth point, then a sharp downward slope between the fourth and fifth point. Only the first two graphs do this, so you can quickly eliminate the last three. But the last point of the second graph slopes down below the level of the first point, so you know that is not the correct answer. Presto, you’ve found the graph—the first graph in the row!
Another way to address this type of question quickly is to make a quick sketch on your scratch paper of what the graph might look like, according to the data listed in the question. The graph line will go up as values get higher and down as they get lower. By sketching this movement, you might be able to quickly find one graph that looks like yours.
If you can determine the answer to this type of question quickly, you’ll want to go for them on the test. If not, skip them. You can always come back, if there’s time.