Verbal Study Guide for the Wonderlic Personnel Test

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General Information

This type of question seems to make up the largest percentage of the Wonderlic Personnel Test™, so, even if you end up skipping some of them, you’ll need to address at least a few to obtain a decent score. In this guide, you’ll become familiar with the typical format of each of the types of verbal questions so that you’ll know which to attempt if you don’t feel confident with all the types. And we’ll give you some valuable hints for answering all varieties of verbal questions on the Wonderlic® test.

Word Relationships

In this type of question, you are given two words and asked to decide how they are related: do they have the same meaning (synonyms), do they contradict each other (opposites or antonyms), or are the two words not related at all?

A quick way to approach this kind of question is to ask yourself, “Are they synonyms?” If they are, you have your answer. Next ask, “Are they opposites?” If so, again you know which answer to mark. And if the answer to both of these questions is no, then they are unrelated and that’s the answer to choose.

Here are a few examples:

These two words have ____ meanings.



Even though you may have heard these two words used together, they have individual meanings and are generally not related, so the answer would be unrelated. Gross means large or unpleasant and negligent means to be neglectful of doing something.

If you were given the words caring and compassionate, the answer would be similar. These two words do not mean exactly the same thing, but you could say that their meanings are similar.

On the other hand, eager and reticent have basically opposite meanings, so you should choose contradictory as the answer.


These questions present a sentence, with one word written in color. You are asked to choose the antonym for the word in color from a list of five choices. First of all, the term antonym means opposite, so you will need to find the word that is most opposite in meaning to the word in color.

That’s a good way to quickly approach this question type. If the sentence says that a person was hot, ask yourself, “If he was not hot, he was ____” and see if that word, or a word like it (synonym), appears in the choices.

Here’s an example:

The man inside seemed totally \(\color{red}{unaware}\) of the crowd of customers waiting to get into the store.


You would say to yourself, “If he was not unaware, then he was ____ (aware). The only choice that is similar in meaning to aware (and could be a true opposite of the word unaware) is cognizant, which means aware.

If you have a fairly decent vocabulary, antonym questions should pose little challenge and can be one of the types you can complete quickly. Reviewing some lists of antonyms couldn’t hurt your chances here.


This is what you are looking for in Wonderlic® questions that ask you to find the three words that have “similar” meanings. The meanings of these words may not be exactly the same, but they will be close or closely related.

One suggestion for dealing with these questions easily is to quickly scan the five words listed to see if you can find two with similar meanings. Then, try to find a third word that means nearly the same as those two. If you do find a third one, you have your three words for the answer. If not, the correct answer is probably the other three words. Check them to be sure. At this point, if you’re still struggling, either make an educated guess or skip to the next question, because the process is taking too much time.

Here’s an example of a synonym question:

Which THREE of these words have similar meanings?


In scanning these, you notice that merry and joyful seem to have similar meanings. Is there a third? Well, depressed is a negative feeling, nearly opposite in meaning, and neutral means no positive or negative feeling, so those two are out. You may not know the meaning of exuberant, but you can be pretty sure that it matches the only pair you’ve found, merry and joyful. You know this because you know there have to be three with similar meaning.

Rearranging Sentences

You’ve probably seen puzzles like this before: a series of words that, when rearranged, form a sentence that makes sense. Then, there will be a question asking you to find a certain word in the sentence you created. Here’s an example:

Rearrange all the words inside the box to make the best sentence.
Which word should come JUST BEFORE “raining”?

\[\begin{array}{|c|} \hline \text{raining} & \text{it} & \text{your} & \text{so} & \text{umbrella} & \text{is} & \text{take} \\ \hline \end{array}\]


The best sentence you can make with these words is, “It is raining so take your umbrella.”
The word that comes just before raining is the word is, so that is the correct answer.

If you need more practice quickly unscrambling words to make sentences, check out the many online resources and similar games.


For some reason, analogy questions have been considered “hard” by many test-takers, but don’t shy away from them until you try. They can be some of the quickest questions to answer on the Wonderlic® test. Here’s the trick to answering an analogy question:

Determine what relationship the first two words have. This relationship could be opposite, similar in meaning, a remedy for, etc. Or one could be a part of the other. Other relationships are also possible on the test.

Then, look for an answer choice that makes the last two words have the same relationship. This involves a bit of talking to yourself, like this, filling in the parts in brackets[ ]:

[FIRST WORD] [relationship to] [SECOND WORD] as [THIRD WORD] [same relationship] [?]

It’s easier when working with real words, so let’s try. This is the question:

SINGER is to VOICE as BAND MEMBER is to __?__.


At first glance, all of these words seem related, but do the self-talk suggested above and the answer should quickly become clear:

Step one: [SINGER] [relationship to] [VOICE] as [BAND MEMBER] [same relationship] [?]

Now, fill in the relationship:

Step one: [SINGER] [uses] [VOICE] as [BAND MEMBER] [uses] [?]

The clear answer is INSTRUMENT because that is what a band member uses to make music.

Here are some other relationships you might see in analogy questions:

KITE is to SKY (relationship: moves in)
SOAKED is to DRY (relationship: opposite)
FOOD is to STARVATION (relationship: remedy for)
OFFICER is to BATTALION (relationship: part of)

There are many online resources in which to find practice with analogies. You might find that they are actually fun and quick to answer!

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