By September 21, 2005

Failure is not an option (actually, it’s option “E”)

So I went to take the written part of my motorcycle test at the DMV today. The VA Motorcycle’s learner permit allows you to ride during daylight hours as long as you’re motoring with another fully licensed rider. You can’t have passengers, and you can’t ride after dark. I wanted to get the written part out of the way before my upcoming three day course. I routinely passed the online sample tests. How hard could it be? So, in I went.

In order to pass, you must answer 80% of the questions correctly.

A few of the questions seemed right out of the online demo. A few others were new to me, but I figured out the logical answer. Fewer were new to me but I was able to puzzle out what type of statement the DMV was trying to make — for example, all of the alcohol questions. I don’t drink, so I don’t know how many drinks it takes to get a Girl Scout drunk. But I do know that alcohol is the Great Satan when it comes to driving, so I chose the most horrific, apocalyptic answer possible. And I got it right.

Unfortunately, there were some questions that were not only new to me, but I had no idea what the best answer was. Here’s one that I missed:

Debris in the road gathers in:

  • A) The center of the road.
  • B) The center of each lane.
  • C) The right side of the road.
  • D) The left side of the road.

I answered B, remembering from the online test that oil and other leaks from cars gather in the center of each lane, and should be avoided right after it starts raining. The correct answer, however, is C. Go figure. Lady Jaye answered this one correctly.

I also misread the answers to one question involving driving at night. See if you can choose the correct answer:

You approach a car in your lane at night. What do you do?

  • A) Increase distance between you and the car and use your low beam light.
  • B) Decrease distance between you and the car and use your low beam light.
  • C) Pass the car on your left, with your high beams on.
  • D) Lay the bike down and bleed to death (I can’t remember this one).

Having already missed four questions, I hurriedly answered B. I read “decrease distance” as “decrease speed.” I felt stupid for missing this one. The correct answer is A.

So, I’ve missed five questions. If I miss any more, I don’t pass. I have six questions to go. I answer the first three without difficulty. I’m unsure about the fourth question, so I choose the “skip” option. I go on to the fifth question, puzzle it out, and also answer it correctly. Sweet. Back to the hard one for the nail biting conclusion!

“We’re sorry, you have missed more questions than allowed to successfully pass the exam. Please see the Examiner.”

WTF? Apparently, when you skip a question it doesn’t count for you or against you, but lowers the total number of questions counted during your exam. Instead of being able to pass with a score of 20/25, I had to get a score of 20/24. Which I didn’t.

“How’d you do,” the man behind the counter asked.

“Not this time,” I replied.

“Motorcycle test, huh? Don’t worry, a lot more people fail that the first time than the car exam.”

Oh well. If I answered the night time question correctly and hadn’t skipped the next to last question it would have been a different story. I’m going back tomorrow, and I’ll do better.

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