No substitute for real-world experience
By Steve Wallace, Times Colonist, July 25th 2014
Before new driving candidates in British Columbia can begin legally practising behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle, they must pass a written test.
There are 50 questions on the test. In order to be successful a person must get 80 per cent — or 40 out of 50 — correct.
The computer upon which the test is conducted, will automatically conclude the exercise when the 80 per cent threshold is reached.
The test is offered in several languages. There are earphones available, providing a greater opportunity to comprehend questions, particularly for the auditory learner.
There is also an opportunity to do a paper test upon approval of the manager of the ICBC facility, government agent or various other civic and private enterprise contracted entities throughout the province. Oral tests are also an option, though rarely administered, for those with learning disabilities or other conditions, such as dyslexia. Most offices are very accommodating when it comes to special circumstances of the theory testing. If there are problems, contact the manager or regional representative immediately.
The test is difficult. Some of the questions are ambiguous and there is often more than one correct answer to various questions. It is the job of the candidate to choose the most correct answer.
I challenge everyone who reads this column to go to the ICBC.COM website and do the sample questions. You may be surprised at your result. Then go to the British Columbia Richmond Public Library website. Follow the links to the questions on that site. You will be even more surprised at your performance.
Try all the questions on each site. –I find the Richmond site to be more reflective of the actual questions that may appear on the official theory test. The ICBC site questions seem easier and may give prospective drivers a false sense of confidence prior to attempting the test for real.
I must admit to being a skeptic of the theory tests offered by several jurisdictions in North America. Most are designed by curriculum advisers, instead of registered teachers, in whom I have greater faith. Some places such as California, for instance, now offer the tests online.
They have come to the conclusion that the theory test is simply a cash cow and all of the needed information can be attained through other means, while actually driving a vehicle. They liken it to having to take a theory of buoyancy test, before attempting swimming lessons, totally useless.
In all my years of teaching driving, I am still unable to discern whether a person passed their learners theory test on the first try or took several attempts. Driving is a practical skill. It is best demonstrated, not theorized! On the other hand, I have no trouble predicting who will pass the practical road test.
Let’s get back to my original challenge or plea, if you so choose. Take the theory test.
Be careful when answering the “how to react to wildlife on the highway” question.
The so called, correct answer is to release the brake before hitting a deer head-on, thereby not dipping the hood and causing the deer elk or moose to come through the windshield. This question, and erroneous answer, must have been offered by some curriculum adviser from Toronto, who probably has never seen any of these animals in the wild. Everyone who regularly drives on roads that wildlife like to travel knows to go for a glancing blow and to use ABS throughout. The supposedly correct test answer is ridiculous.
Good luck on the tests.
Steve Wallace is the owner of Joan Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former V.P. of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.
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