December 5th, 2008

This IS me (by schwitters)Default

Hazard Warning

I took and passed my car theory test on Tuesday, which means I can start badgering my instructor about when I might be ready for the practical. With lessons at £25 an hour, I hope it won't be too long.

The theory test has changed since I took the motorcycle version a decade ago. Then it was thirty-five questions and we all filed into a classroom, sat at desks and made marks on a piece of paper. Now the number of questions has gone up to 50, taken on a touch screen, and you can go into the exam room as soon as you're ready because the computer will keep track of how much time you've got left.

As well as the multiple-choice questions there's now a hazard perception test in which you watch video clips and click the mouse whenever you spot a hazardous situation developing.

Bikers are notoriously bad at this, since to us everything is a hazard including the white line down the middle of the road, and when I did some practice tests I found I was scoring a big fat zero on some clips because I clicked before the designer of the test considered a hazard to have passed from 'potential' to 'developing'. But I evolved a cunning clicking strategy which seems to have done the trick.

I like the computer system. It alerts you if you've ticked the wrong number of boxes (some of the questions require two, three or four answers), thus eliminating silly bishes, and presumably everyone in the room was answering a completely different test, thus eliminating conspiracy. What's more, waiting three weeks for your results to plop through the letterbox is a thing of the past: I walked into the test centre at a quarter to nine and left an hour later, collecting my certificate at the desk on the way out.