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DMV permit test driven online

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

By Vira Patil and Gilina Voon Dec. 14, 2023 In society’s quickly evolving technological landscape, many tasks are moving online to improve convenience. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has followed this pattern by allowing prospective drivers to take the permit knowledge test from the comfort of their own homes.

To obtain a permit, individuals are required to take the knowledge test, which assesses student drivers on road signs, traffic laws and the rules of safe driving. For minors, there are 46 questions. There are two methods for taking the test: in person at the DMV office or online. Initially, only adults could take the knowledge test online, but according to The Mercury News, since March 21, 2022, minors have also been able to take the test online with the consent of a parent or guardian.

Previously, the in-person permit tests required students to get at least a score of 38 to pass, with a maximum of three attempts to pass the test, according to California’s DMV. However if all three attempts are failed, then applicants are required to reapply and pay all applicable application fees again. On the other hand, the online permit test uses the software MVProctor, where two attempts are allowed and the third (if necessary) must be taken at the DMV Office.

The DMV states that the pass rate for the in-person test is 56% for the first attempt. While 44% fail the test, only 33% of all test-takers fail all three times. Since the online test has not been proctored for very long, the pass/fail rate is unknown.

“An advantage to the online test is one can take it from the comfort of one’s home and worry less about nerves. It is easier to schedule because one does not have to make an appointment or wait in line at the DMV. This new testing will definitely increase the number of students trying to get their license since it is much easier and faster,” Junior Ashton Ancheta said.

Per Anita Gore, a spokesperson from the DMV, this new change was implemented to enhance customer convenience by providing more online options. It aims to reduce the time required to complete transactions at a DMV office. However, it is important to note that taking the test online does not entirely eliminate the need to visit the DMV office. Although the application and test can be done online, individuals must still visit the DMV office after passing to finalize identification paperwork, undergo a vision check and have their photo taken.

Liliana Chai Art

Many appreciate the newfound efficiency with which they can take the knowledge test—however, others worry about the possibilities of cheating on the test.

“Online, there are concerns about cheating which may impact the quality of drivers. With little to no regulation around the test, many people are bound to skip studying and just cheat on the test because it is convenient for them. This might ultimately lead to less knowledgeable drivers on the road after passing the exam, which could be dangerous,” Senior Brandon Lee said.

While it may seem that way, the DMV actually employs a mechanism similar to what Canvas uses during student tests. For instance, the virtual test center can detect if someone switches browsers. Additionally, while the test is not proctored, participants are required to share their screen and keep a webcam on so the DMV can monitor them throughout the duration of the test.

The online permit test allows students to receive their results quicker, take the test more efficiently and, by the means of the MVProctor software, offer a more flexible schedule for both the students and administrators that also stands strong against cheating attempts. With the digitization of this integral exam, one thing is for sure: the lines at the DMV will be moving a lot faster.


About the Contributors

Vira Patil staff writer Vira Patil is a junior at Leland high school, and this is her first year as a staff writer on The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys to binge TV shows, spend time with her family, and play the piano.

Gilina Voon staff writer Gilina Voon is a senior at Leland High School and is a writer and photographer for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, hanging out with friends, and running.

Liliana Chai artist Liliana Chai is a freshman attending Leland High School and is an artist for the 2023-24 Charger Account. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, playing piano, sleeping, arts and crafts, and writing poetry. She is looking forward to Journalism and hopes to explore new ideas while collaborating with other people.

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