And possibly even end the exam automatically when the user has enough wrong answers early enough?

My "written" learner's permit exam was on a computer. There were 20 items, and I got stopped right after I answered Question #16. The minimum passing grade was a 70, which means I must have gotten 2 wrong and I answered question #16 correctly. But initially, this freaked me out because stopping the exam just like that made me think that it's possible I got enough wrong answers so far to have failed the exam. Worse yet, the exam, of course, did not tell me whether I got previous item right or wrong, or kept a running tally of my score on each question answered.

As you can tell, I'm not a fan of premature exam termination when either a pass or a fail condition is met. Someone might argue that this approach saves time, and there may be other unforeseen (to me) advantages.

If we decide to make them answer all of the questions, would it be considered wasting their time when they already passed at a particular question? But this scheme is familiar and definitely doesn't add to a test taker's anxiety.

How should such electronic tests be administered?

  • What? You are gonna cheat me out of a 10 (out of 10) just because I managed to achieve a 6 (out of 10)? Feb 21, 2014 at 20:01
  • Pretty much. I, too want the possible 10/10 instead of 6/10 and call it passing. Feb 21, 2014 at 20:23
  • Have you taken a look at Khan Academy?
    – cimmanon
    Feb 21, 2014 at 21:34
  • If you can change your answers at any time isn't this a potential vector for cheating?
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 21, 2014 at 22:40
  • Such a testing will not allow test takers to go back to a previous question already answered. Feb 22, 2014 at 0:48

2 Answers 2


The test is to examine your knowledge to determine if you are ready to move on to the next level of responsibility, not to feed your ego at getting a perfect score. It's to provide a minimal indication that you have at least familiarized yourself with some of the rules of the road, and that you hopefully won't injure anybody as you begin practicing your skills. The test is not for your benefit - it's for the benefit of the state and her citizens.

Your DMV has determined that correctly answering 70% of 20 questions demonstrates the minimal level of knowledge required to pass. They don't care which 15 of the questions you answer correctly, and they won't do anything different with you regardless of whether you score 70% or 100%.

Ending the test early means they can free up your workstation for the next test taker that much sooner. The more efficiently they can get people through the testing process, the more people they can serve with the same number of resources in the same amount of time.

To improve the user experience, they could have told you in advance that the test would end after you got 15 correct; they could have displayed "PASS" after your 15th correct answer; or they could have displayed a progress bar during the test. None of these would require you to answer all 20 questions before grading you.


My initial thought for why terminating a test as soon as possible is a good idea is that it prevents a student from seeing all of the questions in hopes of limiting the possibility of them writing them all down where they could be used to cheat.

  • For their other friends, right? This makes sense. This RMV/DMV picks a random 20 questions per session from a pool of hundreds to help limit cheating for friends. But if we chose to end the exam early, what should be told to the test taker beforehand and what feedback do we give them for each subsequent question? Feb 21, 2014 at 19:18
  • Yea, exactly, but then again, dmv.org/drivers-license-practice-test.php is practically the same thing as writing them all down yourself. Are you asking this question with respect to the DMV or are you asking it about in general? Feb 21, 2014 at 19:22
  • I may be assigned to write a similar app but not necessarily about driving. Feb 21, 2014 at 19:25

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