New computerized test earns
nickname for toughness

By Staff
DRIVER'S LICENSE EXAM Calvin D. Bennett, a driver's license examiner at the Mississippi Highway Patrol office on Highway 19 North in Meridian, points to a touch screen computer where potential motorists take "The Beast" a new driver's license exam. The 30-question touch screen test replaced the 20-question paper exam. The test is tougher; since January, the Meridian MHP office has had a passing rate of 43 percent on the test, down from the 80 percent rate on the paper exam. Photo by Kyle Carter / The Meridian Star.
By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
July 19, 2004
A new test for anyone seeking their first Mississippi driver's license is so tough it already has a nickname "The Beast" even though it's been around for just a few months.
Since January, some potential motorists across the state have had to take a new, 30-question test on a touch-screen computer system in order to obtain a driver's license.
The days of the 20-question paper exam are gone. The new computerized test offers questions picked at random from a pool of up to 600.
The test already is offered at the Mississippi Highway Patrol office in Meridian and other cities. On Aug. 1, the test will be available at most rural MHP offices across the state.
How tough is the new test? The passing rate of the old paper test at the Meridian MHP office was 80 percent. The passing rate on "The Beast" is 43 percent.
The new computerized testing system isn't the only technological change with driver's licenses.
Motorists also can renew their driver's license with a credit card by visiting the MHP's official Web site, www.dps.state.ms.us.
Fortenberry said the Internet license renewal and computerized testing system are great additions. He said the new computerized testing system boosts a driver's knowledge of the rules of the road and adds integrity to the test.
A person taking the test is allowed to take it three times to answer at least 24 of 30 questions correct with 24 hours separating each test.
If they still can't pass it after the third time, they must wait 30 days to take the test again.
Bennet said reaction to the new system at the Meridian MHP office has been mixed.

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