Everything You Need to Know to Pass the Driving Test

FunnyDriversTestSheetMost teens are eager to get their driver’s license. So eager, in fact, that the Princeton Review is considering publishing a driving-test booklet for the written test.*

*That’s probably not true. If it is true, I’ll probably get sued for revealing trade secrets. (“The Princeton Review: Cracking the Circuit Court, 2013 Edition.”)

Unfortunately, the state governments have created a number of obstacles to getting your license, mostly to appease the ultra-powerful common sense lobby. Some of these obstacles are straightforward, like speed bumps—originally created to make driving less comfortable for teens, although this backfired after teens interpreted them as jump ramps—while others are more obscure, like the law that says any car given to a teen has to have at least three dents, with at least one of them coming from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Nonetheless, teens still manage to obtain licenses as soon as possible, often earning them on their 16th or 17th birthday. Of course, to do so, one must pass both the written test and driving test. (A few very talented teens have actually passed both at the same time, with the help of a steering-wheel desk). And, while we’ve previously told you how to cruise right through that written test, we have not yet touched upon the driving test.

At some point, you’ve probably asked yourself: why do you do this? Why do you reveal the secrets to tests created to keep people safe on the road?

Well, to that I have two answers. The first is that you’re a better driver than many already on the road, so it’s not like you’re making it that much less safe. After all, neither 80-year-old drivers nor NASCAR professionals drive the speed limit. (One theory is that the 80-year-olds are trying to somehow compensate for all of the people speeding. It’s worked fairly well, too: if you’re going 25mph on the freeway, it’s easy to avoid the NASCAR racer driving at a 90-degree angle on the vertical cement divider.)

The second answer is that I’m here to help you, of course. And by you, I mean me, sort of how most people usually mean “me” when they say “you.” (For example: “I love you.”). If you pass the driving tests without too much studying, you’re more likely to read this blog in all that extra spare time.

So, without further ado, just how are you going to pass the driving test?

The First Impression

You’ll be nervous. If you normally sweat, don’t drink anything for three weeks before the driving test. You know what they say: dead men don’t sweat.

After all, to establish a good rapport with your evaluator, you’re going to want to shake their hand as soon as they get in your car. To establish a really good rapport, slide out of the handshake, slap back-and-forth with your hand, and then fist-bump-explode out. (This is not recommended for evaluators over the age of 30).

You should also make sure that your car is clean, especially concerning the dead bodies in your back seat. If you can’t move them on your own, then it’s generally acceptable to just put them in a nice suit and tie. This also involves removing anything that’s on your dashboard or hanging from your mirror, such as dice.

Hanging dice from mirrors has a lot in common with 90% of all teen fashion, in that nobody knows why others think it is a good idea. I mean, are you playing Parcheesi with other drivers at a red light? If you can’t wait until you get home to do that, I think you should see an addiction specialist.

The Stop Signs

As a general rule, you need to emphasize that you can drive safely, correctly, and with your eyes open.

Most teens have trouble with stop signs. This is because many people have incorrectly assumed that these red, octagonal signs are a massive federally funded anti-smoking campaign, and that they are strategically placed at busy intersections where people are most likely to see them. So, when you stop, it will feel like an eternity compared to the drivers around you, who often speed up through stop signs to demonstrate their true level of nonchalance.

And why do people hate stopping? Because it takes time. Since you have to stop during the driving test, however, you might as well not let that time go to waste. So, bring your English novel and read a chapter at every stop sign. If your driving evaluator starts to look impatient, that’s just ‘cause they don’t want to be excluded from the story. This is solved by reading aloud to them, unless it is Wuthering Heights, in which case, they will be required by law to automatically fail you.

The Lane Merging

Merging is something not covered in most written tests, because when written, it seems simple: turn on your signal and pull into a gap in the adjacent lane.

This simplistic description, however, doesn’t take into account the fact that there are no gaps in the adjacent lane, and all of the cars and drivers in the adjacent lane are devoted to ensuring that no gaps appear. In fact, even if a brick wall suddenly appeared in the lane, one study found that 90% of drivers will attempt to drive through it to prevent any gaps in the lane from forming*.

*Unsurprisingly, this study took place in San Francisco.

Now, on any normal route, most teen drivers think ahead as to what lane they need to be in. If necessary, we’ll track that lane up to 50 miles opposite direction until we can find where it starts, just to avoid any lane changes. On the driving test, though, the state wants to see if you can change lanes at a moment’s notice, I guess to add some excitement to the driving evaluators’ otherwise dull jobs of spending 10 hours a day in a car with someone who learned to drive yesterday.

While there are many terrific strategies to merging quickly—such as merging and then signaling, or finding a VW Bug and just bumping it out of the lane—on the driving test, you’re bound by the law. This means that other drivers will be aware that you’re trying to merge, and compensate adequately by making faces at you as they speed up to close any lane gaps to within an inch.

To add to that stress, most driving tests involve a lane change when the lane ends, meaning you’re going to have a limited amount of time to merge before you hit the concrete wall that people think it’s a good idea to end lanes with.

So, the merging advice is simple. You need to find the toughest bumper stickers you can and place them on your car. “If you don’t eat jalapenos peppers before your morning coffee, you’re not alive!” or “Yeah, I lost an arm fighting off a pack of rabid wolves, but at least I didn’t lose my compass.” You’d be an idiot to not to allow these sort of people to merge, and a gap in the lane will appear for you.

The “Awareness”

One of the other things you’re evaluated on is how “aware” of your surroundings you appear to be. The key word there is “appear.”

Obviously, you don’t want to wear sunglasses, obscuring your eyes and making it impossible for the evaluator to tell if you check your mirrors. In fact, most people suggest wearing a baseball hat so that it is obvious when you turn your head to check mirrors. To make that an even better idea, you should wear one of those jester hats with the bells. Now, not only is it visually obvious that you’re turning your head, it’s also audibly obvious. Plus, if you take the exam sometime in the Christmas season, the driving instructor won’t even think you’re a total freak—just slightly deranged.

The other thing you can do to appear more aware is to offer commentary on your surroundings. For example, when you check your left side mirror, you might say something like: “Wow, that blue van behind me has a major dent on its left side and some metal stuck in its front left tire. It must have hit an inexperienced merging driver a few minutes ago. Hey, look! You can even see the driver who was trying to merge; he’s clinging to the back bumper.”

Conclusion

I’ll confess that I haven’t told you everything you need to know to pass the driving test. I didn’t mention the whole part about taking yellow lights at mach 3, or braking hard before sharp turns to get that cool movie-style screech. I did hit on the major points, however, and that’s all you need. After all, if the DMV says you only need an 80% on the driving test to pass, that’s good enough for me. Even if that 20% failed includes things such as knocking down mailboxes—although, really, you probably just saved them from some college mail anyways.

Yeah, I’m still here. Trust me, I’ll let you know if I ever plan to stop posting. Otherwise, just assume that the next post, as always, will be coming as soon as my junior-year-is-crazy schedule allows. If you’ve liked the blog, you can stay more up-to-date, as I’ll try to post on the Facebook page about any kinks in the posting schedule. (To make up for that long gap, this post is longer than usual.)

And, of course, there’s always the archives to browse if you get impatient. Which brings me to not one, but two terrific posts published in March last year. The first consists of some hilarious summaries of some “classic” English novels, and is one of my personal favorites. The second is some outstanding backpack fashion advice, entitled “6 Awesome Ways to Wear Your Backpack.”

Everything You Need to Know to Pass the Written Driving Test

If you can't see this picture, you're missing out

(click the image to enlarge it)

One of the more brilliant ideas that our government has come up with over the years is the driver’s knowledge (written) test. If you are going to let someone drive a car, then half of their assessment should definitely be based on a multiple choice test.

This is absolutely genius. I mean, driving is exactly like sitting in front of a computer clicking the mouse. You’re staring straight ahead with a bored look on your face, moving your hands to make the pictures in front of you change.

But wait, it gets better. You need to get an 80% to pass the test! Talk about keeping our roads safe.

For example, let’s say some hypothetical bad driver (who is statistically probably a teen boy) is taking the test. He only misses one question, so he passes. However, that one very difficult question showed him a “DO NOT ENTER” sign and asked him what it meant.

He had four choices. It meant: a) the driver should enter the road; b) that the sign maker was supposed to type “Do Not” and then hit ‘enter,’ but he misread the directions; c) that the driver should not enter onto the road; or d) that the driver should never again enter anything, be it a building, contract, or road.

Now, this hypothetical teen boy didn’t know the answer, so he did the smart thing. He realized that most people will guess letter ‘c,’ and he figured that letter ‘c’ was the answer that made the most sense. Therefore, letter ‘c’ must be a trick answer, so he guessed ‘d.’

Nonetheless, he still passed. But he’s not a safe driver. The next time he sees a DO NOT ENTER sign, he’s going to ignore it. Let’s say it’s a freeway off ramp. In a best-case scenario, he causes a twenty-five mile long car pile-up and makes the road impassable for a week. If it was during rush hour, then the pile-up could stretch as far as all the way around the world, so he is hit from both the front and back.

Suddenly, because this teen didn’t get 100% on his driver’s knowledge test, he’s in a terrible situation. As unlikely as it seems, this could happen to you. So, I’m here to make sure you pass your driver’s knowledge test with a perfect score.

The Signs

Lots of times, you’ll be presented with a question along the lines of “What does this sign mean?” These questions are your friend, because they are easy.

If you’re stuck, look at the color of the sign. Each color means something different. Red is prohibitive, yellow is a warning, orange is road work, vomit green is a carsickness hazard, and if you see sky blue you’re probably looking in the wrong direction. (That’s why McDonald’s chose yellow for their ‘M;’ it’s a warning that it’s bad for your health).

Another thing you can look at is what’s on the sign. In school, if the question was “Does the sign saying ‘Right turn permitted without stopping’ mean you can make a right turn without stopping?” it’s obviously a trick question. On this test, the questions can be that easy.

If the sign has arrows, they usually denote the road’s path ahead. Therefore, a sign with an arrow tells you that the road does not abruptly come to a stop at a cliff edge, but rather continues ahead (regardless of the curves in the arrows present, this is true). If you don’t see an answer dealing with a sharp cliff drop, assume that the question was poorly written and choose any answer with “full speed ahead” (since you don’t have to worry about driving off the end of the road).

The Speeds

The nice thing about speed limits is that they aren’t secret. Otherwise, life would be much more difficult. “But officer, Haley said that John said that Stew said that Barbara said that she’d overheard someone whispering this speed limit was 45!”

Sadly, on the written test (which, remember, is a terrific indicator of real life performance), they’ll ask you questions like “How fast should you go on a two-lane road with a double yellow line that climbs a hill in the middle of a city block next to a coffee shop drive-thru?”

There is no way to study for these questions. The only thing you can do is remember some basic rules, such as the answer is rarely more than a three-digit speed limit.

The Right-of-Way

For some reason, many people like to talk about how difficult it is to learn who has the right of way. However, it’s very easy to learn.

Basically, if you’re on the right, and you both got to a stop sign at the same time, you have the right of way. It’s not called the left-of-way, or the straight ahead-of-way, or even the curds-of-whey. It’s the right-of-way.

The only other rule is that the right-of-way goes to whoever is already on the road. If you’re turning onto a road, anyone on that road already has the right-of-way. This can get confusing, because sometimes the people with the right-of-way will be on the left. While this seems like it would cause the universe to just instantly cease to exist, I assure you, it’s okay.

The exception to any of these rules is that monster trucks, tanks, and the President of the United States will always have the right of way.

Congratulations. You know now everything you need to know, save the stuff I left out, to pass the driver’s written test. If you are still unable to pass this test, well, let’s just say your grades are probably more of a concern then your driving ability.

Last year at this time we brought you, “Learning about the Middle Ages and Avoiding Depression.” Yes, both learning and the middle ages are very depressing.

Readers: As a heads up, this year is the infamous junior year for me. I’m going to continue posting as often as possible, but posts might be a little farther than 2 or 3 days apart (like they used to be). To make up for it, I’ll try to make the new posts a little longer, as this one was.

Everything You Need to Know to Pass History Class: WWI

WWIIt’s been a little while since our last “Everything you need to know” post, mostly because we wanted you to realize how much your grades would change without our constant help (we’re not going to classify whether it was “bad” change or “good” change; you should be able to figure that out. It may have even been “pocket” change).

However, in the spirit of the April is Awesome campaign, which I just created to raise awareness about how un-awesome April is in the hopes that that will change (start by closing school for another week and adding in nightly meteor showers/fireworks shows/alien visits), I figured I’d make your April awesome by explaining WWI.

Sure, that alone might not seem like an awesome thing. But when you consider that you will, I assure you, have at least forty test questions on WWI throughout your lifetime, you can see that I’m basically giving you six answers on a silver platter (although this blog is neither silver nor a platter, meaning that this is an imaginary silver platter. Which just makes it more awesome, because then you can do all sorts of things with it in your imagination, like make it a 4-D silver platter or give it eyes and legs. April is just so awesome).

Of course, as I have before, I advise you not to unquestionably trust this information. You should always be allowed to question things. For example, by the end of this post, you’ll probably be wondering, “Phil, how is it that you are so absolutely insanely smart?”

Causes:

The biggest cause of WWI was undoubtedly the fact that this blog didn’t exist yet. So, no one had any way to release tensions through laughter, because, let’s face it, the early 1900s were not all fun and games. I mean, would you be having fun if you knew that not only would the next 30 years bring a world war, but a major economic collapse as well? I don’t think so. Plus, as illustrated by the movies of the era, everything was in black and white.

There were other causes, though. Skype wasn’t invented, so it was hard for national leaders to use diplomacy. Also a problem was the fact that the European nations had decided to grab as much land and build as many guns as they could as fast as they could, which, surprisingly, did not end up leading to global peace.

Other factors include something called nationalism, which involves a ‘nation’ and an ‘alism,’ and alliances, which were sort of like student-council elections (“I’ll vote for you, you’ll vote for me, and then we’ll go invade that country over there and dig some trenches,” is a common phrase overheard during the high school election season).

The War:

Moving right along, because I know this is cutting into valuable procrastination/sleep/eating time, let’s start with the spark that ignited the war. It was not a very bright spark, of yellow-orange color, but unluckily for Europe it happened in the blimp-chamber where all the flammable gasses were hel-oh, sorry, that’s the Hindenburg. Yet another reason why people alive in the early 1900s were constantly breaking into tears in the street; they all just knew the Hindenburg would happen in 1937.

The actual start of the war occurred with the assassination of ‘the Duke,’ meaning that North Carolina retaliated by declaring war on Europe. Then Europe became split over whether to fight, laugh at, or throw exotic travel brochures at North Carolina. So, they decided to fight amongst each other to decide, and by the end of the war no one remembered to deal with North Carolina.

The war was fought using trenches, guns, and, in the Russian case, hammers and sickles. Millions died on all sides, tragically, until Russia decided it was difficult to compete using only farm tools. After they dropped out of the war, millions more died, until the United States decided that they needed to intervene to protect the dignity of North Carolina. Eventually, in 19-something, most of the dying stopped (although it could have been 20-something or even 30-something, although one of these three dates is a TV show. I forget which).

Consequences:

There were a lot of important consequences, so I’m just going to list them:

  • Germany lost
  • France, Great Britain, and the US won
  • Russia lost
  • Danzig, a town so small that if you lie down to sleep your head or legs leaves the town boundaries, won
  • North Carolina could go back to focusing on basketball, now that they didn’t need to worry about being attacked by the entire European continent plus Russia which isn’t really in Europe but whatever
  • Germany broke up with Russia although Germany said “I still like you, as a friend. So please don’t get mad. There’s no reason to, like, take our Eastern section”

One thing that did not happen, though, was that no one was able to deal with the problems this war created well enough to avoid another war. This led to WWII, which, in turn, led to other wars, which, in turn, led to the wars that exist today.

Which will, I’m sure, eventually lead to the Great Depression, which is why the early 2000s are not all fun and games. This is also why there is a great need for at least one month of awesomeness in the year, hence the “April is/needs to be (or else) Awesome” idea.

If it just so happens that you want to take a WWI test while chewing gum, then perhaps you’d better read “5 Ways to Avoid Being Caught with Gum.” Want to know why Shakespeare can actually help you hide your gum? Read on.

Everything You Need to Know to Pass Math Class: Order of Operations

angry math symbolsYes, in continuing this wildly popular series (so popular, in fact, that these posts receive less comments than a normal post, not to mention result in a 4,000% increase in death threats, from 0 on average to 0 after posting these*), it’s about time I covered math class.

*If you don’t understand this, then you’ll probably need more than this one post to help you with your math skills.

One of the basic things you need in math is a good understanding of the order of operations. That way, when presented with an equation like “(2(4+x-3×2)/(4*5+21-3)5)+ 3+8!-(7×3/6xy)*2xyz+3abcdefgh,” you don’t start crying immediately. Instead, you can calmly remind yourself that there’s an order of operations for things like this, and then start crying, because you don’t remember what that order is.

So, a good tip when it comes to remembering the order of operations (definition of which is: the operations’ order) is to remember PEMDAS. PEMDAS, like most words in all capitals, such as US, IMF, FBI, and ICC, is an acronym.

(SCUBA is the exception. I mean, sure, people might try to tell you it is an acronym, but you can go SCUBA diving. And there is SCUBA equipment and certification. You can be a SCUBA diver. Don’t try to tell me that you can be an IMF diver, or go FBI diving.)

PEMDAS stands for “People Entertaining Mollusks by Drawing Amazonian Slugs.” As you can see, this is something that is handy to remember if you are ever in a situation where you need to entertain mollusks. Such as when you are in the deep, halfway-submerged-in-the-ocean dungeon you will be sent to because you didn’t know the order of operations.

Seriously, though, this tells you nothing about the order of operations. Therefore, I’ve listed it here for you, in what I like to call math notation: ()2*/+-. If that looks like a text emoticon, that’s because it is, coincidentally, the symbol for an oval-headed person with a large hoop earring and bruised neck, wearing a shirt slung over one shoulder who has only one leg (If you don’t see it, don’t worry. Many people don’t, at first. So, turn your head sideways. Now you see it, obviously).

Now that you know what the order of operations is, you need to know when to actually use this knowledge. After all, not all of your math problems will look exactly like the example I provided above. Most, if not all of them, will be harder, and may or may not include the whole alphabet.

However, I’ve got a good rule of thumb for you to follow. When you see a ‘(‘ or ‘)’, ask yourself: is your math teacher plagiarizing from High School Humor Blog? (I’m working on this parentheses addiction, though). (Except instances like that last bit show you what an uphill battle parentheses rehab can be).

Seriously, though, in this instance you should ask yourself if you need to refer to the order of operations. If the answer is yes, then don’t use them. If the answer is no, use them. This stems from the basic, accepted logic that most teens are wrong 90% of the time, when it comes to math, so doing the opposite of what you’d normally do means that you’ll be right 90% of the time.

If, after all of these tests, you are going to use the order of operations, proceed with caution. Most teens will make some sort of careless mistake, such as adding when they were supposed to take the delineated derived square root of the cosine.

The only way to make sure you don’t make any of these mistakes is to get the answer without working through the problem. If you can’t pick the answer out of thin air, or read your classmates’ minds, or guess, then I have bad news: you will probably still get the answer wrong.

So, please remember: even though you may have memorized the order of operations so well that you can recite them in your dreams in your dreams in your dreams (one word: mathception), you will, by nature of being a teen, still get the answer wrong.

Thus, when you get invariably tossed in the dungeon for getting a bad score, it’s important to remember that it’s Amazonian, not African, slugs that Mollusks like to see drawn. Because otherwise, you might get eaten alive by oysters. And a slimier death does not exist.

Last year, still in the spirit of forecasting for classes, we offered advice in “The Application Guaranteed to Get you In.” In a question-and-answer format, we provide the right answers to use on your class applications, including which organs to offer as bribes to get into the class.