A stop-use order for the test, prompted by the cheating, potentially affects every driving school in Washington state. Driving students will still be able to take the exam — just a different version.
Only days after it was released, students in Battle Ground and Vancouver were caught cheating on the new, longer Washington driver’s license exam.
“It’s a pretty classical example of finding students had managed to photograph the tests,” said Brad Benfield, spokesman at the state Department of Licensing.
On Friday, the department ordered driver-training schools around the state to stop using the English 6B, Russian 3A and Russian 3B driver’s-knowledge exams until further notice. In Washington, private driver’s education schools offer the knowledge tests, as well as state Department of Licensing offices.
The stop-use order potentially affects every driving school in the state. However, driving students will still be able to take the exam, they’ll just be given a different version.
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“We have, like, 36 versions of the test. We try and mix them up around the state in such a way that different schools have different versions of the test,” Benfield said.
The new tests, lengthened from 25 questions to 40 to include questions about using marijuana and mobile devices, were released to first-time license applicants and those with expired licenses Aug. 15. Students are required to correctly answer 32 of the 40 questions to pass.
Two students took the 40-question knowledge test at driver-training schools in Vancouver and Battle Ground, but didn’t pass. When they went to take the tests again, the students were caught with pictures on their phones they had taken during their original tests.
“They were basically caught cheating,” Benfield said.
In its announcement to the schools, the department estimates the test will be re-created and redistributed in roughly two weeks.
Prior to administering the knowledge test, schools are supposed to make sure students don’t have access to cellphones, cameras, Bluetooth devices, headphones or bags, among other things.
“We understand this is a large impact on your businesses, which is why it is imperative you all do your best to keep all examinations materials secure,” DOL wrote to drivers school managers in the announcement.
The students that were caught cheating won’t face any criminal charges or other repercussions, but they will have to take the test at a state licensing office that offers driver’s testing rather than at another driving school, Benfield said.
About 200,000 driver’s exams are taken every year, many at private driving schools.
These two instances are the first and second instances of cheating on the updated version of the tests, but are the fourth and fifth cheating incidents since driving schools started testing in 2012.
Cheaters also were caught in 2013, 2015 and earlier this year.