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Corey's Corner: study well for those final exams

Last week I turned 50. Thank you for the notes, the lawn party and the sidewalk “Happy Birthdays.”

You’d think 50 was too old to take exams. Not so.

“Your driver’s license expiration date is 11-28-2011,” an LAX Transportation Security Administration agent alerted me last month. A few mornings later, on Nov. 22, I drove to the Department of Motor Vehicles with a 9:30 renewal appointment. I looked forward to the quick in and out. A painful hour later, I was back in the car wondering what just happened.

It started out rather effortlessly. No long lines snaked around the sidewalk. My number was quickly called to visit window No. 19. A recently manicured lady greeted me at the counter.

“Driver’s license renewal, please,” I told her, reaching for my wallet to pay the $31 fee. At that, she responded that I had to take an 18-question exam.

“Exam? I took one four years ago when we moved to California.”

“It’s your driving record.”

“Driving record? I haven’t had a ticket here.”

She looked puzzled as she checked my online profile, her shiny pink and white nails clicking on the keys.

“You’re right. No tickets. Go to the photo line, then proceed to the exam room.”

I knew from her voice that she had the authority to make me take the test, justified or not. Complying, I posed for the photo before heading to the exam room.

Standing in line, I waited with other soon-to-be test takers — some not older than my college freshman son. A DMV employee handed me the exam and sent me to a standing booth, unprepared as I was. Across the top was the warning, “No more than three incorrect answers.” That means a C+, about 78 percent, is failure. The tension grew.

“I’m educated and have been driving two-thirds of my life,” I reasoned as I began filling the dozen and a half multiple-choice boxes.

The grader, now the third DMV employee I’d met that day, checked my 18 responses against the key. After getting a string of answers right, things began to sour. One wrong. Two wrong. Three wrong. Then she came to the final question.

“What is the legal alcohol limit for a driver over 21 in California?”

  • 0.05
  • &nasb
  • 0.08
  • &nasb
  • 0.10

My logic? Lower equals better. I’d checked box one. “I’m sorry,” she said, “Point oh eight.”

“Failed!” I thought, shocked. A college president and about to turn 50?

The DMV lady who just failed me then told me the good news. “I’ll let you take a bonus question.” Do or die, basically.

“Pick a number between 19 and 38. That’s the question you’ll answer,” she said as I felt all the pressure of a sudden-death penalty kick. Reeling from the “F,” I responded, “15.”

“That’s not between 19 and 38,” she retorted, second-guessing why she’d given me another chance.

Unfortunately, I answered the bonus question wrong, though I still think I was right. She wrote a failure mark on my test and sent me away, telling me I had two more tries before — basically — driver’s ed.

Not long after, I regrouped and was given a new test. Got all 18 correct.

The moral from a guy in his 50s? Be prepared for your exams next week. Study diligently, in groups whenever possible. Don’t wait until the day before to prep. Eat breakfast. Get plenty of sleep. Go to Sunday night’s “Study Break.” Stay away from video games. Don’t count on bonus questions. Finish strong. Then go have a blessed Christmas.

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