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November 5, 2006

Could you pass China's driving test? Sample questions follow


Elizabeth Williamson, in an October 5, 2006 story in the Washington Post, noted that getting a driver's license in China is no easy task.

Here's the article.

    Driving Them Crazy

    You are motoring down a stretch of Chinese highway outside Chengdu, when, glancing at the side-view mirror of your Xiali 2000, you notice flames shooting from your gas tank.

    Quick โ€” do you:

    a. Strip off your cotton clothing and use it to smother the flames.

    b. Toss water on the blaze.

    c. Dig out your trusty carbon-dioxide fire extinguisher.

    d. Call the U.S. Embassy for help.

    The answer is definitely not (d). Only a handful of the hundreds of U.S. diplomats posted in China, we're told, (and none in the Chengdu consulate) have passed the Chinese driving exam, from which the slightly-modified question above is drawn. The "correct" answer, by the way, is (a).

    Passing the multiple-choice, 100-question test of mechanical minutiae, oxcart etiquette and, oh yes, the rules of the road, is a must for anyone eager to see the world's third-largest country from behind the wheel. But get more than 10 questions on the computerized test wrong, and the screen lights up with a weepy yellow emoticon and the woeful message: "It is sorry that you do not pass."

    China does not recognize international driver's licenses, even for diplomats. And State Department ethics preclude passing the test by slipping a few hundred yuan into the palm of a proctor. That has left our nation's diplomatic corps in an awkward position: on foot.

    "The silver lining is, our diplomats get to practice their Chinese with the local taxi drivers," said the State Department employee who alerted The Washington Post to this situation โ€” and who doesn't have a Chinese driver's license, either.

    Jian Huali, first secretary at the Chinese Embassy, had no pity for our sweat-hog foreign service officers. "You think this is funny? I don't think they are studying," he said. "Washington has a half-million people. Beijing has 3 million cars.... We need people to be more aware of what they are doing on the street.

    "Ninety-five percent of Chinese can pass the test. I passed with only one question wrong."

    Well. It seemed only fair to test Jian Huali with three sample questions. Wrong, wrong and wrong.

    "If you asked me in Chinese, I could do better," he said. "Also, I haven't been in China for four years.... The traffic regulations change every day."

    Then he asked: "Are you going to put my name in the paper and say I have gotten three questions wrong?"

    The correct answer is yes


Up top are unedited questions and answers from China's "Road Traffic Safety Rules and Regulations, Exam Reference Manual (2004 edition)," English-language version.

November 5, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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Here are two from Malaysia (no joke, I actually got these questions):

(on a motor vehicle, i.e. car test):

When riding on a motorcycle, the correct placement of knees is :

a) Pointing Straight in front
b) 5 inches under the handlebar
c) at right angles

- they forgot of course d) Why the hell do I need to know this to drive a car

More incredibly:

If your car starts sinking in water, you should :

a) Roll up all the windows
b) Form a daisy chain with the other passengers
c) Kick out the window and swim to safety

Of course, the funniest thing is most of the 'correct answers' were the opposite of what is considered correct in every other country's road rules... so it's a crap shot whether you pass or not.

Posted by: IB | Nov 6, 2006 5:40:23 AM

sweet, i got 7 out of 7! :)

Posted by: Jeffrey M Foster | Nov 5, 2006 1:05:30 PM

What should a driver do when he needs to urinate while driving?
1. Urinate out the window
2. Urinate on cell phone
3. Finish off Colt 45 quickly and urinate into bottle

When fellow passenger breaks wind in the motor vehicle, the driver should
1. Blow the horn with as much noise as possible
2. Strike a match, being careful not to set cotton clothing on fire
3. Maintaining speed, press automatic door unlock and push passenger onto roadway, careful to re-close door

When any other motor vehicle is attempting to pass yours, you should
1. Increase speed
2. Perform gesticulations indicating your displeasure
3. Continue having nothing to do with the situation and paying no attention

Upon purchasing a new motor vehicle, you should
1. Break off turn indicator stem
2. Set headlights on permanent high beam
3. Fill entire rear window with decorative toys

Posted by: Flautist | Nov 5, 2006 11:29:50 AM

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