Online road knowledge tests are back.
The state's Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) division on Tuesday resumed offering online Class D knowledge exams after taking the system down last month to improve security and ensure integrity of the testing system.
There are some changes: Test takers will have to begin the exam immediately after registering, and proctors will be limited to supervising tests for three prospective drivers a year.
"Protecting the integrity of online testing is critical to the success of this program and will help ensure Minnesotans have access to this test without needing to leave their home," said DVS Director Emma Corrie.
The changes will not affect DVS-approved third-party test administrators such as driving schools, school districts and deputy registrar offices. Behind-the-wheel tests must still be taken in person before a would-be driver is issued a license.
DVS launched the online exams as a pilot after it reduced the number of in-person testing locations across the state as a result of COVID-19 and was overwhelmed with test takers who sometimes waited in lines for hours without any assurance of getting in. Online testing began Oct. 8 and more than 23,000 people took exams before DVS shut down the system Nov. 2.
"DVS found some testing irregularities after a few weeks of testing that required security enhancements," said DVS spokeswoman Megan Leonard.
DVS took the test offline so the state's testing vendor could make changes, she said.
DVS is sending letters to about 1,250 people — about 5.5% of those who took the online test from Oct. 8 to Nov. 2 — to notify them that their test results are not valid. They will have to retake the test in person at an exam station to earn their license, Leonard said.
As of Wednesday, 23,464 people had taken the online class D knowledge test with another 3,500 registered to take the test online. More than 166,900 prospective drivers have taken tests this year at an exam station, DVS said.
Aspiring drivers can register for the exam at drive.mn.gov. After registering, DVS will send an e-mail with a link to the test along with a ticket number and security code, which will be needed to log in. After three minutes, the codes will expire and the exam taker will need to wait 72 hours to register for the test again, DVS said.
The system also will track proctors' identities, who they are supervising and how many tests they have overseen. The system also will ensure the proctor meets eligibility requirements: They must be a parent, guardian or adult over 21 with a valid driver's license.
"This will help ensure the person registering to take the test and the person registering to proctor the test are in the same space and ready to begin as soon as registration is complete," Corrie said in a statement.
The online exam is the same 40-question test given in person at exam stations, and the same rules apply. Test takers have 30 minutes to complete the exam without using outside resources or study material. The time limit guards against cheating, Leonard said.
Online tests will be available in English and Spanish from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Prospective drivers may only take one online test per day and will get two attempts to obtain a passing score. After that, a prospective driver must schedule an appointment for an in-person exam and pay a $10 fee.
With the return of online testing, DVS is asking anybody who had made an appointment to take the test in person and chooses to take the test online instead to cancel their appointment with as much notice as possible. This will allow DVS to open up the appointment for another person to take the test, Leonard said.
There have been no changes for commercial, motorcycle and DWI knowledge tests. They are available only in person on a walk-in basis at DVS exam stations. Appointments are not required for those tests.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768