The New Driving Test for Over Eighties

A close friend of mine sent me an email recently, telling me what it was like to take the new driving test for seniors. In essence, the true and false questions that test your knowledge of the Ontario Driver’s Handbook have been dropped. They have been replaced by the following:

“About the in-class screening

− you will have 10 minutes to finish the exercise

− the exercise is not dependent on language and can’t be taken orally

− information will be available at, including samples of the screening exercise you will complete

− you don’t need to prepare, but you can take the practice screening exercise (PDF) to help you understanding the instructions and feel comfortable with the exercises

− the screening exercise consists of two assessments of a person’s cognitive capabilities relevant to driving. Each of the assessments taps into a different type of ability:

1. clock drawing: measures a driver’s capacity to recognize and organize information (visuospatial ability)

2. letter cancellations: measures a driver’s capacity to coordinate thinking with doing (psychomotor speed)

Drivers are always encourage to refresh their knowledge of driving in general by reading the Driver’s Handbook”

The above is an excerpt from the Government’s information pamphlet. The complete requirements for renewing a senior’s driving license may be seen at:

But don’t be too complacent about that clock exercise until you have actually tried doing it!  

The two new timed tests are simple but you can still fail, and I hear there are a fair number of people bombing out on them! Why? Because:

  1. You can be taken by surprise; a real possibility if you don’t know what to expect! However, the Ministry has told us (on its website) what the questions are, and so we can prepare ourselves.
  2. Even If you know what to expect, you may get flustered when faced with a time limit, especially if you’ve never actually tried to do them on paper beforehand.
  3. Or “you might be having a bad day” …………… although I can’t help you with that one!

Go ahead, get a paper and pencil and paper and try it yourself. You’ve probably never drawn a clock before! Most of us haven’t, but check it out, and see how you do! If you have no problems with it, don’t bother to read any further.

But for many of us it comes as a surprise; we never thought the day would come when someone would expect us to make a clock. I still remember, after giving someone an overly detailed answer to a question, as I am often accused of doing, he replied,

“When I ask you what time it is, I don’t want to know how to make a watch!”

Until you actually put pen or pencil to paper, you may never really think about how to draw a clock, or to be more precise, a clock face! Like, how do we get started? (The problem is, while you are thinking about it, the Ministry clock would already have started ticking and those “allowed” ten minutes would be going…fast!) What I suggest is, practice it at home before you go for your test, but practice doing it in a systematic way so that at the actual test you’ll remember the step-by-step solution to the problem. It might even help you avoid getting flustered on the fateful day.

How to “Make” a Clock

1. Prepare yourself (at home).

a. Remove your wristwatch, and sit some place where a clock is not visible to you.

b. Think of an old-fashioned clock with hands, not one of the new digital electronic clocks that just show the hours and minutes in numbers. We are going to draw an old-fashioned clock with hands – and not one with Roman numerals either; we don’t want that! Are you ready? Okay, get a hold of that pencil and paper and let’s get started.


a. Step One: Draw a large circle. (That will be our clock face!)

i. How big? Let’s say, at least as big as the palm of your hand.

ii. Make it as round as you can, but don’t waste time trying to get it perfect.

b. Step Two: Put in the Hour Marks in the following order:

i. Label the top of your circle 12,

ii. Label the bottom of the circle 6.

iii. Write a “9” halfway up the left side, and

iv. Write a “3” halfway up the right side.

v. Fill in the rest of the numbers, i.e. between the “12” and the “3” write 1 and 2 as evenly spaced as you can.

vi. Do that all the way around until you have all the numbers 1 to 12. Your Clock is now ready to use!


a. Draw the minute hand first:

i. Remember, the minute hand is the longest of the two; it stretches from the centre of your clock out to the edge.

ii. The space between each numeral on the clock face represents 5 minutes so, for example, at ten minutes past the hour the big hand is on the 2.

b. Draw the hour hand last:

i. Remember, the hour hand is the shortest; it stretches from the centre of your clock out only halfway towards the edge.

ii. Make it point to the appropriate number; so at 11 o’clock it will point to the 11. It’s as easy as that! (Okay, you’re right! If it’s half past the hour it would be midway between the 11 and the 12, and so on, but it isn’t – it’s 10 minutes after the hour. So, your hour hand should point just a little bit past the 11. Picky, picky!)

Note: Little arrows on the end of the clock hands may get you an artistic award somewhere, but they won’t help at all if your hands are in the wrong position. That’s the story of life, I guess!

I think, if you practice drawing your clock at home the whole thing will soon become a piece of cake, and you should have nothing to fear when taking the test! My bet is, you’ll hand in your answers early!


To end on a humorous note, let me tell you what happened when I sent a copy of my friend’s email about the new test to some friends in the UK.

They went into a state of shock! They assumed, incorrectly, that he was talking about seniors in the UK, which of course he wasn’t. As I understand it, they have nothing similar over there. At 80, you just keep going unless a doctor has advised the authorities that you are unfit to drive. Apparently, the arrival of the Canadian email set off quite a flurry of emails and frantic phone calls in the UK. Shock, dismay and disbelief tinged with panic went through them like wildfire. I finally managed to convince them not to worry because Ontario is not really part of the UK per se, but just a sub-division of one of their colonies! A little diplomacy helps! (I hesitated to go all out and suggest that we even had “Dominion” status at one time, lest they feel I was getting a bit uppity – me being an exile ‘an all.)

Happily, they have all since quietened down, but it was an interesting display of the stress that tests can engender. I have to wonder though what caused such abject terror in their aging British hearts! Was it a lack of self confidence brought on by loss of Empire, or was it the so-called fortress mentality, common to those who own buildings like Windsor Castle!

Or perhaps they just don’t know how to make a clock anymore?

Gerry Wood, June 12, 2014