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Test Drive Express Goes Digital for Virtual Learners

Test Drive Express, the classroom version of Royal Credit Union’s large-scale, reality fair Test Drive…Next Stop Reality, has gone digital for high school students engaging in online learning. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Royal was preparing to host four different Test Drive events this spring, which would have reached over 1,000 students. With school closures and the switch to online learning, these in-person events were cancelled, leaving many students missing out on this unique learning opportunity.

Realizing the pressure teachers were suddenly put under to transform their classroom lesson plans into an online teaching platform, and not wanting students to miss out on Test Drive, Royal’s financial educators worked to create a digital version so students could still experience the real-life simulation. Within just a few weeks, Digital Test Drive Express was ready to be rolled out to schools who were planning to participate in either Test Drive…Next Stop Reality or Test Drive Express before semester end.

Test Drive Express Overview


Although the Test Drive…Next Stop Reality event can teach over 350 students in one day, Digital Test Drive Express has an unlimited number of students that can go through the simulation. There are also no volunteers needed to help run the event and no location or time constraints; students go through it at their own pace using Google Classroom. Teachers are given access to their own classroom, so they can monitor their student’s progress and collect the income and transaction log used to record their purchases. The students also complete a Road Trip Recap once they have finished the simulation, which not only serves to gauge what they have learned, but also allows them to provide feedback to Royal about their experience.

During May, 114 students participated in Digital Test Drive Express. The Road Trip Recap survey results indicated 100% of the students who completed the simulation said it was a valuable experience. Student responses included these from Bruce High School students:  “I learned that there is more to pay for than what people think, and that there is a lot of expenses and hard decisions you have to make,” and “One thing I learned is that making a couple thousand dollars a month is not a lot. You will have to sacrifice some things you enjoy just to stay in your budget. I also learned that you don't need the high brand and most expensive objects if that means going over budget.” Another student from Eden Prairie High School remarked, “I learned that everything is super expensive. Childcare, groceries and cars are super expensive!”

Of the many schools that were scheduled to participate in Test Drive events, six were able to work the digital format into their class curriculum. Heidi Marks, a teacher at St. Croix Falls High School, was able to run the program with the junior class at her school and had this to say about the program: “Digital Test Drive Express was the perfect ending to our online financial literacy unit. The simulation taught students just how expensive life can be. They had to make difficult financial decisions ranging from which vehicle to purchase to the quality of internet they could afford. Thank you RCU for adapting the simulation so kids could learn about finances from the safety of their own home.”

If you are interested in offering Digital Test Drive Express to students in your area, or if you would like to do it as a lesson with your own family members, please contact us at

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