It is the day of SpongeBob's driving exam at Mrs. Puff's Boating School, and he is very excited. If he passes it, he will get his license. Once there, he throws his unicycle away, falsely assuming he will pass. Having taken the oral exam 37 times previously, SpongeBob is able to answer the questions before they are even asked. However, upon reaching the driving portion of the exam, he realizes he was so excited so much that he did not know it was really long and hard. As a result, he gets scared and panics and quickly crashes into a lighthouse causing Mrs. Puff's body to inflate. Mrs. Puff says, "Oh SpongeBob, why?" Later that night, he complains about his failure to Gary, who asks SpongeBob to go for a walk, which he declines. Patrick is then heard talking to him from a walkie-talkie under his bed covers. He asks SpongeBob to head to his closet for a "surprise." It is Patrick wearing his clothes and calling himself "Patrick SquarePants." SpongeBob is too depressed to laugh, and explains his problem to Patrick and mentions that he needs someone to help him think straight during the exam. Patrick quickly devises a plan. He puts a walkie-talkie inside SpongeBob's head so that he can talk SpongeBob through the test, hiding the antenna with a cowboy hat.
The next day, SpongeBob goes back to take the test again. When asked to start the boat, he initially panics, but Patrick's instructions keep him calm. Just after SpongeBob puts the boat in drive he almost floors the pedal but then Patrick goes, "Freeze mister!," and SpongeBob's foot stops just before it touches the pedal. Patrick then says, "Big toe." SpongeBob's toe then pops out of his shoe and it presses the pedal. This is followed by a video montage of SpongeBob acing the exam, interspersed with shots of Patrick eating SpongeBob's food and reading his diary while helping him. Mrs. Puff is floored by his sudden improvement and jokingly suggests that SpongeBob's success is due to an antenna under his hat through which "some guy miles away from here is giving you (him) all the answers." SpongeBob (and Patrick) find this hilarious, until Mrs. Puff concludes, "But that would be cheating!" Upon realizing that he has been cheating, SpongeBob goes into hysterics, making Patrick realize that his method is bad, forcing Patrick to flee to his house, and driving wildly all over the course and sobbing while Mrs. Puff, in a panic, tries desperately to stop him but SpongeBob refuses to listen and crashes the boat and fails the test again, and the inflated Mrs. Puff is taken to the hospital. As he leaves boating school, he finds Gary riding his unicycle. SpongeBob rides off on it, with Gary atop his head, saying "Let's go surprise someone at the hospital!" thus ending the episode.
As of January 14, 2015, The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) gives this episode a rating of 8.5/10 based on 288 ratings by users. TV.com users give this episode a 8.4/10 based on 258 votes.
Originally, SpongeBob would not say anything about cheating and reach the finish line. Mrs. Puff greets SpongeBob, he gets his driver's license and the episode ends happily. This was changed to him breaking down and failing. This was probably cut, most likely to add comedy.
Running Gag: When SpongeBob crashes into the lighthouse, Mrs. Puff puffs up and says in the deep voice, "Oh, SpongeBob! Why?"
This is Mrs. Puff's first appearance on the show.
This is the first time Mrs. Puff talks in a deep voice when she is inflated. The second time this happens is in "Sandy's Rocket." After "Sandy's Rocket," no other appearances show Mrs. Puff talking in a deep voice.
This is the first episode to feature the famous running gag of someone yelling out "My leg!" (Fred), when SpongeBob crashes a lighthouse on the first attempt.
This is the first episode that implies that Patrick is an expert at boating; the second being "Driven to Tears."
This is the first Boating School episode. The next will be "Hall Monitor."
This is the first episode to feature SpongeBob's diary. It will be seen again in the episode "Little Yellow Book."
When SpongeBob is entering Mrs. Puff's Boating School, before Jimmy Gus stops to talk to SpongeBob, there are two fish in the background taking a test, neither one is Mrs. Puff. This is the first time that it is suggested that Mrs. Puff is not the only teacher at Mrs. Puff's Boating School. The second time is in "No Free Rides" when Mrs. Puff mentions a teacher named "Mrs. Flounder."
Jimmy (the student who earned his driver's license in the episode) is referred to as a customer in the end credits.
This episode implies that SpongeBob is able to pass the oral test with ease, but in a future episode, "Boating Buddies," SpongeBob says, "I've never gotten a single answer right on this test."
Mrs. Puff inflates and has a deep voice until she gets in the ambulance. That occurs when a boat that she is in crashes, just like how an airbag of an automobile inflates if it crashes.
MY LEG: SpongeBob crashes into a lighthouse.
The closed-captions says "Man:" when someone yelled "My leg!" (Fred) because the character is unseen.
When SpongeBob says "Gary, I'm not walking," Gary is wearing similar shoes from the episode, "Your Shoe's Untied."
The assistance that Patrick gave to SpongeBob throughout the boating exam was done by radio communication (as of those walkie-talkies), almost like how assistance is given out to a race car driver by a crew chief or spotter of that driver.
When SpongeBob wears a hat to hide an antenna, it resembles the Arby's logo.
When SpongeBob eats grass, he moos like a cow. This is the first time SpongeBob makes an animal sound.
It's possible that Fred used a walking cane during the second exam because of the "My leg!" gag from earlier in the episode.
A clip of this episode was shown in a Dodge commercial.
This episode takes place after "New Student Starfish" because Mrs. Puff knows Patrick in this episode as she hears Patrick's voice.
The board saying 1/2 shell during SpongeBob's first crash is a reference to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Shell.
The flag on the flagpole that the boat drives around is an international maritime signal flag for the letter I.
"Patrick SquarePants" has become an Internet meme.