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How to Pass Your Driving Test

Three Parts:Prepare for the Written TestPrepare for the Practical TestPassing the Practical Test

There comes a time in everyone's life where they feel the need to get out and explore life on the road; of course, it's best done legally, so you are going to need your papers. The thought of getting your driver's license can be a little bit intimidating, but with a few simple guidelines, you'll be well on the road to success!

Part 1
Prepare for the Written Test

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    Pick up the driver's guide for your state. Every state has them, and that's where you'll find everything that will be on both the written and the actual driving test.
    • You'll learn the basic rules of the road, when to pull over for emergency vehicles (always a favorite on driving exams), speed limits in various zones (another favorite), how to handle accidents, and more.
    • Read it chapter by chapter, make notes if that helps you remember, and have somebody quiz you after each chapter. If you can answer 80% of the questions, move on to the next chapter.
    • At the end of the booklet, ask to be quizzed on the whole manual. Any chapters you don't do well on, revisit. If you go through the book three times in three weeks, your chances of passing—even acing—your test are very high.

Part 2
Prepare for the Practical Test

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    Practice driving. Most states have regulations regarding how much experience you have behind the wheel. Some states make allowances for taking accredited driving courses, either through school or professional instruction.
    • Some states also make allowances for top students. While it won't directly help you pass your driving test, being a good student will often make it easier to meet the requirements.
    • Student drivers must have a licensed driver with them at all times. In some states, having a license is all your passenger needs. In some states there are age restrictions, or restrictions based on how long the person has been licensed. You will learn these rules and restrictions in the driver's manual that you're going to study.
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    Practice driving on the test routes. Find out in advance where you will be taking the practical test (the actual driving part). While it may be illegal in your state (read the manual), unless you're following specific routes, there should be no problem driving in the general neighborhood.
    • That's not generally necessary, unless you are such an inexperienced driver that you need an advantage. If that's the case, you're better off not rushing into getting a license.
    • Practicing all the basic maneuvers—stopping, starting, signaling, backing up, parking, obeying the speed limit and all traffic control signs and signals are all good things to practice.
    • One of the biggest things the examiner will look for is whether or not you have full command of your vehicle. If you are intimidated by the car, make jerky starts and stops, and generally show a lack of confidence in your driving, that will count against you.
    • If you speed, run a light or a stop sign, or make other egregious errors, you can pretty much count on retaking the test.
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    Be familiar with signage. Knowing street signs, hand gestures, when to pass, how and when to pull over for emergency vehicles will count. Read that manual! Know the rules and you'll be fine.
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    Go for a drive with your parent. The morning before your test, ask them to watch you, and make sure that you check all your mirrors correctly and do all your maneuvers correctly. This will help you gain some confidence.

Part 3
Passing the Practical Test

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    Make sure your car is ready for the test. Your registration and insurance should be easily accessible. Tires should be inflated properly and in good condition, lights will all need to be working, windshield wipers functional, with the washer reservoir filled, all instruments—especially the speedometer—working and accurate, and turn the radio off when you get there.
    • There should be no cracks in the windshield.
    • Make sure your car isn't belching smoke. If the examiner feels like your car might be unsafe, they can turn you away.
    • Adjust the seat to fit your body height and style. You should sit at least 10 inches (25cm) from the steering wheel and your hands should be bent at approximately 45 degrees, holding the steering wheel at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock.
    • Make sure your feet reach the pedals properly, so you're not stretching to reach them, or bunched up in your seat.
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    Arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your appointment. Bring your completed and signed Driver's Log, Drivers Ed certificate, driving time with an instructor certificate, your learners permit, and any other papers or certificates required, including your Social Security card and birth certificate for identification purposes.
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    Get in the car with the driving examiner. Relax, and be friendly. You won't lose points for being unpleasant—necessarily—but if your examiner needs to make a judgement call about your driving at some point, ask yourself: would you be easier on a nice person, or a jerk?
    • Ask any questions that you have prior to the test and in the test if you are confused. The driving examiner will be glad to answer them.
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    At all times drive at a safe speed. Note that this does not necessarily mean the speed limit—conditions may warrant a slower speed. Under no circumstances exceed the speed limit.
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    Practice situational awareness. Check your mirrors regularly. Make this a little more exaggerated than normal, just so it is clear that you are doing it.
    • Keep your head moving, looking out the windows for other traffic, pedestrians, kids, little old ladies, etc.
    • Keep your eyes on the road, not on that good-looking guy or hot girl walking down the sidewalk. Your examiner will see them too, and check to see what has your attention: the road, or the hotness. If you want to pass, the answer needs to be "the road."
    • When you change lanes or turn, turn your head to look behind you. Your rear-view mirrors are useful, but they're not foolproof. A combination of eyes and mirrors are the best.
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    Obey all signs. Come to a full stop at stop signs. Look all ways before continuing. If there are other people at the stop sign, make sure you yield right of way properly—and take your turn when it's time.
    • Don't forget to signal all turns, lane changes, and any time your intent is to change direction.
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    Park confidently. Practice with your driving instructor or parent before taking the test so that you can do a clean, confident job of parallel parking, backing up straight, and three- or four-point turns.
    • Parallel park as best as you can. Make sure you turn on your indicators, as not doing so will likely ensure a failure. Try not to bump the curb; go slowly and carefully, looking to the back and sides as you do so.
    • Remember, it's OK to slightly bump the curb, just not jump it. You will lose some points, but that's better than failing the test altogether.
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    Thank the examiner. When you return to the motor vehicle department, listen to what the examiner has to say. Most likely they will mention what you did wrong, and a little of what you did right.
    • Then they'll tell you if you passed or failed. Whichever it is, thank them politely. If you passed, you'll be pleased, and it's always nice to be polite. If you failed, you'll have to come back—and you might get the same examiner the next time. If you fly off the handle and call the examiner a "nail biting old crank who needs new glasses," it will probably go a lot harder on you next time!
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    Congratulations, you passed! If you read this tutorial, and studied the manual, you will almost certainly pass your driver's exam. Be safe out there!


  • Don't tell anyone that you're going to take your test. That way, you don't feel the pressure of having to admit to everyone the next day if you failed.
  • Calm down and relax. You're capable of this.
  • When you are crossing an intersection, make sure to look left and right for traffic check.
  • Don't block the cross walk! This will result in an automatic fail.
  • Greet the examiner and be friendly. Shake their hand at the start and respond if they try to make conversation during the test; however, try not to be over-talkative as this may distract you from driving.
  • Stay calm and focused.
  • Sleep well the night before and eat breakfast. You will feel more alive then no sleep at all and hungry.
  • Avoid slowing down your car before changing lanes. Try to keep it at the same speed so that you don't disturb the flow of traffic.
  • If and when your instructor asks you to park, be sure to remember the three special words. Mirror, Signal, Blind spot.
  • Overemphasize every move such as turning around to check your blind spots or using your signals ahead of time.
  • Always know where your lane is.
  • Always stop behind the limit lines (you can always pull up a little after you make a complete stop).
  • If possible, schedule your test during a time when there is less traffic.
  • Not all examiners are friendly. Sometimes you can get examiners that shout at you, and make rather nasty comments about your driving. Try to block them out, and most importantly, focus. Never take their hurtful words to heart—they may have just had a terrible fight with their spouse—and listen if they give actual good advice.
  • A common mistake that beginners often make is braking too hard. Make sure you take your foot off the accelerator early and coast before using your brake to lightly finish your movement. If you move straight from the gas to the brake, your stop will be hard and you will lose points. If you do this often, you may end up failing the test on this alone!
  • Familiarize yourself with the location of various controls in the car you'll use for the test. You may be asked to show the location of various switches (hazard lights, windshield wipers, high beams, etc.)
  • If you get a hard examiner and they yell at you, don't take the hurtful saying to heart. Stay focused on the road and concentrate.
  • Get more driving hours in than required, you'll feel a lot more experienced and comfortable.
  • Failing is not the worst thing in the world. Simply schedule another test. Do not get discouraged! You will get it eventually.
  • When you make a turn, you should always look both ways, so you don't hit any incoming cars.
  • Have your supervising driver do a mock road test for you.
  • If you can, take the test in the vehicle you are most used to driving. The vehicle must be up to safe driving standards, so it is recommended that if using your car, you have it serviced first.
  • Make sure you know the proper steps for uphill and/or downhill parking.
  • When somebody gives you a ride - use it as an opportunity to silently practice your skills. Watch signs, lights, observe the vehicles and take a mental notes.
  • Go to the bathroom before you hit the road.
  • A green light never really means "go!" when you make a turn. If you're turning across an intersection at a green light, wait to see if the cars in the other lane have a red light.
  • Talk to a good friend beforehand to give you some comfort.
  • Be sure to read your ENTIRE manual thoroughly for the permit test, as it's not all common sense questions.
  • Look in your blind spots AT ALL TIMES. Don't start off too slow. Allow adequate spacing when changing lanes.
  • Take a drivers education course. They will review the course with you and really improve your driving skills.
  • Whether you pass or fail, thank your examiner warmly—especially if you fail: you may have just given the poor examiner a major fright!
  • Check if your driving school offers to take the driving test at their facilities. This could mean you can skip the written test and go straight to the driving test.
  • Watch out for the cones.
  • Try not to hit anyone or anything.
  • Feel free to admit that you are nervous.


  • Don't try to watch what the examiner is writing on their sheet, just focus on driving. If you make a mistake, don't worry about it. Thinking about what's already happened will only cause you to make more mistakes.
  • Examiners are people just like you. They want to see that you pass the test, but they have to make sure that you will be a good driver. Exude confidence (not cockiness), obey the rules of the road, and you'll pass.
  • Don't swear, use rude gestures, or especially exhibit road rage with the instructor in the car; it will leave a negative bit on your report, or could cause you to fail instantly.
  • Always turn off the radio before the inspector even gets in the car. This will make it look as if you never listen to it.
  • Depending on where you live, the road test may not cover absolutely everything that deals with driving (ex. highway driving, gravel roads, etc.) So just because you got your license doesn't mean you know everything about driving and there aren't some things you could still learn.
  • Always practice with a licensed driver. If you get pulled over without your permit, you may not be able to receive your license until you're 21!
  • Don't think just because you get your license, you can't have it revoked.
  • Depending on where you live, just because you passed your road test doesn't mean you have your full license. Remember to follow any restrictions your license class has or there will be consequences!

Article Info

Categories: Driving Basics