Preparing for a driver’s license test is an exciting time in the life of any new driver. However, becoming a licensed driver in the US is a great responsibility, and so there are tests in each state to ensure that you will be a safe addition on the road. For this reason, we have put together these helpful tips on passing the US driver’s test.
In this post, we will learn about the most important skills that are tested on driver’s license exams, and how to best prepare for these tests.
Before You take the Driver’s Exam:
Make your appointment: These days almost all appointments can be scheduled online, but they do fill up fast. You may have to book an appointment several weeks (or even months!) in advance, so don’t delay this important step.
Prepare your papers: Verify all of the documentation that you’ll need to bring with you to prove your identity and be allowed to take the test. These documents include your valid ID or Learner’s Permit, proof of insurance, and your birth certificate or social security card, if you have one.
The Driving Test:
Depending on what state you live in, the requirements of the driving part of the exam can vary. In this section, we will review the most common skills you need in order to pass the driving test, and helpful tips to keep in mind as you prepare for that day.
The Driving Pre-Test:
In some states, the examiner initiates the pre-test like you see in the video above. In others, it is the responsibility of the driver to initiate all of the appropriate checks before getting on the road. The most important things to remember are to show you have used the emergency brake, checked that your blinkers and lights are working, and that your mirrors have been appropriately adjusted before starting your car. Don’t forget to buckle your seatbelt, and ensure that your passenger’s seatbelt (the examiner) is also fastened.
3 Point Turn or K-Turn
The 3 Point Turn is a skill that tests your ability to change directions while driving in a safe manner, and should only be used when the street is quiet enough that it could be safe. Your examiner will ask you to execute this turn in a safe area. Checking for traffic both through your windows and by using your mirrors, not hitting the curb, and using your signals are important components of this driving skill.
If you live or work in a city, this is a skill you will want to master. In license exams, sometimes you will need to park between two cars, but often the examiner will place cardboard boxes or cones as your reference points. When practicing this skill, you’ll want to work on avoiding the curb at all costs, and never bumping into the object that’s in front or behind you.
Backing into a parking spot
This is an important skill because backing into a parking spot makes your departure later on much safer; you will then have full visibility of the lot, rather than needing to back out blindly. Most tests give you three tries to get in the spot safely, which means you haven’t driven over the lines on either side.
Other Helpful Tips to Remember:
- Speed: Know the speed limit in the area of your exam! Each town has its own standard speed limit if not otherwise posted. And remember, it’s the limit; you should never hit or exceed that speed during the test, or else you risk failing.
- Signals: Failing to signal is a small mistake that can cost you your license. When preparing for your exam, make sure you use your turn signal in all situations in order build a good habit: parking, merging or turning. All of these require a signal!
- Stay inside the lines: This may seem obvious, but many people cross the lines on the road when making a turn because it is a more direct shot. However, on your driving test, you should never cross over a line while driving unless you are merging or proceeding past a stop.
The Written Test:
There is no quick trick to passing the written test but to study for it.
First, you should read the driving manual for your state and note any important or specific information. Notable rules will include standard speed limits, parking restrictions, and punishments for various driving offenses. If you are enrolled in a Driver’s Education course, then you will cover all of the rules extensively, and will save yourself some outside studying time. Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles will have this book available online, and maybe even some practice tests.
You should also be familiar with the rules of right of way, and street signs. Often, the test will include at least one simulation demonstrating a complicated intersection, and you will have to choose who has the right to proceed first. There may also be questions that simply show a traffic sign and ask what it means, like a Stop Sign or Warning to Merge sign. Each state’s exam varies, but there is usually a limit of how many questions you can answer incorrectly, and also a minimum to answer correctly. When circumstances allow, skip ahead and answer the questions that you know you will answer correctly, and then circle back to see how many more of the “hard” ones you need to answer in order to pass. Most exams need at least 70% of the questions answered correctly in order to pass the exam.
If you’ve completed a driver’s education program, then you might have the option of taking the driving portion of the test through your driving school. It is sometimes more expensive than taking the test through your local Motor Vehicle Department, but there are two benefits: first, the tests are often shorter and less complex; and second, you won’t need to provide your own vehicle. If you haven’t bought a car yet, this could be a good option for you to get your license.
The best way to prepare for the driving test is to practice! Take the rules you read in the book and immediately apply them on the road when practicing with a friend, family member, or driving instructor. When you build your knowledge and confidence on the road in practice, both the driving and written examinations will be a breeze. We hope our tips on passing the US driver’s test were helpful!
Take a deep breath, trust in your training, and drive safely!