Things to Know for Your Driving Test


Every state requires first-time driver's license applicants to pass a written exam and a road test. Your driving test examiner will assess your traffic law knowledge and your capability to drive safely and skillfully. There's no substitute for preparation, so studying your handbook and getting as much practice on the road as possible before your exam are the best ways to ensure you'll pass the test on your first try.

Car Equipment

  • Departments of Motor Vehicles require driver's license applicants to use their own cars for the exam, and examiners expect applicants to understand the function of their cars' equipment. Learn where the controls for your headlights, wipers and defroster are, and be able to activate them without glancing at the dashboard. You'll need to know what the warning lights on your dashboard signify, and your instructor will assess your ability to use your mirrors to monitor traffic.

Driving Manuevers

  • Examiners test license applicants on common manuevers such as parking in a designated parking space, and some states also require drivers to parallel park and park safely on a hill. If you drive a car with manual transmission, your examiner will want to see that you can shift gears smoothly. Learn when to use your turn signals and be prepared to answer questions on hand signals used for turns.

Road Signs

  • The DMV requires license applicants to recognize the various types of traffic signs. You'll need to know the meanings of regulatory signs, which provide driving instructions symbolically or in writing, and you have to be able to recognize signs such as stop, yield and school crossing signs from their shapes. Learn the meanings of the various warning signs, which are the yellow signs with symbols representing various road conditions such as steep inclines and sharp turns. Study the different types of pavement markings and learn which represent areas where you're permitted to pass and areas where you're required to stay in your lane.

Traffic Laws

  • Written and road tests cover basic knowledge of the rules of the road, such as safe passing and proper distance to keep between cars. Other questions on the written test cover the effects of alcohol and other intoxicating substances. You'll also need to know your state's point system, the number of points assessed for specific violations and the point total that triggers license suspension or revocation. You can expect questions covering driving safety such as safe driving practices for inclement weather and dealing with emergencies such as blowouts or brake failures.

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