DMV Permit Test Preparation

Quick: What is the proper following distance from the car in front of you? A recent survey from GMAC Insurance found that 80 percent of licensed drivers weren't able to answer this actual question from a learner's permit DMV test. Luckily, when it comes time to take your test, it’s easy to outsmart this spooky statistic. All it takes is a little informed practice and planning.

  1. Making a Plan

    • The first thing you need to do is figure out what to focus on while studying. The most effective way to do this is to take a practice test, which can be found online through your state’s DMV website. Try to replicate the real test setting as much as possible—the time of day you’ll be taking it, a setting other than your comfy spot on the couch, and with a little noise happening around you.

      Once you grade the practice test, you’ll have a clear picture of the areas that you need to study. Maybe you’ll see that you need to brush up on your traffic signs or tactics for severe weather condition driving, or maybe you need more information on special regulations for new drivers. Whatever questions you miss, know that these are the areas to focus on.

    Study Techniques and Strategies

    • Pick up your state’s test study guide from the DMV—most are also accessible online. Read through the entire guide once because, according to the California DMV website, the questions from the test come directly from this. Dedicate a day or two to studying each area that you performed poorly on during the practice test.

      When tackling the subject areas that you did poorly on in the practice test, go through and highlight important information in the DMV guide. After this, go back and make flashcards of important information. How many feet ahead of a turn should you turn on your signal? What is the legal alcohol limit? Can minors drive with other minors in the vehicle?

      After these focused study days, brush up your test skills with some more practice tests. California’s DMV website recommends taking at least one of their practice versions before showing up for the real thing. Wherever you find your practice tests, make sure the questions come from the actual learners’ permit tests from your state. The best place to find these is on your state’s official DMV site. (They’re usually free here, too, unlike many privately owned ones.)

    Schedule Study Time

    • Beginning preparations about a month before the test will leave plenty of time. Four weeks out, take the practice test to identify your weak areas. The next two weeks, spend about half an hour each night reading and reviewing information in your trouble areas. The week before, take a practice test or two and brush up on any information that you’re still struggling with.

    Test Day

    • When the big day rolls around, the last thing you want is to feel stressed and unprepared. Don't worry about doing any studying besides doing a quick read-over of material you've been reviewing. To make sure you go in with the right state of mind:
      • Read the questions carefully—but not too carefully. The answer will be obvious if you’ve prepared, says the California DMV website.
      • Don’t be nervous. All that studying will have you more than prepared to pass.
      • Be comfortable and relaxed. Eat something beforehand, get rest the night before, and make sure you have all the materials you need packed up far before it’s time to head to the DMV.

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  • Photo Credit David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images

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