How to Study for Your Driving Test

The most important thing in studying for your driving test, whether you’re trying to get your license or proving to the judge that you really did take that defensive driving course: Get to know the car you’re going to be bringing to the test with you.

Most DMV’s and other centers that offer driving tests, they don’t provide you with a student car like they do in the movies. You’re going to be going there with a friend or a relative or a co-worker and driving their car. If you don’t know how sensitive the gas pedal is and you accidentally peel out, if you slam the brakes a little too hard, if you can’t find the (expletive deleted) emergency brake when you end the course, you’re going to get marked up for that.

It doesn’t take much to get a feel for a car. Thirty minutes in an empty parking lot or a short drive around the block will probably teach you everything that you need to know about the automobile.

As for the multiple-choice test, the easiest way to get an angle on this is to start by finding your state’s DMV website and take their sample tests and go over the traffic school answers. Note that there are a lot of official-looking websites that are not connected to the DMV. If the website doesn’t end in .gov, get out of there before they try to sell you something, and find the real, official site for your state.

The sample tests will give you a feel for the kinds of questions you’ll be answering on the real thing. You don’t need a perfect score to attain your license (or keep it, if it’s been awhile since your last test), but you can’t squeak by with a D.

You can find the DMV manual on the official site for your state’s department, or you can show up in person and pick one up for free if you find it easier to study that way. The wonderful thing about having an actual manual to study on paper is that you can easily flip back and forth in the book and highlight the stuff that you need to memorize.

The more real, on-the-road experience you get under the belt, the better you’re likely to perform on both the road test and the exam… Plus it’ll make you a better driver. Memorizing a bunch of facts from the manual might mean you can pass the test, but who’s to say it’s going to kick in when you’re on the road? Ideally, you want the laws of the road to become second nature. This makes it much easier to pass both portions of the test, because you’ll know the answer by heart, it won’t just be some abstract point you picked up from a book.

Get some real driving experience, attain your learner’s permit and do the driving for the family. Test-drive one of those cars you can drive online, take a defensive driving class, play some Grand Theft Auto and try to follow all the rules of the road for a change. You might be able to pass the test without a ton of driving hours behind you, but if you already know what you’re doing on the road, you’ll breeze through the entire process like a hot knife through butter, finishing the exam while the guy next to you is still typing his name into the computer.

The test is easy and stress usually doesn’t help. Don’t worry about it too much. The worst thing that can possibly happen to you is you’ll have to take it again, and by that point you already failed once, so you’ll know exactly what not to do.