Passing the Driving Test

Passing a driving test is an essential step for graduating from a learner's permit to a driver's license. The driving test checks for basic driving skills and is conducted by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or equivalent agency. The test requires you to bring your own car to a DMV office. An examiner will sit in the car and observe, while you street-drive in the vicinity.

Here are some tips, compiled by our readers, on how to successfully navigate the driving skills test.

  1. Some states require that you schedule your driving skills test online or on the phone. Check your state's DMV website. Do not just land up at the DMV office unless walk-ins are permitted.
  2. If you live in a big city, choose a DMV office on the city's outskirts for your test. Traffic will be less and driving easier in the outskirts and suburbs.
  3. Avoid going at a time when streets are busy due to daily commute traffic.
  4. Ensure you take a vehicle that is in proper working condition (all lights, controls, ACs, brakes, working). You could be stopped from even taking the test if the examiner feels the vehicle is not completely safe.
  5. it is strongly recommended you take a vehicle you are familiar with and have been practising in. The test does involve car controls and you don't want to be fumbling with where the headlight switch is, for example.
  6. Ensure the vehicle is properly insured. You must have your insurance card and vehicle registration with you. The car must have unexpired license plates.
  7. Ensure you go for the test after thorough practice. Many readers have suggested practising in the vicinity of the DMV office you choose. If a friend has tested before, he may be able to guide you on the general test route. Try and re-trace the route on a weekend.
  8. While driving on the street, do not exceed speed limits. In 'real life' exceeding speed limits result in a ticket but the police usually won't ticket you unless you are 10-15 mph over. So it is common to see vehicles running slightly faster than the posted speed limit. But for the test, try not to exceed the posted limit at all, while being as natural as you can in your driving.
  9. Do not drive too slow either (<10 mph below posted limit). That shows lack of confidence and will also result in failure.
  10. Be prepared for the following items as a sample of what the examiner would test:
    • Left turns with varying difficulty
    • Right turns with varying difficulty
    • Intersections that involve stopping and then driving straight through
    • Intersections that involve driving straight through without stopping
    • Expressway or rural highway driving (with lane changes)
    • Urban and residential driving (with lane changes)
    • Collision avoidance (simulated head-on collision)
    • Driving along a curve
    • Railroad crossing (actual or simulated)
    • Turning a fan (or radio) on and off while driving
  11. Be prepared for:
    • Parking between 2 vehicles
    • Parallel parking (parking parallel to a kerb)
    • Backing out or into a side road
  12. Readers have reported parallel parking is the toughest maneuver and requires the most practice. Luckily, parallel parking is not tested in most states, though it is tested in NY and NJ, amongst others.
  13. Remember not to panic or get nervous during the test. After all, what's the worst that can happen? You won't pass? Its no big deal - you can get tested again, usually after a cool-off period.

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