Skip to main content
Hero background

How To Pass A Driver’s License Test

To get a driver's license in the United States, you must pass a written test along with a road test. The written driving test will quiz you on road signs and road rules and ensure you're ready to get behind the wheel.

Tips for Passing the Written Driving Test

Whether you're struggling to pass your driving exam or just want to make sure you're adequately prepared, check out the following tips:

Check Your State's Driver's Guide

All states provide a driver's handbook that learner drivers can study. It contains all of the information you will find on the written test, so get your hands on a copy, read it, re-read it, and take notes.

Devote a little time every day to go through the book and ask a friend or family member to test you.

The book will tell you about the rules and signs specific to your state, covering everything from yield signs and speed limit signs to the laws on distracted driving and driving under the influence.

To find the driver's handbook for your state, just Google the phrase "Driver's Guide for [State Name]", such as this one for New York and this one for California.

Memorize the Road Signs

The written driving test will expect you to identify common road signs. Some of these are self-explanatory and easy to remember, others can be a little more complicated.

In any case, your state's driving handbook will tell you all about them.

Test yourself on the images to make sure you understand their meaning. You can also take a few practice drives, as encountering these signs in the real world will help you to remember them.

Take Practice Tests

Most state DMV sites will let you take an online practice test. You can also download and print the test. If there are no such tests available, simply ask someone else to quiz you on specific rules and signs taken from the handbook. You can also find practice tests on unofficial sites.

When sitting these practice exams, give yourself the same time limit that you would have in a real DMV exam and make sure you have no distractions.

Keep testing yourself until you can comfortably pass a practice test within the allotted timeframe. The passing threshold varies from state to state, but it's usually around 80%.

Make a Note of the Questions You Get Wrong

Every time you get a question wrong on the practice tests, make a note of it and study it at a later date.

It's not enough to simply check the correct answer and then move on to the next question. Learn the whys and the hows, spend some time reading and reviewing, and make sure you won't make the same mistake again.

Sleep Well

One of the biggest mistakes that students make is to spend all night studying, only to fail on exam day because they were too tired to retain any of the information. Even if that information is firmly lodged in your memory, you may struggle to recall it if you're sleep-deprived.

Get plenty of sleep the night before the exam. Aim for at least 8 hours and refrain from using anything that may leave you groggy the next day, including prescription medication, alcohol, and recreational drugs.

Review your notes before going to sleep, but don't try to cram too much. Getting an extra hour or two of sleep is more important than skimming another page or doing another practice test.

Eat a Balanced Breakfast

If you are nervous on the morning of the exam, you may decide to skip breakfast and load up on coffee instead. But that will inevitably lead to a sugar and caffeine crash later in the day and could impact your performance in the exam.

Try to eat a big and balanced breakfast, one that includes slow-release carbs, high-quality proteins, and healthy fats. A hearty portion of oatmeal with a few servings of fruit is ideal.

Try to Stay Calm

Although it's always easier said than done, it's important to stay calm during the exam.

When you're nervous, you're more prone to making mistakes and forgetting everything you've learned. It doesn't matter how many practice tests you have taken and how well you have prepared, if you're a bundle of nerves throughout the exam, you'll fail.

Practice deep breathing or self-distraction techniques to calm yourself down before commencing the exam.

Read and Review

Read and re-read all of the questions before answering them. At the end of the exam, review your answers before submitting the test.

Don't stress too much if you're not sure about one or more of the answers. You don't need a score of 100% to pass the test, so it's okay if you get a few of them wrong.

Don't Assume You Know It All

A lot of the rules you learn about and the signs you encounter are intuitive, but that doesn't mean you can just hop behind the wheel and start driving. There are still a lot of little rules that you may have overlooked.

It doesn't matter how much you think you know about driving, it's important that you study hard, take those practice tests, and digest every single paragraph and picture in the driver's handbook.

Is The DMV Test Hard?

It's as hard as you make it. If you have studied hard, it might feel relatively easy. But if you're trying to wing it and haven't spent any time studying, it will prove very challenging.

It is estimated that up to half of all student drivers fail the written test on their first attempt.

Summary: Preparing for the Written Driving Test

It can be harder to prepare for the written test than the behind-the-wheel test. There are a lot of signs and rules to learn, and you'll be spending time with your head buried in books and apps, as opposed to sitting behind the wheel.

Most students find that the actual driving test is the hardest part, though. You're in control of a heavy piece of machinery, dealing with unpredictable elements (weather, other drivers), and you also have the pressure that comes with being judged by a driving instructor.

Still, the written test is far from easy, and if you don't put time and effort into studying and preparing, it could prove to be a very difficult hurdle.

Follow the tips above, be prepared to study hard, and you should be able to pass your driving test without much issue.