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How To Pass Drivers’ Road Test

It's normal to feel a little anxious about your driving test, but as long as you're prepared, you shouldn't have an issue passing that test and getting your driver's license.

Keep reading for some helpful insights on how to pass the road test.

Top Tips for Passing Your Driver's Test

We can't help you to beat your nerves, nor can we relieve the pressure that all new drivers face, but we can help you to prepare and practice.

Here are some top tips for getting a passing grade on your driving test.

Complete a Pre-Test Inspection

Before leaving for your DMV test, make sure your car completes a pre-test inspection. The exact requirements differ from state to state, but they will usually include the following:

  • You must have a license plate on the front and back of your vehicle
  • Your vehicle needs a functioning horn
  • Check that your tires aren't going bald
  • Seat belts must be functioning
  • The emergency brake should be working
  • Check your brake pressure
  • Make sure the window rolls down on the driver's side
  • Your brake lights and signal lights should be in full working order
  • Check windshield wipers and make sure the windshield offers an unobstructed view
  • Front doors must open from the inside and the outside
  • The glove compartment must be secure

Unsurprisingly, your car also needs a passenger seat that is securely attached to the vehicle and doesn't rock or wobble too much. The vehicle should also be registered and have valid insurance.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The more time you spend behind the wheel, the easier the driving test will be.

Many students make the leap as soon as they think they have acquired the necessary knowledge and ticked all the right boxes, only for nerves and inexperience to get the better of them during the test.

Taking a trip with your friends or family is not the same as driving under the watchful gaze of an examiner. If you're not adequately experienced, the pressure will get to you and you'll make mistakes you know you shouldn’t be making.

Practice isn't just about improving your knowledge of signs and road conditions. It's about making you more of an instinctive driver and committing everything to muscle memory.

If you struggle with any of the following driving skills, spend more time practicing them:

  • Parallel parking
  • Complete stops
  • Steering wheel control
  • Reversing
  • Three-point turns

Remember SMOG During Lane Changes

When switching lanes, remember the acronym "SMOG":

  • Signal: Check that your blinker is on and signaling the direction where you're going. Your signal should be on about 3 or 4 seconds before you change lanes.
  • Mirrors: Check your mirrors (rearview mirror, side mirrors) to see if there are any cars nearby.
  • Over the Shoulder: Look over your shoulder in the direction you're going.
  • Go: Upon completing the above steps, you're ready to go!

Focus on the Road

You're not taking the examiner on a road trip, so you don't need to entertain them with small talk or witty anecdotes. Focus your attention on the road and don't worry about what they are thinking, doing, or writing.

Not only are you less likely to make mistakes when your attention is on the road, but the examiner will make note of this and it could help you to pass your driving test.

Slow Down Before Turning

Accelerating into a turn will raise red flags for the examiner and could lead to an accident.

Life is not a Grand Prix, so slow down before you hit those turns and complete them before hitting the accelerator again.

Brake Gently

Students are often overzealous when it comes to using the brake pedal. They brake aggressively, causing the car to jolt violently and no doubt reducing their scores by a few points.

You have more time than you think you do, so apply early and gentle pressure and bring the car to a natural stop.

Complete a Pre-Drive Checklist

As soon as you get behind the wheel, the driving instructor will expect you to complete a few basic steps:

  • Wear your seatbelt
  • Adjust your mirrors
  • Turn on headlights, taillights, and high beams as needed

Stay Within the Speed Limits

Getting used to speed limits can be tricky as a learner driver. You have to pay attention to speed signs and your speedometer all while battling your nerves and trying to keep your speed smooth and steady.

It's something that will get easier with time, but for now, it's important to maintain a constant speed that is within 5 MPH of the speed limit.

Don't Give Up

Just because you miss a few road signs, exceed the speed limit, or fail to check your signals, doesn't mean you have failed.

There is such a thing as an automatic fail, but it usually results from incidents that show a blatant lack of control or safety issues, including those that put yourself and others at risk.

For everything else, you could still secure a passing grade.

It's important not to let a single failure get the better of you. It's not "all or nothing", as even a minor pass is still a pass.

If you make a mistake, put it behind you, keep going, and focus on driving as well as you can from that moment on.

Why Do So Many Students Fail Their Driving Test the First Time?

It has been estimated that between 40% and 50% of learners fail their driving test the first time. That's a huge percentage when you consider that all of those drivers have devoted a lot of time to the craft and have made sure they are adequately prepared.

So, why are first-time road test failures so common? What are the most common reasons that people fail?


It doesn't matter how good you are at something; nerves can turn you into a complete novice.

In the heat of the moment, all those anxieties slow you down and make it difficult to remember the most basic things.

There is no easy fix for driving test nerves. Experience helps, though. Spend more time behind the wheel with a parent or guardian in the front seat.

If they are the judgmental sort, then even better. It might be frustrating to drive as they criticize your every move, but it could prepare you for your driving test. If you've endured hours of driving practice with a hypercritical parent bearing down on you, the actual driving test will be a breeze!

Remind yourself that it's not the end of the world if you fail. Breathe deeply. Give yourself time to relax.

These things are easier said than done, but generally speaking, the longer you're in the car and in the presence of an examiner, the more relaxed you will become.

Going Too Fast or Too Slow

It's said that roughly 10% of students fail their tests because they're driving too fast or too slow. Some learners get a little trigger happy or overly confident and don't pay attention to how fast they are going. Others are overly cautious, perhaps assuming that slower is better than faster and they won't be penalized for their speed.

Keep an eye out for speed limit signs and always stick within 5 MPH.

Ignoring Traffic Signs

Ignoring a yield sign is one of the most common mistakes resulting in a failed driving test. Learners are also prone to missing or outright ignoring other traffic signs. If you don't pay attention, your examiner will, and they'll mark you down every time you miss a sign.

Taking Wide Turns

Students often make wide turns, switching into the wrong lane and then compounding the error by moving across without remembering SMOG.

If you're on a 2-lane road and you're making a right turn, you should end up in the right lane.