How to pass your driving test

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UPDATED: 2022-07-27T06:07:07.378Z
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Teen driver taking their driving test in a car while the driving instructor grades her.

Whether you are a teen looking forward to the freedom that comes with having a driver’s license or an adult who suddenly finds having a car a necessity, getting a driver’s license means you’ll have to demonstrate to your state of residence that you are capable and responsible enough to handle a vehicle safely.

You may be nervous about taking your driving test, but there’s a lot you can do to prepare for it. This should help to alleviate some of your concerns and prepare you for your test. Once you have your license and are ready to get a car, it will be time to shop for car insurance!

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What does a driving test involve?

While the laws vary by state, in some cases, to get a driver’s license, you have to pass a written test and a road test. The written part of the driving exam tests your knowledge of the rules of the road, while the road portion demonstrates the practical application of your safe driving techniques. In some cases, you may also be required to take a driver’s education course.

If a written test is required, it will likely be taken at your local RMV or DMV on a computer. The test may be timed and you’ll need to answer a certain number of questions correctly in order to pass. The driving test will ask questions about traffic laws or what different road signs mean.

For the road test part of your driving test, you will be tested on your driving skills and your ability to follow traffic laws and signs. You will be in a car with a representative from the state and/or your driving school, if you took a drivers education course. You will be asked to drive around and may be asked to do certain things such as parallel park or drive backwards in a straight line.

If you are trying to get your Commercial Driver's License (CDL), there are different steps you'll need to take to prepare for your CDL.

Practice, practice, practice

This advice is pretty obvious, but it’s also very important. The first time you sit in the driver’s seat and get behind the steering wheel of a car, you’re probably nervous and excited.

You need to get used to a lot of things very quickly: how the car accelerates and brakes; where the gauges are and how to read them; where your mirrors are, how to adjust them and then you must become accustomed to using them; how to shift into park, drive, and reverse; and know where your lights and turn signals are. And that’s just to start! If you’re learning on a car with a manual transmission, you’ll also need to become accustomed to using the clutch and shifting gears.

Practice driving with an experienced and helpful adult in the car with you, preferably someone who has been driving for many years. Use this person as a resource to help you with safe driving tips and to help you learn how to drive.

Getting used to the car takes time. Then you’ll need to get used to other drivers on the road. New drivers need to practice their defensive driving techniques. This skill involves processing all of the information that you see and make decisions that anticipate changing conditions. The National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving Course defines defensive driving as, “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.”

Anticipating the actions of others and how to manage conditions around you, such as bad weather, take experience. Experience is gathered over time. The more practice time you can get in before your road test, the more prepared you will feel. With enough practice, safe driving habits will come naturally to you.

Study for your driving test

The road test will inspire the most nerves and dread, but there’s also a written exam portion in some states. For example, in Massachusetts, aspiring drivers are required to take a written test to be granted their learner’s permit and then a road test to get their driver’s license. Knowing and understanding traffic laws won’t just help you pass the written test, it will also make you a better driver when taking your road test.

Every time you get behind the wheel of a car, your drive will be different, even if you take the same route every day. You’ll encounter different conditions based on the weather. You’ll interact with different drivers. Pedestrians, wildlife, delivery vehicles, cyclists, road repairs, and driving when it’s dark out can all present drivers with situations that require an almost instant assessment of how to safely and legally navigate the road.

Knowing the details of the right-of-way law is an example of a situation where studying the rules of the road that could help you in your road test is. Knowing exactly who has the right of way at a 4-way stop can confuse even experienced drivers. Study the written materials and know how to apply that knowledge when you’re on the road.

Don’t just study to pass the test and forget what you’ve learned. As a driver, you’ll come across more tricky situations than you can imagine. Knowing what the laws are will help you to be a safe driver.

Take a drivers education course before taking your driving test

Drivers education courses are typically offered at high schools or at private drivers education (drivers ed) schools. More than half the states in the United States require teens to take a drivers education (drivers ed) course. Even if you aren’t required to take one, these courses can teach you valuable safe driving skills for all new drivers before getting on the road.

Drivers education typically has two parts: a lecture portion that takes place in a classroom and road lessons in which you drive around with a driving instructor in the car.

It’s no surprise that most of the time spent in a car before we get our driver’s license is with family members. Whomever is driving you around most frequently may have developed some bad driving habits over the years whether it’s your parents or older siblings or other family members.

The last thing you want to do is to go into a driver’s license test with bad driving habits that you’ve unknowingly picked up from those you love. Bad habits picked up by many adults who have been driving for a while may include making wide right-hand turns or following another vehicle too closely. Not looking over a shoulder to check blind spots is another bad habit to avoid.

Failing to turn your head to check your blind spot before changing lanes is a common mistake on driving tests. Carmakers have introduced better mirrors, side cameras, and technology such as lane assist that are meant to help drivers. However, this can lead drivers to become overly reliant on them, thus ignoring the lessons that they learned back when they took their driving test.

Learning from an objective party that trains drivers professionally might be a good solution for all involved.

New drivers and car insurance

The point of requiring a driving test is to evaluate your readiness to be on the road as a safe driver. Passing your driving test indicates to the state that you are taking seriously the responsibility of driving.

As a new driver, your insurance rates will most likely start on the high side. This is because car insurance companies see new drivers as a higher risk to insure because of their lack of experience, which makes them more likely to get into car accidents. However, knowing and following the rules of the road will help you to stay out of accidents.

Being a safe driver and having a clean driving record will cause your insurance rates to drop over time (eventually). So, study hard, practice, and don’t let your nerves get the best of you when you’re taking your test.

If you will soon have a new driver in the household or if you yourself will be a new driver soon, you should do your research to find a reliable and affordable car insurance company. Use Clearsurance’s car insurance calculator at the top of our best car insurance rankings page. This will give you car insurance policy prices from various companies as well as a ranking of the companies that consumers say are the best in your zip code.

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