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Last updated: April 12, 2023

How to Pass Your Driver’s Test

Know what common mistakes to avoid during your road test.

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One of the most nerve-wracking experiences of a young person’s life is passing their driver’s license test. Even the most prepared first-time driver can let their nerves get the best of them. And no one wants to take the driving test more than once. So, how do you pass?

What to Do Before the Test

They say the best offense is a good defense, so preparing is the best way to pass your driver’s test.

Practice Driving

You need to log a certain number of practice hours with your learner’s permit, which is a good thing — it means gaining driving experience. Practice getting behind the wheel in empty parking lots first, then low-traffic streets, then high-traffic streets and highways. Make sure you drive during different weather conditions and times of day. If driving with a parent is too stressful, consider seeking out a professional driving instructor who can give you practice tests as well as driving test tips. Practice driving skills like three-point turns, using windshield wipers during rainy weather, and parallel parking.

Know Your Car

One of the most important aspects of learning to drive is being aware of all the parts of your car and how to operate them, including any safe driving tech for teens installed in the vehicle. You can’t drive well if you don’t understand how the car works.

Study the Laws

Of course, you should also study the rules of the road, as teen driving laws are different from those for drivers over the age of 18 or 21. For example, if you’re driving with a junior license, you may have a curfew or a limit on how many passengers you can transport at a time. Additionally, to pass your driving test with flying colors, you’ll need not only plenty of behind-the-wheel practice but also knowledge of road signs.

Know the Vehicle Requirements

Your brain isn’t the only thing you need to prepare for taking the driver’s test. Make sure your vehicle meets the following requirements:

  • Is in clean condition
  • Operates properly and safely, with working brakes, tires, seat belts, and so on
  • Has valid registration and up-to-date inspection stickers


Vehicle requirements vary by state. For example, in New Jersey, vehicles used in driving tests cannot be self-parking or have tinted windows, but other states may allow these features.1 Check your state’s DMV to see what’s required.

Gather What You Need

States differ on what you need to bring with you for the test itself, along with your vehicle. For instance, in the state of New York, you must bring the following:

  • A licensed driver 21 or older
  • Corrective lenses like glasses or contacts, if your permit says you need them to drive
  • Documents that prove your age, identification, and residence, as well as proof of the completion of the required supervised driving hours, your learner’s permit, and so on.2
  • Money for the test fee

Schedule the Test

Either schedule the driving test online via your state’s DMV website or call the DMV directly.

Prepare Physically

Get a good night’s sleep before the test, and eat a healthy breakfast that morning. You want to stay focused and avoid drowsy driving, which could lead to unsafe driving behaviors.

What to Remember During the Test

Before the big day, make sure you know exactly what the driving test will entail. That way, you can practice these skills specifically and show up at the test prepared.

What’s Tested

While each state/metropolitan statistical area may test slightly different actions (for example, a road test in a more urban area may include parallel parking, while a rural location may not), here are the most common actions you’ll need to master:

  • Driving in reverse
  • Nearing corners or intersections
  • Parallel parking
  • Sitting and steering properly
  • Stopping at appropriate signs/smoothly
  • Turning around
  • Yielding to right-of-way

What Not to Do During the Test

When it comes to driving tests, knowing what not to do is just as important as learning what to do.

Don’t Drive Distracted

Teen distracted driving is very common. In our research, we found that nine out of 10 people ages 18 to 24 talk on the phone while driving. Always drive free of distractions, which include not only electronic devices but also food, drinks, and passengers.


If your phone is a distraction, hand it to the person who drove you to the test; that way, you won’t be tempted to look at it when you drive.

Don’t Speed

In the same vein, teen speeding is another pervasive issue, as 43 percent of drivers ages 16 to 18 speed (the national average across all age types is 30 percent). We always recommend following the speed limit, and that definitely includes during your road test.

Don’t Break Laws

If you break any traffic laws, like speeding or going the wrong way down a one-way street, that typically results in an automatic fail.

Don’t Drive Dangerously

Don’t drive recklessly, display road rage, or be negligent. Adhere to the safety rules of the road, or you probably won’t pass the test.

What Happens After Your Driving Test

Immediately following your road test, the test examiner will let you know if you passed or failed. If you fail, they will let you know what you did well and what to improve upon. Typically, you can repeat the test a set amount of times within a certain time period without having to start the application process over. However, if you don’t pass within that time period or the allotted number of tests, you’ll have to reapply.3

If you passed, congratulations! You’ll receive an interim license and can drive home legally. Your new junior license will arrive in the mail within the next month.

Why Students Fail the First Time

Many people don’t pass their driver’s license tests the first time they take them, often due to silly mistakes like not fastening their seat belt or not checking mirrors, or more dangerous mistakes, like a sudden left-turn without looking for oncoming traffic. Another reason students sometimes fail is because they didn’t meet the vehicle requirements due to a broken headlight or outdated registration.4 If you fail the first time, know you’re not alone, and you’ll have other chances to pass.


If you’re ready to get on the road as a licensed driver, make sure you check out our recommendations for the best auto insurance for teens. Note that, due to your lack of driving experience, you’ll be charged higher car insurance rates, but these should decrease around age 25. You can keep premiums as low as possible by following the rules of the road and avoiding accidents, tickets, and points on your driving record.


  1. Basic Road Test. New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. (2023).

  2. Get Your Learner Permit and First Driver License. State of New York Department of Motor Vehicles. (2023).

  3. How to Prepare for a Drive Test. Texas Department of Public Safety Driver License Division. (2017, Jun 29).