If you want to drive, you’ll need to ace the road portion of your driving test. These exams exist to screen out bad drivers but they can still snag intelligent, soon-to-be roadsters simply due to nerves or lack of preparation.
It’s important to practice your driving skills, and it’s even more important to know what your driving test will encompass before you take it. If you’ve taken the written portion—great. It’s time to buckle in, hit the streets and wrap up your test with excellent driving. Check out these driving test tips.
1. Know the Rules Ahead of Time
Your driving test might be about driving but it’s also about your understanding of the rules. Read up on the laws of the road and don’t settle for the information needed by the permit test’s written part. Yes, you should know the fine details.
If you know all of the road rules, you’ll breeze through the driving potion. Too often drivers flop when passing this part—not because they didn’t know the road rules, rather because they were thinking too hard on them.
2. Simulate Your Driving Test
Hop in the car, bring a capable supervising adult and simulate the driving test yourself.
A driving test covers parking, three-point turns, stopping, and lane changes.
If you can practice both the writing and road portions of your driving test before they happen you will find yourself well-prepared to knock them out of the park. As a pro tip: Drive at the DMV where your test takes place. You can normally map out a DMV’s driving test points. When nobody is taking a test, brush up on the course’s layout.
3. Don’t Worry So Much About Mistakes
A lot of test-takers flounder because they worry too much. If you make a mistake during the road test, keep going. Move on. Otherwise you might make even more mistakes. A lot of states allow multiple retests. Really, the worst-case scenario is one in which you take the test again. By being comfortable with the test, you’ll keep your wits where they belong—on the road.
4. Focus on Three-Point Turns
Two and three-point turns are a consistent hang-up for new drivers. Get comfortable with them and spend at least a few hours perfecting them. Alongside parking, three-point turns can be awkward for new drivers. If you don’t want to practice in small areas, drive to the nearest parking lot.
In general, parking lots are great practice areas for maneuverability tests and practicing your pointed turns.
Below is a great video that illustrates how to nail three-point turns during your driving test.
5. Always Use Side & Rear View Mirrors
Mirrors should always be utilized, even if you feel confident about your surroundings. Your driving test provider will check to see if you’re using them and you’ll lose points if you aren’t. Make sure they’re well-adjusted and don’t hesitate to check them continuously.
6. Glasses Matter
If you use corrective lenses, bring them to the test. Even if you’re capable of driving without them, your test provider will notice if you’re neglecting the test. Glasses make for smart driving and they’re definitely worth the hassle.
7. Understand the Vehicle’s Controls
It might seem like a no-brainer but you should deeply understand your vehicle’s control mechanisms. If you’re using a loved-one’s car, make sure you know its ins and outs. Again, you should practice with the vehicle before the test is taken. Understand your vehicle’s handling and make sure you’re aware of any handling quirks.
8. Use Proper Steering Wheel Hand Placement
Even if you can lazily drive with one hand, you shouldn’t. Use proper hand placement and make sure you’re appropriately gripping the steering wheel.
Test providers do check for hand placement and they will not hesitate to dock points if you’re driving with one hand. Hold the wheel firmly, especially when turning.
Here is another great video resource showing the proper steering wheel hand placement.
9. Keep Your Distance
Don’t stop too closely to vehicles in front of you. As a general rule, you should be able to see the wheels of the car in front of you. When driving, keep at least three car-lengths behind the vehicle in front of you.
10. Observe the Functions
Statistically, the top reason for driving test failure every year is because of junctions. Observe your junctions and make sure you’re assessing situations correctly. Test providers make sure driving test candidates are watching out and they’ll remove points if a candidate under pressure isn’t being observant.
Junctions include crossroads, roundabouts and other avenues. Street crossing is important, but these other junctions shouldn’t be forgotten.
11. Become a Master Reverser
While reversing gets little coverage in the test, it’s surprisingly difficult to prep for. You’ll need to practice reversing around a corner, reverse parallel parking and bay parking. You should be incredibly good at reversing before the test ever takes place, assuring confidence with any maneuver.
12. Practice Independent Driving
On some tests, the examiner shows drivers a basic map. Drivers will be expected to follow road signs, navigate streets and make decisions to reach their destination.
If you can’t remember where to go, simply ask the examiner to repeat their directions. If you take a wrong turn, don’t get too worried. Make it a safe turn and let the examiner put you back on track.
13. Choose Your Time Wisely
Driving at sunrise or sundown can mess up your test scores. Aim for noontime, so as to keep the glare minimal. Also avoid rush hour traffic times. Learn your area and choose quiet hours for your driving test.
14. Don’t Stress About Other Drivers
You should be mindful of them, sure, but don’t get too worried if they’re honking. Keep your eyes on the road and focus on being as safe as possible. Often drivers will honk at test-takers for, of all things, actually following the speed limit.
Assuming you’re correctly doing everything, your test provider will support you and provide positive reinforcement through feedback during the test.
15. Know the Speed Limits
Even if there isn’t a sign, there’s still a speed limit. As a rule of thumb, residential roads have a 25-mile-per-hour speed limit. Non-residential roads, meanwhile, have a 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. Your examiner might take you to an area without speed limit signs, so you should be capable of snapping into pre-set speed limits if signs aren’t around.
Fortunately, driving tests are short. Stay focused and be mindful of passerby and cars. If you make a small mistake, don’t stress. You’re just a few minutes away from finally obtaining your driver’s license!