driving instructor taking notes while young person is driving

How to pass your written driving test

On the Road 2 min read

Your written driving test is kind of like a pre-show. Sure, you prepare for it. But most of your time goes toward the main event — passing your drivers’ road test. Yet, you still must pass that written portion. With the right amount of studying and preparation, you can sail through the “pre-show” of written questions and get yourself one step closer to driving independence.

How to study for the written driver’s test

Once you schedule your written exam, take the following steps to help you learn and remember the information on the test.

Read through your state’s handbook

Ensure you have the most updated copy of your state’s driving handbook. You can either pick up a physical copy from your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or download a digital copy online. Read through the handbook cover-to-cover, highlighting important information and writing notes as you go.

Common topics to focus on include:

  • The meanings of different road signs
  • Driving in specific situations, such as driving in the city
  • Knowing the right-of-way rules
  • How to handle the different types of intersections and turns
  • Common speed limits for different types of roads
  • Meanings of different curb colors
  • State-specific road rules

Start studying early

Cramming impairs your ability to remember important details. Create a study plan and allow plenty of time to cover the information you want to learn. You’re more likely to remember everything if you review a little bit each day for a couple of weeks rather than cramming it all in the night before.

Use word associations to remember information

Creating word associations or acronyms for various study terms can help them stick in your head. According to Psychology Today, creating intentional, conscious associations puts the learner in charge of their learning.

Take online practice tests

You can find written driving test practice exams on most states’ DMV sites. These practice tests are a good way to review the information and they often follow a similar format to the official tests.

Get yourself in the zone

Before heading into your written test, play your favorite song, take a few minutes to meditate, or have an energizing snack — whatever it is that will help you feel confident.

Get a good night’s sleep

Pulling an all-nighter before your written test can do more harm than good. Getting a full night’s sleep helps your brain retain what it learned that day.

Approach difficult questions logically

If you get stuck on a question, read through it carefully and narrow down the potential answers based on what you remember from studying. Even if you can eliminate two of four options, that will give you a 50/50 chance of getting the question right.

Don’t get held up on questions you don’t know

Since the test has a time limit, you don’t want to waste too much time on tricky questions. If you can, skip them and return to them once you’ve answered the other questions. And don’t feel too discouraged if you get tripped up. No states require a perfect score, so even if you get stumped by one or two questions, that doesn’t mean you won’t pass. Learn more about passing your driver’s test.

What to know after passing your driving test

Above all, have confidence that you know the rules of the road. Once you pass your test, consider the best cars for new drivers, buy car insurance for the first time, or stay on your parents’ car insurance.

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