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A learner's permit is the first step toward receiving a driver's license. When in possession of a learner's permit, most states allow you to drive while being supervised by someone who is 18 or older and in possession of a valid driver's license; keep in mind, however, that laws vary from state to state. Before you can receive a learner's permit, you will need to take a learner's permit test at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In some states, you will also need a physical exam from a doctor before being allowed to apply for the learner's permit.
Typically, a learner's permit test is a multiple choice exam. It may be a written exam, on paper, or it may be given on a computer. All of the questions on the test will come directly from that particular state's driver's license handbook, which may be acquired at most schools, or at the DMV. The questions might be completely text-based, or illustrated with pictures. To pass the test, you will need to attain a certain score, which the test administrator will tell you beforehand.
There may be a time limit enforced on the learner's permit test. It is a good idea to know the time limit ahead of time, so you can feel completely prepared, and know how quickly you need to work. Many schools offer practice tests as part of a driver's education curriculum, and it is a great idea to take advantage of these opportunities. If your school does not offer such tests, it is possible to find many sample tests and sample test questions online for free.
Before taking the test, you should acquire a study guide as well. These can be found online or at school. Read through the study guide thoroughly, marking any areas that you find confusing. Finding someone to study with may be helpful as well.
When you arrive at the DMV, you will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian if you are under 18. You will likely also need to present multiple forms of identification. The identification you provide will also need to prove your residency status in the state in which you are getting the learner's permit. An eye screening test may be administered as well, to verify that your vision is acceptable for driving. There is generally a small fee associated with taking the learner's permit test.
Keep in mind that if you don't pass the learner's permit test the first time, in most states you can just wait a few weeks and take it again. Once you do pass the test, you will receive your learner's permit immediately, which is typically valid for one year. The laws of your state will dictate the amount of time you must hold the learner's permit before taking the driver's license skills test.
In my state, drivers under the age of 18 had to earn a special certificate in order to take the drivers' license test itself, but anyone who turned 16 could get a learner's permit. I don't remember taking a written test to get my learner's permit, but maybe the process has changed since then.
My problem wasn't getting the permit, but finding licensed drivers who were willing to sit in the car with me. My driver's education teacher would set up driving practice tests on an empty parking lot, which meant I could be in the car by myself. I definitely needed the practice. I don't remember the written part of the driver's license exam being that difficult.
It's been years since I took the driving permit practice test, but I do remember I passed it on the first attempt. There were only a few questions that required a specific answer found in the drivers' handbook. The rest were mostly based on common sense, like the proper distance to maintain from the car ahead of you. My driver's education teacher drilled us on the "two second rule" and other items that were on the driver practice test.
My advice would be to take advantage of any online practice permit test you can find. Pay attention to specifics mentioned in the handbook, like braking distances and weather rules. Some questions on the test may be a little tricky, with two or more possible answers. You'll need to remember the answer provided in the handbook, not necessarily an answer that sounds right to you.