What Should I Expect from the Driver's License Exam?

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  • Written By: Mitch Morgan
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 25 February 2020
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Knowing what to expect from a driver's license exam helps ensure a quick and stress-free experience. The exam is divided into two portions: a mandatory written or computer exam portion, and a driving portion that is required only under certain conditions. The written portion contains questions that involve everyday signs and scenarios a driver might face. The driving portion is done in the tester's vehicle with a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) examiner whose job is to ensure that a driver can properly handle his or her vehicle on the road.

The driving test portion of the exam is usually only required for people who have never been licensed in any state, or hold a license from a foreign country. Driving tests might also be required for those with vision-related problems, a limited-term or probationary license, a physical condition (except contact lenses), or other conditional terms. The rules will vary somewhat from state to state.

Following a few basic driving tips while practicing for the driving portion of a driver's license exam helps assure success on the day of the test. Accelerate and steer smoothly without stopping or starting the vehicle too fast. Always obey the speed limit and decrease speed when driving in traffic, bad weather, or road construction sites. Never “tailgate” another driver; leave a safe distance between cars to allow for emergency braking. Use turn signals at all turns and lane changes, and be an observant, alert, and defensive driver.


The written or computer-based portion of a driver's license exam usually consists of questions that focus on driving laws, procedures, and road signs. Law questions will typically involve topics like speed limits, parking restrictions, child restraint, and roadway accidents. Procedure questions might cover road safety and hazards, and what a driver should do in certain situations. Road sign questions will usually include an illustration of a road sign, followed by a question on how to interpret the sign.

Samples of a driver's license exam are often available through the DMV. These are ideal materials to study prior to the exam as they contain questions very much like those found on the actual test. Each state also has a driver’s handbook that provides virtually all the information one needs to know for his or her driver's license exam. The driver’s handbook is available at most DMV stations free of charge and may also be accessed on the Internet. It is a great resource to have when preparing for a standard driver’s license exam and driver's test.


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Post 3

@turquoise-- If you don't feel that you are prepared, then you should take more time to practice. Don't take the driving test if you are having trouble parking or doing anything else. If you fail, you can take the driving test again whenever you want. But if you prepare thoroughly and then take the test, I'm sure you'll pass the first time.

I actually failed twice before passing the driving test. My mistake was taking the test with an old, stick shift car the first two times. The third time, I went with an automatic car and drove much more smoothly for this reason. The issue was really the car for me. I recommend taking the test with an automatic car.

And make sure to always follow the rules, stay calm and do not drive fast.

Post 2

I'm going to take my drivers license exam this weekend. I already took the written exam and passed. I think that was easy. But I'm nervous about the driving portion. I'm not too great with parking. I hope I pass the test.

Post 1

My driving license expired once because I was working outside of the country. When I returned, I had to take both the computer exam and the driving test again. It was disappointing because I hoped that I wouldn't have to.

I'm not sure which states issue a new license without requesting these exams again. But that certainly was not the case for me in Ohio.

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