A Student’s Guide to Passing the Driver’s Test


Photo Courtesy of Flickr Photos

Driving can be a daunting task, but there are many ways to help you feel confident on test day.

Jordan Lee, Front Page Editor

*Read with Discretion. These tips are based upon individual driving experience. They do not guarantee that you will pass the license test. The Portola Pilot does not assume any responsibility for any driving-related occurrences.*

Six months ago, you walked confidently into your local DMV and took your written driving test. Passing with flying colors, you excitedly hopped into your parent’s car, waiting for the moment when you could finally drive on your own. Now you sit in the driver’s seat, anxiously awaiting your driving proctor to initiate the test. You question yourself, wondering if you have what it takes to get your license.

As a student driver, I know firsthand what it is like to take the license test (and pass!), and with these simple tips, I hope you can gain the confidence and knowledge it takes to pass on your first try.

1. Practice near the DMV: In my opinion, this is the most helpful tip. After you schedule your driving test and select your DMV location, visit the area and take a test drive. Many driving schools and instructors (also available online) have inside knowledge of the actual route that the driving test follows. Driving around the DMV area will help you get a feel for your surrounding and anticipate any obstacles such as railroad crossings, construction sites or stop signs. In fact, my test followed the exact same route I had practiced with my instructor 20 minutes before entering the DMV! In sum, having experience on the route will prepare you mentally for the test and will give you more confidence.

2. It is OK to make mistakes: It is important to remember that it is normal to make small errors. As drivers, it is impossible to stop exactly 18 inches from the curb, remember to signal every turn and more. Do not get tripped up by silly mistakes. Learn to move on and focus on your next obstacle on the road.

3. Pretend like the driving tester does not exist: Although you are taking a test, pretend that you are just driving by yourself. Do not be paranoid about what the instructor is doing: marking his or her paper, looking at you or tapping on the glass. The tester will often write notes or mark down points on his or her score sheet, but try not to think about what he or she may have marked down. Instead, focus on driving and staying alert.

4. Do not be afraid of the tester: A common stereotype for testers is that they are always ill-tempered, rude and grumpy. However, these stereotypes can often be misinformed; my tester was very nice and made the testing process smooth. Treat your tester politely and with an open-mind. Imagine yourself in his or her shoes; the tester is just another ordinary person doing his or her job. If your tester does happen to have a negative attitude, continue to act normally and focus on your own driving.

5. Stay calm and relaxed: One of the worst things you can do during the test is freak out. Alleviate any pressure off your shoulders, and remember that you can always retake the test if something goes wrong. Think back to the hours of practice driving you have completed. Take several deep breaths before you start, and if you make a mistake during the test, keep breathing and stay positive. Staying confident will also show the tester that you are mature and ready to drive on your own.

Hopefully these tips help you pass the test on your first try. Good luck, and safe driving!