Passing Your Driver’s Test: How to Earn Your Driver’s License the First Time

7838240744_a3b0aeaaa3_zDriving is often synonymous with pure freedom. There’s something empowering and exciting about being able to hop into your vehicle at any time and hit the road. It can be a real hassle to depend on others for a ride, especially if you live far from sources of public transportation. But before you can roll the windows down and feel the wind in your hair—or simply upgrade the ride to school or work—you have to pass a driving test and earn a license.

Do you hope to pass your driver’s test the first time you take it? There’s certainly no shame in needing additional tries to pass, but you’re probably impatient to win the right to drive on your own. Keep reading for a few tips on how you can maximize the chances of getting your license sooner rather than later.

Theory First, Practice Later

Obviously, it’s important to rack up real-world experience in your vehicle with a trusted adult in the passenger seat, but first you have to know the rules. Confronting situations head-on without knowing the underlying rules will not end well for anyone. Learning is a two-part process; the more comfortable you are with the written and theoretical rules, the more natural they’ll seem when you actually get behind the wheel. It’s likely that the last thing you want to do after school or work is study some more, but it’s a must if you’re serious about passing your test right off the bat and becoming a solid driver. Have someone quiz you at random intervals to see how you react on the spot.

Take Mock Road Tests Before the Big Day

It’s a good idea to drive around the area that you’ll actually be testing in to get a feel for the streets with your guardian acting as the instructor. Here are some of the universal driver’s test components that will come in handy to practice before your test, according to

-Parking (pulling in and out of parking spaces, tackling two- and three-point turns, and parallel parking)

-Stopping (gauging oncoming traffic, maintain proper distance behind lines and crosswalks, making stops complete, and knowing the emergency brake function)

-Turns (slowing down before a turn and yielding in intersections)

-Lane changes (signaling, checking mirrors, checking blind spot, maintaining speed, and merging onto the freeway)

-Defensive driving (keeping a safe distance behind other vehicles, using mirrors, checking signal lights and signage before acting, and reacting to potential dangers)

Take Care of the Details

The day of your test is not the ideal time to start preparing for what happens once you’re a licensed driver. You’ll feel more confident and secure going in knowing that you’ve squared away the logistics that will accompany licensure. A good first step is establishing a budget for car-related repairs and expenses. Not only will you have to pay to take the road test, but you’ll need money for future maintenance and gas.

The next step is to make sure that you’re covered under auto insurance that’s suitable for your state. It’s not fun to think about, but the CDC considers newly licensed teens as one of the riskiest groups on the road. Their data suggests that the crash rate is three times higher for 16–17 year olds compared to 18–19 year olds. Insurance carriers also set premium rates according to risk, so younger drivers pay more in general for coverage. To make sure that your coverage is adequate from day one, take the time to compare auto insurance and find a level of protection and price point that works for you. Then you’re free to focus on the task at hand: passing your test. 

Loosen Up a Little

It’s normal to be jittery leading up to your test. However, these nerves will not give you heightened awareness that helps you ace your test. Being nervous makes it harder to focus and react in a controlled manner when you’re in the moment. You don’t want to blank out and forget the rules or find your attention scattered due to anxiety on the day of the exam! Work on some breathing exercises that can help calm your body down, and don’t rush through any of the procedures. Staying calm, cool, and collected will bump up your chances of receiving a great score.

Driving is serious business. More importantly than the pride of passing your test is the fact that soon you’ll be out on the road reacting to new situations daily. Take enough time before the driving exam to master the rules on paper, practice them until you know them like the back of your hand, and take care of the important details that will shape your future driving abilities. Good luck on your test!

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