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How to Pass Your Driver's License Test the First Time

A driving license centre in Toyokawa, Japan

A driving license centre in Toyokawa, Japan

So, You're About to Take Your Driver's Exam

Below is a list of things that will save you from failing your driver's license exam, and from wasting a lot of money going back to apply for new appointments.

Keep in mind that this article is based on my experiences with driving exams in South Africa. But read this article even if you don't reside here, just for interest's sake.

Steps to Passing Your Driving Exams

  1. The External Inspection
  2. The Internal Inspection
  3. The Yard Test
  4. Starting Procedure (Optional)
  5. The Road Test
  6. Hand signals and emergency brake (optional)

1. The External Inspection

i. You will start off with the external inspection of your car, where you go counter-clockwise around the car from the driver's side (walk left).

ii. Check underneath the car and say that there are no obstructions or leaks.

iii. Confirm that the wheel is at the correct pressure, the valve cap is on, there are no cuts or slashes on the side wall, the wheel nuts are secure and there is enough tread.

iv. You then move on to the windscreen wiper and say that it is free of damage and in good working order.

v. The headlights, parking lights, and indicator lights are clean and undamaged.

vi. The bonnet is secure.

vii. Underneath the bonnet, the oil, water, brake fluid, and drive belts have been checked.

viii. The front left wheel is the same as the other.

ix. The petrol cap is secure.

x. The left rear wheel is the same as the others.

xi. The rear lights are clean and undamaged.

xii. The right rear wheel is the same as the others.

2. The Internal Inspection

i. Inside the car, after closing the car door, you say that all the doors are closed.

ii. The seat and mirrors are adjusted.

iii. The handbrake is on

iv. The car is in neutral.

v. There are no obstructions by the feet and pedals.

vi. You will be asked to indicate right, and then left.

vii. You will be asked to put your headlights and parking lights on.

viii. Then, put your fog lights on.

ix. You will be asked to turn on the windscreen wipers.

x. You will be asked to honk the horn.

xi. The examiner will then move to the rear of the car and ask you to indicate right and left, and then push the brake pedal.

After you've completed a thorough inspection of the car, it's time to drive

After you've completed a thorough inspection of the car, it's time to drive

3. The Yard Test

Many people believe that this is the hardest and strictest part of the test. You would have practiced parking often if you attended a driving school. There is a time limit on this course.

i. You start off with a hill start. If you roll back, you fail. The proper way is to put the car into first, with the handbrake on. Rev slightly, and release the clutch slowly. Do your full observation. Release the clutch even more until you feel the back of the car sink in. Then, release the handbrake while pushing down more on the accelerator. Remember that the clutch and accelerator work like a seesaw. When one comes out, the other goes in, and vice versa.

ii. Next is the first alley docking procedure, either from the right or left, where you go in backward.

iii. Then the second one.

iv. Then the two parallel parking moves.

v. The three-point turn.

Become familiar with the interior of the car, all the controls, and what they do

Become familiar with the interior of the car, all the controls, and what they do

4. Starting Procedure (Optional)

I was advised that sometimes the official will ask you to do what's known as a starting procedure. This procedure is simple and similar to the internal check. I wasn't asked this by my examiner.

i. The handbrake is on.

ii. The car is in neutral.

iii. Turn the key until the dash lights up, and say that there are no warning lights on (hopefully!).

iv. Turn the car on and check that there are still no warning lights.

v. State whether the car has a manual or an automatic choke (automatics are much less hassle, especially in winter when it's cold).

5. The Road Test

There are a lot more things that can go wrong here. There is a minimum time you have to stay on the road, but the test might take longer. You will have to drive around your local area or where the traffic department is located.

i. Stop the whole car behind the white line at stop streets, not just the wheels.

ii. Before turns, check your mirror and blind spot, indicate, then check the blind spot again before turning the wheel.

iii. Don't cross your hands, rather use the shuffle method for turning the wheel. They'll take one point off for crossing hands.

iv. Try not to stall. They take one point off for stalling each time.

v. Don't let the car roll anywhere at any time. This will lead to a fail.

vi. When stopping, use the foot brake, keep your hands on the steering wheel until you come to a full stop, clutch in before you stall, then handbrake.

vii. Do a full observation after stopping and using the handbrake before taking off (mirror, right blind spot, mirror again, and left blind spot).

viii. When on the road, check your mirror and then look right and left at any intersections, business entrances, etc. Driveways are the exception to this rule.

6. Hand signals and emergency brake (optional)

Some examiners may ask you to do emergency hand signals and an emergency stop. For the right-hand signal: Mirror, right blind spot, indicate right, second blind spot, and hold out your arm straight. For the left: Mirror, left blind spot, indicate left, right blind spot, put your arm out the window and make a circular motion with your hand. For the stop: Mirror, blind spot, and put your arm out and hold it up in an L shape, pointing to the sky. To emergency brake, simply push in the clutch and the foot brake together and come to a stop quicker than you usually would. I was asked to do all of the above except for the emergency brake because the roads were wet.

After the test

After the test is done, you will be back in the yard where you started, and the examiner will add up all your points and tell you whether you passed or failed. I passed my test the first time.

If you passed, then you'll go inside. You have to have:

  • your ID
  • money
  • your driver's test appointment slip
  • your learner's license
  • photos.

After the thumb printing and signing, at least where I did my test, they gave me a temporary driver's license and told me to come back in a few weeks to get my proper permanent license.

Finally getting your Driver’s Licence

In my country at least, you have to get the new credit card format license from the traffic department. I waited about four weeks to get mine. On that day, I took my ID, my temporary driver’s license, and the notice that I received in the post.

Though I was told that you need to pay yet more money to get your new card, that wasn’t the case when I went there. Either it’s different in some places or else somebody got scammed… Make sure you remember that. This is all I can think of right now, and that’s quite a bit of information. My advice is to go to a driving school where you’ll learn all of this and more.

"When buying a used car, punch the buttons on the radio. If all the stations are rock and roll, there's a good chance the transmission is shot."

— Larry Lujack

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Anti-Valentine