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What to Expect on the Day of Your Learner’s License Exam

Anti-Valentine has a driver's license from South Africa and has studied many driving materials.

Ready to take the learner's license exam and start driving a real car?

Ready to take the learner's license exam and start driving a real car?

Now that you know how to apply for it, here's how to actually take the learner's license exam.

You need to make sure that you have the following with you before you leave home to get to the venue in order to write the exam:

  • A pencil
  • A pen
  • An eraser
  • A watch
  • Your appointment receipt (you got it when you made the appointment)
  • Your ID
  • Some money (find out how much it is in your country)
  • Some extra money just in case the price isn't the same (you only pay if you pass)

Tips to Prepare for the Exam

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Try to eat a little in the morning; it will save you from having stomach cramps or hunger pangs while writing, which is seriously distracting.
  • Go to the toilet before you leave the house.

You are usually expected to arrive 15 minutes or so before the exam starts. You'll most likely wait in the foyer until an official calls all of you in (there will be others). Prepare to deal with some difficult people inside. When lining up to go into the exam room, try not to get in the line first. Drop your pen or something so that someone else goes in front of you, as the first one in line gets picked on, and you need to follow his or her lead.

Inside the examination room, you'll either be told to sit in a specific place or you can sit anywhere, it depends on how big a control freak the guy in charge is. There might be one or two invigilators in the room, one of whom will go through what you should and shouldn't do. You may ask questions afterward if you don't understand something, but only once he's finished his little story.

On your desk, at least in South Africa, you'll have a big book with all your questions, a booklet with pictures in them, and your pieces of paper that you had to fill in all your info on when you booked your appointment. Somewhere on those sheets, there will be your multiple-choice sheet.

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Tips for Writing the Exam

  • Don't waste time.
  • Don't cheat. Even if you don't copy somebody's answers (like, if you write the entire test without opening any of the books, with all the answers committed to memory), they will be suspicious. They will warn you about this beforehand, and they are serious.
  • You usually have an hour. Complete the test in 40 to 50 minutes, with the last several minutes to check your work and fill in left-out answers.
  • Don't guess. In situations where you don't know the answer, use common sense.
  • If you know the answer, fill it in, and leave it, if you don't, mark it with a dot and come back to it later.
  • You must initially not spend more than 1 minute on a question. In S.A. you have about 64 questions in an hour, and that is only if you're writing an exam for one license. If you are writing for two or three licenses, I feel sorry for you, because you'll have to do more questions in an hour with no extra time, as far as I know.
  • Make sure that you mark the correct code for your test. It will either be a light motor vehicle, a truck, or a motorbike.
  • Questions often have combination questions, which are written below the initial question A), B) and C) options, and are in Roman numeral format (i, ii, iii) Do not attempt to answer the question until you know whether it is a straight forward one, or a combination, which may have two or three right answers.
  • In general, in combination questions, if one of the options is for example, C) because you are ordered by a traffic officer, chances are good that C) will be one of the right answers if not the single right answer.
  • Circle the right answers in pen when it's time to use the template up front when they mark your test paper.
  • At least in S.A., you need to score 23, 22, and 6 in the three respective sections at least. If you get lower in any one of them, you fail (even if you pass the other two).

After you finish the test and it has been marked, you will sit back down and relax while they fill out some forms. After that, they'll call you up to sign a form and stick your thumbprint down on it. This is your temporary or learner's license, and it is valid for eighteen months. You'll also have to give the man the money (I paid R30, but this was some time ago -- check with your local traffic department before the test to make sure you have enough money with you).

As I've heard many a time before, don't wait until your learner's license has nearly expired before you attempt the driver's test. Make sure you can go at least two or three times in the 24 months provided (it was eighteen months in South Africa up until about 2010, then they changed it to 24 months / 2 years).

Note: It has been brought to my attention that traffic departments and driver's license testing centers in some provinces in South Africa and indeed possibly other places utilize an electronic, touch screen version of the learner's license exam. This article doesn't cover this sort of exam. If I am able to find out more information about it, I may well write a follow-up to this article.

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.

Questions & Answers

Question: If I fail the learner's license exam can I go back and write it again?

Answer: Yes, you would need to make another appointment to write the test at a later date.

Question: Can I find out if my learner’s license exam paper was marked correctly?

Answer: Depending on the traffic department or driver's licence testing centre, and whether they use the pen and paper or computer version of the test, it should be standard practice for the examiner to use a memorandum and a template when marking your paper, and the examiner should walk you through the process of marking the paper to make sure you understand how it's done. There's really only a small chance it could be incorrectly marked. Not impossible, but unlikely.

© 2008 Anti-Valentine

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