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

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The only sorts of cars you'll be driving until you get your learner's licence.
The only sorts of cars you'll be driving until you get your learner's licence.
The only sorts of cars you'll be driving until you get your learner's licence. | Source

This article is yet another in the driving series that I've been writing lately. Now I'll deal with actually writing the learner's licence test, whereas before I mostly covered what to do in order to apply for it.

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).

A few extra things to do:

• Get enough sleep.

• Try to eat a little in the morning, it will save you 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 in to 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 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 afterwards 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.

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 licence. If you are writing for two or three licences, 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, 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 thumb print down on it. This is your temporary or learner's licence, 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 licence 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, or 2 years).

Note: It has been brought to my attention that traffic departments and drivers licence testing centres in some provinces in South Africa and indeed possibly other places utilise an electronic, touch screen version of the learner's licence 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.

Written the exam? What was it like?

  • Easy. Passed first time with full marks!
  • Hard. Just barely passed.
  • Failed.
  • I've failed a few times.
See results without voting

© 2008 Anti-Valentine

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Comments 38 comments

Allan 2 months ago

I'm writing my test on 7september next month I don't know what to expect I'm nervous.!

Zwide 3 months ago

I once wrote a leaners licence do you still get the same questios when you go and rewrite?

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Anti-Valentine 14 months ago from My lair Author

If you missed the test date, you'll have to reapply and sit the test on another date, I think.

promise 14 months ago

Im not sure what to do, i couldnt make it for my test, should i go back and book or will they allow me to write?

chayo shilumbu 20 months ago

this nts thing it makes people one hundred people only eight who have pass.........we need to havea looking on what we have wrote.

jess 2 years ago

Hey, I am writing soon applying for a Code 10 learners permit. Would my exam be different from a normal learners permit? And if so what could I expect???help please

James 2 years ago

I've California driving license since 2004.... yesterday I went to California dmv to give written test for motorcycle but I got 2 papers one for motorcycle and another for driving so I got confused I got pass motorcycle written test but I didn't give any answer to written test on driving so my point to know if I fail written test for driving while motorcycle written test.... so will it affect on my California driving license?? I mean when I make renewal for driving license... i hope you understand and hopefully to get your answer....

jose 3 years ago

hi there am feeling a bit nvouse as al be wrytng ma tes on mnday and is the frst time so,i ws askng for tips on how to prepr bfore i go and wryt ma tes

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Anti-Valentine 3 years ago from My lair Author

Ramsha, I don't think there is anything you can do, apart from applying for a new learner's licence test date, but you could go to the traffic department you applied at and check if they have your date on their records. But I doubt it.

Jennifer, as far as I know, you get your licence straight after your test -- if you pass.

Jennifer Maerman 3 years ago

Hi..I am writing my learners test in a next week monday. I am very nervous though but i know i will do very well. i would just like to know if you do get your learners licence strait away after writing? That's if you have passed of course. How long does it take to get your licence? Is it a long procedure?

Ramsha 3 years ago

hey i lost my receipt and im writing in 2 weeks help!! is there anything i can do before then so that i can write

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Anti-Valentine 3 years ago from My lair Author

Yes, they mark it in your presence and will use a template in order to do so. At least this is how it was when I wrote that test. It's really so quick that I couldn't even remember exactly which questions I got wrong. Then the total scores will be added up, and you either pass or fail. You fail even if you pass in two sections but fail in one. They won't go through every question to show you where you've gone wrong though. That would take too much time.

nthabi 3 years ago


I just wanna find out if u have failed the test doesn't the examiner have to show you where you did wrong or don't they have to mark the script in your presence?

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Anti-Valentine 3 years ago from My lair Author

Unfortunately you have to present these items on the day of your test. Of that I am sure. Otherwise your son could rock up and he would have no way of proving that he is the one who booked the test.

Sharm 3 years ago

My son ash booked his learners but has lost the booking confirmation with the receipt. Can he still attend and write one day? I hear from the switchboard (no answer at the licensing section itself) that iced to go in and get another printout - I'd like to avoid that since its an hour away!

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Anti-Valentine 3 years ago from My lair Author

Personally, I doubt very much that you can transfer. Once you make an appointment at a specific traffic department, you have to go to that one do the test, as far as I know. However, that wouldn't necessarily stop you from going to another traffic department and booking there. But you may have to wait until the date for that test at Parow has passed. If you don't go, then it just means you waste whatever money you spent booking the test.

Rene 3 years ago

I booked at parow dltc to write my learners. Can I transfer to another traffic department? I am moving in a few days and parow would be out of the way for me

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Anti-Valentine 3 years ago from My lair Author

Which province do you reside in? If it's in the Western Cape, I can highly recommend Durbanville traffic dept. Don't go to Bellville though. Not as good, in my opinion. I'm really not sure which traffic depts./dltcs still use the pen and paper method. The two I mentioned did years ago. It might be worth phoning them and asking.

CLAUDIA 3 years ago


im so dissappointed, i failed my learners for the very first time. Please

tell me which station can i go to, to set up date to re-write, but i don't want the computerised system, i want to go where they still using the papers please help

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Anti-Valentine 3 years ago from My lair Author

Leanne, if I can find out more about this computerised learner's licence exam, I will put up an article about it.

Leanne 3 years ago

I am schedule to do my learners in a 2 weeks time. I just want to find out about the new computerised systerm how does that work?

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Anti-Valentine 3 years ago from My lair Author

Not as far as I know. You have to go to your nearest traffic department or DLTC.

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Anti-Valentine 4 years ago from My lair Author

Yes, there are more questions, but those are the minimum scores you must obtain. Any lower than that and you fail.

Liyah 4 years ago

How does the point system work??? I know you must get 23,22,6 but you answer more than 28 questions for the rules & signs. so how does that work?

morris 4 years ago

am going 2write 2mor wit touch screen@ makhado municipality.i knw i wil pass.wish me gud luck.

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Anti-Valentine 4 years ago from My lair Author

So you're saying that you applied with your ID, then lost it. Now you want to write the exam but don't have your ID - only a temporary one? I'm not sure. It would be best to check with your traffic department or testing centre.

bruce 4 years ago

Hi can I still write my exam with a temperery I'd my I'd book got lost?

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Anti-Valentine 4 years ago from My lair Author

I don't know what to say. You'll have to choose. Personally I'd go with school. Write the exam and do the best you can. Get a good education. You can always learn to drive later. I waited until I was finished with school and even my first year at college before I bothered.

So in short, reschedule your learner's test. Any money you spent in making it will be lost though. You'll need to go through the whole process of applying for a learner's licence exam date again.

vivi 4 years ago


im booked forvmy learners test last month...only saw today that my test date clashes with my school exam date n time...can I perhahs write before the 11th or after the 11th which is the given date.pls answer me via email:


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Anti-Valentine 4 years ago from My lair Author

You must have read one of the other articles in this series. Because I don't think I mentioned photos in this piece.

When you apply for a learner's licence, you need to provide photos. In South Africa they must be in black and white. Get say four done at your local chemist or something. They can't be taken on your cellphone or something like that.

That should be enough. Then when you get your driver's licence you also have to provide a photo too. It can be from the same batch as the learner's. But always carry the batch with you, because you might need them at other times - but only provide a traffic official with them. Don't give them to anyone else.

Tman 4 years ago

Am study 4 my learners. Well i didn't get wat u meant by bring photos? Or do they take photos once u at the centre and how long do u wait to get ur results and licence?

Mulalo 4 years ago

Wow,ur info on the sideparking is really helpful.i need to get my drivers licence this keeping my fingers crossed!!

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Anti-Valentine 5 years ago from My lair Author

Really? News to me, Languta. But I feel for you. Maybe things have changed since I last did the test. Might have to update this hub, perhaps.

Languta 5 years ago

In limpopo @ makhado local manicipality we use computers 2 write exam and they are touch screen computers so i've failed with was my first time and i feel shame.

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Anti-Valentine 5 years ago from My lair Author

I've heard that some countries (probably first world) use computers to do the exam, but as far as I know we still do it the old fashioned way here in SA - with pen and paper.

Although with special permission, you can take the test orally - although I'm not sure if that's still allowed. It was at one stage.

Languta 5 years ago

Hi,i've heard rumours that we use computers when we write learners licence,my problem is:i don't know how to use a computer at all and i really need your advice.

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Anti-Valentine 6 years ago from My lair Author

Woah, David. I see your comment was posted 10 hours ago, so I don't know whether you passed or not.

I don't really think 2 hours is enough to prepare. In fact I know it isn't! :)

Anyway, for what's worth: good luck, hope you passed. If you did, then it was VERY lucky!

David 6 years ago

THANKS! This is just what I needed to know before the 2 hours....Wish me luck!

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