Driver's Prep - Free DMV tests

How to Ace the DMV Test

You Can Ace the DMV Test – It Is This Simple!

Trying to pass a knowledge test is stressful to most people. They think that it doesn’t matter how much time they spend studying, reading the handbook, or taking practice tests, it will still be difficult and frustrating.

If you are in this situation, the idea of being able to ace the exam probably seems very distance.

But trust us – anyone can ace the test. It is all about determination, confidence, and avoiding some risky study behaviors.

Imagine yourself walking out of the DMV office with a perfect score, or maybe just one or two missed questions. You can do it. Just set your heart to it. Then, follow our advice below.

Based on illustration by rangizzz

The Most Important Thing

The most important thing when studying for your instruction permit or full driver’s license is, of course, to become a safe driver. Many young drivers forget this part. With school tests in fresh memory, they try to take shortcuts and focus solely on passing the exam – instead of really trying to learn.

We get two or three emails a week from users who want copies of the real test. Seeing the real test in advance will no doubt make you pass, but it will not make you a responsible and safe driver.

Earning your driving privilege involves a learning process. The more you know and the more driving practice you have, the less likely you are to be involved in an accident.

If you are a teen, you are more likely than others to underestimate dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous situations. It is simply a lack of experience. Which you can compensate with more and better knowledge.

Focusing on just passing the DMV exam and postponing the learning part until you are on the road and behind the wheel is not a good idea.

So, before you start, try shifting your mindset.

The First Major Mistake People Make

The first major mistake in studying for your permit is trying to memorize questions and answers. And why is this a mistake, you might ask? Well, research show that most people can’t really remember pairs of phrases when there is no true understanding behind. Such knowledge stays in memory for a short period of time and is harder to apply in real situations.

Like a soap-bubble, it will quickly vanish again. Easy come, easy go.

Soap bubble - commons wikimedia - Alvesgaspar

What You Should Do Instead

Instead, you should look closely at every question on the practice test and give yourself a little more time to come up with the answer on your own. By challenging yourself to retrieve or generate answers, you can improve your understanding.

Then, look closely at all the choices. Understand the difference between should and must. “Should” is normally used to show something that is a safe practice. “Must” is used about law rules.

An example:

You should keep a safe following distance of at least 2-4 seconds, but you must signal at least 100 feet before turning.

Look for qualifiers like usually, often, frequently, and generally. They are more open to different scenarios and make a statement true. Absolute words tend to work the opposite way; never, none, always, every, and only may indicate that a statement is false. But evaluate these words carefully. Words like never or always may be used to indicate actions required by law, like you must always come to a full stop at a stop sign.

A good study practice is to turn choices into questions. Ask such questions to yourself. Like, is it true that the use of a cell phone while driving is ALWAYS prohibited? It isn’t.

You should also ask yourself whether the choice you’re considering completely addresses the question. If the choice is only partly true or is true only under certain narrow conditions, then it’s probably not the right choice.

Be patient - DMV tests

The Second Major Mistake

Don’t focus too much on your score and don’t attempt the real DMV exam too soon. The quicker you try to master the content of the driver handbook, the quicker the knowledge will disappear afterwards.

While repetition is one key to make your learning easier, it is also important continually tune or adjust your understanding of laws and driving practices. You will most likely find that some of your previous understandings about rules of the road, signs, or signals were based on false assumptions. The older you are (even if you are an experienced driver), the harder these false assumptions stick in your mind.

Remember, laws change from time to time. So do safe driving recommendations.

Don’t Get Frustrated by Challenging Questions

If you start by making many errors on the permit practice test, don’t let that discourage you. In fact, learning becomes better if a practice test is arranged so that you make errors.

In most cases, you will remember things better and for a longer period of time, if tests are challenging.

While easy questions and good scores boost your confidence, they will not improve your learning.

There Are No Trick Questions

Questions or answers are never written to be deceptive.

If you feel that a question is a trick one, make sure you haven’t added your own information to it. It is best to avoid reading too much into the question and not limit it to a specific scenario in which the answer could be true. The worst thing you can do is start asking yourself “what if”.

All the information you need to answer it correctly is already in the question and/or the choices.

A question only becomes a trick question when the test taker lets it become one.

When You Miss a Question

For anything you miss on the practice tests, read the comments and restudy that section of the driver handbook. Then wait a few days and try to answer the questions again. Be aware of different wording. Questions may look the same, but they can be totally different from one test to another.

Misreading questions because they look familiar is a very common reason for failing both practice tests and the real DMV test.

This is why scrabbling notes and trying to memorize questions and answers isn’t always a successful method. Probably, contrary to what you once learned in school.

Pass rates -

Practice Scores to Aim for

The most common passing score on DMV exams in United States is 80 percent (read more about passing scores here). It means that you must answer 4 out of 5 questions correctly.

Passing a practice tests with a score of 80% does not mean you are ready for the real test. In fact, it shows that there are still large gaps to be filled.

Take a closer look at any questions you miss on the practice tests. They will give you valuable information on parts of the driver’s manual that you may have overlooked. This is the best way of improving your score on the next practice test.

Being Ready

How do you know when you are ready?

When you feel that you know and understand all the answers, and just miss one or two questions on less important details (such as DUI penalties or DMV fees), you are probably ready.

The official DMV exam is always based on the information in the handbook or manual. You will not get any questions where the answer is not found in the manual. The same thing applies for our practice tests, even if we may stretch it a bit sometimes. Read more about taking practice tests here.

DMV instructors write questions with two things in mind:

  • Making sure you have studied the manual.
  • Making sure you understand laws and rules that important for your safety on the road.

A good example of the first, is questions about smoking in a vehicle with a minor present or abandoning an animal on a highway. These questions appear on the California DMV test, and you probably don’t pay too much attention to these laws when you read them in the handbook. That is why the DMV tests make sure you know them.

Examples of the second, are questions about headlights, following distances, safety belts, traffic signs, and signals.

Detailed questions about penalties, license restrictions, and other administrative numbers are not common, but they pop up on the tests in some states. Having a rough idea about those is usually enough. You should, as an example, know when a violation is a severe one or a just small fault.

Tests for Your State


  1. Amber Cruse March 1, 2021

    i have taken the test three times and still not passed. What should I do/

  2. I have to agree with your guys about the trick questions.
    You have to pay attention to negative questions, negative answers, all of the above, none of the above.
    These questions are worded to trick you into making an incorrect answer.
    And, then there are the absolutely STUPID questions.
    An example of one on the CA DMV test is the following:

    What amount of time should you scan ahead to avoid last minute moves?

    1) 5 seconds
    2) 10 to 15 seconds
    3) 20 to 25 seconds

    Why is is stupid? Because it makes absolutely no mention of how fast you are going!

    I’ve also heard people make the idiotic assumption that no one has the right of way.
    So, any questions made on that invalid assumption is a defacto trick question.

    The CA DMV handbook states:

    Yield your right-of-way when it helps to prevent collistions.

    How to you yield something that doesn’t exist, eh?

    I think a lot of these 3rd party test sites create trick questions to foist premiums services.

    Here’s one that I ran across.

    A red flashing light means.

    1) You are approaching a dangerous intersection.
    2) You must stop.
    3) All of the above.

    I picked 2 because that’s what’s EXPLICITLY stated in the CA DMV handbook.
    According to them 3 was the correct answer.

    NOWHERE in the CA DMV handbook does it state that’s why an intersection has a flashing red light.

    That’s just a matter of OPINION of the person creating the question. The obvious intent was to trick people.

    What’s the motivation for that sort of nonsense?

    • About avoiding last minutes moves, I think you are missing the point in that one. The recommendation in the handbook basically works at any speed. Most new drivers focus just a few seconds ahead of their car, which only allows for emergency braking. This causes a lot of accidents.

      There is a reason for experts and the handbook to recommend 10-15 seconds.
      So stupid? It is not the best question, but it serves a purpose. If you have read the handbook it is an easy one.

  3. Eddie Frate October 1, 2019

    I took the test this morning at the DMV in Calif. and I passed all 18 questions. I would like to thank Driver’s Prep Us for providing many practice tests which helps me a lot. Many questions I answered correctly (around 13) was questions from the reviewer that I studied. The other 5 was highly common sense questions and easy. I’m very great full and I highly recommend to use Driver’s Prep Us as a good tool for studying. It is very simple accurate, and no complicated questions.

  4. Thanks so much for the Colorado practice tests! My license had been expired for 16 years and I went today and took the permit test and did not miss any. Yay!! I cannot take my Drivers Test though until September (3 months) That is how far out they are booked. Bummer!

  5. The official DMV exam is always based on the information in the handbook or manual. You will not get any questions where the answer is not found in the manual. You have to learn all of the manual even if it does not apply to you. Like if you have no children you still need to know the child restraint laws. Motorcycles and mopeds share the road with cars so yes you learn about them for safety.

  6. Latorya D Mitchell May 16, 2018

    I need help pass my driver knowledge text for my begging permit

  7. Sally Johnson May 15, 2018

    Are there different tests available for senior citizens?

    • Our practice tests: no
      Real tests: depends on state. Some states, like California, have a shorter test to anyone who has a valid license. Expect less & easier questions. Obviously, no questions about permit restrictions etc.

  8. My problem is I get nervous with test so my brain just freezes and I can’t think

  9. What are the major changing for Ca drivers in 2018

  10. Coty B. Artrip February 4, 2018

    excellent instructions

  11. I was surprised too I was asked more questions on motorcycle not even 1 question about car’s and I was mad about it because I prepared for a car test and not a motorcycle test but I was told that they focus more on motorcycle because they are at risk on the road I just don’t understand if we should study the Manuel for motorcycle instead

    • Most Driver’s Manuals has a chapter about “sharing the road with motorcycles”. It is an important chapter and you are likely to be asked questions about it on your exam.

      If you take the car theory test you are asked questions from the car manual. All answers to exam questions are found in this manual.

  12. Sonya Williams November 26, 2017

    So so true

  13. Jim Whelan October 17, 2017

    I have to disagree with the statements that “There Are No Trick Questions” and “Questions or answers are never written to be deceptive.”

    The content of the section which begins with that title and statement is itself evidence that the tests contain “trick questions.” The suggestions are absolutely valid but they are suggestions about how to notice and cope with the trick questions. A question which uses subtle differences in language or misdirection or for which the obvious and correct answer is wrong (because there is a “more accurate” answer is among the choices) is absolutely a “trick question.” And I believe such questions are intentionally created in an attempt to force wrong answers.

    • In response to:

      …obvious and correct answer is wrong (because there is a “more accurate” answer is among the choices)…

      Choices only contain ONE correct answer. The others are incorrect. There are never two correct answers and one that is “more accurate”.

    • I agree with you Jim Whelan. The question a solid white line between lanes of traffic traveling in the same direction means: Slow Down or Lane change is discouraged or Passing is not allowed. I debated between 2 and 3 picked 3 and it was wrong. Then there is the true or false question about “State law states that pedestrians always have the right of way” I picked true but it was false “the law states who must yield the right of way It does not give anyone the right of way” That is a trick question in my opinion.

      • A trick question is designed to fool or swindle. A tricky question can be hard to deal with or the answer can be complicated to understand.

        There is a big difference between the two.

        These practice tests are designed to help you learn and understand facts. When you haven’t learned all details in the handbook, you will get some questions wrong. Your examples are typical for what many people believe are correct – but reveal something they missed (a misunderstanding or knowledge gap).

        1) White lines have nothing to do with passing. Yellow lines regulate passing on the left side of the road and white lines regulate when traffic going in the same direction can change lanes.

        2) In most handbooks it is clearly stated that nobody has the right-of-way on public highways. It is often also stated when pedestrians must yield. Read more:

  14. Jose Robles July 18, 2017

    Is this the real test?

    • State tests are drawn from large pools of questions taken from the State Driver Handbook. In theory, not two tests are the same. Questions on these practice tests are created the same way. Focus on learning the facts in the driver handbook instead of going for “the real test”.

      • Jose Robles July 19, 2017

        Is it the same questions on the real test?


    • You need to learn rules of the road, signs, and safe driving. Not just memorize parts of the manual for the test.

      Driving is a bit more serious than passing a history test.

      • Jose Robles September 12, 2017

        My license was revoked. When I take the written test again will it be easy because I was a driver?

      • In California, the test has less questions. Other states, same test, as far as I know.

  16. @Mohammed: As described above – use both the handbook and the tests! Every single question on the real exam is based on the information in the handbook.

    You should not rely solely on the DMV practice tests.

  17. I am trying to study to get my permit what is the best way to study the book or practice tests some people tell me that there is nothing in the book that on the test

  18. Sadly, in MA, “having a rough idea about penalties, license restrictions, and administrative numbers” was not adequate. They seemed to make up over half of my daughter’s test~ she studied, and took MANY practice tests~ went in confident and came out blown away by the number of questions that had nothing to do with driving, and all about penalties (And moped questions? Why is that even on a driving permit test~ I’d expect that to be on the Motorcycle test…?). Very frustrating!

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