About Test Jitters

Taking a test is usually never fun or easy. We have all experienced the test jitters and the anxiety days before the actual test. And when the day comes, you blank out and every question is just impossible to get right – even though you knew the answers just last night!

It is normal to be a little nervous and stressed before a driver’s license test or permit test at the DMV. Most of us are.

By knowing the top 5 mistakes test takers make, you can focus on the right things and get rid of some of this anxiety. Actually, it isn’t that hard.

1. Not Preparing in Time

The main mistake, of course, is not giving preparations for your driving exam enough time. It is not uncommon to think that it is all common sense and start studying at the last minute. Even though safe driving in many parts boils down to good judgment and common sense, you must also have solid knowledge about rules of the road. Getting a road rules study guide, like your state’s driver handbook or driver’s manual, is a must.

How much time should you give your preparations? Well, it depends. We all learn differently. As long as you keep thinking “What if I haven’t learned everything I need to know?” or “What if the test is too hard?” – then you aren’t ready yet.

2. Not Using All Material Available

Always start with the official state driver’s manual. Your DMV test is based on this booklet. In fact, the test is created to make sure you have read it. There may be several question on your test that most of us don’t know the answer to, unless we have read the manual.

You can easily find online practice tests. Start with the official ones. Explore the manual and the DMV/DPS/DDS homepage in your state. Most have published permit sample tests. You need to take a lot of those permit practice tests, simply because repetition is an important part of learning. Variation is also important. By comparing the official DMV sample tests with other online sources, you will also find that questions can be asked in many different ways. This will speed up your learning and understanding.

3. Not Having a Strategy

Know your material and start studying well ahead of your test. You should also make a time plan and stick to it. Without a strategy and a plan, you may end up with trying to cram everything into your head at the last minute.

Don’t compare yourself with others. Some peers may try to convince you that they passed their permit test without studying. Well, maybe they did, but usually it isn’t true. Stick to your plan.

4. Ignoring Mistakes on Practice Tests

There is one bad thing about online practice tests. People tend to go over the questions quickly, just focusing on the final score.

If you answer a question incorrectly, read it again. Most of the time you just didn’t read the question or the answer carefully enough. Learn something from this! You don’t want this to happen on your real written DMV permit test. Meaning, always take your time to read everything twice. Treat an online practice test the same way you would treat a real test. This will make you a more effective test taker.

If you don’t agree with the answer on a permit practice test, compare the explanation given with the information in your driver handbook. Focus on understanding and learning.

5. Memorizing Instead of Understanding

This is perhaps the most serious mistake. Memorizing answers, like phrases and numbers, may seem like a simple path to take. It isn’t.

If you want to learn and really understand, you must read and think critically, recognize the complexity of driving and sharing the road with others. The danger of just memorizing phrases is that we do not simply take in the words. We take in ideas and thoughts that spring from our own, and perhaps, others experience. Sometimes we translate these ideas to general concepts that we believe is the truth.

The following question may serve as an example (From Connecticut Permit Practice Test):

» True or false? It is always illegal to use a cell phone while driving.

Typically, two out of three answer that it is always illegal, even though no state in United States prohibits all cell phone use while driving. The wrong answer is not the result of a trick question, but the lack of critical reading and understanding. Since we know that we shouldn’t use a cell phone while driving and since it is restricted in many ways, we expect the answer to be negative (saying no) and perhaps we want it to, if we personally think it is always wrong to talk on a phone while driving.

Again, focus on critical reading on your DMV practice tests. The more knowledge you have, the less mistakes you will make.

Learn More about Test Anxiety

You can learn more about test anxiety here.