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Risky Study Tactics that Could Cause You to Fail

Study tactics - late night cramming - Copyright: paulschlemmer

The Good and the Bad Study Tactics

On this website, we have talked a lot about the good study tactics that will help you pass your DMV test for a learner’s permit or driver’s license.

Let’s focus on the risky study tactics, that could cause you to fail the driver examination.

Disappointed young man - copyright: highwaystarz

Believing that Success Doesn’t Require Sacrifice

Remember, your State DMV doesn’t want you to fail. In fact, they design learning material and the final DMV test to help you pass. This doesn’t mean that everything is common sense and that you don’t have to make some sacrifices to pass the test.

A vague understanding of the material may have been enough to help you pass tests in junior high or high school, but learning the rules of the road is a bit more serious than learning American History.

You need to have a clear understanding of what the Driver’s Manual or Driver Handbook in your state contains.

You should review the content and identify specific topics that you need to learn. Laws that control what you can do and can’t do are important. A misunderstanding or failure to obey certain rules later in life may result in a deadly crash.

Don’t think you can absorb everything in the manual in a few hours before the test. You will need to spend at least a few days with the handbook, probably weeks.

Read it, one chapter at the time.

You will also need the manual as a guide later, when you take the practice tests.

It requires time and some sacrifices.

Putting it Off to the Last Minute

If you are in the habit of just studying two or three hours before a test and got away with putting everything off to the last-minute, you are very likely to fail the driver examination.

Late? - Copyright: Samantha Craddock

The driver examination has questions that focus on details from the driver handbook. It is not easy to understand all rules of the road, if you haven’t learned them and truly understand what they mean.

As an example, questions may deal with consequences if you break some of the laws in your state. Things you simply need to learn.

Safe driving techniques can also be difficult to understand for new drivers. Safe driving habits come with experience, but the handbook will give you many examples of what you should know before you get behind the wheel.

Prepare well before the DMV test. Make a study plan. Set aside multiple shorter study blocks during a period of several weeks. Allow the material to sink in. It will help you keep the information and it also makes you a better driver, once you have your permit or driver’s license.

Underestimating the time you need to study for your exam is risky study tactics and a very common mistake.

Late Night Cramming

If you put everything off to the last-minute, you are in for some late-night cramming before the test.

Late night cramming - copyright: Pavel Schlemmer

Research shows that this often leads to poor results on a test. The brain simply works on overload and can’t distinguish important information from the unimportant stuff.

Before a test, you should get a good night’s sleep. You will perform better, if you are rested.

Trying to Learn Everything at Once

Just like late night cramming, trying to learn everything at just one or two study sessions is a bad idea. The most effective way to learn, is to study in intervals. Divide the driver handbook in small chunks, and study one at the time.

If you study anything for more than 1 hour, your brain will have difficulties to absorb the information. Take breaks, grab a snack, take a nap, or simply do something else for 30 to 60 minutes. Or start again the next day. The brain needs time to learn!

When you take practice tests, you shouldn’t take more than 3-4 tests in any session. Just aiming for an improved score on the practice test isn’t the same thing as learning. In worst case, it gives you a false sense of confidence.

Memorizing Instead of Learning

Another risky study tactic for your permit test is trying to just memorize questions and answers from practice tests. Simply memorizing material may help you on the test, but it makes you a dangerous driver.

Taking practice tests that are designed for other states than your own is also dangerous. Rules and recommendations are different between states.

A driver’s test tries to ask questions to determine if you truly understand the rules of the road. Even if there are no trick questions, memorizing phrases may not be enough to help you pass.

A true understanding of rules, signs, and signals will.

Friends checking phone - Copyright:  dolgachov

Trying to do it All by Yourself

Simply reading, taking practice tests, and thinking about the material in your head may work for some, but most people learn better when interacting with others.

When you do everything by yourself, you close the door to some important feedback mechanisms. You should adopt a more flexible attitude and seek help from others.

Find a friend or parent who can ask you questions (it is OK to use the ones in the practice tests). See if you can answer questions without seeing the choices. Try to explain with your own words why an answer is correct (or why it isn’t).

You will be amazed how much this improves your learning and how it will help to ace the permit test.

Practice Tests for your State

Photo copyrights: Ian Allenden, Pavel Schlemmer, Samantha Craddock, and dolgachov


  1. Adrien Ray Moore July 9, 2017

    Many things come along and being prepared is important.

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