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South Dakota DPS Knowledge Test & Permit Practice – 2021

This South Dakota DMV Practice Test
  Number of questions on each test: 25
  Question pool: 500+
  Type of test: Random multiple-choice



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#1. Left turns against a traffic light showing a red arrow:

A RED arrow means you must stop and that you cannot go in the direction of the arrow. You may proceed when the red arrow goes out and a green arrow or light comes on.


#2. Use this center lane to:

Shared Center Lane Left Turn Only. This sign tells you where a lane is reserved for the use of left turning vehicles from either direction and is not to be used for through traffic or passing other vehicles.


#3. When is a good time to adjust your rearview and side mirrors?

Adjust your seat and mirrors before you start to drive. This enables you to see clearly and have full control of the vehicle’s foot pedals and steering wheel.


#4. What does this sign mean?

Cross road ahead. Be prepared to slow down, and observe any special speed limit instructions, in the event a car enters or crosses the highway from the side road.


#5. Why should you use special caution when driving in rural areas at dawn, dusk, and in the first few hours after darkness falls?

Deer are most active in the dusk and dawn hours, so be especially alert while driving during these times. Scan the sides of the road to watch for the reflection of the vehicle headlights in the eyes of deer.


#6. When overtaking a bicyclist on a roadway posted for 40 mph or more, you must keep a separation of:

When passing, the law requires at least three feet between the side of your car and the bicyclist.


#7. If the engine shuts off while you are driving, you should:

If the engine shuts off while you are driving:

  • Keep a strong grip on the steering wheel. Be aware that the steering wheel may be difficult to turn, but it is still able to be turned.
  • Look for an escape path. Do not brake hard. Instead, brake with steady pressure on the pedal, slow down, and then pull off the roadway.
  • Stop and try to restart the engine. If unsuccessful, raise the hood and turn on the emergency flashers. Call for help.

#8. When you see this sign, you should:

Stop sign ahead. One of the most important caution signs is the stop ahead sign. It is placed far ahead of a stop sign when the driver’s view of the stop sign is blocked by a curve or other objects.


#9. To avoid glare from high-beam headlights of an approaching car:

If a vehicle comes toward you with its high beams on, glance toward the right side of the road to keep from being distracted or momentarily blinded by the vehicle’s headlights. If a vehicle comes toward you with its high beams on, glance toward the right side of the road to keep from being distracted or momentarily blinded by the vehicle’s headlights. You should not look directly into the lights of the cars you are meeting.


#10. You approach this road sign. What should you expect ahead?

Divided Highway / Divided Highway Begins. Two-way traffic will be divided by a center strip ahead. Each roadway is one-way. Stay to the right.


#11. When is it safe to pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk?

It is illegal to pass when a vehicle in front of you has stopped to let a pedestrian cross (even if the pedestrian is crossing illegally).


#12. If two drivers arrive at an uncontrolled intersection, which one should yield?

Drivers arriving at an intersection without traffic control signs or signals must yield the right of way to drivers who arrived before them, waiting their turn to enter the intersection. This is known as the first car rule.

If two motorists arrive at the same time, the driver on the left should yield to the driver on the right.


#13. Why should you slow down and be prepared to stop when following a truck with hazardous load and there is a railroad crossing ahead?

There are some vehicles that are required to stop at all railroad crossings, such as transit buses, school buses, or vehicles carrying hazardous materials. If you follow these vehicles, you should increase you following distance. At crossings, you should slow down and be prepared to stop!


#14. You are prohibited from making a U-turn:

Do not make a U-turn:

  • At any intersection where a police officer is controlling traffic unless the officer instructs you to make a U-turn.
  • Mid-block on any street in a business district or mid-block on a through (main) highway that is in a residential district.
  • At any place where signs prohibit such turns.
  • Upon a curve or upon the approach to or near the crest of a grade on any undivided highway where the vehicle cannot be seen by the driver of any other vehicle with 500 feet approaching from any direction.
  • At any place where a U-turn cannot be made safely or without interfering with other traffic.

#15. If you see a traffic accident ahead and emergency help has arrived, you should:

Do not stop at an accident unless you are involved or if emergency help has not yet arrived. Keep your attention on your driving and keep moving, watching for people who might be in or near the road. You should avoid driving near collisions if you can. Those injured will be helped faster if other vehicles are not blocking the road.


#16. This flagger signal means:

To let traffic proceed, the free hand is swinging in an upward arc from below the horizontal arm toward the flagger’s head.

Remember, motorists are responsible for knowing how to read and react to these directions.


#17. You should drive with one hand on the steering wheel:

When backing up, grasp the steering wheel at the 12 o’clock position with your left hand. Place your right arm on the back of the passenger seat and look directly through the rear window.


#18. Braking in a curve:

Always reduce speed before entering the curve to a safe speed (a speed that allows you to apply slight and constant acceleration through the curve). Reduce speed more when traction is poor, when following other vehicles, and when you cannot see the end of the curve. Hard braking after entry to a curve could cause the vehicle tires to lose traction.


#19. Why should you not use your high beam headlights when driving in fog?

Light from high beams will reflect back, causing glare and making it more difficult to see ahead.


#20. This white sign means you must not pass:

Do not pass. This sign marks the beginning of a no passing zone. You may not overtake another vehicle.

A yellow pennant-shaped sign may be on the left-hand side of the road or highway in addition to a Do Not Pass sign or pavement markings.


#21. You are going to a party and know you must drive the next morning. What is the best thing to do?

The best advice is not to drive a vehicle of any kind if you have consumed alcohol or other drugs. Never get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or using other impairing drugs.


#22. This triangular sign means:

A fluorescent or reflective orange and red triangle displayed on the rear of a vehicle means the vehicle is traveling less than 25 mph. Use caution when approaching a slow-moving vehicle, and be sure it is safe before you pass.


#23. How are driving record points accessed on out-of-state convictions?

Points are assessed on out-of-state convictions just as if committed in South Dakota.


#24. You need more space in front of your vehicle:

There are certain situations when you need more space in front of your vehicle. Increase your following distance when it is hard to see because of darkness or bad weather. You need to increase the following distance so you can see ahead or have time to stop if it’s necessary.


#25. Which road signs have a yellow background?

Yellow is used for general warnings of specific road conditions and dangers ahead.

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South Dakota DMV Written Knowledge Test
  Number of questions on exam: 25 questions
  Passing score: 80 percent
  Correct answers to pass: 20
  Allotted time to complete test: No limit
  Wait time before retest: 1 day

South Dakota Practice Test

South Dakota Practice Tests

This South Dakota knowledge test has 25 random questions, just like the real SD knowledge examination. You must correctly answer 20 questions to pass the examination, which means that you must reach a passing score of 80 percent.

After each question, there is instant feedback to let you know if your answer is correct or not. When you miss a question there is also a brief explanation, based on the information in your Driver License Manual.

Answers to all exam questions are found in the South Dakota Driver License Manual, so make sure you read it.

You can get a hard copy from any DPS location or download a PDF-version online .

The practice test is a randomized test (just like the real knowledge test) that pulls questions from a larger database. This means that each practice test is slightly different, and you will see new questions most of the time.

You can take the practice test over and over again until you feel ready for the real South Dakota DPS test.

Please note that this is a practice test, not a real examination that qualifies for a test certificate. South Dakota does not offer any kind of knowledge testing from home.

You should also know that is not affiliated with South Dakota DPS or any Government Entity.

Young woman studying - Photo Credit: CollegeDegrees360

After reading the Driver License Manual, you should take practice tests to verify how much you’ve learned. Most likely, you will miss some questions when you start practicing. Read the short comment and look up information in the manual. If you don’t fully understand the answers and why they are correct, find someone to discuss rules and safe driving techniques with. It will help you learn much faster.

An important key to success is to carefully read all questions and choices. Try not to add your information or read anything into a question that isn’t there.

Another common mistake is to just try to memorize questions and answers. It is a risky study tactic and no guarantee of passing the real exam.

Unless you truly know and understand the information in the Driver License Manual, it is hard to pass the real permit examination.

What You Must Know about the Real South Dakota Knowledge Test

Your first step towards a South Dakota driver license contains two tests:

  A vision screening
  A written knowledge test (on a computer)

If you need glasses/lenses for your vision screening, don’t forget to bring them. You will not be allowed to take any other tests if you fail the vision screening.

The passing score on the South Dakota permit test is 80%. You need 20 correct answers to pass. If you fail the written test, you must wait at least one day before you can try again. There is no new fee the second time your try, but after three attempts you must pay a new fee.

Minors must always be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when visiting a Driver Licensing office.

The written test is available in English only.

If you have passed an approved South Dakota driver education course with at least an 80% score, the knowledge test at a driver exam office is waived. You must bring the driver education certificate with you to the driver exam station and pass the vision screening.

Is the South Dakota Permit Test Difficult?

South Dakota does not publish failure rates, but it is estimated that about one out of three fail their first attempt on the test.

Who Must Take the South Dakota Test?

  All new drivers

An applicant who hasn’t been licensed before must always pass all tests. An applicant under 18 years must follow the three-step program under the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law, which includes the first Instruction Permit, the Restricted Minor’s Permit, and the full unrestricted South Dakota Driver License.

  Drivers with an expired license

Drivers who let their South Dakota Driver License expire more than 30 days can be required to pass the knowledge test again. A test may always be required at the discretion of DPS staff.

  Drivers with a revoked license

After a revocation of your driving privilege, you must pass all applicable tests in addition to a new application fee and a reinstatement fee.

If your license is suspended, you don’t have to take any new tests when your license is reinstated – unless the license expires for more than 30 days during the suspension period.

  Drivers with a license from another country

Holders of a foreign driver license who move to South Dakota must pass the same tests as first-time applicants. Exemptions exist for holders of a valid license from Canada or Germany.

When you hold a valid driver license another state or territory and move to South Dakota, no testing (except vision screening) is necessary to get a South Dakota driver license.

What is on the Official South Dakota Written Test?

The written test is designed to test your:

“…ability to read and understand highway signs regulating, warning, and directing traffic, the knowledge of the traffic laws of this state.”

You should expect a small number of questions about the road signs described in the South Dakota Driver License Manual. Don’t forget to learn how colors and shapes are used for the most common signs.

You will most likely also see a question or two about traffic signals and/or pavement markings. Know when you can cross yellow center lines and when you cannot.

There is also a clear focus on how to safely share our highways with pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers and large trucks.

Specific South Dakota traffic laws include the consequences of impaired driving and the purpose of South Dakota point system.

Many questions in the question pool also deal with everyday driving situations, such as right-of-way rules at intersections, and what to do in case of accidents and vehicle failure.

Remember, everything you need to know for your test is found in the Driver License Manual. Never think you can pass the test without getting the latest version of the manual.

We help you pass your South Dakota DMV exam

South Dakota Permit and License FAQ

If you are a US citizen, you should bring an original or certified birth certificate, social security card, and two documents proving your South Dakota address. If you are a minor, proof of address can be provided by the parent who comes to the driver license exam station with you.

If you are a non-citizen, you need an unexpired permanent resident card or unexpired U.S. Visa with an unexpired I-94, social security card, and two documents proving your South Dakota address.

If you are under 18 years, you must have approval of a parent/legal guardian, and the parent/legal guardian must accompany you when apply for the permit.

A parent or guardian who signed for you to get your permit can at any time request to have your permit or license cancelled.

When you hold an instruction permit and practice driving, you must be supervised by a licensed driver who is at least 18 years old and have at least one year driving experience. The supervising driver must always sit in a front seat beside you.

The Instruction Permit allows you to practice from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. if you you are supervised by a driver who is not a licensed parent or guardian.

From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., you must have a parent or legal guardian seated beside you.

The holding period for the Instruction permit is 90 days if you have satisfactorily completed a state-approved driver education program. This means that you must 14 years and 90 days old before you can apply for the Minor's Permit.

If you haven't completed a driver education course, this holding period is extended to 180 days and the minimum age for applying becomes 14 years and 180 days.

You cannot have had any traffic convictions within the last six months when you apply.

Yes, the minor's permit allows you, with your parent's or guardian's permission, to drive unsupervised during daytime (between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

If you want to drive at night, a parent or legal guardian must occupy a seat beside you.

When you are 16 years old, you can apply for a full operator's license with full driving privileges and no restrictions.

Your Instruction Permit or Restricted Minor’s Permit will be suspended for 30 days if you are under 16 years old and are convicted of a traffic violation or of violating the restrictions of your permit.

If you are convicted a second time, the suspension period is 90 days or until you turn 16, whichever is longer.

You must be at least 16 years of age to get your full SD Driver's License.

If you have achieved at least an 80% grade in a state-approved driver education course within the last year, no road skills test is necessary.

Appointments ONLY

Currently (March 2021), driver exam stations are offering service by scheduled appointment only! If you plan to take your knowledge test at exam station, you must schedule an appointment .

Final Note

We have designed all tests to challenge your knowledge of rules of the road and safe driving practices. By using our practice tests as a study guide, you can prepare for and pass the South Dakota DPS knowledge test without any problems.

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