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Top 5 Mistakes Test Takers Make

Frustrated - Copyright: dotshock

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.


  1. I think I found a mistake.
    In one of the California tests, it asked about which cars are in the blind spots of a truck (big rig). The car in the back of truck is in its blind spot as correctly indicated in the answer. However, the car besides it is also listed as in truck’s blind spot. This is actually incorrect as shown in the figure on Page 55 of California Driver Handbook. Could you let me know if my observation is correct? Thanks.

    • There are several questions all with different illustrations of cars in a truck’s blind spot. They all correspond to the image in the Driver Handbook and the nationwide recommendations by NHTSA. I think it is easiest if you – next time you see the question – carefully review it and compare with the illustration in the driver handbook.

      (There is also a possibility to use the report function at the end of each answer – it helps us to see exactly which question you are referring to)

  2. Virginia McGuinness August 18, 2016

    I’ve practiced tests a few times. I’ve taken test DMV 3 times in 10 yrs. I failed the truck Question on practice. weird, cause I always put truck needs space to slow down,as book says “Do not move in front of a large truck & suddenly slow down or stop. The truck driver will not be able to stop quickly enough to avoid crashing into you. In my opinion That practice Answer is not right

    • I can only assume that you are referring to the same question as other people on this page. If so, I can only repeat what I have said before. It is NOT this website that has the incorrect answer (it is one of the less reliable websites with practice questions out there).

      Our question (and correct answer) from the California practice test is found here:

  3. TaurusGurl0511 June 2, 2016

    Mark is correct. I am taking the exam tomorrow morning and when I had this question while taking the practice tests, I selected that the truck needs to cushion in order to stop immediately for other vehicles in front of the truck. I selected the correct answer which was “A”, or #1.

  4. Eva Gater May 8, 2016

    Appreciated your comments, I failed the first time, even though at home I scored with zero or one error each time I practiced. However, I had not read the Handbook and now I a have downloaded it and am going to read it from cover to cover. At 77 years of age, I am already fighting the battle of probably only another year or two behind the wheel. The workers at the DMV were most encouraging and told me many people fail the test the 1st time. God help me and I would appreciate any prayers for patience.

  5. I to had the same problem. I’m looking at the California DMV hand book 2015 and on knowledge test sample #1 question 6. The extra space in front of a large truck is needed for: The book says b. The truck driver to stop the vehicle. But at the DMV this same question which I got was “Other drivers when they want to slow down”. I have no idea.

    • Well, the DMV ( and this site give the correct answer (“The truck driver to stop the vehicle”). Stick with these practice tests and you will be fine. (Handbook 2015 and 2016 also have the same answer)

      I think it is pretty obvious that a driver should never slow down after entering a lane just ahead of another vehicle, especially a large vehicle. That space is needed as a cushion.

  6. Actually this isn’t true. I just took a practice test online, picked “the truck driver to stop the vehicle” and was told I was wrong and that “Space needed for the other drivers” was right.

    I am currently at the DMV now and just took the test in their handbook and that happened to be one of the questions, with “the truck driver to stop the vehicle” as the correct answer. So there definitely is a test out there giving the wrong answer like others have been saying.

    Only reason I even ended up here is because I Googled the question to find the right answer.

  7. Hung Nguyen August 2, 2015

    Hi Mr. Mark,
    Please let me know why I could not access the DMV practice tests anymore. I got blocked.
    I am living in Florida.
    Thank you.

  8. Teresa Swagerty June 28, 2015

    If you will check the DMV CAlifornia Practice Test 2 Question 9 the correct answer given is: The extra space in front of a large truck is needed for OTHER DRIVERS WHEN THEY WANT TO SLOW DOWN. So there is a test that says that.
    I did not put that answer and I missed it. I think someone needs to correct that answer on the practice test. Thank you

    • I checked the question and that is not the correct answer given.

      When taking a test, there is a report function after each question. I recommend you to use this function. It gives us a chance to see the exact version of the question, including your answer, and give you feedback with more details.

  9. Colleen Kennedy Gallegos May 20, 2015

    Question –The extra space in frount of a large truck is needed for ? ( the book says ) B The truck driver to stop the vehicle, the test says C– other driver when they want to slow down.I just hope the test are right at the DMV when I go to take my test.

    • The DMV tests are correct. The practice tests here as well. No practice test on this website says that the space is needed for other drivers when they want to slow down.

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