Tips to Pass your Driving Test Successfully

I may not be the best driver in the world and you can find lots of tips and advise on YouTube and all over the internet but here are my personal tips that really works for me as an experienced immigrant driver.

After passing the DMV Written Exam and you are starting from zero – Find a driving school, it is better to learn it from the experts plus they give tips and advise on how to pass your driving test with flying colors!

If you are experienced driver from your home country (just like me) – Aside from reading the California DMV Handbook → get lots and lots of practice before the driving test.

how to pass dmv driving test3

[Related Page: How to Apply Driver’s Learner’s Permit in California Step by Step]


1. Read the DRIVING TEST CRITERIA that the Examiners are using – THIS IS NOW YOUR CHEAT SHEET:
Begin with the end in mind, at the end of the Driving Test you want your driving test result to be “Passing”. Look directly at the DMV’s Driving Test Criteria where the DMV Examiners basing their criteria on conducting the driving test.

Driving Test Criteria

Cheat Sheet: DMV Driving Test Criteria Booklet

Before you begin the driving test, the examiner will ask you to demonstrate hand signals (stop, left turn and right turn signal)  and will ask you to locate your vehicle’s safety items:

~ Windshield wipers
~ Turn Signals
~ Emergency Break
~ Defroster
~ Hazard lights
~ etc. See details on DMV Driving Test Criteria
Failure to demonstrate these items mean “Mechanical Failure” and your driving test should be rescheduled!

PART 2:  DRIVING PERFORMANCE EVALUATION (Based on my own Experience)

When the Driving Test starts – adjust the mirror to your sight even though you know it’s already adjusted just to show you are ready to take that road test safely.

Always yield to traffic – remember this is an evaluation test, when you are about to get out of the parking for your driving test, show that you really turn your head when you check the traffic, look for pedestrians or bicyclist and other vehicles. 

When turning right on red signal light – turn on your signal and stop at the marked limit line, if there’s no limit line – stop before entering the cross walk, make a signal, drive close to the right edge of the road, yield to the traffic make sure there is no upcoming vehicle, no Pedestrian and the way is clear before entering the traffic.

Always maintain the appropriate speed limit:
~ Usually city highways have speed limit posts, if marked 45 / 40 / 35 mph specially on city highways, be sure to drive around those posted speed limits. Faster or slower than the speed limit could mean a Failure.
~ 25 mph – on school zones while children is outside
~ 25 mph – on residential / business area unless otherwise posted
~ 15 mph – in any alley and in blind intersection, near railroad tracks
~ 10 mph – passing speed limit when safe to pass near street cars, trolleys or buses

Stop at at the the STOP sign and do not make unnecessary stop as this may cause accident because the vehicle at your back are in full speed and when you do the sudden stop you may get hit from behind of your vehicle.

When changing lanesturn on your signal, look on your mirrors and then look over your shoulder and watch out for pedestrians and bicyclist. Do not forget these steps when turning because examiners are very particular into these specially on looking over your shoulder.

When entering or  exiting: always do traffic check, look ahead, look to the right, left and behind you.

When Backing – look over your right shoulder and through the back windshield not just on the mirror, check if there’s pedestrian, bicyclist or other vehicles and then back up smoothly. 

Intersections – Always maintain appropriate speed and yield the right of way to vehicles and pedestrians. Observe traffic, look ahead and to the right and left. Pass through intersections safe and smooth. Do not make unnecessary stop unless there’s a pedestrian to avoid collision.

When Stopping – Decelerate and break smoothly.
~ The examiners knows that sometimes due to nervousness you tend to break abruptly but try to make it smooth as much as you can.
~ Maintain the gap or limit line, make sure you be able to see the rare wheels of the vehicle in front of you.
~ When you stop, make sure its a full stop – no moving forward or rolling backwards.
~ When you stop at the intersection make sure you are behind the limit line or from the corner of intersection if there’s no limit line.

When starting back again – Make sure you always YIELD, do TRAFFIC CHECK ahead and to your left and right (vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclist) and ACCELERATE SMOOTHLY.

LANE USE – this where I got in trouble on my first Driving Test. A lane is a lane and you should stay in your proper lane all the time unless otherwise told to do so.
~ Turning Right – make a signal, look over your shoulder, follow the right turn arrow on the road and enter the bike lane 200 feet before tuning, it’s usually a broken line which means permissible to enter the bike lane, if there’s no bike lane use the right most part of the right lane.
~ Turning Left – signal, look over your shoulder, enter left turn lane 200 ft before turning, enter the designated left turn lane, use the left most part of the lane. I have illustrated below the tips on how to make a turn without hitting a curb.

STEERING CONTROL – always turn the steering wheel safe and in full control with both your hands on the  9 and 3 o’clock base position.
~ When turning right (Right hand pull down, Left hand pushes up) – move your hands to 12 o’clock  position, RIGHT HAND PULLING DOWN to 6 o’clock position while LEFT HAND sliding down gently to 6 o’clock position and then PUSHES UP back to 12 o’clock position, repeat this process until you complete the turn.
~ When turning left (Left hand pull down, right hand pushes up) – move your hands to 12 o’clock position, LEFT HAND PULLING DOWN to 6 o’clock position while RIGHT HAND sliding down gently to 6 o’clock position and then PUSHES UP back to 12 o’clock position, repeat this process until you complete the turn.
Remember:  Your hands should always meet at the middle and not crossing each other!

See below Evaluation Score Sheet for your reference. This is exactly the score sheet that the examiner will use – Don’t feel intimidated or nervous if you observe they are making a mark on the sheet, sometimes it doesn’t mean they marked an error, they just check some scoring items as a reference that they already evaluated you for that and it’s fine.

Screenshot 2018-08-19 at 8.48.50 AM


2. Clean your car before your big day clean inside and outside of your car specially the glasses, windows and mirror so you can see clearly while driving. In that way you can also leave an impression to the examiner that you are in control of your vehicle and on point in your driving ability.

3. Wear comfortable clothes like loose cotton t-shirt and pants or shorts so you can move easily while driving.

4. Wear comfortable footwear that best works for you – I am comfortable driving with barefoot, yes barefoot! Because I feel more safe and in control, and this is the reason why I finally passed my driving test! 

5. Get enough sleep before the driving test You want to make sure that you are fully alert on your driving test, so get some good rest before the big day.

Tips on Turning in order to make sure you WON’T HIT THE CURB when turning, or to be surely on the center of the Parking line – I find this technique very helpful.

Align windshield wiper on the curb or on the parking spot line to make sure your vehicle is just right at the center of the lane and not hitting a curb or not hitting other vehicle at the Parking lot.

Here are some illustration when I tried this at the empty Parking Lot. I tried this technique fast and slow and I did turn just right on the center of the parking lines.


This is how it looks like after turning with this technique  – the car is just right on the center of two parking lines where I want to park.

Tips on Turning

I hope you learn something from my Driving Test Journey. Good luck on yours!

Some of the Helpful Videos worth watching before the Driving Test:

  1. Top 10 Reason why people Fail on Driving Test 
  2. How To Pass Your Driving Test-5 QUICK Tips
  3. How to Pass Your Driver’s Test – The Secrets!
  4. Behind-the-wheel Driving Test. California. 2016
  5. How to Parallel Park | Pass the Road Test – In case the DMV Officer will test for Parallel Parking, nonetheless it’s still good to know this technique.
  6. Parallel Parking Easy and Simple – more technique to parallel park


“Patience is a Virtue”


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