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How to Pass Your Driving Test (Behind-the-Wheel Exam) in 2020: 12 Driving Test Tips

How to Pass Your Driving Test (Behind-the-Wheel Exam) in 2020: 12 Driving Test Tips


by Zutobi · Updated Nov 30, 2020

Understanding exactly how to pass the driving test the first time can be a major source of anxiety for beginner drivers. Contrary to popular belief, passing the driver’s test is fairly simple as long as you are prepared, which can introduce complications for many students.

There aren’t any “secret” tips for passing your behind-the-wheel test without putting in any effort, but there certainly are a few things (more specifically 12) that can drastically increase your chances of passing in 2020.

12 Driving Test Tips on How to Pass the Road Test

In this article, we’ll cover the most effective tips for passing your DMV road test.

  1. Remember your pre-drive checklist
  2. Always stay within 5mph of the speed limit
  3. Practice behind the wheel as often as you can
  4. Keep your eyes on the road and your mirrors
  5. Slow down before turning
  6. Be cautious when approaching traffic lights
  7. Check your surroundings when reversing
  8. Brake gently
  9. Inspect your vehicle beforehand
  10. Know your basic maneuvers
  11. Learn to parallel park 
  12. Take DMV practice tests 

Tip #1. Remember your pre-drive checklist

As soon as you enter your vehicle, there are a few tasks that your instructor will expect you to perform. While this list will vary from state to state, making sure you remember how to operate these systems in your vehicle will put you on the right track to success.

  • Operating your seatbelt safely
  • Adjusting your side and rear-view mirrors
  • Controlling your air conditioning and heating systems
  • Turning on your headlights, taillights, and high beams

Tip #2. Always stay within 5mph of the speed limit 

Traveling at high speeds is a common reason many students end up failing their road exams. It is easy to lose track of your acceleration when you’re nervous and not paying attention to the speedometer. You should also keep a smooth, constant speed throughout the duration of your test. 

To do this, try and train yourself to always stay within 5 miles per hour of the posted speed limit every time you practice driving. This is one of the best DMV driving test tips on how to pass the driving test for anxious student drivers – you don’t want to fail your test just because you haven’t made this a driving habit.

Actively look for speed limit signs and drive within 5mph of the posted speed limit.</div>

Tip #3. Practice behind the wheel as often as you can

There is no substitute for simply getting behind the wheel and practicing your main driving maneuvers. Whenever possible, you should ask a parent or close relative to accompany you on a supervised drive. This will allow you to gain a certain level of comfort on the road, which will translate well to your actual driving exam. Having your passenger give you driving tips through this time will also help you practice getting accustomed to driving in a very low-pressure setting. 

Tip #4. Keep your eyes on the road and your mirrors


Many students often make the mistake of keeping their eyes laser-focused on what’s going on ahead of them on the road. While this may sound like the right thing to do in theory, it is very dangerous and will result in an instant fail on your driver’s license test

Your side view and rear-view mirrors contain vital information about what vehicles are doing behind and around you. You must also remember to take a peek at your blind spot to identify any vehicle that may be adjacent to yours. This way, you’ll have a 360-degree view of the road and never be surprised by the presence of vehicles next to, or behind you.

Tip #5. Slow down before turning

Accelerating into a turn is a bad practice that could result in a dangerous accident. It is important to take your turns very slow, especially as a beginner. When turning, be sure to slow down and complete the maneuver before reapplying force to your accelerator. Observe your surroundings to avoid striking pedestrians or debris that may be in your path.  

Tip #6. Be cautious when approaching traffic lights

Traffic lights are one of the more obvious driving rules for people of all ages to understand. We’re taught a very young age that a green light means ‘go’ and a red light means ‘stop’. However, there has been some discrepancy in what you should do at a yellow light. 

In the majority of instances, especially during the behind-the-wheel exam, you should prepare to stop when approaching a yellow light. This way, you’re not caught running a red light, which is an automatic fail on the road test. One of the most useful DMV driving test tips is to also look both ways before beginning to accelerate after a green light.

In the majority of instances, especially during the driving exam, you should prepare to stop when approaching a yellow light.</div>

Tip #7. Check your surroundings when reversing

Although many modern vehicles are equipped with backup camera technology, their use is prohibited on the DMV road exam. Your administrator will either have you turn the system off or require you to cover its screen with a clipboard. 

Therefore, it is imperative you remember to observe your surroundings before you put your car into reverse, and while steering your vehicle to its destination. If you do not make your movements obvious, your test administrator may deduct points for failing to check your back side when reversing.


Tip #8. Brake gently

Aggressive braking is another common reason for missed points on the DMV road exam. It can be tempting to immediately hit the pedal with force, but you should practice slowly applying pressure about a quarter mile before your destination. Your vehicle will have ample time to come to a stop.

Another great way to avoid aggressive braking is to look well ahead of your vehicle –  that way you will be able to spot potential hazards and react in time.

Tip #9. Inspect your vehicle beforehand

The DMV requires your test vehicle to be road legal in order for it to be used on the road exam. Your test instructor will check for the following items prior to administering the test.

  • Valid registration in your state
  • Current insurance and inspection
  • Functional speedometer, horn, and windshield wipers
  • Functional interior safety equipment (seatbelts, airbags, rear view mirror)
  • Functional doors and exterior mirrors
  • Working head and tail lights, as well as brake lights and emergency lights
  • No check engine or other service lights present on dashboard

Doing an inspection of your car up to a week before your exam will prevent you from running into surprise headaches on test day. This may not be your typical tip for passing the driving test, but if your vehicle isn’t road legal you won’t even be able to take the road test. 

Tip #10. Know your basic maneuvers

Having a solid grasp of your maneuvers is vital to your success on the DMV road exam. Even knowing how to properly perform simple tasks such as stopping and accelerating smoothly can be the difference between passing and failing your driving test. 

Make sure you are comfortable demonstrating the following maneuvers before sitting for the road test:

  • Three-Point Turns
  • Complete Stops
  • Steering Control
  • Reversing

Tip #11. Learn to parallel park 

Parallel parking has always been a difficult maneuver for students to understand. While it can be frustrating to master, it is a vital skill for those living in densely populated urban areas. Many argue; however, it is not as pertinent for suburban and rural drivers. In fact, there are a few states that have eliminated parallel parking from their road test altogether. 

If you live in one of the states that test parallel parking on the driving test, it is definitely something you need to practice. Parallel parking is considered to be one of the most difficult maneuvers for learners.

Parallel parking is a handy driving maneuver to comprehend, regardless of your geographic location. Even if it won’t be tested on your road exam, you will certainly face a parallel parking situation at some point in your future driving endeavors.

Parallel parking is a handy driving maneuver to comprehend and you will certainly find yourself in situations where you need to parallel park.</div>

Tip #12. Take DMV practice tests 

You will never know how to pass the driver’s test if you don’t even know what you’ll be tested on! That’s where DMV practice tests come in! As you study, be sure to periodically include practice tests in your regimen to ensure you’re properly absorbing the information you’re intaking. 

If you’re taking the road test, you have already passed the test to receive your permit. This material will come in handy when practicing behind the wheel, as your DMV knowledge exam is designed to test your understanding of road signs and rules.

Bonus Tip – Download Zutobi 

Never heard or Zutobi? Looking for tools to help with passing the driver test? Well, today is your lucky day. 

Zutobi is the top driver test app currently available on both iOS and Android devices. The platform is full of driver license test tips and guides to ensure you crush your driving test. All courses contain a summarized version of the DMV handbook as well as practice tests, packed with practical tips to help you prepare for your driving test.  

Whether you’re trying to brush up on some knowledge right before your exam, or you’re at home getting prepared to start practicing, Zutobi is the perfect app to help you pass your road test.


All in all, the DMV exam can be quite simple, as long as you’re willing to sufficiently study and prepare well beforehand. Driver test apps, such as Zutobi, greatly assist learning and can streamline your understanding of core driving maneuvers. Your driver’s handbook will also be a great tool for official driver’s license tips and regulations. Most of all, be sure to practice, practice, practice your skills behind the wheel. After all, that’s where you’ll be taking your exam!

Take our full course with tests and theory

  • 450+ exam-like questions
  • All you need to ace your test
  • Perfect for first-timers, renewals and senior citizens
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