Iowa road test

How to Pass Your Iowa Road Test: A Complete Guide

by Zutobi · Updated Jan 05, 2022

Driving is one of those things we take for granted in the United States, and it’s the same for Iowa residents. We rely on personal vehicles to get to school, work, and recreational activities. The goal of the state is to help residents drive safely, and one of the ways that the state ensures this is by requiring new drivers to pass the Iowa road test before receiving an unrestricted license.

Although taking any kind of exam can be nerve-racking, we understand that having an examiner watch you drive can be especially stressful. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide to help you not only get ready for your driving test but also build confidence that you can pass it.

Iowa Road Test Requirements

Before signing up for the test, you may need to complete some preliminary requirements, depending on your age.

Under 18 Requirements

If you have not reached your 18th birthday, you’ll have to complete the Iowa GDL program before being eligible to take a road test. Depending on your age, this can involve several steps.

  • Instruction Permit. Students who are 14 years old must pass a vision and written knowledge test, which can be taken at any Iowa licensing bureau, at some schools, or online from home with a parent administrator. Proof of residency, social security, and identity as well as parental consent is required.
  • Minor School License. An optional minor school license is available in Iowa at 14 ½ for the sole purpose of getting to and from school. A road test may be required by a school driver’s education program.
  • Intermediate License. At 16, you are eligible for an intermediate license. You’ll need to complete an approved driver’s education course, hold an instruction permit for one year, have a clean driving record for six months, and obtain parental consent.

If you’re 16 or 17 years old, you will likely take your road test as part of your driver’s education program. However, you are required to take it at a licensing bureau if any of the following conditions apply:

  • Your driver’s education teacher requested a test to obtain a license.
  • You have a medical condition that may affect your ability to safely operate a vehicle.
  • You have specific restrictions on your driver’s license that require a test to be removed.
  • You have a court order to take a driving test.

Over 18 Requirements

If you’re an adult driver, you are required to take a road test if any of the following conditions apply:

  • You’ve never had a driver’s license in any U.S. state or territory.
  • You have an expired out-of-state driver’s license.
  • Your Iowa driver’s license has been expired or invalid for one year or more.
  • You have a medical condition that could prevent you from safely driving.
  • You carry restrictions on your current Iowa license that requires a test to be removed.
  • You have a court order to take a road test.

How to Schedule Your Road Test

If you satisfy the requirements above, then you can schedule an appointment at an Iowa licensing bureau. Check out the service selector here if you want more information.

Getting Ready for Your Iowa Driving Test

What Should You Bring?

You’ll need to bring several documents with you to the licensing bureau in order to take the driving test. Use this tool to make sure you have everything you require. Essentially, you’ll need:

  • An identity document
  • A social security document
  • Proof of residency document
  • If you’ve changed your name, a name change document

If you’re under 18, you’ll need parental consent and proof of completing a driver’s education program as well.

Vehicle Requirements

You’ll be taking the road test in your own vehicle, which must pass its own inspection before the actual test begins.

Here is a checklist of what the examiner will check:

  • Two Iowa license plates firmly affixed to the care, a single valid out-of-state license plate or a single valid temporary license plate. Dealership plates are not allowed.
  • Working horn.
  • Functioning turn signals.
  • Unexpired vehicle registration and insurance documents.
  • At least one rearview mirror.
  • Working doors, seat belts, brake lights, wipers, headlights, and taillights.

What Maneuvers are Tested on the Road Test in Iowa?

The examiner will watch how you handle your car and whether you obey rules in regular traffic situations. Here is a checklist of maneuvers you can expect to be tested on, as well as tips on how to avoid making errors.

  • Drive defensively. Think about the errors another driver might make and prepare your response.
  • Be aware. Check your mirrors often, look both ways at intersections, and look over the proper shoulder before changing lanes or merging.
  • Drive steadily. Steer and stop smoothly by gradually changing your speed, and don’t turn suddenly.
  • Stop appropriately at intersections. If there are road markings, pay attention to them. If your view is blocked, stop first, then move forward cautiously. Look both ways before continuing into the intersection. Do not roll through red lights or at stop signs.
  • Obey speed limits. If there is poor weather or other bad conditions, drive below the speed limit.
  • Follow safely. Be sure you have plenty of room in front of you to be able to stop safely. Use the two-second rule in normal conditions, increasing the space in poor weather or traffic conditions.
  • Obey traffic signs and signals. Be sure you know what all traffic signs and signals mean and follow them.
  • Use correct lane. Be sure you stay in the correct lane, especially anticipating turns. Signal 100 feet before and move carefully during a lane change.

What Errors Can Make You Fail Your Driving Test?

During your test, your examiner will determine if you demonstrate safe driving skills. Making too many minor errors or one major error can cause a failure. Make sure to practice the maneuvers mentioned above so you don’t make any unnecessary mistakes.

That’s It!

That’s everything you need to know about passing the Iowa driving test. We hope this guide has helped you out, and that you now feel comfortable with the steps moving forward. If you need any help studying for your upcoming exams, then Zutobi is the perfect study guide with online practice tests, a summarized handbook, and practical driving tips that will help you immensely during the actual road exam.

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