Washington Road Test

Passing Your Washington Road Test: A Complete Guide

Zutobi
by Zutobi · Updated Jul 22, 2021

Passing your Washington road test is perhaps the most frightening part of the process of getting a driver’s license. During your driving test, you’ll have to drive under the observation of an examiner, who will make an evaluation of your driving ability based on your performance during the 15 minutes that the test is taking place.

It’s certainly a lot of pressure, but you can make the experience far less stressful with the proper preparation. Finding out what to expect and what you should do before the day of your test is essential to reducing the stress of your overall experience. Take a look at the tips below to help prepare for your Washington State driving test. 

Requirements Before the Washington Road Test

Like with all of the different parts of the licensing process, you will need to meet certain requirements before you are allowed to take the road test.

Driver Requirements

These requirements are for new drivers who haven’t held a license before. There are different requirements depending on your age.

If you’re under age 18, make sure that you:

  • Have reached a minimum age of 16 years old.
  • Are a resident of Washington State.
  • Have completed and passed an approved driver’s education program.
  • Have practiced driving with your instruction permit for at least six months.
  • Have, for at least six months, kept a clean driving record.
  • Have driven for at least 40 hours with an adult driver who has held their license for at least five years. 

If you’re over the age of 18, you have a few different options. Choose the one that works best for you. 

  1. You can pass a training course, get a permit, and then take your road test and get your license.
  2. Or, you can take and pass a knowledge test, get a permit, and then learn to drive with a properly licensed adult. You’ll get your license after passing the road test.
  3. Or, you can simply take the knowledge and road tests and then get your license.
  4. Lastly, if you have a license from another state, you may be able to transfer your license. 

If you want to practice driving or take a driver’s training course, get a permit first. If you don’t need to practice, then pre-apply online. You’ll have to pass a knowledge test at a driver licensing office if you haven’t already. 

Once you’re ready to take your test, schedule an appointment at a local driver licensing office. 

Vehicle Requirements

You’ll take the road test in your own vehicle, so it should be one that you’re familiar with. There are, however, some state requirements for vehicles used for testing, and if your vehicle doesn’t meet the requirements, you’ll be prevented from taking the actual test at all. 

The vehicle check is part of what is called the pre-test. During the pre-test, you’ll also have to provide the correct documents, which are listed below. This includes current registration and insurance for your vehicle, so you’ll want to make sure that you both have those documents. They should be in an easily accessible place so you can find them quickly when you need to present them to your examiner. 

You also need to ensure that your vehicle is working properly. A vehicle that isn’t in proper working order will also cause you to fail your road test before it has begun. 

These are the vehicle requirements for taking the driving test in Washington:

  • The windshield must allow for an unobstructed view.
  • You must have at least half a tank of gas.
  • Your tires must be correctly inflated.
  • Your car doors must properly open and close from both the interior and exterior of the car. 
  • Your turn signals, brake lights, taillights, and headlights must be in working order.
  • Your car horn and rear view mirror must also be working. 

The Day of Your Washington Driving Test

When you go to take your road test, you’ll first need to check in at the WA DOL office. Then, with your licensed adult, you’ll drive over to the testing area. An examiner will do a vehicle check, and, if that’s completed successfully, the road test will begin. It should take around 15 minutes, though the amount of time can vary between different testing locations and drivers.

What to Bring to the DOL

It’s not fun to realize that you don’t have a necessary document after you’ve driven all the way to the DOL. If you do not have the following documents, you will need to reschedule your Washington road test. Remember to bring:

  • Your social security number
  • Proof of identity (if you’re unsure about which documents will be accepted, check out this page for more information)
  • Fees (these vary by location)
  • Current and valid insurance and registration documents for your vehicle

You’ll also need parental permission if under 18. If a parent cannot be present, they’ll have to sign a parental authorization affidavit form. You will need a licensed adult to accompany you to the driver licensing office; they must either drive your vehicle or supervise you as you drive. 

What You’ll Be Tested On

Your examiner will observe you as you complete a variety of maneuvers. Based on your performance, the examiner will decide whether or not you’re ready to become a fully licensed driver. 

These are the maneuvers and safety practices that are tested on the road test, make sure to read the list carefully and practice each maneuver at home until you feel comfortable doing each one.

  • Make sure that you start your vehicle smoothly and correctly.
  • When you leave the curb, use the correct method; make sure to signal and check, and then enter traffic when it is safe to do so.
  • When you’re driving, be sure to control the vehicle correctly. You should drive smoothly and use the steering wheel, gas pedal, and brake properly. Additionally, be sure to change your speed based on weather conditions, road conditions, construction, etc. 
  • If you’re driving in traffic, be sure to use the proper lane. Signal and check if you want to change lanes or turn. Always maintain a good following distance behind other vehicles.
  • Always obey traffic signs and signals.
  • If you’re driving in crowded conditions, remember to look carefully for signals and signs as well as pedestrians and other vehicles. Make sure that you yield right-of-way when you need to. 
  • When you need to stop, stop smoothly and at the correct spot. You should be able to stop quickly if you have to. 
  • When backing up, you should look over your right shoulder. You also need to be able to back in a straight line.
  • You must be able to accurately judge distance. This means you should be able to stay at a safe distance from other vehicles and pedestrians. 
  • You should respect others’ rights and be a courteous driver.
  • While driving, give it your full attention.
  • You should know arm signals for turns, slowing, and stopping. You’ll also have to do a brake reaction test, or a simulated emergency stop. Make sure that you know how to park on a hill properly, parallel park, and back out of a driveway or alley into traffic. 

After the Washington Road Test

If you passed the test, great job! If you didn’t, don’t worry – the State of Washington has one of the hardest road tests in the United States. Just practice your driving techniques and then retake the test until you pass. 

That’s It!

That’s everything you need to know about passing the road test in Washington. 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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