How Many DMV Tests Are There?

January 27, 2012

There is a different DMV test for different situations. The tests used by the Department of Motor Vehicles include the following:

  • Practice Test for Regular Drivers License
  • Practice Test for Commercial Drivers License
  • Practice Test for Motorcycle Drivers License
  • Learner's Permit Test
  • License Renewal Written Test
  • Commercial Drivers License (Class A or B License)
  • Regular Driving Tests (Class C License)
  • Motorcycle License Test (Class M License)
  • Vision Test
  • Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation (SDPE)
  • Area Driving Performance Evaluation (ADPE)

The variety of practice tests provided by the DMV can be very helpful to those required to pass a drivers license tests. Along with the regular drivers license, the specialized licenses (commercial and motorcycle) also require both written and driving tests. The vision test check is necessary to insure safety. The Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation and the Area Driving Performance Evaluation are used by the DMV to issue licenses to customers who have a physical or mental condition or disability and may include some restrictions.

Regular Drivers License, Class C
If you are a new driver, you will need to take the learner's permit test, or the written test, before you will be allowed to drive. Later, you will need to take the driving test, or the "behind-the-wheel" test for the drivers license. Before you may take the driving test, you will need to pass the vision test. If you already have your drivers license, but just need to renew it, you may only be required to take the written and vision test.

Practice tests are optional, but highly recommended. They are available at the motor vehicle department's locations and often can be found online at their website. The Written Knowledge Test includes traffic laws and knowledge of traffic signs and signals.

For teens and many others, these are the key DMV exams that one has to schedule and take. Thanks to the fact that the DMV has made great use of computers and online forms, you can do everything but take the test online, although there are some realistic test exams out there. The DMV computer system lets you schedule your learner's permit test and your driver's test.

Motorcycle Drivers License, Class M
If you are new to motorcycles, you must obtain a learner's permit for your motorcycle before you can take it out on the road for a test. It is usually a 35-question test (it may be more) and you have to score a 70 or better to pass. You can schedule this test online. If you pass this test, you can almost immediately schedule your road test. If everything goes right, you may be riding your bike within a week or so.

The motorcycle drivers license written test varies from the regular drivers license test. However, practice test are available for this test also at the motor vehicle locations and often online at their website. The written test for the motorcycle drivers license focuses on the laws for motorcycles and includes knowledge of street signals and signs. You will need to take a special driving test for motorcycles and a vision test.

Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Tests
For a number of years, the federal government has required the states to issue special Commercial Driver's Licenses. Drivers of commercial vehicles must schedule and take their CDL tests at special DMV facilities.

CDL Endorsements
The CDL is only the first step in commercial driving. It gives you the basic gateway into the world of the semi-trailer/tractor rig. You must complete a CDL endorsement every time you want to move up in rig size. For example, if you are cleared to drive Class 8 vehicles, you must get an endorsement to your CDL so that you can handle semi-trailer/tractor rigs. Likewise, if your job requires you to carry hazardous materials, you must get a CDL endorsement that tells everyone you are qualified to drive a hazardous materials load, like avgas for example.

SDPE and ADPE
You take the Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation test if you did not meet the vision requirements or because you may have a physical or mental condition that may impair your driving skills.

If you fail to pass the SDPE test, and the test examiner determines that you might be able to drive within a restricted area, you may take the Area Driving Performance Evaluation test. You will be tested in a specific area based on the driving needs that are most important for you. These tests are usually given in the area where you live and are customized for you. When you pass the test, you may be restricted to driving only in your immediate neighborhood and to local stores, churches or other places of personal interest in your general area.

DMV Test Requirements

There are basic requirements that pertain to all of the tests. Below are some of the requirements for taking a California DMV test. This may vary from state to state.

Requirements for the Permit or Written Test

  • Be at least 15½ years of age
  • Complete application form, (with parent or guardian signature if under 18)
  • Have your thumb print and picture taken
  • Provide your Social Security Number
  • Verify your birth date and legal residence (provide documents)
  • Pay the application fee
  • Provide your full name
  • Submit forms for proof of completion of driver training classes
  • Pass the vision exam (bring glasses, or wear contacts if necessary)
  • Study and practice for the test (handbooks and practice tests are available from the DMV)
  • Do not use your cell phone while driving

Requirements for Passing the Driver's License Road Test

  • Passengers are not allowed to accompany you during your driving test
  • Ask your examiner any questions you may have before the test begins
  • Do not engage in conversation with the examiner during the test
  • Obey rules and traffic signs and signals
  • Steer and accelerate smoothly
  • Don't race or stall the engine
  • Start braking ahead of where you need to stop without jerks
  • Be aware of crosswalks
  • Look both ways before entering intersections
  • Use your signals for all turns and lane changes
  • Use the proper lane, and turn into the correct lane
  • If you need to use your windshield wipers, be sure to turn on your lights
  • Follow at a safe distance, further in bad weather
  • Look over the proper shoulder before lane changes and check mirrors frequently
  • Drive defensively

Vehicle Requirements for Regular Driving Tests
In order to take your driving test, your vehicle must meet certain requirements, as listed below:

  • Registration must be current, with two license plates
  • All turn signals and brake lights must work properly
  • Horn must work properly
  • Tires must have sufficient tread for safety
  • Brakes should have proper pressure for safety
  • Window on the driver's side must be able to roll down
  • Windshield must have full unobstructed field of vision
  • The must be a rear view mirror, and one mirror outside, on the driver's left
  • Doors must open from inside and out for both passenger and driver
  • Glove compartment must stay closed during the test
  • Passenger seat must be permanently secured to vehicle
  • Seat belts must be working safely
  • Emergency/parking brakes must work properly
  • Vehicle is currently insured

Tips for Taking a DMV Test

  • Review your state's Driving Handbook. Driver's handbooks are available at Department of Motor Vehicle locations and often online. They contain the "rules of the road." If you are planning to take the commercial or motorcycle drivers license tests, you need to obtain handbooks specified for those particular areas. Study the handbook. It contains important information you need to know in order to be successful when taking both the written and driving tests
  • Practice by taking sample tests. Many DMVs and other organizations have websites that provide sample tests. Many you can take online
  • Take the written test. Read each question carefully without reading anything extra into it. There is only one correct answer. The other choices are either obviously wrong or not appropriate for the question. Reflect on the handbook. All questions are taken from it. Relax. It's easier to concentrate when you're not anxious
  • Prepare for the Driver's License Test. Practice driving as much as possible. Minors may have special requirements for behind-the-wheel training. Pretend you're taking the driving test while driving. Ask your accompanying driver questions about anything that confuses you, for suggestions, and to point out any mistakes you have made. Correct any driving errors you made previously. Practice the driving maneuvers from your handbook
  • Passengers are not allowed to accompany you during your driving test
  • Ask your examiner any questions you may have before the test begins
  • Do not engage in conversation with the examiner during the test
  • Obey rules and traffic signs and signals
  • Steer and accelerate smoothly
  • Don't race or stall the engine
  • Start braking ahead of where you need to stop without jerks
  • Be aware of crosswalks
  • Look both ways before entering intersections
  • Use your signals for all turns and lane changes
  • Use the proper lane, and turn into the correct lane
  • If you need to use your windshield wipers, be sure to turn on your lights
  • Follow at a safe distance, further in bad weather
  • Look over the proper shoulder before lane changes and check mirrors frequently
  • Drive defensively

Vehicle Requirements for Regular Driving Tests
In order to take your driving test, your vehicle must meet certain requirements, as listed below:

  • Registration must be current, with two license plates
  • All turn signals and brake lights must work properly
  • Horn must work properly
  • Tires must have sufficient tread for safety
  • Brakes should have proper pressure for safety
  • Window on the driver's side must be able to roll down
  • Windshield must have full unobstructed field of vision
  • The must be a rear view mirror, and one mirror outside, on the driver's left
  • Doors must open from inside and out for both passenger and driver
  • Glove compartment must stay closed during the test
  • Passenger seat must be permanently secured to vehicle
  • Seat belts must be working safely
  • Emergency/parking brakes must work properly
  • Vehicle is currently insured

Tips for Taking a DMV Test

  • Review your state's Driving Handbook. Driver's handbooks are available at Department of Motor Vehicle locations and often online. They contain the "rules of the road." If you are planning to take the commercial or motorcycle drivers license tests, you need to obtain handbooks specified for those particular areas. Study the handbook. It contains important information you need to know in order to be successful when taking both the written and driving tests
  • Practice by taking sample tests. Many DMVs and other organizations have websites that provide sample tests. Many you can take online
  • Take the written test. Read each question carefully without reading anything extra into it. There is only one correct answer. The other choices are either obviously wrong or not appropriate for the question. Reflect on the handbook. All questions are taken from it. Relax. It's easier to concentrate when you're not anxious
  • Prepare for the Driver's License Test. Practice driving as much as possible. Minors may have special requirements for behind-the-wheel training. Pretend you're taking the driving test while driving. Ask your accompanying driver questions about anything that confuses you, for suggestions, and to point out any mistakes you have made. Correct any driving errors you made previously. Practice the driving maneuvers from your handbook
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