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How to Pass Your Road Test

For many teenagers, a driver's license is a symbol of independence. The ability to drive to school, work, or the mall provides a new, empowering freedom of movement. A road test is required for a driver's license, which can be nerve-wracking for the most confident among us. The good news is that with a little study and plenty of practice, it's easy to ace.

Before you can apply to take a driving test, you'll need to have held a learner's permit (sometimes called an instruction permit) for at least six months. During these six months, the permit will allow you to practice driving with an adult in the car. Some states, like Washington, will require you to keep a record of your practice hours, so be sure to check with your state of residence to see if you need this record or not. Driving lessons can help you get comfortable with your car, and with maneuvering on the road in general. You should also find (or at least know of) a good auto mechanic, since a big part of eventually owning a car is taking care of it, and the car will need insurance for the road test.

Most states require that an individual be at least 16 years old to take a driving test. Some will mandate that you complete a driver training course, either online or in a classroom. Once these first requirements are met, all that's left to do is schedule a driving test at the local DMV. Studying for a driving test is as simple as making sure you know the most common driving maneuvers and the driving rules of your state.

Before taking a driving test, check online or at the DMV to see which car maneuvers are required. For example, Florida does not require knowledge of parallel parking, but Indiana does. Another useful maneuver to know is the three-point turn. If you haven't learned these already, ask an adult to supervise while you practice in a safe, empty area. Make sure you are able to back up the car using only your mirrors, as this will be useful for parking in any situation. If possible, practice in the car that you plan on using for the test, so you'll be more familiar with the controls.

Improper parking can lead to scuffed doors or a run to the auto shop, so on the test, the instructor will be looking to see if you can park perfectly on the first try. Go slowly, and concentrate on what you're doing. Check to make sure that the space you're pulling into is clear, and then proceed however the situation dictates. If parking on a hill, remember to engage the parking brake once in place, since this can prevent your car from accidentally rolling backwards.

All cars have blind spots, and they can lead to some serious auto accidents if ignored. A blind spot is a place in your field of vision that is naturally obscured by the construction of the car. Blind spots usually pop up over your shoulders, right where you'd need to look in order to change lanes. However, by simply turning your head or looking over your shoulder, you can easily see past the blind spots to make sure the road is clear. The side mirrors will also help you navigate in areas where you may not be able to see clearly.

On the day of the test, remember that it's normal to be nervous. Going for a "test drive" with an adult beforehand can help reacquaint you with the controls of your car. You'll need a few basic documents, like a permit or social security card, so check with the local DMV and make sure you have those items with you before you leave home. Once at the DMV, the test will check to see how safe, observant, and knowledgeable you are about driving. Do your best to relax, be confident, and listen carefully to any directions the instructor gives you. If, for whatever reason, you fail your driving test, don't sweat it. Many states allow as many as six or seven re-takes. Practice whatever skills you need before your next test, and reschedule.

For more information on driving and some useful how-tos, check out the following links:

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