How to Study for a Learner's Permit Test

by Barbara Dunlap

Taking a learner's permit test isn't rocket science, but you should still study for it. There are two main approaches: read and re-read your state's driving manual, or practice tons of sample questions online until the facts are etched in your mind. The first method is free and the second method costs very little, so just choose which one suits you better.

Study your state DMV manual, and take any tests included in it. Also, visit your state DMV website to find any available sample tests. Before you study and take the practice exams, decide whether you work better on your own or with a friend. Generally, stay away from groups--more than one study partner may lead to unnecessary distractions.

Take notes as you read the manual. Write down the facts and figures you need to memorize. Keep the list with you and look at it when you have time on your hands -- for example, when you're waiting in line at the market. If you go over it often, the information will get lodged in your memory bank -- at least long enough for you to take the test.

Ask a friend or relative to look through the driver's manual and quiz you. As you go, the person who quizzes you should record the answers you get wrong. If you miss several similar ones (for example, making turns into different lanes), pay special attention to reviewing those -- you can even make flash cards so you can study them further.

When you're in a car, notice situations you find in your driver's manual. For instance, look at the speed-limit signs at schools -- using the information in real life will help you retain it more easily and naturally.

Take a prep course that helps you practice with hundreds of questions similar to the ones you'll find on your learner's permit test. Some online courses offer a money-back guarantee. (see Resources below)


  • check Find out about test conditions before you go in to take the test. For instance, will it be on paper or on a computer screen? The more you know, the more confident you'll be. Don't feel you have to go through the whole driving manual at once -- there is too much information to absorb. Start by reading one section and taking notes. The next time you pick up the booklet, review that section and read a new one. Learn strategies for taking multiple-choice tests (see Resources below).

About the Author

Barbara Dunlap is a freelance writer in Oregon. She was a garden editor at "The San Francisco Chronicle" and she currently specializes in travel and active lifestyle topics like golf and fitness. She received a master's degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has been a Knight Foundation Fellow.

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