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How to prepare for Driving Written Test or Instruction Permit (temps) in USA?

A friend of mine, who just came from India asked me, “How to prepare for the driving Instruction permit Written test ?”. He was asking which questions are important , etc and some tactics. I will share few of my thoughts and experience in this article.

What is Instruction permit or Temps   ?
The written test is the first step for getting a driving license. You take written test to get Instruction permit or Temps. In some countries it is called learners’ license. But in US, it is called Instruction permit or Temps. Depending on the state, you either get an ID card or just a piece of card indicating that you have completed the written test and have instruction permit.

What does DMV actually test in written Test for Instruction permit or Temps ?
Many people are very tense about written test for getting Instruction permit. The Driver Handbook, which is the book with all the driving rules and regulations pertaining to that state, may seem overwhelming with all the details of speed limits, DUI, signs, etc.  But, the reality is, there is nothing to be that scared about. It is not geared towards you achieving excellence in remembering every single detail. It is geared towards everyone, even who does not have higher education. So, do not panic. They primarily focus on the common sense and important things that you must know including symbols.

Questions in Driving Written test will be focused mostly on :

  • Symbols or Signs: Symbols are a big part of traffic rules test. You must know all the symbols like Yield, types of railway crossing, Merging lanes, No parking, etc.
  • Driving Under Influence (DUI) : DUI is a very key thing that every driver must know, most of the times you will be asked for details on stuff related to DUI like will you get arrested or what is the alcohol level, etc
  • Speed Limits : Knowing the speed limits and driving accordingly is important. Questions around speed limit are common. For instance, what is the average speed limit on country roads if nothing is posted?
  • Minimum Distance to maintain for Stopping : There can be questions like how much distance should you maintain to stop effectively without hitting the car in front of you when driving at certain speed. It can be tricky sometimes.
  • Work Zone : Work zone related questions like fines, speed limits are also important.

Do NOT try to cram everything in the Drivers handbook.  Most of the questions asked in the written test are just geared to test your Common sense as a driver and know what a symbol means when it is posted.  In some states, the DMV office website will have sample exams too. For instance, In California DMV website, you can see Samples of Driver Written test California. So, check your state DMV for any information like this for sample test. If, nothing is available. Do NOT panic. Just read the basics.

Strategy to Answer Driver’s Computer Written test :
This is not universal for every state, but I have seen this in couple states where the written test is taken on  computer and electronic based. So, this trick may be helpful. The way it seems the electronic written test works is : the system expects you to get at least 70 or 75% in the test. What it means is, if you do 25% questions wrong initially, then it will not even ask you the rest of the questions. It just says, you failed. To overcome this, you can skip the questions (Not guaranteed, but if there is Skip option) and then come back to these later. What you are doing here by skipping is, you are looking at all the questions and then answering. The trick is, if you answer 75% of questions right, you will be promoted by system as pass. So, if there is an option to skip, just skip and come back later to the skipped ones.

You may also read similar article, How to practice driving for getting driving license in USA

Image Credit : http://www.autoinsurance.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/driving_test_screenshot.jpg


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  1. If you are in California and you do not want to wait for months for the appointment try the iOS app: DMV Scheduler:


    It will find earlier appointment for you, notify you and let you reschedule with just one click.

  2. hi….I would like ask about drive licence in usa?? I have B1B2 viza?? Im legal in USA…..But i dont have SSN number….If is imposible for i get drive licence with this viza or no?? tnx a lot

  3. Excellent post however I was wanting to know if you could write a little more on this subject?
    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Thanks!

  4. Thank you sooooo much!!! I’m taking the test today and I’m positive with will pass with the help of your article of course. I took it before but didn’t want to go through the entire book. Thanks again.

  5. Don’t be afraid to fail the first time…just relax and try your best. Many Americans are unable to pass on their initial attempt of the written test, so don’t worry if you don’t pass on the first try — and the second time you’ll know what to expect/what you still need to study so you’ll be more relaxed and better prepared !


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