I have recently moved to the United States to live in California. I am over 18 and was a non-driver in the UK so I have had to learn the California Driving Code from scratch. I took my paper-based written driving test at Glendale DMV, California in April 2008. I passed first time with 100% correct score. Here are some useful and helpful tips which should help you to pass your Californian written driving exam the first time.
Firstly you will need to call the DMV to make an appointment to take your written driving exam on 1-800-777-0133 during normal business hours or visit the Californian DMV website. You will need your Social Security Number to hand (if you are eligible). Once you have your appointment date this will help focus you towards your goal of learning the rules of the California Driver Handbook.
Read the latest edition of the California Driver Handbook. It is important to obtain and read the latest version of the handbook as new laws can be introduced and sometimes the booklet is structured differently from year to year. In my experience, I found that the 2008 handbook was more logical, easier to read and understand than the 2007 edition. A down-loadable version of the handbook is available from the Californian DMV website.
Use a highlighter pen to highlight the key information in the booklet that you will be tested on e.g. speed limits, distance allowed to park from sidewalk, weights and ages of seat belt wearers, alcohol blood level limits by age, etc.
Ask a friend or qualified driver to test you on the California Driver handbook. Get them to ask different kinds of questions from the different sections in the handbook. You need to know all the information in the handbook, including the roadsigns - don't assume you will not be asked what you may consider an obscure question.
Take the 5 sample on-line written tests on the Californian DMV website. Each sample test paper has 10 multiple choice questions. The actual test will have 36 questions.
Try the on-line interactive Driving Knowledge Tutorial on the Californian DMV website. You will be asked around 20-25 multiple choice questions each time you take the tutorial. Questions are generated at random so you can retake the tutorial many times. I found it a great visual aid, as a previous non-driver, and it will put into picture form the information you have been studying in the Driver Handbook.
When you are out in a vehicle as a passenger try to study the street signs and markings on the roads. If you can safely talk with the driver, ask them what you need to do at intersections and any other questions about driving you may have. Unfortunately, unlike in the UK where you can learn to drive before you take your theory test, in California you must pass your written driving exam before you will be issued with a Drivers Permit.
On the day of the test re-read the Driver Handbook before your test to re-familiarize yourself with the content.
When you are actually taking the written test, read the questions carefully. They will be multiple choice questions and there is only one correct answer, even though they may be worded in such a way to make you think more than one is correct. Re-read the question to help determine which is the correct answer. If in doubt, leave the question until the end of the test and come back and look at it again. But remember to look over the test to make sure you haven't forgotten to complete ALL the questions.
If you are given a paper-based exam, you may find it useful to write your answers in pencil. Then if when re-reading the exam paper you realize you have made a mistake you can easily change your answer.
Finally, when you think you have finished, re-read all of the exam paper and check your answers one last time. You are allowed to get up to 6 questions incorrect for a first time applicant and only 3 if you are re-applying for an existing license.
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