Driver’s Ed can seem like a daunting task–and that’s because it is. First you have to spend precious weekend or summer hours taking How To courses that cover everything from sticking the key in the ignition to parallel parking to hydroplaning safely.
Awesomeness continues after advertisement
And it certainly doesn’t get any better when you’re expected to climb into the car with a perfect stranger and drive them about town, all while they grade everything from how you look in the rear view mirrors to the way you turn the steering wheel.
Awesomeness continues after advertisement>
But fear not, because I’m here to walk you through Driver’s Ed, and hopefully demystify the process. If you follow the guidelines below, I promise you’ll be less stressed come the day of your driving test.
These classes always feel so loooong. It seems like the lecture goes on forever and ever. But don’t worry too much because you should also be getting handouts and pamphlets that tell you everything you need to know. Pro Tip: Test answers can be taken directly from this pamphlet (in my experience) so studying it is a must if you want to pass the written portion easily and in one try.
Many of the lessons you learn in class will pertain to other aspects of responsible driving that will not be covered during your active driving test. This includes things like DUIs and when to use your high beams. All of this info is important and you’ll need to know it for the written exam, but it most likely won’t be covered during you driving test.
Learn the material, study the material, and you’re golden.
By far the strangest thing you’re asked to do in your young adult life. Yes, since you were a toddler you’ve been told not to get into cars with strangers, but today is your day to hop on in, behind the wheel, and drive a super embarrassing “Student Driver” Honda (it may not actually be a Honda, but it probably is) around town.
Reputation or not, I’m warning you here and now, this will be an awkward ride. But trust that the instructor is seasoned and has dealt with many of your kind–probably multiple already that day. They will probably nit-pick every action from breaking too abruptly (and then too slowly) to the exact spot your hands should be on the steering wheel. As annoying as this is, their ultimate job is to ensure that safe and responisble drivers take on the road. So just try to listen and learn.
The Written Test
This test is a total breeze if you studied. If you didn’t, you may feel like you’re at the losing table of Trivia Night. Many questions are general or deal with basic common sense. Others are very specific and may seem to be worded confusingly if you didn’t familiarize yourself with different road models. Trust me, I know it’s boring material, but commit to studying the pamphlet and handouts because you don’t want to make more than one trip to the DMV to fill out this multiple choice test. They grade it on the spot so you’ll know immediately how you performed. As long as you pass, you’re in the clear. The driving test won’t hold you accountable for those five questions you missed.
The Driving Test
Breathe. Just breathe.
After you get into the car, the person leading the test will ask you to point to a few key parts of the car, i.e. rear view mirror, hazard lights, emergency break, etc. Then they will direct you through the test. They’ll say things like, “Okay, now signal left and merge into the left lane.” Do everything by the book! Check the mirror and look over your shoulder to make sure you didn’t miss a car in your blind spot, signal, and proceed to merge. ACED IT. You may also be asked to pull over and practice a three-point turn.
I didn’t have to get onto the freeway, make an unprotected left turn, or parallel park, but I can’t promise that those tasks won’t be in your future.
Also, there are a few ‘automatic fail’ mistakes, such as driving in the bike lane or rolling through a stop sign. Be aware of these before you roll right into a failing grade.
Look, bottom line is, your passenger knows that you’re nervous. They are also painfully aware of the fact that they are sitting shot gun to a sweaty-palmed teenager without a license or five-year plan. They don’t want to make you any more nervous than you already are because, dramatically speaking, your life is in their hands. They won’t make you do anything dangerous or that they sense you aren’t ready for.
Failing your driving test is not, I repeat, is not the worst thing in the world. In this case, you have three strikes before you have to hit up those lessons again. As a friendly suggestion, don’t tell the entire school that you’re taking your test that day.
The process of getting your license is a long one. First, the hours of classes. Then you receive a permit that allows you to drive with a parent and instructor. Then, for a too-long period of time, you can only drive friends in the presence of a guardian who’s 25 years or older. Then, finally, the day will come when you have your shiny permanent license with no strings attached. I’m telling all of this to say that if you want to get your license by the time you turn 16, plan ahead and do all of the boring stuff before your birthday.
The test truthfully isn’t as difficult or as stressful as film and television lead us to believe. All you really have to do is show up, study, and take your test. If you familiarize yourself with the material in your pamphlet and above, it should be a breeze.