To get your California DMV license, passing the written is the first step you must take. Regarding the CA DMV, over 40% of driving learners fail their California DMV written test on their first try. Thus, this article furnishes you with all the needed information to master this test! Let’s jump to the most exciting part!


california dmv written test
California DMV Written test guide


1. What is included in the California DMV Written test?

The California DMV written test includes questions on various topics related to driving laws, rules of the road, and safe driving practices. The specific questions can cover a range of subjects, and the test is designed to assess your knowledge of the California Driver Handbook. Topics commonly included in the written test may include:

  • Traffic signs and signals: Identification of various road signs, signals, and pavement markings.
  • Rules of the road: Understanding right-of-way, lane usage, and other general driving rules.
  • Safe driving practices: Information on defensive driving, handling emergencies, and sharing the road.
  • Traffic laws: Knowledge of California traffic laws, such as speed limits, parking regulations, and DUI laws.
  • Driver responsibilities: Understanding the responsibilities of a driver, including insurance requirements and reporting accidents.
  • Alcohol and drugs: Information on the effects of alcohol and drugs on driving, as well as the legal consequences of driving under the influence.
  • Special driving situations: Information on driving in various conditions, such as inclement weather, construction zones, and school zones.
  • Handling and maneuvering a vehicle: Basic vehicle control and maneuvering skills.

Besides, the number of questions in the test will depend on your age: 

  • Under 18: 46 questions – passing score is 38/46
  • Over 18: 36 questions – passing score is 30/36


2. What are the requirements you need to take the California DMV Written test?

To take the CA DMV written test, you should follow the requirements below: 

2.1. Age requirements

In California, individuals who are at least 15 and a half years old can apply for a provisional permit. This provisional permit allows them to begin the process of learning to drive. However, to take the written test and obtain the provisional permit, there are specific requirements:

  • Age: You must be at least 15 and a half years old to apply for a provisional permit.
  • Driver Education: Before taking the written test, individuals under 17 and a half years old are required to complete a driver education course. This course can be taken at a public or private high school, a certified driving school, or through an approved online course.
  • Parental Consent: If you are under 18 years old, you need parental consent to apply for a provisional permit.

Once you meet these requirements, you can visit a local California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to take the written test and obtain your provisional permit. Keep in mind that the specifics of the requirements may change, so it’s always a good idea to check with the California DMV or refer to the most recent version of the California Driver Handbook for the latest information.


2.2. Paper requirements

There are a few documents you need to bring to the CA DMV to take the California DMV Written test. In brief, the DMV will send you the list of needed papers to your email right after you schedule your exam, in case you forgot, you can check the list below: 

  • Proof of Social Security
  • Proof of Identity
  • $33 for the fee
  • Certificate of Driver’s Education Completion (if under 18)
dmv certificate
Certificate of Driver’s Education Completion Sample


3. Step to take your California DMV Written test 

To take your California DMV written test and obtain a California learners permit or provisional license, you should follow these general steps. Keep in mind that specific details may change, so it’s always a good idea to check with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) frequently. 


3.1. Schedule your written test 

If you don’t want to get in line and wait, scheduling online is your suggestion. Firstly, visit the CA DMV website and select your preferred test location and date. You are also allowed to reschedule and cancel your California DMV Written test appointment anytime before your test day. 

Make sure you provide appropriate proof of your age and already completion of driver’s education and check your appointment status at least 24 hours before the test. 


3.2. On the test day 

On the day of your California DMV written test, it’s important to be well-prepared and organized. Here’s a checklist of things to do on the test day:

  • Review your study material: Spend some time reviewing the material you’ve studied, especially any areas you find challenging. This can help reinforce your knowledge and boost your confidence.
  • Bring required documents: Make sure you have all the necessary identification and documentation required by the DMV. This may include proof of identity, residency, and completion of driver education if applicable.
  • Arrive early: Plan to arrive at the DMV well before your scheduled test time. Arriving early helps reduce stress and ensures that you have enough time to complete any necessary paperwork.
  • Check-In at the DMV: Once you arrive, check-in at the DMV counter or kiosk. If you have an appointment, follow the instructions provided to you.
  • Pay fees (if applicable): If there are any fees associated with taking the written test or obtaining your learner’s permit, be prepared to pay them. Check the DMV website for the latest fee information.
  • Take the CA DMV written test: When called, proceed to the testing area to take the written test. Be calm and read each question carefully. Take your time to answer each question, and don’t rush.


3.3. After the test

After completing the test, you’ll typically receive your results immediately. If you pass, you may proceed to the next steps in obtaining your learner’s permit. If you don’t pass, the DMV will provide information on when you can retake the test.

If you pass the written test and meet all requirements, you may be issued a provisional permit. This allows you to start practicing driving under certain conditions.

Always check the latest information on the California DMV website and follow any specific instructions provided by the DMV on the day of your written test.

provisional license
Passing written test is a part of taking the provisional license


4. How to pass your California Written Test successfully?

Passing the California DMV written test successfully requires preparation and a clear understanding of the material covered in the California Driver Handbook. Here are some tips to help you pass your written test.


4.1. Read the California Driver Handbook

Thoroughly read and understand the California Driver Handbook. It covers the rules of the road, traffic signs, and safe driving practices. Pay close attention to sections that you find challenging.


4.2. Take the DMV California practice tests

Use online DMV California practice tests to simulate the actual testing environment. This can help you get familiar with the format of the questions and improve your time management skills.


4.3. Use mnemonics or memory aids

Create mnemonics or memory aids to help you remember important information, such as speed limits, distances, or specific rules. These memory tricks can be especially helpful for recalling details during the test.


4.4. Stay calm on test day

On the day of the test, stay calm and focused. Take deep breaths if you feel nervous. Being calm can help you think more clearly and perform better.


4.5. Read questions carefully

When taking the California DMV written test, read each question carefully before selecting an answer. Some questions may have subtle differences in wording that can change the meaning.


4.6. Review your answers

If time allows, review your answers before submitting the test. Double-check for any errors or questions you may have missed.


In summary, the key to success is consistent and focused preparation. Take the time to study, practice, and reinforce your knowledge to increase your chances of passing the California DMV written test. If you need more practice, Driving Test Pro has your back with helpful practice tests. Good luck with your test!