How to Ace Your California Drivers Test

yield sign in california

California has some of the longest wait times for DMV appointments in the country, so new drivers itching to get their licenses must be prepared when taking the California driving test. Otherwise, they risk wasting an entire day at the DMV.

Judy Ann Lundblad, who owns Ann's Driving School in San Francisco, says that the new requirement of REAL ID to fly in the U.S. is causing the long waits. "Most of the DMVs in the Bay Area and in California are so booked up," she said. "They’re booking way ahead."

Lundblad says that you have to be prepared for your classes and tests in order to secure your license in a timely manner. Here are some of her tips for success.

1. Study Online 

"Space is a commodity, especially in big cities, so online drivers education is becoming more popular in California," says Lundblad. Enrolling in a driver's ed online course in California will not only save you time, as you complete your required 30 hours of training, but it will save you money. Online courses are often cheaper due to the lack of a classroom, which carries heavy overhead like space rentals and teaching fees.

2. Get In-Class Experience

You can't replace proper training for your California driving test. Whether you take classes online or in-class, driving in California requires completion of a 30-hour classroom course and a six-hour behind-the-wheel California driver's ed course before you can take your driving test.

“Driving in San Francisco is very congested and during the day it gets very difficult. There are so many types of vehicles... scooters, bikes, streetcars, hills. Lots of unique challenges," says Lundblad.

San Francisco is just one of California's driving areas, but the skills required to navigate its hills and valleys are invaluable to all drivers.

3. Get Behind the Wheel and Practice 

As stated above, six hours of behind-the-wheel training is required for all California drivers before a license can be obtained. 

Lundblad says that in-car experience is essential in big cities like San Francisco, where questionable factors on the roadway come into play more often. "The city (San Francisco) is getting more congested due to Uber and Lyft rideshare, according to some studies we’ve seen," she says. "It’s something I think about a lot. You used to be able to go across town in 20 minutes, now it’s 45. Allow time, so you don’t have pressure.”

4. Practice Your Written Exam

There are many online resources to use to practice your written exam, but our favorite is our definitive guide on the written exam. With this resource, you can research questions, prepare, and make sure there are no surprises when you sit down to take your exam at the California DMV. 

5. Make Your Appointment and Ace the Test

As we said above, appointments for driver's exams in California book out by months. Make sure that once you have your certificate in hand, you book right away or you could get stuck without your license for longer than you'd like. Lundblad says the number one thing people forget at their exams is their documentation. "You have to bring a certificate of completion for drivers ed to your exam or they will turn you away." 

Follow these five steps, take a proper California driver's ed course, utilize resources for online driver's ed, remember your documents, and you will surely ace your California driving test.