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Getting Yourself and Your Vehicle Ready for the Wisconsin Road Test

First, plan to show up early for your appointment. Being late is an easy way to fail without even getting a chance to take the test. Make sure you got enough sleep the night before: you want to get there early, alert, and confident.

Make sure you have your valid permit with you.

Make sure you've really worked through your required 30 hours of practice driving. "If you have practiced the full 30 hours, you should have the confidence and skill level to pass the test," says Marty Fadness, owner and founder of Wisconsin's Safety and Respect Driving School.

Check your vehicle! The following items will be inspected and must be present and in safe operating condition:

  • Brakes and brake lights
  • Current license plate
  • Defroster (if needed for conditions during the road test)
  • Doors
  • Exhaust system
  • Headlights
  • Horn
  • License plate light
  • Mirrors
  • Safety belts
  • Speedometer
  • Tail lights
  • Tires
  • Turn signals
  • Windows
  • Windshield wipers (if needed for conditions during the road test)

Vehicle Control for the Wisconsin Road Test

Vehicle control is one of the most important parts of safe, SMART driving, and that's exactly why the road test examiners pay such close attention to it. You will need to be able to perform the following basic tasks smoothly and without hesitation.

  • Accelerating
  • Braking and stopping
  • Choosing and maintaining lane position
  • Steering
  • Turning

Knowledge for the Wisconsin Road Test

The road test examiner will be very alert to make sure you recognize and properly handle intersections, including uncontrolled intersections. You must understand and properly apply the rules of right-of-way. You'll have to maintain your space cushion, with a four-second following distance, and clear to your sides.

You will need to know how to handle roundabouts. You will have to recognize and drive safely and legally through a school zone and a railroad crossing, and you will need to know how to respond to a school bus with flashing lights.

And, in case you were wondering, if you change lanes or turn without signalling? You will almost certainly fail your road test on the spot. You'll want to make sure your safety belt is on, and that you've got both hands on the wheel, too.

The Wisconsin Road Test

The skills test will last between 15 and 25 minutes. During the skills test, the examiner will tell you where to drive. Be very careful to understand what the examiner is asking you to do, and don't be afraid to ask questions: if you do what you think the examiner is asking, instead of doing what they're actually asking, you will not pass the exam. Don't be afraid of the examiner! They are there to help you, and they only want to make sure you are ready to be a safe, legal driver.

The examiner will study and grade your attention and alertness, how well you obey traffic rules, and handle the car, including shifting, if the car has a manual transmission. You will also be marked on how well you share space and communicate with other users of the road. Some required maneuvers are listed below.

However, maneuvers like parallel parking or parking on a hill should not be your main focus. They are important, but not as important as your level of vehicle control, your knowledge of the law, ability to observe right-of-way, and recognition of intersections, and overall ability to drive in a skilled, controlled way, without hesitation.

  • Follow other traffic
  • Change lanes
  • Pass
  • Back up
  • Parallel park
  • Make a U-turn
  • Pull over to the side of the road and stop
  • Turn left or right on divided highways, two-lane or one way roads
  • Move from a parked position onto the roadway

Wisconsin Road Test Safe Driving Checklist

Follow these tips to be ready to ace your driving test and to be a safe, SMART driver!

  • Steering should be smooth and in control
  • Acceleration must be controlled: don't stall the engine or make it race
  • Stopping must be gentle and complete
    • Know where to stop
    • Brake long before you approach this spot
    • Don't coast to a stop by taking the vehicle out of gear: use your brakes
  • Crosswalks: you must be very careful always to spot these
    • If your view is obstructed at a crosswalk, proceed slowly and with great caution. Be sure to look both ways
  • Transmission: know what gear you are in, and what gear you should be in
    • Don't grind your gears when shifting
  • Speed limits: never exceed these
    • Remember that you may need to reduce speed due to conditions (weather, road, traffic)
  • Lights: if your windshield wipers are on, your lights must be on
  • Following distance: always maintain at least a four-second following distance
  • Signs, signals, and markings: understand them and obey them
  • Lane choice: use the proper lane for your purpose. When you turn, turn from and to the proper lane
  • Turn signals: signal all turns and lane changes 100 ft before your intended turn (and turn your signal off after you've completed the maneuver)
  • Scanning: keep your eyes moving and searching for hazards
    • Check your mirrors
    • Perform a "head check" by looking over your shoulder before a turn or lane change, and before entering traffic from a stop
  • Drive defensively and be on guard for other roadway users and the mistakes they can make