DMV written driving test in the U.S: All the details

If you are thinking of applying for your driver’s license, you should already know that, for this, you must pass a DMV written driving test, with the theory on traffic laws, and a practical one, where DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) officials will evaluate you and your skills as a driver will come to light.

DMV written driving test in the U.S: All the details

To learn how to take the DMV written driving test, keep reading this article and you will find out all the points to take into account when taking the exam, so grab a pencil and paper and take note of what we will tell you below.

Why do I need a driver’s license

In the United States, as in most countries, a driver’s license is required so that the driver can travel freely on the roads. However, for this, you have to pass two tests: a DMV written driving test, with the theory, and another, practical, where your driving skills are tested.

This test, as we mentioned before, is divided into two parts: the theoretical and the practical. The theory test must be taken at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) office that is closest or easiest for the applicant to get to and take the test.

Now, if this test is passed, the person will be able to go on to the second part of the test: the practical test in his or her vehicle.

Types of licenses in the United States

In the U.S., there is a law called “Commercial Vehicles Security Law”, which establishes the requirements that the State must comply with when granting a commercial license. We can divide the licenses according to their type, which varies depending on the weight of the vehicle. The following are the three classes of licenses.

  • Class A: For vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds of weight.
  • Class B: For vehicles under 10,000 pounds of weight.
  • Class C: For vehicles even bigger than the others mentioned in Class A, B and D.
  • Class D: For vehicles that do not meet the weights mentioned in Class A, B and C, but are used to transport dangerous goods, or 16 or more passengers.

DMV written driving test in the U.S: All the details

Requirements for the DMV written driving test

If you are ready to obtain your driver’s license and pass the exams, you must keep in mind that there are certain indispensable requirements to be eligible for a driver’s license. The following are the general requirements in most states in the country.

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • To have practiced 40 hours of driving in daylight.
  • Have practiced 10 hours of night driving (a total of 50 hours of driving).
  • Possess a registered vehicle with current auto insurance.

IMPORTANT: Each requirement depends on the state in which you are applying for a driver’s license.

Depending on the state in which the applicant resides, he/she may be required to take another test, and there are even some states that require the completion of a driver education course before taking both tests (theoretical and practical).

To find out what the requirements are in the State where you live, you should visit the DMV web page of your place of residence to clear up any doubts you may have. In this link, we leave you an example of the web page of the State of California.

What is the DMV written driving test like?

If you are wondering what the DMV written driving test is like, here is the answer. This test consists of a series of multiple-choice questions. The test can be taken on paper, or on the computer, where you can use headphones to listen to each of these questions.

How many questions are there on the DMV written driving test?

Going back to the format of the DMV written driving test, since it is multiple choice, there are between 3 and 5 answers to each question, from which you will have to choose the correct one.

DMV written driving test in the U.S: All the details

Now, the total number of questions that will be asked in this first instance depends on each State, but, in general, there are 50 or 40 questions. If, for example, there are 50 questions, the applicant must have at least 40 correct answers to pass and move on to the next part (practical).

What are the topics evaluated in the exam?

In this first part of the driving test, all the information corresponding to the laws, signs and traffic rules will be evaluated. This depends on each state, since the rules are not the same, so you should look for the driver’s manual of the place where you live, which you can find on the official website of the DMV of your state.

RECOMMENDATION: For better concentration, we recommend that you print the manual, so you can study well and in detail.

Topics included in the driver’s manual

Among the most important topics that will be tested on the DMV written driving test, you will be asked about the following ones:

General rules

Speed control and braking distance, intersections, traffic circles, lanes, multi-lane highways, traffic circles, and school bus rules are evaluated.

Traffic signs and signals

This topic addresses issues such as the shapes and colors of each traffic sign, traffic lights and road markings.

DMV written driving test in the U.S: All the details


This part includes parking, the two-second distance, three points, accelerating, yielding, stopping, passing, turning and reversing.

Driving in different climates

It evaluates how to drive in different climates that we can face, such as fog, tornadoes, snow, rain, high temperatures or lightning.

Dangerous driving situations

In this part, the driver’s reaction to school or construction zones, vehicle malfunction, braking on an emergency ramp, driving with children in the car, and even with minors at the wheel will be examined.

Moods at the wheel

Here, they will evaluate how the driver reacts when driving tired, sleepy, at night, with distractions and the aggressiveness he/she may have when driving the vehicle.

Driving Responsibility

This section not only evaluates the driver’s individual behavior, but also takes into account empathy for others. In other words, driving responsibly in order to take care of others. The influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of driving, revocation or suspension of the license for these infractions will be taken into account.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to study anything else besides the driver’s manual?

No. You only need to study the driver’s manual for the state in which you live, as only topics covered in this document will be tested on the exam.