5 Reasons Why 1 out 4 Fail the NY DMV Test

Students reassuring their friend after exam - copyright: Dmitriy Shironosov

Why Some Fail the NY DMV Test and Some Don’t

Some applicants walk out from the NY DMV test with a perfect score and a grin on their face. Others are close to tears.

Just like in school, some perform better than others. The reasons are many. Some of us are naturally able to learn and concentrate better. Some us simply don’t know how to study and hope that questions on the DMV test are just common sense.

Make no mistake, study skills are learned.

In the best of worlds, all students learn how to study when they are quite young. But we know that far from everyone succeed in school. The school system in United States is still characterized by segregation and racial isolation. Perhaps, more true in New York, than anywhere else. Some are simple left behind.

Bridging the Gaps

The goal of this website is to help parents and teenagers closing the gaps. It is possible learn rules of the road for the NY DMV test with some persistence and some adequate help from friends and family. In fact, the DMV test in New York is among the easiest in the country.

So don’t despair if you think that you are a slow learner or can’t learn at all.

Let’s look at some of the main reasons why young students fail their first attempt at the DMV exam.

1. Not Studying Enough

The NY DMV test is designed to measure your knowledge of road signs and signals, rules of the road, safe driving techniques, and the laws about alcohol and drug use while driving. Questions on the test closely target the information given in the NY Driver’s Manual. Wording is often identical to the text in the manual.

If you didn’t read the manual or don’t have any driving experience, you are likely to fail the test.

Drivers Manual for NY DMV test

Now, if you have good study skills, you will do just fine by getting the New York Driver’s Manual from the nearest DMV office or inline. Read it, then take as many practice tests as you need to verify that you master the content.

If studying is a nightmare, which it is to many of us, you need to find other ways.

Don’t skip the driver’s manual all together. Just divide it into many, many small chunks. Read a chunk together with someone. Ask questions. Discuss rules and everyday driving. Have someone else read out loud, if necessary.

Start a habit of always observing traffic around you. Look at road sign, pavement markings and traffic signals. You can call it “learning by doing”, if you want.

The important thing is to be active and focused. Make it fun. It is a study technique just as good as any other technique.

Hanging out - Copyright:  Antonio Diaz

2. Not Familiar with Questions or Test Format

The format on the NY DMV test is not in any way unique. It is a format with multiple-choice questions that have three or four choices. There are several tricks that you can learn to improve your scores on multiple choice tests.

The practice permit tests on this website, or others like Driver’s Prep, give you a taste of both the format and the kind of questions that will be asked. This is the link to the first of the permit practice tests in our series.

The more practice tests you take, the more familiar you will be with questions and the more confident you will feel on the day of the exam.

Mastering several practice tests will reduce the anxiety you probably have before the test.

Again, if necessary, have some else read the questions for you.




3. Test Distractions

No matter what we do in live, there will always be distractions. Let’s say you plan to take the real NY DMV test within four weeks from now. Your strategy and goal is to study at least one hour each day. But then, something happens. You couldn’t study on Monday because of late Basketball practice. On Wednesday, there was a birthday party. And so on. Things will always come in your way. That’s part of life.

Prepare for these distractions the best you can. Make a realistic plan. The amount of hours you spend studying is more important than a fixed exam date.

You may also face distractions on the exam day. If you are unlucky, there is a long waiting line. You may be stuck at the DMV office for several hours, which is stressful and frustrating. Stress and frustration tend to increase anxiety and make you perform worse.

Expect the DMV visit to be challenging and don’t let it distract you. Don’t rush through your test, just because you know people are waiting. Focus, focus, and be calm.

Waiting - photo coyright:  Ivonne Wierink

4. Not reading carefully enough

When people miss a question on the real NT DMV test, 9 out of 10 claim that they knew the answer. They just misunderstood the question.

Don’t let this happen to you. Read everything carefully and take your time before answering. Start doing this when you take practice tests. It will enforce a good habit and you are more likely to pace yourself on the real test.

If you do the opposite, rush through each practice test, you are also more likely to do rush through the real test. Remember, just because a phrase looks familiar on the test doesn’t mean it’s right. Read it again.

The only danger with this method is that you may get stuck on the “impossible” questions. So just make sure that you don’t…



5. Add Your Own Information to Questions

In other words, don’t overdo it. If a question is too difficult, save it or make a guess. Then, move on.

To some, it is a common pitfall to read too much into a question. They go beyond the scenario described in the question and add their own information.

It is a serious mistake.

Girl with dreadlocks - Copyright: Luis Molinero Martinez

If asked what to do when you reach a stop sign, don’t add your own “ifs” and “hows”. Just because you have experienced or heard about an extraordinary situation that could be an exception to the rule, the DMV will not ask such a question.

DMV questions are always simple and straightforward. They are based on common driving situations and general rules. Everything you need to answer a question correctly is there.

Speeding, as an example, is always illegal. Which doesn’t mean that everyone who exceeds the speed limit will be convicted of speeding in court. You can get away with speeding in some situations, but it doesn’t make it legal.

And what you do, never start arguing with DMV staff about bad questions on your NY DMV test or try to prove that you were right. It won’t change anything.

But feel free to argue your case here. We will try to answer!


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About the Author

Joni Stark
Business Analyst, Senior Driver Instructor & Project Manager

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