How to Fail the DMV Written Test Through Bad Study Habits

APR 18, 2024

How to Fail the DMV Written Test Through Bad Study Habits -
Have you heard about the woman who managed to fail her driver’s test 960 times?


Have you heard about the woman who managed to fail her driver’s test 960 times? We doubt you would like to beat her record, but you can still find yourself among those people who failed their written tests at the DMV. By the way, there are quite a number of them, so failure to get a passing score is a real risk, especially for those applicants who didn’t bother to develop good study habits. Maybe, you are one of them, but you have some time to change the situation for the better. Read about bad study habits leading to failures and find out how to replace them with good ones.    

Don’t Be At Pains

Many of us know the traffic rules from our very childhood. Kids ask their parents about signs and signals, watch adults maneuvering on the road and even get behind the wheel to have a ride in the backyard (some parents are so kind, you know). That’s why it feels like we all know the basics of driving even before we actually open the driver’s handbook. And then, upon reading it, many things seem so familiar and obvious that it is very tempting to look through the handbook once again and to close it with an earnest conviction that everything has been learned.

But it is not the case! Let your friends tell you about how easy the test is and how fast they learned all the rules – you need to understand that studying for the exam may require some pain. It is not all about passing or failing the test. It is about your life and health and responsibility for other people who can suffer because of your go-happy-lucky attitude. And yes, it can make you fail the exam, though it is unpleasant, but not critical.

In this regard, it is worth keeping in mind that no matter how good your memory is, the operator’s manuals covers a lot of figures, terms, graphics, and other types of information, which you need to understand and memorize clearly. This involves a lot of learning (not just reading) and requires a great deal of effort from you.

Drive Out to the Last Minute   

Yes, it will be very clever to start learning your handbook just the night before the exam. Everyone does it! That is because it is a piece of cake to memorize all those speed limits, road signs and signals, points, passing intersection rules and other staff covered on dozens pages, right? You know plenty of fancy mnemonic techniques facilitating remembering and increasing the memory amount, don’t you?

If you don’t, make sure you have enough time to study your handbook properly. And this doesn’t mean that you wait until the night before or even the two or three days before to study. You will need a couple of weeks depending on the amount of time you will be able to allocate to your daily practice.

The best timing strategy is to portion your manual so that you can study one topic at a time. This will allow you to focus on each topic and study it thoroughly without being distracted. Think about how many hours a day and how many times a day you can study. For example, you can practice 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening, i.e., you will be able to cover 2-4 topics a day (depending on how many hours you will need for each topic). Now, divide the total number of topics in the manual by the daily number of topics to learn – you will get an idea of the time required to prepare for the exam properly. Sure, this will be just an approximate figure, but it will be more realistic than your childish belief that it is possible to do all your homework in a few days.

Keep Your Nose to the Grindstone

Learn and learn with no rest until you feel absolutely exhausted. Those people at the DMV office will see how hard you tried and they will give you a learner’s permit with no exams. Oops, they won’t, but you will have every chance to drive yourself to the point of exhaustion. Do you really think that this burnout will help you survive the exam? With this poor attentiveness, slow reaction and ultimate mess in your head? It is highly unlikely. Besides, think about your health – is the exam worth risking it?   

Actually, you can save your health, while increasing your productivity by scheduling your study process correctly:

  • Take a 10-minute break every hour and a half – drink some tea or coffee, have a snack or chitchat with your friends. It is scientifically proven that regular brief breaks improve productivity and help you stay focused.  
  • Make sure that you allow enough time for meals – don’t swallow it whole in 5 minutes while staring at the handbook. Instead put the manual and your notes away to have a quiet and healthy 15-minute break for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Let your body focus on one thing at a time – either eating or reading.
  • Drink enough water to avoid dehydration – from 1.5 to 2 liters a day. What does water have to do with your ability to study? There are studies proving that dehydration affects cognitive process badly, so use those breaks we discussed above to supplement your body and brain with fluid.  
  • Have a good night’s sleep – eight hours is a must (but more is better than less), while 10-11 pm is the best time to go to bed. Seriously, lack of sleep is bad for your memory, and studying all night long is not going to end in anything good. However, there is a trick you should exercise – leave the most difficult material for evenings to repeat it just before going to bed, since this helps to easily recall it in the morning.    
  • Allow some time for something you really like – reward yourself daily with small sweets of life like listening to your favorite music or playing a game with your friend. Such rewarding promotes memory formation, not to mention your own improved motivation.
  • Don’t forget about physical activities – exercise, go for a walk or play outdoor games. Exercises are proven to enhance cognitive performance, so you need to find 30-45 minutes for sports, friends, and fresh air.  

Combine this list of tips with the above paragraph about timing and you will find plenty of time to learn the information for the test.  

Choose Cramming Over Active Learning

Repeat the same paragraph from the handbook again and again, but don’t even think about writing notes, underlining key facts or using associations. Make sure you don’t read the material out loud (God save us all from engaging aural memory!) and never stop until your brain goes into hibernation. After all, why would you need your short-term memory, if not for getting prepared for your knowledge test?

In fact, cramming creates a feeling that we know something, while actually we only recognize material we have seen before. But will you be able to recall this material during your exam? It is highly likely that you will still have the feeling that you have learned something, but oomph …what was it? And how does this help you choose the right answer on your exam?

Forget about cramming and engage your imagination, visual memory, logical thinking, and other powerful mechanisms of our memory. Here are some helpful tips on how to study productively:

  • Use your imagination and create stories. For example, when viewing a picture, which describes passing intersections, imagine that you are a driver in one of the cars and try to "war game" the described situation from this point of view.
  • Build associations. In particular, remember that the allowed speed in a school zone is equal to your best friend’s age or that when parking downhill you need to turn wheels to curb just the way your pillar-box is turned.
  • Use flashcards. This is an excellent memorizing tool that helps integrate some information into a certain fact and facilitates transferring the information from short-term memory into long-term knowledge. And you don’t even need to make flashcards by yourself – go to Driver-Start and use its flashcards learning tool to speed up your exam preparations.   
  • Learn the same information in various ways. You can write down key information from the handbook, then watch a video on the topic, then discuss it with your family members or friends and then try to explain it to your younger brother or even to your cat. The more ways you find, the more types of memory you activate.

Sure, there are much more techniques to enhance memorizing and you are free to choose whichever ones work for you personally.

Ignore Any Practice

Obviously, you must not waste your time on such a useless thing as practice. It doesn’t matter that you have a rather vague idea of the questions you will be asked on your knowledge test – you like surprises. Never mind practice testing is among the most effective learning techniques ever (you haven’t followed the link given above to read about this, have you?). And you won’t be impressed by the fact that practice testing allows recalling material learned even when you are under stress.  

Well, that’s a pity, since multiple studies have shown that people who study and then test themselves tend to better reproduce the material than those who study and never perform tests. Even those who take extra time to learn still have less knowledge compared with those who retrieve the material learned by passing tests.

If we have managed to convince you, do spend a little time checking your understanding by passing online tests based on the DMV’s knowledge exam questions. This will help you in several ways:

  • You get an extra chance to repeat the material from the handbook.
  • You can effectively reveal gaps in your knowledge to focus on them.
  • You get familiar with exam questions so you won’t be caught by surprise on a real exam.

So, try out our practice test on the Driver-Start to build strong knowledge and improve your chances of passing your written test on the first try!