Before you can get a California driver’s license (DL) of any kind, you will need to pass knowledge and drive tests. Here are resources to help you prepare.
Before you can get a DL in California, you’ll need to pass relevant knowledge and drive tests to show that you understand the rules of the road and are comfortable driving the vehicle that the license will allow you to drive. We put together these resources to help you prepare for these tests.
Prepare for Your Knowledge Tests
Here are a few suggestions for studying for your knowledge test(s):
- Review the California Driver’s Handbook. It contains a lot of important information, so give yourself a few days to get through it.
- Read the test questions carefully. There will be one correct answer and the other two answer choices will be either obviously wrong or not appropriate for the question asked. Don’t overthink it; there are no “trick questions.”
- Remember, all the test questions are taken from the handbook. If you miss a question, the field office employee can tell you on which page to find the correct answer.
- Don’t be nervous. DMV wants you to pass your test. Good luck!
California Driver’s Handbook: Valuable information on general driving skills and rules of the road.
Samples of Driver’s License Knowledge Tests: Practice tests for different licenses and classes.
Motorcycle Driver Handbook: Information to help you prepare for the motorcycle DL knowledge test.
California Commercial Driver Handbook: Information to help you prepare for the commercial driver’s license (CDL) knowledge test.
DMV YouTube Playlists
Additional Testing Materials: Extra material that may assist in passing your knowledge test.
Prepare for Your Behind-the-Wheel Drive Test
We require first-time DL applicants, and other applicants who meet certain conditions, to pass a behind-the-wheel drive test before they can get a DL.
The purpose of a drive test is to determine whether you:
- Are able to safely operate a vehicle
- Use safe driving habits
- Can apply your knowledge of traffic laws in real life situations
- Can make up for any physical condition, such as loss of a limb, poor hearing, or a vision condition
The drive test is divided into 2 parts:
- Pre-drive safety check: Determines whether your vehicle meets the minimum DMV safety standards and whether you are familiar with the operation of your vehicle
- Driving Performance Evaluation (DPE): Behind-the-wheel drive test with a DMV examiner who evaluates your driving skills
DMV also offers two additional types of drive tests:
- Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation (SDPE): Given to applicants of any age who have a physical, mental, or vision condition, and/or a referral due to a lack of skill that may impact their ability to safely operate a vehicle.
- Area Driving Performance Evaluation (ADPE): Limits you to drive only in specified areas. If you are successful with the ADPE, your DL will be restricted to only the specified areas where you were tested.
Resources to help you prepare for your drive test:
Drive Test Criteria Handbook: Everything you need to know about drive tests, including how to prepare, safety criteria, and scoring criteria.
California Driver Handbook: Valuable information on general driving skills and rules of the road.
California Parent-Teen Training Guide: An overview for parents and teen drivers on the skills needed for a teen to pass the drive test.
Senior Guide for Safe Driving: A wide-ranging guide addressing the needs and concerns of seniors.
California Motorcycle Handbook: Information about safe motorcycle operation, getting your license, and more.
Preparing for Your Supplemental Driving Performance Evaluation: Information about drive tests for applicants with conditions that may affect their ability to drive safely.
Need something else?
Get an Instruction Permit
If you never had a DL in any state or country, you will need to hold a provisional instruction permit for at least six months before you apply for a California DL.
Renew Your DL
Is the expiration date on your DL approaching? Learn how to renew your current DL.
Starting on May 7, 2025, you’ll need a federal compliant card such as a passport, military ID, or REAL ID to board a domestic flight or access some federal facilities.