Tips to help my teen pass their permit test

Watching your teen learn to drive can generate mixed emotions for parents. On one hand, it means you'll soon have a break from chauffeur duties; on the other hand it means 'your baby' will be out on the road with newly-minted skills and little driving experience. The best thing for both your teen's confidence and your own peace of mind is to help ensure they're as ready as possible. That starts with helping them pass the permit test, which — at a minimum — requires a good knowledge of your state's driving manual.

Take it in stages
The driving manual covers a lot of ground, from basics such as road sign identification to the complexities of traffic circles. Expecting your teen to learn it all in one gulp is not usually realistic. It's best to take the book section by section, and then review each section in turn as your teen finishes reading it. By the time you've worked your way through the manual two or three times, even kids who stress over tests should start to feel they've got the material mastered.

Turn it around
Quizzing your teen on pertinent sections of the driving manual while you're driving together is an obvious tactic to help relate the book knowledge of the manual with a real-world driving experience. Some kids will respond well to that, but others may find it stressful and struggle to come up with the right piece of information. To make it more fun and a better learning opportunity, challenge your teen to critique your own driving against the manual. The opportunity to know better than Mom or Dad is a strong motivator, and you might discover that you yourself have slipped into a few bad driving habits.

Harness the phone
A lot of preparation for the permit test consists of old-fashioned, brute-force memorization, but that doesn't mean you need to rely on old-school methods to do it; flash cards - after all - are a rather dated resource. Since most teens are glued to their mobile devices anyway, have your budding driver visit the App Store or Play Store and download a test-prep app for your state. A good app contains the entire text of your state's driving manual, and should provide a number of interactive learning tools to help convey the information. Most include practice tests as a self-check and confidence-building exercise.

Testing, 1, 2, 3...
Practice exams are arguably the most powerful tool you and your teen can utilize to prepare for the permit test. Your state's DMV probably offers practice tests on its website, with questions drawn from the same question bank used in the actual test. You'll find practice tests available from third-party vendors as well, usually offered on their website or as part of a driving test app. Compare any third party tests to the practice tests on your state website. Ideally they should closely mimic the style and appearance of the actual test, as well as its content.

Hold up your end
You'll need to support your teen's learning efforts in other ways, too. Make time to understand the laws applying to new drivers, and to complete or sign off on any parental forms your child needs. If state law dictates a set number of hours' driving with a licensed adult, make yourself available for those hours. If your teen doesn't pass on the first attempt — which is pretty common — be supportive and encouraging, and help him refocus for the next try.


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