After years of waiting and hours spent practicing, you’re finally ready to take your driving test. Soon you’ll have your license and be free to go wherever you please, so long as it’s not between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

We hate to pump the brakes on your daydreaming about getting your license, but it’s important you know what to expect from your driving exam.

Below, you’ll find our tips for passing a driving test on the first try. Because who really wants to take this test more than once?

Be Sure You’ve Met All the Requirements

First thing’s first, make sure you’ve completed everything that you need to complete before taking the driving test. You may have to take a few written exams first, so be sure those are done and passed. Every state has a requirement that you must meet for the numbers of hours driven before you can even take the test to get your license. Make sure you’ve done that and had your driving instructor sign off on it. There’s nothing worse than showing up to take your driving test without meeting the necessary requirements and being turned away.

Girl filling out driver's license application online

(via Shutterstock)


Know the Rules of the Road

When you studied to get your permit, you learned everything there is to know about the rules of the road. You learned about the different road signs, parking zones, the various road dividers you’ll come across and so on. Remember those! Make sure you know what every sign means and what you should do at each of them. Know which lane dividers you can pass between and which ones you cannot. This information is critical.

This also goes for knowing everything that’s in your car. You’ll be asked about your windshield wipers, turn signals, hazard lights, defroster, etc. Know where they are, what they do and how to use them.


Practice Driving Where You’re Taking the Exam

Up until this point, you’ve probably been driving around your neighborhood with your parents and/or driving instructor—which is all well and great. That being said, we highly recommend practicing in the area surrounding the DMV or wherever you’ll be taking your test. This will ease your nerves come exam time, since you’ll already feel comfortable driving in the neighborhood.

Perry the Platypus driving a truck on an episode of Phineas and Ferb

(Phineas and Ferb via Disney Channel)


Take Your Driving Test in a Car You Know Very Well

The worst thing you could do at this point is take your driving test in a vehicle you’re unfamiliar with. If you’ve been driving in your mom’s, dad’s, grandma’s, grandpa’s or older sibling’s car, take the test using that car. And Make sure whatever car you’ve been driving up until the day of the exam is working properly come test day.

There are rare instances in which something will happen to the car you’ve been practicing with, but don’t panic. If you’ve been practicing with multiple cars, use that to your advantage; if one breaks down, you’ll feel better knowing you’re comfortable driving someone else’s car come exam day.Aly Michalka MCow in Disney Channel's Cow Belles

(Cow Belles via Disney Channel)


Focus on Driving

It’s nerve-racking to drive with an instructor in your front seat, especially because he or she will be taking notes the entire time. They often have great poker faces, so you can’t tell if what they’re jotting down is good or bad. Instead of trying to figure out how you’re doing by glancing down at their paper, focus on driving. Have confidence in yourself and know that you’re a great driver. You will pass this test.

Instructor taking notes during student's driving exam

(via Shutterstock)


Check Your Mirrors Consistently

A common mistake many people make while driving is not checking their side and rearview mirrors enough. They will deduct a ton of points from your overall score if you never check your mirrors. Check your rear and side mirrors at least every minute or so. It’ll seem excessive, but it’s better than not doing it at all and failing because of it.


Don’t Panic if You Make a Mistake

Mistakes will be made. It all comes with the territory of being a new driver. Luckily for you, the driving instructors know that. It varies depending on where you are, but you’re allowed to be docked a handful of points before failure is even an option. So if you accidentally turn a blinker on too early or drive a little over the speed limit at some point, don’t get down on yourself. And if you do fail, take comfort in knowing you can take the test again. Plus, you’ll be even more prepared the second time around. It’s not ideal, but at least you generally only have to wait a few weeks before you get a do-over.

Mia panicking while driving her Mustang in The Princess Diaries

(The Princess Diaries via Buena Vista Pictures)


After you pass the test, you’ll experience THESE idealistic expectations versus harsh realities of getting your first car.