By Eve Nevelos, Editorial Staff (‘24)

The road awaits this year’s sophomores and juniors, many of whom are eager to sit behind the wheel. The written driving test consists of 50 questions, 40 of which the testee must get correct to pass. While MVC’s Sandy Grossman says that approximately 30% of drivers fail their first test, drivers’ ed teachers and Chloe Tirino, president of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and member of Click-Clack Front and Back, provide some advice to improve sophomores’, juniors’, and seniors’ driving and ensure they pass on the first try. 

The Written Test

Using Quizlets, flashcards, and reading the material directly from the book is truly the only way to commit the test’s material to memory. Once the knowledge is familiar, completing practice tests can help to solidify the information. “I would say that I’ve always found that doing the practice exams are very good. They are exact exam questions. Also, physically writing things down from the manual helps students learn better. There are a few questions also that need to be read carefully because the wording could be a little tricky,” recommends Coach Hill.

In terms of test taking, Chloe Tirino says, “The test is 50 questions, so you will have to move kind of fast, and I find the best way to go through is by answering all the questions you do know and use all the leftover time for the ones that take a little more thinking. There are different versions of the test, but do not get caught up in which number you get. […] Just do your best to cover all the topics when studying and go into it with the mindset that there is no reason you should not pass—-you studied, and in the worst-case scenario, you have the opportunity to redo it!” Wait at least seven days to take the test for the second time; there is an unlimited amount of attempts that can be made.

The Road Test

Chloe tells Drumbeats, “In the days leading up to the test, I would definitely recommend either going out for a refresher course, or even something as easy as setting up some cones with your parents or a trusted adult (21+) to go over parallel parking and k-turning. From talking with my friends, it is really only practiced during the required 6-hour permit driving, and to be able to go into the real-day confident that you know how to do it – because you have just practiced it, is very assuring.” 

During the special learner’s permit portion of the GDL program, get out on the road as much as possible with a trusted adult (21 years or older with 3 years of driving experience and a New Jersey license) to practice skills. 

Chloe continues, “My second piece of advice for juniors is to remember that the testers on the road test are not there because they want you to fail, it is because they are responsible for putting safe drivers on the road. Everyone has off days, and you get to re-do it if you fail the first time. It is actually surprising how many people fail their drivers’ tests, a lot of the time it is for silly things, myself included, being a part of the re-takers. It is just another opportunity to get some more practice in and reflect on a part of driving you may have not been giving too much attention to before! It is not something to be embarrassed about, and while it may sting, you will get over it!” In New Jersey, prospective drivers must wait two weeks before their second attempt at the road test and must wait at least six months for the third attempt. 

“At the end of the day,” Chloe says, “I think it is just important to highlight for new drivers preparing for the written or road test that whatever happens, everything will be okay. The state puts in rules and laws that allow students to retest and try because they believe in us. They trust, and you should trust that you have it in you, whether it be your first, second, or third time taking it, that at some point, everything will just click. Not everyone is the same, and to expect the same results would be ignorant of anyone. Go into the test having studied/practiced and with confidence, just do your best.”

Getting on the Road

New Jersey drivers drive defensively, something that new drivers must prepare for. Chloe comments, “When I started driving, I think the biggest thing I became aware of […] is that tri-state drivers drive defensively. This means not letting people into lanes even when someone else’s lane is ending, speeding up so you cannot go, or making incautious decisions because they value their time over others. I would never recommend driving this way, as it can be reckless and dangerous to themselves and people on the road, and so I guess something I wish I prepared for better is reaction time and patience. It is important to remember you cannot control anyone else on the road, and trying to do so will not get you anywhere. While sometimes it is not exactly fun to let someone do what they want because you know it is wrong, it is better to be safe than sorry. My mom told me this when I first started driving, which she was told by her tester on the road test: she asked me ‘Chloe, is it better to be dead right or dead wrong?’”

“Distracted driving is something that certainly plagues us all at one point or another. For me, I don’t mind talking to people in the car, and I also do not mind driving by myself in silence, but it is all about how personally comfortable you are with sound and concentration,” Chloe elaborates, “If you are not comfortable I think it should be stated when others enter the car about how you like to drive, for the one driving gets to make the rules – they are the ones with the most important job – transporting themselves and others as safely as possible.”

Remember to buckle up, tuck away distractions, and remain alert while on the road. When talking about the importance of seat belts, Chloe shares, “It is such an easy switch to make, with so much impact, seat belts are really the only sensible option when it comes to thinking about buckling up or not.” 

As often heard in Drivers’ Ed, driving is a privilege, not a right. Take the time needed to review road laws and driving skills. Good luck, Braves!