Have a teenager about to start down the road to getting a drivers learning permit? My son just took the Driver’s Permit Test and passed. We had no idea what to expect when we walked in the DMV office that day. I’m spilling the deets for those moms out there who are about to embark on this trek. There was more to it than I expected as I began down the road to initiating a teenager into the world of being a driver. In this post, I’ll tell you What to Expect When Your Teen Takes the Drivers Permit Test, what to do and what not to do, and our mistakes so you don’t repeat our screw ups and have smooth sailing for your child as he gets his permit to drive.
Don’t be like us! Read on to get parenting tips for teens about to take the permit test.
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This past summer my son completed the classroom training at a local driving school. The next step after completing the training, once fifteen-years-old, is to take the blue card to the DMV and then take the computerized permit test. Passing the exam means a permit and the beginning of the real world of driving on the real roads of the world. Eek! We traveled along this path but hit a few road bumps along the way.
Be prepared as your son or daughter gets ready to take this big step.
How to Prepare Your Teen to take the Drivers Permit Test:
Follow the Directions on the Form & Be sure to Check Expiration Dates on his or her Passport
I’m not sure how it is in other states, but in Minnesota, the fifteen-year-old needs a Primary I.D. and a Secondary I.D. The Primary I.D. is the child’s birth certificate or a passport. The secondary I.D. in Minnesota is either a social security card or high school I.D. with a picture. Plus they need their blue card which states they completed the classroom training.
So, we followed the directions of proper I. D. to the letter, but we hit a snag that sent us back home. My son’s passport had expired 24 days prior to that date so the office would not allow him to take the permit test until we brought in his birth certificate from home. We had waited in line for a half hour before we found this out. We ran home, grabbed the birth certificate, then drove back so he could take the exam.
Parenting Tip: Don’t forget to check the expiration dates on passports before leaving home!
If I had checked the dates, I would have noticed it expired before we even left home and I would have grabbed his birth certificate instead. Details, details!
Be Prepared for the Drivers Permit Test by Prepping
Study! Encourage your child to study. Take sample tests online.
While we were at the DMV that day, we saw several teens pass the test, however, we also saw three who did not pass the drivers permit test. One teen had taken the test four times and unfortunately had failed his fifth attempt to pass. In Minnesota, after the second attempt, the parent has to pay ten dollars for each re-take of the test. Luckily my son passed on his first try.
To be prepared for the test, kids should study their notes and booklets from the driver’s ed training before going in to take the exam. My son did study his materials before we left for the test, plus he took two free online sample tests. I believe all this helped him pass the exam the first time.
Parenting Tip: Be sure to have your son or daughter review materials given to them in driver’s ed class.
Prepare Your Teen to Expect it May Take Longer than You Might Expect
We had long lines. And, we waited in them twice due to the expired passport mishap I mentioned above. It took my son about twenty minutes to complete the drivers permit test, then we had to wait in line again to apply for the permit itself. So, the DMV office considers the steps separate. The first step is to pass the computerized exam, the second is to apply for the permit, which includes signatures, a vision test, and a picture.
While we were there, I saw the line shorten and lengthen multiple times. The lines are unpredictable and they could be short or long and it’s just the luck of your timing which one you get. We went in the afternoon and had rather long lines where we waited about a half hour for our turn before the test, and fifteen minutes in the line after the test.
Plan a time to go when there are no sports or extracurricular activities scheduled to reduce stress for both your teen and you.
Parenting Tip: Allow lots of time as wait times are unpredictable.
Make Sure Your Teen Wears or Brings Along their Corrective Lenses to the Exam
Because there is a vision test! Of course, there is a vision test. Even when adults renew their licenses, they retake the eye exam, so it makes sense that the DMV office will have fifteen-year-olds take the vision test too.
Here is where we hit another snag. My son had neglected to put in his contacts that day. It was a day off of school, so he just left them out. I had assumed that he put the contacts in every day, regardless if he was going to school that day or not. I apparently wrongly assumed he put the contacts in every single day.
So, I had him try the vision test just to see if he was able to see. His contact prescription isn’t very strong, so I thought maybe he could pass. I was wrong. He was unable to see so we were told to come back another day when he had his contacts in so he could take the vision test and apply for the permit. We were told when we returned, we would be able to wait in the regular DMV line (not the line for the knowledge test line again) and that we needed to bring his certificate showing he passed the permit test, his Primary I.D., and Secondary I.D. (in our case that was his birth certificate and social security card).
After our last experience, I was paranoid and had him bring along his school I.D. too just in case;) Extra identification seemed like a good idea, however, we didn’t end up needing the school I.D. since we had the social security card.
Parenting Tip: Ask your teen if he or she has her contacts in or make sure he or she brings glasses.
Plan Ahead and Pay Attention to the Hours at the DMV
The DMV office near our home was open until 4:30 p.m., however, the door to the knowledge testing center closed at 3:45 p.m. to allow test takers to finish up before the office closed. These hours dictated when we headed in for the permit test and for the application for the permit. Most people do it all in one day, but we had the mishap of no contacts, so we had to come in two separate days to complete the whole process.
Parenting Tip: Check the hours of your local DMV and make sure you arrive with plenty of time to allow for long times and/or wait times prior to the office closing time.
Talk about Being an Organ Donor Prior to Going To the DMV
This is a very heavy topic for a child….for a child of any age.
My son was very overwhelmed when I asked him this question as we filled out the application. For a child, it’s a lot to consider your own death and consider giving your organs away. That’s a big topic for them to wrap their brains around and make a decision right on the spot. This question surprised my son and left him unsure with how to proceed. It literally stopped him in his tracks and he didn’t know what to say.
Talk with your teen about this issue before going in to take the exam so they can think about what they would like to mark off on their application. If they make a choice, respect it. Let them know they can change their mind about this status in the future.
Parenting Tip: Remember to talk with your son or daughter about how they would like to designate their organ donor status on their permit.
Checklist to Prepare Kids to take the Driver’s Permit Exam:
- Primary I.D. and Secondary I.D. and check expiration dates of passport if using it
- Study and take practice tests
- Talk with them about their schedule and plan a time in their school day that works best or go on a day off of school, cushion the time taking into consideration possible long line wait times and DMV hours
- Bring or wear corrective lenses or glasses
- Talk about being an organ donor ahead of time so they have time to decide
P.S. Moms and dads bring a book for the waiting room;)
I hope you have found this post useful. Here are some more teen posts you might find useful:
The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List for Teens: How to Survive Family Travel
Top Favorite Christmas Presents for Teen Boys
Books for Teenage Girls to Read Alongside Moms: Mom-daughter book club ideas
Young Teen and Tween Boy Conversation Starters for Modern Moms
Confessions of a Depressed Teen, I Survived Teen Depression: My Story
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what a handsome young man! we aren’t quite there yet, about 12 years away but such good info!
Julie Hoag says
It’s a lot to think about when they reach the age where they start driving. Thanks!
These are some really good tips not only for moms with teenagers! Especially the one with the documents check
Julie Hoag says
Thanks! It’s best to check. I had no idea his passport had expired. For kids, passports are only good for five years.
I’m sure that my mother could have appreciated some of these tips back when it was my turn. I’m not a mommy yet, but I am now equipped with the knowledge to prepare my future children for the test.
Julie Hoag says
I’m learning by going through. He’s my oldest of three, so now I’ll be more prepared for my younger two. It’s a lot to think about that’s for sure. Thanks!!
My babe is only 2.5 so it’s hard to imagine her EVER driving! But these are really great tips. Especially the organ donor questions. I think that would really concern/scare a lot of teenagers.
Julie Hoag says
Yes, I totally agree, the organ donor thought process is way beyond the normal thoughts of teens. An important topic but scary to think about for teens AND their parents. There is a lot to think about. Honestly, I can’t believe my son is at this point!!
Julie I Aloha Lovely says
Ahhh! I may freak out when my girls start driving. It’s not too far off, my oldest turns 13 in March!
Julie Hoag says
I know, time goes so fast! In our state, kids take the driver’s ed class starting at age 14 which is so crazy! Seems so young to me!!
I work for the DMV in New York. You touched on so many good points that people don’t think about. I will add in NY …. Along with a valid passport or Birth Certificate we require a social security card. If under 21 parents can ID their children by filling out an MV-45 form. If that isn’t possible they need 4 proofs of Id. So it’s generally easier for parents to accompany their kids. The parent also have to have their license. Defiantly do your homework before going in to any DMV. It is the worst feeling to tell a child that’s so excited that you can’t help them.
Julie Hoag says
Thank you so much for your input. I really appreciate your comments because you have great insight into it all since you work at a DMV, I’m really happy you feel my advice is helpful for parents. Parents need to do their homework, you are so right each state might have slightly different requirements and rules as far as testing. I really hope my tips help parents as they embark on this journey with their teens. Thanks so much!