District of Columbia Permit Study Guide

The DMV permit test in Washington DC does not have to be intimidating for those that are prepared.  Use this study guide, and take the permit practice test to help make the process easy.

Many teens fail the permit test on their first try simply because they did not study in advance.  While many of the driving rules may seem intuitive, there are others that you can only know by studying.  In fact Washington DC has several traffic laws that are unique to the district.  You can only be truly prepared by taking time to study the District of Columbia Driving Manual before you take the permit test.

The written knowledge test in DC covers many aspects of driving laws and rules of the road.  Also on the test are questions that are not related to specific laws, but general safe driving principles that all drivers should know.  The knowledge test for a permit is a computer based exam with 30 multiple choice and true/false questions.  Applicants must correctly answer at least 24 questions for a score of 80% in order to pass.

It is advisable to read the entire manual before taking the permit test, as it is loaded with important information for all drivers.  However the manual is nearly 70 pages, and not all the information will be found on the permit test.  Some parts of the manual address administrative details, instead of the rules for actual driving that the knowledge test focuses on.

The DC Driving Manual is not organized in a logical progression, and much of the important information is spread across various chapters.  Here are the sections of the manual on which you should focus when preparing for the knowledge test.

  • The sections Driver License Examination Process, Types of Licenses and Permits, and Other Services will most likely not be covered on the test in great detail.  However they do contain key information on the licensing process.  Becoming familiar with the information in these chapters will help you through the entire Gradual Rearing of Adult Drivers (GRAD) program beyond the permit test.
  • Important Things to Know on page 14 is a grab bag of sorts of details specific to DC.  It is a good idea to read this page.
  • The section entitled Driver Information starting on page 15 contains key concepts such as good decision making, communicating with other drivers, avoiding aggressive driving, driving in adverse weather, what to do if there is an accident, how to avoid an accident, sharing the road and how to handle a variety of driving situations.  Take time to study this section since many of the knowledge test questions are pulled from these safe driving concepts.
  • Driving Rules on page 43 contains the nuts and bolts of DC traffic laws.  Pay attention to any numerical information related to signaling, passing and turning.  You will need to know this information for the test.
  • There may be a few questions from the section Parking Rules which starts on page 46.
  • Traffic Rules beginning on page 48 describes topics such as choosing the best speed to drive, vehicle equipment and how to handle work zones.  Once again, pay attention to any numerical information found in this section, since the test makers like to throw in questions like what is the speed limit for certain roads and areas.
  • The rest of the manual covers road signs, traffic signals and pavement markings.  While these are not heavily emphasized on the test, you can expect a few questions about road signs.  It is a good idea to be able to identify the meaning of all road signs by their shape and color.

When you think that you have learned the important details of the manual, you can test your knowledge ahead of time by taking the online DC permit practice test.  The practice test is designed to assist users in familiarizing themselves with both the content and the format of the written knowledge test.  Taking the online test will help you become comfortable with answering question similar to the ones found on the actual permit test.