North Carolina DMV Driver’s License Test Study Guide

It’s funny when you get it…

This study guide used to be found on a few websites for free, but now most of them want to charge you for it…if you can find it at all (which is absurd given that this is nothing more than a word-for-word transcription of parts of the NC DMV Driver’s Handbook). If you’re needing to take the NC DMV driver’s license exam and you’ve stumbled across this post, you’re in luck! I printed the list out a while back when I took the test (back when this info could be found for free) and I just so happened to find the crinkly old piece of paper the other day. I figured it’s a darn good study guide for a test that can throw some crazy curve balls when it comes to questions related to a driver’s skill and knowledge (in my humble opinion). That said, there are some good questions that make you think–and we could absolutely use some more drivers on the road that can think! That leads me to my point of posting this info…

Some may get mad and think I’m posting a cheat sheet to the driver’s test and subverting the purpose of testing drivers. Others may be looking for a lazy way out of testing and want all of the answers without studying. I can see all sides of the equation and my take on it is that this is nothing more than a piece of the pie of becoming a NC licensed driver. For brand new drivers (never licensed anywhere else or just turned 16), there’s still much more to becoming licensed than this test. For those who’ve been licensed somewhere else (for instance, someone that just moved to NC but had a driver’s license in their former state), they’ve been through the motions and have hopefully proven that they know the basics of driving–something that this guide is not going to help anyone pass or fake! Even if this guide is committed to memory, the reader is learning something. I’m willing to bet a few of these examples will stick in your mind for a long time to come!

So without further ado…

  • In densely packed snow you should use chains or snow tires.
  • If you must drive during heavy snow or fog, use your low-beam headlights.
  • Alcohol-related highway deaths account for 38% of all traffic fatalities.
  • If you accumulate 7 or more points on your traffic record you may attend a Driver Improvement Clinic to deduct three points from your driving record.
  • The traffic conviction that adds the highest number of points (5) to your driving record is passing a stopped school bus that is loading or unloading children.
  • “Secondary roads” are roads where hills are more likley to be more steep and curves are likely to be more sharp than on primary roads.
  • Unless otherwise posted, the speed limit in cities and towns is 35 miles per hour.
  • To have a revoked driver license restored, you must visit a driver license office, pay a restoration fee, and reapply for a license.
  • When three vehicles reach a 4-way stop at the same, the right of way belongs to the car on the right.
  • If a vehicle sways freely, leans heavily to one side during a turn or seems to bounce continuously, there may be a problem with the suspension system.
  • If you experience a breakdown, you should call a law enforcement officer.
  • To maintain a safe driving distance between your car and the car in front of you, you should use the two-second rule.
  • If you take any medication before you drive, you should find out what effect the medicine has.
  • If you are planning a long road trip, you should stop and rest every 100 miles.
  • Before passing another vehicle, you should look ahead to ensure that there is enough room for you to pass.
  • When driving down a very steep hill, you should shift into a lower gear to control your speed.
  • If you run off the side of the road, you should gradually take your foot off the gas pedal.
  • When travelling on rural highways, farm equipment usually travels at its maximum speed of 15-20 mph.
  • If you are driving into a circle you should yield to cars already in the circle.
  • If you are in a crash, you should move your car off of the road. (there has been some question to this one…research on your own!)
  • School buses are required to stop at all railroad crossings.
  • In city traffic, you should be alert for drivers who make quick stops.
  • Truckers have serious blind spots into which cars can disappear from view.
  • Unless there is a sign indicating no turn on red, you can turn right on red after stopping and making sure that the turn can be made safely.
  • For any underage person who aids or abets another attempting to purchase any alcoholic beverage, the law requires a one-year driver license revocation.
  • Your license will be revoked immediately if your blood alcohol concentration is at least 0.08 percent.
  • When aproaching a road that is blocked from view you should stop and proceed with caution.
  • Defensive drivers check their rear view mirror and side mirrors roughly every 10 seconds.
  • If going 45 miles per hour, how far ahead should you signal before turning? 200 ft.
  • If you plan to turn and are not in the proper lane to do so, you should continue to the next intersection, then turn.
  • The most common type of accident on a highway is a rear-end collision
  • When driving behind someone you should not use your high beams
  • To dry wet brakes, gently apply the brakes
  • “Don’t hang out in the No zone” refers to not be in truckers’ blind spots
  • When approaching a railroad crossing slow down and prepare to stop
  • If you pull up to a red arrow, the turning lane is the only lane that should stop
  • if you are a pedestrian walking along side the road at night, you should carry or wear something white
  • Use high beams when driving on a highway and no car is approaching
  • Slippery roads are most likely to occur when it has just begun to drizzle or rain
  • When traveling behind a farm vehicle on a two-lane road wait until the farm vehicle has the chance to pull over to the side, then pass with caution
  • Large trucks (tractor trailers) have large blind spots to the side and rear
  • When preparing to make a right-hand turn turn on your turn signal and approach the right-hand side of the road
  • A “shoulder check” is a quick glance over your shoulder on the side in which you intend to turn or change lanes
  • When you get tired on a long trip, you should stop and rest
  • When taking a long trip, you should plan to stop and rest every 100 miles
  • If you are following a car at night, how do you know if the road is bumpy? You watch the tail-lights.

There is also a visual test where you will be asked to identify common traffic signs by their shape and color only (see the NC DMV driver’s handbook for a guide to this). For example, they might show you a red octagon and you must identify it as a stop sign. Here are a few other examples:

  • A blank white square with black border: Speed Limit
  • An orange triangle on its side, pointing to the right: No passing sign
  • A yellow circle with a large X in it extending to the sides of the circle: Railroad crossing
  • Inverted red triangle with a white center: Yield

For more info, visit the NC DMV’s website at:

UPDATE: The old online driving testing I had posted here previously is now inactive.

197 thoughts on “North Carolina DMV Driver’s License Test Study Guide

  1. All these questions were indeed on the test. I was rather surprised how BS the other websites were with their questions. These are literally the exact same questions they ask on the test. Powerful Steve.

  2. Thanks so much! This made all the difference. I did not pass the first time – I just froze and could not think. After reading the manual, I was even more worried about the amount of information – that’s a bit disorganized. For anyone else reading this, these ARE the questions! I looked over this list, went in, and passed the first 20. 100%. That’s the difference this list made. BTW keep in mind, if you don’t remember a question, ‘skip’ it. You may not get that question again! You need to pass 20/25, and the test bank has 100 questions in it. I did not know that the first time I went in.

  3. These Qs by Steve are no more the one being asked. I went to the DMV on South Miami Blvd., Durham, and there were only 5 or 6 Qs from the set on this website. Every other Q was from the DMV handbook. My 2 cents would be to prep out of the handbook./ ebook. I passed with 5 wrong. 1 more would have failed me.

  4. Very helpful!! Took test today and passed! Many of the questions listed here were on the test! Great for out of state transfers.

  5. Took the test today at Carrboro location. This is almost verbatim what was on my test. I think there were 2 Q’s that were not, one of which was what happens if you refuse a roadside intoxication test (you lose your license for a year) and I forget the other one, but it was just common sense based on the three answer choices. Test literally takes less than 5 mins reading through these points once and got 20 straight right. Thanks for posting!

  6. I’ve taken the test twice because I over studied. I know, then how could I fail? Because if you read only the Handbook, you have almost NO IDEA of what the test will be like since the handbook covers everything from how to turn your car, to the insurance points. This, however, includes a majority of the questions that are on the test. If you’re worried about taking the test and failing, study this points!

  7. Ok Steve… my son has taken the sign test 3 times got them all correct…taken the written 3 times it has shut off and failed him at 24 and twice at 25…he is taking the written again on Monday April 28th. …we are drilling your questions in and I know this will help….I took it in 2010 and only missed 2….but I have had a license for 30 years and taken 4 other states tests. NC is by far the MOST difficult. …I will keep you posted.

    Thank you Steve. …i specifically remember many of these questions.

  8. Arm Wyatt, tell your son, he can not take this test lightly. I have a teen too and I recently had to take the test myself. I studied EVERYTHING in the book and ALL the posts here… still I missed two or three. By far, this is one of the most difficult state tests. Best to you.

  9. I cannot believe how accurate this was
    My first question was about the suspension system
    I laughed
    Would never have known that
    I was thinking flat tire
    I’m now official

  10. Well Steve…my son took the test that Monday. Flew thru the written 100%. Thanks to YOU and me quizzing him. Then he took the driven…and failed. He did not know what a 3 point turn was. and he drove 2 miles/hr over. So here we go AGAIN!!! I have never ever ever experienced something so restraining in my life….except a bad marriage!

  11. I take my test to get my permit tomorrow and I’m so so so nervous. To everyone who’s taken the test: Is everything that is on the test in this study guide? Is there something else that I should be studying?

  12. Review as many different posts here as you can. Compare the answers in the book. You’ll be good to go. You’re going to miss a few, don’t worry.

  13. I just took the test in mid-May 2014 because I moved from out of state and accidentally let my license expire. ( I am a total procrastinator with a new baby, and I goofed… depending on the state you moved from, the new rule as of May 1, 2014 is that you may not have to take the test even with an expired license as long as it is by less than 2 years, but you may not know for sure until they key in your license. You may be able to call ahead of time and give your DL# to find out. Mine was from FL, and I think since I would have had to retake the test there, my license was not eligible for renewal without the test even though NC would have allowed it… but at least I did not have to take the road test.)

    Anyway, this list definitely helped. I scored 20/20 before the machine cut off. There were questions that were not from this list, but I would say at least 50% were from this guide. There is a random test bank of about 100 questionsoso you don’t know what your will get, but I am sure most tests have similar odds of having a similar percentage of these questions pop up. I would suggest reading over this study guide, taking the available practice tests from various websites and browsing through the manual. A lot of things are common sense, but there are just some obscure things out there that you probably wouldn’t know without preparing.

    Thanks for the guide!

  14. I just took my written test today and I pass, 1st attempt after reading for 1hr…I got my 1st 20 answers right so I didn’t get to finish the remaining 5. thanks Steve

  15. I took my test this week, I made a 100. About 98% of these questions were on the test. Thanks mate!

  16. In response to Anna’s post: I just moved to NC from Buffalo NY and I was not required to take the test since I already had a license. I only had to take the eye exam and the sign test.

    Thank you for all of this helpful information.

  17. By far the beat study guide went 4 times and study dmv handbook several times still failed studied this for 2 days went back ace it 20 straight correct thanks steve

  18. ah failed the first one today. going to use this and study more. taking it again tomorrow. will keep everybody posted :))

  19. Omg!!!!!!!!!!!!! I passed!!!!!!! Thank you so much this study guide help out so much more. I read the book over and over. It has so much information that not even needed and can get really boring. This study guide cover everything you need to know.

  20. just took written exam in Greensboro, and go the first 20 out of 21 questions were in this list. BIG thanks! Think I missed the most dangerous area to drive – crest of the hill something :)

    Also missed the blank yellow circle sign -> railroad…during the eye/sign test.

  21. The questions indeed are about 85% of what appear on the exam.I went through those questions first and then read through the DMV guide once .I could pass in first attempt…Thanks a lot for these questions!!!

  22. I started studying this yesterday morning && Also passed yesterday. Almost 80% of these questions is on the test.

  23. hello, so its a written that 25 questions, then a visual with roadsign questions, then its the actual driving test? I want to know so I can pass the first time. and also for driving do I need insurance even though the owner has the car insured and im just driving it?

  24. Visual and roadsign is the first then written test and the last one is road. U ve to get 20 qustions right to pass and u also need insurance, it doesn’t matter if the owner of the car has insurance. U need urs

  25. You don’t have to own a’s called Non-owner insurance. LA insurance can give it to u and they have offices in Charlotte. That’s what I used, make sure u read and understand the questions here because u will see %95 of it. I passed first attempt

  26. Thank you. Also do you know how much it was? Nationwide is 190 for the first month but idk if that’s good

  27. This one is cheaper (2615 Westerly Hills Dr, Charlotte, NC. Call them at (704) 399-1118) and its 120 or less. The one in Beatties ford told me 250. The offices has diffa payment

  28. We went to the Bmv today. You don’t have to take a written test if you have a clean driving record. Just the vision and the signs. It’s a recent change in the law.

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