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How to pass your learner licence test

30 12 14

The learner licence theory test checks that you have good knowledge of the road rules before you get behind the wheel. If you know the road rules well, you’re in a much better position to learn to drive.

Know the format

The test has 35 mulltiple-choice and true/false questions, covering road rules, hazards and safety practices related to the licence you’re applying for. You’ll sit the test on a computer, where you select the answer you think is best by clicking on it. You’ll have a chance to change your mind after you’ve clicked, but once you move on to the next question your answer will be locked in.

To pass the test, you need to have at least 32 correct answers out of 35. You’ll know whether or not you got it right before you move on to the next question.

With multiple-choice questions, there are a few tricks to help you get all the right answers you deserve:

  1. Try not to look at the answers straight away. First, read only the question and try and come up with the answer in your head (this is awkward when the test is on a computer screen, but do your best). Then look below and see if the answer is there. If so, chances are it's the right one; the tough part about multi-choice questions is often when two answers seem to fit, but often the right move is to go with your gut (so long as it's a well-informed gut). But of course, you should also check the other answers to make sure there's not a better one.
  2. If you're not immediately sure what the answer is, start by eliminating any that you know are wrong. You'll often come down to just two possible answers, and from there you can give it a better shot.
  3. When tossing up between two possibilities that you think could both be right, ask yourself "What is the best answer?". It's easy to get confused when another answer doesn't seem completely wrong, but you can often get around this by choosing the one that's the most correct.
  4. If the question describes a particular situation, try imagining it's actually happening. For instance, when the question asks you to identify the first thing you should do in an accident, answers like "put out a warning triangle" or "alert a police officer" might seem plausible on paper. But when you imagine it actually happening, it's more obvious that the first thing to do is to check if anyone is hurt.
  5. Don't treat it like a trick question. Sometimes it seems like the answer is a little too easy, so you second-guess yourself. It's good to take your time and check you've understood the question correctly, but don't discount an answer because you think it's just too obvious. The questions are designed to be straight-forward for those who know the answer.

Get familiar

Yes, you need to know the road rules. But if you want to make sure you pass, you also need to know the test. That means practising answering similar questions to those you’ll be asked, and learning from your mistakes. The nature of multiple-choice questions is that there’s often at least two answers that could seem plausible if you had just flicked through the road code and hoped to pass. The only way you’ll know the answers for sure is by putting in some study time.

Multiple-choice tests like the learner licence test tend to focus on details, so you should give yourself plenty of time to go through the material. Unless you have a super-human memory, you’re probably going to need to read the road code several times before that crucial detail sinks in.

Go beyond memorising

If you try to memorise the book, it will be less effective (and probably more effort overall) than actually learning the material. If you engage a bit more with what’s in the road code, you’ll be more likely to remember it. People are less likely to remember what they read than what they say, so reading parts of the road code aloud can help it sink in. Even better, make some notes on anything you find tricky or think you might have trouble remembering.

Test yourself

The best way to check you know the material is to sit a mock test.

You can do these online for a fee, but you can also find a list of questions on the NZTA website – if you’re unsure of the answer you can click on the question to go to the relevant part of the road code. The AA also offers sample test questions online.

It can be helpful to get someone else to quiz you. Arm them with the road code or a list of questions, and let them fire away.

To get the most out of this process, make a note of any questions you get wrong and make sure you learn the answers.


Remember, if you know your stuff, passing the test shouldn’t be out of your reach. The aim of the test isn’t to trick people into failing, it’s just to check that you know the road rules well enough to learn to drive safely.

On the day, you might want to do some revision of the road code or test questions, but don’t study too much right before the test. Taking some time to relax can help get you in the right headspace and let what you’ve learned sink in.

It can be off-putting if you get a wrong answer, but try to stay positive. Remind yourself that you’re allowed to get up to three questions wrong, so don’t panic if you get thrown a tricky question early on.

When you're ready for the next stage, try these tips to help you pass your restricted test.

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