So you want to take the Virginia road skills test and get your driver’s license? You’ve come to the right place.
In this blog post, we will be covering all the Virginia road skills test requirements - everything you need to know about how to pass the driving test and get your license in Virginia.
We will be answering questions such as:
- What is required in order to take the VA road skills test?
- Do you need to provide your own car?
- How difficult is the driving test in Virginia?
- What are the four ways to automatically fail? (And how to avoid them)
Taking tests is never fun, but knowing what will be tested and how to avoid making mistakes can help set your nerves at ease. We hope that, after reading this article, you will know everything you need to prepare for the Virginia road skills test. Let’s get started!
Virginia Road Skills Test Requirements
First, let's answer some frequently asked questions about Virginia road skills test requirements.
Who can take the DMV road skills test?
Applicants under 18 years old: Do not qualify for the driving test at the DMV in Virginia. Their driving test will be part of their Driver’s Education. Homeschool students, however, are sometimes an exception. See our article on how to get a license as a homeschooler for more information.
Applicants 18 years old or older: May choose between taking the behind the wheel test as part of an Adult Driver’s Education program or taking the Virginia road test at the DMV. In order to take the road test at the DMV, applicants must meet certain prerequisites:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have held a learner’s permit for 60 days
- Have a licensed driver complete a CSMA 19 form on your behalf
The CSMA 19 form is a behind the wheel skills checklist. A licensed driver must fill in this form verifying that they have witnessed you performing these skills before you will be allowed to test at the DMV. If you need help improving your driving skills or do not want to wait 60 days after getting your learner’s permit, private Adult Driver’s ed can replace the road skills test.
Do I need an appointment to take a road test in Virginia?
As of the day this blog was published, you do not need an appointment. Walk-in road skills tests are available. Applicants must be present, however, by 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and by 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays in order to test that day. You may prefer, however, to schedule a specific appointment time through the DMV website.
What documents do I need to bring?
This one is surprisingly simple. All you need is:
- Your learner’s permit
- A completed CSMA 19 form
Do I need to bring my own car?
Yes, you do have to provide your own vehicle in order to take the VA road skills test at the DMV. A rented vehicle is acceptable as long as the person taking the road test is listed as an approved driver. In order to be used for a driving test, the vehicle must have:
- Valid license plates
- Valid Inspection sticker
- Proof of Registration
- Proof of insurance
- Working instruments
The very first part of the Virginia road test will be a check of these vehicle’s requirements. The DMV service representative will stand outside your car and ask you to activate your headlights, turn signals, brakes, horn, windshield wipers, etc. They will also check your safety belts, mirrors, and speedometer. If something fails to work, your car will not qualify for use, and you will have to come back with a different vehicle.
How to Pass the Driving Test in Virginia
Now that we have considered the Virginia road skills test requirements, let’s talk about how to pass the test itself. First of all, you should know that there are two kinds of driving tests in Virginia:
- Closed Course
- Open Course
The “closed course” test, also known as a “range test,” takes place entirely within a parking lot arranged with cones. Here is a complete list of service centers that offer the range test. At the time of writing, the only service centers in the greater Richmond area doing a range-style road test are Chesterfield and Richmond Central.
If you would like to learn more about the closed course test, review the DMV guide for preparing for the range test. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the open course style, which takes place on active roads.
“Open Course” Road Test in Virginia
The open course style road test takes place on the active roads surrounding the DMV service center. The good news is that the Virginia road skills test is usually simple, brief, and relatively easy. The exact route is up to the DMV tester but must include a minimum of two left turns, two right turns, a lane change, and parking. No difficult maneuvers (like parallel parking) are required.
During the test, the applicant may make up to 10 errors from among a driving skills checklist. So if you notice that you’ve made a mistake (for example, forgetting to check your blindspot when changing lanes), don’t panic—there’s room for error. Relax and continue to drive as though you had not made a mistake.
Avoid the 4 Road Test “Automatic Fails”
There are four ways to fail your DMV road test in Virginia.
1. Committing a “ticketable offense.” This means breaking any traffic law. If you know the rules of the road and can navigate intersections appropriately, you should be fine. But here are two significant things to watch out for:
- Making a complete stop at stop signs. A “rolling stop” could be considered “running” a stop sign.
- Speeding. We recommend staying within 5mph under the speed limit. Slower than 5mph under the speed limit could be considered driving too slow.
- Driving too close to the car ahead of you. Tailgating is a ticketable offense - one that makes a DMV tester feel unsafe as your passenger.
2. Causing a crash. This may seem like a no-brainer. Hopefully none of you will be crashing during your road skills test. One thing to be aware of, however, is that “causing a crash” includes if someone else crashes their car because you cut them off and they swerved to avoid hitting you.
3. Losing control of the vehicle. If your car does anything that you, the driver, did not intend, this counts as “losing control” of the vehicle. The most common ways for this to happen are:
- Accidentally hit the curb by turning too tightly or overshooting while parking
- Or, overshoot while taking a turn too fast or too wide
4. Making more than 10 errors from the DMV list. The mistakes checklist used by the DMV to flag errors is not available to the public, but some examples of errors on this checklist include:
- Failure to yield at the appropriate place
- Failure to check over both shoulders before reversing
- Failure to turn into the appropriate lane (the nearest lane)
- Failure to park fully within the lines
As mentioned above, if you realize you’ve made a mistake, don’t panic. If you do not break laws or hit anything, you can make quite a few errors and still pass the test.
Tips for Acing Your DMV Behind the Wheel Test
DMV testers have an incentive to keep the route easy and short, to minimize their own risk in the case that the applicant is an unsafe driver. This means the test is usually simple and easy - no strange or difficult maneuvers are necessary. Any normal driver capable of following the law should be able to complete the route with no trouble.
That said, the DMV tester’s goal is to fail drivers who seem unsafe. If the tester feels unsafe during the test, they will find a way to “automatically fail” you and end the test. Our advice is to drive so that your passenger (the DMV tester) feels safe at all times. Here are our top tips for maintaining a sense of safety behind the wheel during your test:
- Be gentle with the accelerator and the brake.
- Be obvious about checking your mirrors and blindspot when lane changing.
- Leave a lot of space between yourself and other cars (ahead of you and next to you).
If you would like further help preparing for your DMV road skills test, Colonial Driving School offers private DMV Road Skills Test prep lessons. In this two-hour lesson, an instructor will give you a practice road test, help you fix any problems, and boost your confidence for the big day at the DMV.
We would love to assist you in reaching your goal of becoming a safe, licensed driver.