Learning to drive

Learning to drive

How the Ontario road test works

The road test checks your ability to follow the rules and drive safely around other people, but it’s also about you being confident that you’re a good driver. If you can do that, you’re golden.

Remember, the examiner is not allowed to give you tips and advice during the test, so if you have any questions, ask before you begin.

Don’t forget to take your learner’s licence with you to the DriveTest Centre.

Before you hit the road

Is your cellphone switched off? It had better be.

The first thing the examiner will want to do is check out your car - no, not your fancy rims.

The examiner will stand outside and ask you to flick your brake and signal lights to make sure they are working properly. You should have checked the lights yourself at home before bringing the car to the test. Then, the examiner may ask you to perform hand signals to make sure you know what to do in case your lights suddenly fail.

Guess what’s the first thing they’ll check once they get in the car with you? Whether or not you have your seatbelt on - so for heaven’s sake, buckle your seatbelt before you start the engine!

Make sure you take a moment to adjust your mirrors and check them again, then release the handbrake and pull out of the parking lot just how you were taught.

On the road

The First Level road test (called G or G1 Exit) lasts only about 15 minutes. The examiner will test your ability to start, stop, perform simple turns, perform 2 and 3-point turns, change lanes, and park.

Just listen to the examiner’s instructions and follow them exactly. You can ask them to repeat or clarify their instructions if you aren’t sure about what they want from you.

While on the road

  • Keep both hands on the wheel at all times
  • Check your mirrors frequently
  • Turn your head to check blind spots over your shoulder
  • Scan left and right at all intersections
  • Signal well in advance before turning, changing lanes
  • Watch out for pedestrians and cyclists before turning
  • Maintain a 2-second gap from the car in font of you
  • Watch for stop signs and posted speed limits in school/park zones
  • Drive defensive: use your peripheral vision and anticipate other drivers’ moves

While parking

  • Turn your head to check before backing into a parking spot
  • Signal before parking and while moving out of a parked spot
  • Use your hand brake/parking brake, especially on hills
  • Turn your tires in/out based on your parked position on hills

The Second Level road test (called G or G2 Exit) will additionally test your freeway driving. You will be asked whether you have the required freeway driving experience, so don’t book this test until you are sure you are eligible do it.

During the test, be sure to speed up to match traffic on entrance ramps and slow down on exit ramps, while remembering to maintain the posted legal speed at all times.

Keep calm and carry on

You made a mistake? Don’t worry about it. It might not have been a biggie, and you really don’t need to add self-doubt to your nerves. Minor errors deduct minor points, so you still have a chance of passing. Finish the test to the best of your ability.

You’ll be great!


Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. She started learning to drive last year, at the age of 24.