DMV Driver’s License Renewal Test: Practice Exams and Guides


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Each test contains questions based on information in the official driver's handbook.

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In some circumstances, you may be required to take the DMV written exam when you renew your driver’s license

Yup, that’s right. If you thought you were out of the woods after passing it when applying for your learner’s permit, that’s not always the case. 

On this page we’ll cover what to expect when you have to take the written knowledge test to renew your license. Plus, you’ll find plenty of free resources to help you study and prepare. 

How many questions are on the DMV renewal written test?

In most states, the number of questions you’ll find on the DMV renewal test are the same number of questions on the written exam for a learner’s permit or first driver’s license.

However, some states only require you to take a shorter version of the test when doing so to renew your license. 

For example, the California DMV renewal test contains 18 questions, instead of the 36 questions on the permit test. 

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How many questions can you miss on the renewal test?

While the renewal test you need to take may have fewer total questions, the passing score required will typically remain the same. 

In most states, you will need to score an 80% or higher in order to pass

So, depending on the number of questions, you’ll be able to miss:

  • 4 questions on a 20 question test.
  • 5 questions on a 25 question test.
  • 6 questions on a 30 question test.
  • 7 questions on a 35 question test.
  • 10 questions on a 50 question test. 

Learn more about the number of questions and passing scores on the DMV written exam in each state. 

What happens if I fail the DMV written test for renewal?

If you fail the written test when renewing your license, you’ll typically have 2 more tries. 

In most cases, you’ll usually be able to try again whenever you’re ready. In other words, you probably won’t need to return to the DMV office again in order to take the exam. 

However, it is recommended that you take some time to make sure you are totally prepared by going over the official driver handbook before trying again.

If you fail 3 times, you’ll usually need to submit a new application and pay the testing fees again. 

What kind of questions show up on the DMV renewal test?

The type of questions you’ll find on the DMV renewal test are the same you’ll find on the permit test. 

All tests are based on information from the official driver handbook for your state. Topics include:

  • Traffic laws.
  • Pedestrian safety.
  • Right-of-way scenarios.
  • Road signs. 
  • Handling emergencies while driving. 

Be sure to read each question and the answer choices carefully when taking the test. Each question will only have one correct answer. 

And, try not to read too much into the wording of the questions. The DMV is not trying to fool you, and there are no “trick questions” on the exam. 

When is the DMV test required to renew your license?

There are a handful of situations where a written exam may be required to renew your driver’s license. Some of these include:

  • For senior citizens. 
  • If you forget to renew your driver’s license within the grace period after it has expired. 
  • If you received too many traffic tickets during your last renewal period. 
  • If you’ve been involved in any car accidents
  • When reinstating a suspended license
  • If you are moving to a new state and transferring your driver’s license. 

How to know if you are required to take a written exam when renewing your driver’s license?

Luckily, the DMV is never going to catch you by surprise with the written exam. 

If you are required to take the test in order to renew your driver’s license, you will receive notice from the DMV. 

In most cases, the written test requirement will be listed on your driver’s license renewal notice. 

If this applies to you, you’ll typically need to visit your local DMV office in person to complete the renewal and take the exam. 

Car Insurance and Driver’s License Renewals

Did you know that you can save money on your car insurance premiums as you gain more driving experience?

Renewing your driver’s license is one of the best times to compare insurance quotes and save money

Whether you’ve got a clean driving record or a speeding ticket here and there, comparing quotes from different providers every so often is a smart way to save money each year. 

More Free Resources to Help You Prepare

Looking for more information to help you pass your written test and take care of all your DMV tasks with ease? has you covered!

Be sure to bookmark this website and come back to our expert practice tests and guides when you need them. 

Driver’s License Practice Test

Learner’s Permit Practice Test

Road Signs Study Guide

Driver Handbook Study Guide

How to Renew your Driver’s License

Car Registration and Title Guides

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