The first test for beginning drivers is the knowledge test. DC DMV’s driver knowledge examination tests your knowledge of traffic laws, road signs, and driving safety rules and determines whether you are prepared to operate a vehicle in accordance with DC law.
DC DMV Service Centers
Knowledge testing is available at all DC DMV Service Centers on a first-come, first-serve basis. The test can be taken in English, Amharic, Arabic, Cantonese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. Audio assisted tests are also available to those who need assistance with reading.
Virtual Testing and Test Proctoring Center Appointments
Knowledge testing is now available virtually and via a local Test Proctoring Center, with the exception of motorcycle and CDL knowledge tests. An appointment is required to take the test virtually and at the Test Proctoring Center. Virtual testing is only available specifically for the standard and the Graduated License Program (GRAD) (16-20 years old) knowledge tests. A language line is available to those who cannot (or have limited capacity to) speak, read, or write English.
You must pay a fee to take the knowledge test, whether you pass or fail. If you receive a passing score, you must visit a DC DMV Service Center within 14 business days of passing the test and present all required eligibility documents to obtain your learner permit or driver license. Failure to comply with the 14 business day requirement will result in the test results not being honored and retesting will be required.
An online practice knowledge test is also available. The practice knowledge test is for informational purposes only and does not contain actual questions from the DC DMV knowledge test.
If you pass…
If you complete the virtual knowledge test, you will be immediately notified by a representative of your test results. If you receive a passing score, you must visit a DC DMV Service Center within 14 business days of passing the test and present all required eligibility documents to obtain your learner permit or driver license. Failure to comply with the 14 business day requirement will result in the test results not being honored and retesting will be required.
If you fail…
If you do not receive a passing score on the driver knowledge test, you may take the test again after waiting three full calendar days. For example, if you fail the test on Tuesday, you are not eligible to retest until Saturday. If you do not receive a passing score six times within a 12-month period, you will not be allowed to take the seventh test until 12 months after you failed the first test. If taking the test virtual or at the third-party test location, a new appointment must scheduled on the Test Proctoring Center website.
Be sure to study the manual of the license you are testing for before you take the knowledge test. Download a copy of the automobile driver manual and motorcycle operator manual. Hardcopy manuals are no longer available.
Testing Time Limits
Each knowledge test has a time limit; if you go beyond the limit, you fail the test. Using smart devices (i.e. cellphone or watch), study materials, talking, etc. during the test is considered cheating and will result in a failed test. Additionally, you will not be allowed to retest for 60 days. Only individuals taking the test are allowed in the testing area at the DC DMV Service Centers and third-party location.
- Non-Commercial – 60 minutes
- GRAD, or Learner Permit Knowledge – 75 minutes
- Motorcycle – 60 minutes
- Note: When you pass the motorcycle operator knowledge test, you will receive a printout rather than a permit.
- Commercial, General Knowledge – 90 minutes
- View more information on the commercial driver license knowledge test.
- Commercial, Endorsements – 60 minutes