Cramming for the DMV Test? Don’t!

Photo by: Kacso Sandor

Late Night Cramming is Not the Way to Go

Are you studying for your DMV knowledge exam? Do you think that late night cramming and memorizing fixed answers will help you pass?

You are not alone. 7 out 10 teenagers under 18 years, study this way for their learner’s permit. No surprise, since learning by memorizing have dominated education for decades.

But late night cramming is ineffective.

Instead you should rest the night before a test and give your brain time to “scale down”

Your Brain Needs Time to Scale Down

During the day, you take in a lot of information — both important things and things that are not. The brain balances this information when you sleep. Important stuff is stored and stabilized, unimportant stuff is scaled down because the brain recognizes that you don’t need to keep it.

The brain simply gets rid of the noise and sharpens your access to important information. Swedish scientist Christian Benedict found a protein called Homer 1a that triggers this process. Levels of this hormone is higher when you sleep.

Without sleep, the brain doesn’t get enough time to reduce the noise and you will have problem accessing thigs you want to remember.

Most of us, probably already knew this, even if we are reluctant to admit that late night cramming doesn’t work.

Good Study Techniques

So, what are good study techniques? And will they help when it comes to taking a driver’s license exam?

Two effective techniques are called elaborative interrogation and self-explanation. Elaborative interrogation is when you ask yourself questions like how and why. It is often the same as critical reading. You don’t simply accept what you read or hear, you try to figure out why something is true (or false).

Self-explanation is when you give your own explanation for statements or facts.

These two methods are often encouraged by driving schools and websites discussing learning the rules of the road.

The Most Effective Technique

The most effective study technique is distributed practice.

You are better off when you spread out your studies over a longer period. You are also better off when you test yourself, like engage in problem solving or taking practice tests at the end of a study session.

Effective Practice Tests — Survey by Driver’s Prep

Driversprep.com is a website offering online practice tests for permits and driver’s licenses for all states in U.S.A. Their follow-up survey in 2014 showed that first time applicants using online practice tests to prepare for their written DMV test had an overall pass rate of more than 90% (less than one out 10 failed their first attempt at the written knowledge test).

A part of the applicants’ success was also contributed to the fact that they practiced with peers or parents. Almost half of all users studied together with someone else at some point.

Six out of 10 also answered that parents or other adults supported them during the learning process.

The Important Parent

Parents who are going to teach their teens to drive, should start by brushing up their knowledge of traffic laws. Some laws have most likely changed since they started driving.

Also, there are special laws that apply to teens. Most of these laws wasn’t around when the previous generation got their learner’s permit.

When parent and teenager study together, it benefits both.

Why Effective Techniques Are Important

Since teenage drivers from 16 to 19 years of age have the highest traffic violation and crash rates, it is important to encourage effective learning techniques and parents’ (or other adults) involvement.

I believe it is of great help to have someone to discuss traffic rules and safe driving practices with. Teens must not only try to learn traffic laws and road signs, they must also understand things that can distract their driving and how to make good judgment calls.

This is not only important for the teenager, but for all of us on the road. Reducing the numbers of casualties and deaths on U.S. highways is a main concern for everyone.