Teen needs help passing DMV written test

My 16-yr old son is smart and creative, but has traditionally not done well with tests. He has anxiety and is currently in the process of seeking diagnosis for ADHD. He has now failed the DMV written test 6 times, and he is incredibly frustrated. Are there any tutors or other suggestions parents may have? He has studied repeatedly the DMV book, he took an online course, and has taken numerous practice tests. He does well on the practice tests but then continues to “panic” at the DMV and miss 1 or 2 too many questions to pass. His parents are supportive and encouraging. We do our best to not put pressure on him & stay positive. Seeking help here because he really wants to drive, but is now feeling worse about himself every time he fails and now has taken a long break from trying. 

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What a frustrating situation this must be for your son.

My now 20-y-o daughter has struggled with anxiety since she was very small. Severe anxiety can exhibit symptoms that are often mistaken for ADHD. She also is smart (tests as gifted) and creative and underperforms on tests. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has helped her tremendously in managing her anxiety in general, although she originally started with CBT for a specific issue. She passed the written driving test the second time. When she wanted SAT tutoring, we found a CBT-informed tutor since she knew the material and what she really needed was strategies to address the performance issues related to anxiety. I would be surprised to find a CBT-informed driving instructor, but a therapist well-trained and experienced in CBT should be able to help. Bonus will be the skills your son would learn would be transferrable to other situations in his life, including the in-person driving test. I'd say give him a break from the driving test and get him into therapy. Many young people don't get their licenses until later (may son didn't get his until he was 21-y-o), so he won't be odd man out.

My son had the same problem.  Probably overstudied. That process of not knowing if answers are wrong and test stops when you’ve reached incorrect maximum is a perfect pressure cooker.  He panicked and cried the first time he took and failed. We laugh now at one of his missed answers. Q: “When you’re tired and driving at night, you should”. His selection: “Roll up the windows and look straight ahead” All while another test taker was asking him for answers. He can request to look at failed exam and take pics.  What helped my son was taking the written exam online. We came across online option when the computer system was down during appointment at DMV field office (unsure if/when online test is an option). It was a lot less stressful, You can also request a paper test, or other accommodations (I think an audio of questions is one) which might reduce the anxiety. My son said the sample questions were different than the actual tests.  Past, complete tests are on the DMV site somewhere. Take a break, don’t study for awhile, to dissolve the anxiety that’s built up.  And laugh. The DMV parent guide for teen drivers is helpful for behind the wheel learning. FWIW, my son passed behind the wheel test first time, with only 3 errors.  My older daughter and I were waiting for him and couldn’t tell if he passed as the examiner debriefed him in car.  We asked the examiner if he passed as she was walking to her next car. She said she had to have him pull over and take a breath because he was so nervous, but did pass.  Saw a few others who didn’t pass.  I’m learning not to go into empathetic distress, and to support him in dealing with anxiety.  Best of luck!

This may not apply to you, but I have a friend with a teen with a learning difference who could not pass the written test, so I looked up whether there are accommodations, and there are! I’m pretty sure I just googled DMV test accommodation to find them. You might have to provide documentation, but it includes accommodations like extra time, questions read aloud, etc. Best wishes!