All applicants for driver’s license in the Philippines are required to take the driving exams at the Land Transportation Office (LTO). This critical step to becoming a licensed driver ensures that only those who drive safely and responsibly are on the road.
The driver’s license examination consists of a written test and a practical driving test. You need to pass both LTO exams to get a driving license.
Taking the written exam is the next step after having your photo taken, creating a digital signature, and paying the applicable fees.
LTO no longer holds a lecture before administering the written test. Instead, it has made an LTO exam reviewer  available to the public through its website. LTO also gives examinees an option to take the test in either English or Filipino.
The written exam for driver’s license applicants has the following categories:
General driving knowledge
Handling and driving
Road signs and lane markings
If you’re applying for a non-professional license, you need to get 30 correct answers out of 40 items to pass the exam. Professional license applicants have to get 45 out of 60 items correctly.
Examinees who passed will be called and asked to proceed to the waiting area to move on to the practical driving exam.
The actual practical test happens quicker (around 5 minutes or longer, depending on the driver) than the waiting time for the next step of getting a driver’s license. You only need to make one round on an obstacle course, which involves driving straight on a flat and elevated road, parking, and making tight turns.
You can choose to take the practical exam using an LTO vehicle, your own car, or your driving school’s vehicle. Renting an LTO car (manual or automatic) will cost you PHP 250.
Practical Exam Scoring System
During the practical driving exam, the instructor will score you using a demerit point system. You’ll begin with 100 points. Each time you commit an error, the examiner deducts a corresponding number of points from your score and logs them onto a road test score sheet.
Here are some tips for raising your chances of passing the written and practical exams.
What to Do Before Taking the LTO Exams
Enroll in a driving school. Before you apply for a driver’s license, it helps to get intensive training first through organized driving lessons.
Study the LTO exam reviewer. LTO’s reviewer for driver’s license examination contains all questions and answers that will possibly appear in the actual written exam. It also provides a manual on road traffic signs, which is helpful for the practical driving test.
Practice driving. Ace your practical exam through constant practice. To better prepare for the actual exam, refer to the “Road Test Score Sheet” page at the back of the LTO Application for Driver’s License form before you start your practice driving. Try various driving situations, such as changing lanes, parking on various locations, and driving along narrow streets. Also, practice changing lanes and making a U-turn properly.
Bring your own car. While driving your car to the nearest LTO office could be a bit of a hassle because of possible parking issues, it could help you pass the practical exam. It’s easier to drive a vehicle you’re already familiar and comfortable with, as opposed to renting an LTO vehicle that’s likely an old model with hard clutches and pedals.
What to Do During the LTO Exams
Choose the language you’re more comfortable with. The written exam can be taken either in English or Filipino. Choose the one you can understand better. To get an idea of the difference between the two languages, check the English and Tagalog questionnaires  of the LTO exam reviewer.
Listen carefully to the guidelines. It’s easy to pass the LTO exams if you follow the instructions given to you.
Be calm and take your time on the road. Panic makes you forget the basic things like wearing your seatbelt before you begin driving. Just relax and have the presence of mind.
Avoid conditions that will cause you to automatically fail your practical test. These include hitting another vehicle, a pedestrian, and the gutter or any fixed object. Any action that causes collision or near-collision with another car will also lead to failing the test.
What Happens If You Fail an LTO Exam?
One month after failing one or both of the writing and practical exams, a driver’s license applicant can retake the LTO exam.
Flunking on the second attempt means you can’t retake the exam and apply for a driver’s license within a year. Finally, failure to pass the LTO exams on the third try will have you waiting for two years before you’re allowed to retake the test and re-apply for a license.
Have you taken the LTO exams? Got any tip or experience to share with first-time driver’s license applicants? Post your comment below!