The Ultimate Guide to Your Illinois Road Test

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Casey O'Brien

June 10, 2020 5 min read


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We know that taking your Illinois road test can be nerve-wracking. With a little preparation and insight into the test itself, there’s nothing to be worried about. This guide will make sure you know the specific requirements in Illinois, what you can expect on the road test itself and give our best practice tips. Here’s exactly what you need to know to pass your Illinois road test.

What to know before your Illinois road test

In Illinois, road tests are walk-in only, so you're not able to schedule ahead of time (unless you're getting a commercial or temporary driver's license, then you can schedule). Road tests are done at Secretary of State facilities and we recommend going to the site that's most convenient for you.

Next, make sure you have valid registration and insurance for the vehicle you’ll be taking your test in. You’ll need these documents when you check-in at the DMV. Lastly, make sure your testing vehicle meets Illinois requirements, and that you have a licensed driver to accompany you to your road test. We’ve listed out the car requirements for you in the next section, to make it easier to go through and check off each one.

Once you verified your road test, paperwork, and car requirements, it’s time for more practice. In Illinois, unlike a few other states, you can practice in the area around the SOS site where you plan to take your test. We strongly recommend that you do, as this is likely where part of your road test will be. Take time and get to know the area.

What are the vehicle requirements for the Illinois road test?

Many people are denied testing because their car doesn’t meet Illinois requirements. We recommend checking these and checking them again. Here’s what your road test vehicle needs:

  • Current registration, insurance, and inspection sticker
  • A windshield with no cracks or debris that would obstruct the view
  • Key safety requirements: working speedometer, horn, rearview mirror, seatbelts, and windshield wipers.
  • Working doors: the driver and passenger doors must open from the inside and outside.
  • Working lights: brake lights, turn signal lights in front and back, headlights and taillights.
  • No service or warning lights illuminated on the dashboard

If you don’t have a vehicle that meets all of these requirements or a licensed driver to take you to your road test, you have a few options. You can get a car through a driving school, see if a friend or family can accompany you with their car, or Skip offers a car and driver for the Illinois road test which you can reserve ahead of time online.

What to know the day of your Illinois road test

First, we recommend getting there early! The SOS sites are usually always less crowded earlier in the day, so this can help save you wait time. Also, be sure you have your driver's license fee, which is $30, unless you're age 18-20, then it's $5.

When you arrive at the SOS site, you'll go inside with your licensed driver to check in. At the first desk, they'll ask for the reason for your visit and then your learner's permit, as well as the car insurance from your licensed driver. Next, they'll send you over to the photo station to take your picture for your license. After, you'll get a number and wait until you're called. When your number is called, you'll go up to the counter for some paperwork, then they'll ask you to pull your car around to the road test area on the side of the building. In Illinois, you can drive the car around yourself, so your licensed driver can wait inside for you. The road test area looks like a drive-through, so it will be obvious where to go. The examiner will meet you and begin your road test.

This process is pretty much the same at all SOS sites throughout the state. The main difference being that the size of the SOS location will determine your wait time. For example, Elston is one of the largest testing sites in Chicago and has a lot of employees, so they call numbers quickly and your wait should be shorter there.

The road test itself is only 10-15 minutes. It will go by quickly, so take your time. Every minute counts and you’ll think and perform better if you don’t rush. In the next section, we’ll go over exactly what you should practice to prepare for your road test. 🙂

What will I be tested on for the Illinois road test?

These are the maneuvers you can expect on your road test. We recommend practicing these until they are comfortable. Here’s what to know:

  • Parallel parking: Be sure to actually turn your head and look behind you, instead of just using your rearview mirrors.
  • Uphill and downhill parking:  Since many parts of Illinois are mostly flat, it's common for examiners to ask you to tell them how to uphill and downhill park (rather than actually doing it), so be sure you know.
  • Backing: You must back for about 100 feet in a straight line and do so smoothly. Again, remember to actually turn and look. You will get points off if you don't.
  • Stopping: Be sure you're able to stop quickly as well as smoothly.
  • Three-point turns: Also known as a 'K-turn', you'll need to be able to do this on a street without hitting a curb or using a driveway.
  • Yielding the right of way: Always do so for pedestrians, motor vehicles, bicyclists, or anyone else who has moved into an intersection before you.
  • Starting and stopping on grades: Remember your parking brake and be sure to signal when pulling out.
  • Turning: Make sure you signal at least 100 feet before turning and remember to turn into the same lane you are turning from.
  • Passing: Be sure to signal and pass at a safe distance.

Lastly, during your road test, it’s highly likely that your examiner will be taking notes. This is nothing to worry about! The examiner may simply be checking off requirements as you complete them. Keep your eyes on the road and not on your examiner, and you’ll do just fine.

What happens after my Illinois road test?

Congratulations on making it this far! If you passed, the examiner will let you know where to go to get your temporary license. Your actual laminated license will come in the mail within 15 days. If you failed, not to worry, most people pass by their second try. Each time you take your road test in Illinois, you’ll need to have a licensed driver with you and car. In the meantime, keep practicing and re-schedule your road test when you feel ready.

Need other Illinois DMV help?

We're here to help! Email us at hello@helloskip.com if you have questions we haven't answered here!


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