Driving tests

Driving Skills Syllabus for Cars: How you are evaluated on your driving test

The Driving Skills Syllabus is a series of 30 lessons that are designed to help a driving coach (such as a parent) help you learn the basics of driving a car. They are things that a trained, approved driving instructor will take you through, but you can get a head start by learning about them here beforehand.

This syllabus is available on NZTA’s website in brief form. We have expanded on some of the topics with extra information, images and videos to help you understand what’s required in more detail.

Why use the syllabus?

The syllabus allows you to learn the correct way of driving and recognise if your driving coach is inadvertently teaching you bad habits. Examiners recognise bad habits easily and may fail you because of them, and this is why it’s important to also have at least a few lessons with a qualified driving instructor.

Working through the syllabus

The syllabus is designed to be worked through one-by-one. Later lessons build on skills and knowledge learned in earlier lessons.

If your driving is progressing well then you can practice individual items in the syllabus with your coach using the checklists in each lesson, then have an instructor check and help you with tweaking your skills so they’re perfect.

It’s a good idea to start your driving practice on quiet streets and build your confidence up. However, when you first start driving, taking some lessons with an instructor with a car with dual controls gives you more safety as they will be able to take control of the car if you are struggling.

Aim to get at least 120 hours of supervised driving before you take your test. The more experience you get, the less likely you are to have an accident.

Lesson 1: Vehicle controls

Lesson 2: Starting and stopping the engine

Lesson 3: Moving off and stopping

Lesson 4: Steering control

Lesson 5: Changing gears

Lesson 6: Reversing in a straight line

Lesson 7: Moving off from the kerb

Lesson 8: Driving straight

Lesson 9: Stopping at the kerb

Lesson 10: Turning left off a road

Lesson 11: Driving straight ahead at a roundabout

Lesson 12: Turning left at a Give Way sign

Lesson 13: Turning left at a Stop sign

Lesson 14: Turning left at traffic signals (traffic lights)

Lesson 15: Turning right off a road

Lesson 16: Turning right at a Give Way sign

Lesson 17: Turning right at traffic signals (traffic lights)

Lesson 18: Three-point turn

Lesson 19: Reversing into a driveway

Lesson 20: Reverse parallel park

Lesson 21: Higher speed areas – single lane each way

Lesson 22: Higher speed areas – multi-lane

Lesson 23: Higher speed areas – driving a curve

Lesson 24: Higher speed areas – merge onto a motorway or highway

Lesson 25: Incline start

Lesson 26: Angle parking

Lesson 27: Driving across a pedestrian crossing

Lesson 28: Driving across railway level crossings

Lesson 29: Driving in poor visibility

Lesson 30: Scanning and hazard recognition


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