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2023 Road Mastery: ICBC Road Test Class 5 vs. Class 7

class 5 vs class 7 road test

ICBC Road Test Class 5 or Class 7 Coming Up in Your Future?

Life can be quite a rollercoaster, and just when you thought it couldn’t get any more challenging, there’s the road test looming ahead. Imagine having a seasoned driving examiner observing your every move while you navigate the streets. This road test, whether it’s the ICBC Class 5 or Class 7, is a crucial step for various types of drivers. It’s not just for rookies behind the wheel; it’s for folks from all corners of the world, individuals whose licenses have taken a nap, our esteemed seniors, and those with unique situations.

Now, let’s unravel the subtle distinctions between the ICBC road test Class 5 and Class 7. While they may not seem earth-shattering, I’m about to peel back the layers and give you the inside scoop. You see, I’ve spent years as a driving instructor in the vibrant city of North Vancouver, and I’ve got some insights to share.

To help you prepare even further, check out my formidable Hazard Perception Guide and sister article, ICBC Road Test Tips Class 5/7 [Instructor Gets Deep].

Table of Contents

Yukon Highway, Canada
Alaska Highway, Yukon, Canada


Are you gearing up for your ICBC road test in the stunning landscapes of British Columbia? Curious about the nuances between the Class 5 and Class 7 tests? Well, let me take you on a ride through the striking similarities between these two exams.

Picture this: You’re seated behind the wheel, a watchful examiner at your side, guiding your every turn and maneuver. It’s a real-time evaluation of your skills, and yes, it comes with a double dose of fees – first, to book the test, and then again once you’ve triumphed to secure your license. So, buckle up, because this journey promises to be an adventure!

Class 5 vs 7 Road Test ICBC
Alaska Highway, Yukon, Canada

Class 5 Road Test & ICBC Road Test Class 7

ICBC Road Test Class 7 – What Is It?

The ICBC Class 7 test marks the exhilarating leap from the ‘L’ (7L) phase to the ‘N’ (7N) stage of driving, unlocking the thrilling power of solo adventures on the open road.

If you need to learn more about the N Restrictions, check out my epic summary or check out What is the Graduated Licensing Program?

Class 7 Road test ICBC
Driving on the beach; Ocean Shores, Washington State

Class 5 Road Test ICBC – What Is It?

Get ready to level up your driving game with the ICBC Class 5 road test, perfect for those driving around beautiful British Columbia. Whether you’re new to Canada or looking to upgrade from your “N” license, this test is your ticket to unlocking the awesome Class 5 driver’s license.

The Class 5 license, often called the “freedom license,” means you can say goodbye to the annoying rules of the “N” stage. No more restrictions – you’re free to hit the road and explore. Plus, if you ever make a mistake, the punishments aren’t too harsh (in comparison).

ICBC Road Test Class 5
Dempster Highway, Yukon

How Long Are the ICBC Road Tests?

How long are the Class 5 and 7 Road Test
Dempster Highway, Yukon, Canada

ICBC Class 7 Road Test

  • They say the Class 7 test takes 45 minutes, but that includes all the time in the end for debriefing, going inside to do paperwork, etc.
  • Usually, the actual driving time is about 30 minutes

ICBC Class 5 Road Test

  • The class 5 road test usually takes about 45 minutes. It’s a bit longer than the Class 7 ICBC road test, partially because it can include the freeway
  • Drivers are expected to be somewhat experienced and show smooth car control, safe decision-making, and sufficient knowledge & skill.

Five years to the “average” skill level

Interesting random fact: It takes about five years of driving for a new driver to get to the skill and experience level of “the average driver.” So a two-year-experienced driver is still quite new.

Freeway Merging On The ICBC Road Test Class 5/7

  • The ICBC road test Class 5 (to get your Class 5) usually includes merging onto a highway or freeway
  • The ICBC road test Class 7 (to get your “N”) does not include merging onto a highway or freeway
    • Why not? I think it’s because roughly 50% of people fail this road test anyway. So it’s sort of a waste of time. Freeway driving – in the grand scheme of things – is not that important, and not that dangerous when compared to driving at intersections
ICBC Road Test Merging on Freeway Highway

Hazard Perception Differences On The ICBC Road Tests

Both tests will include a part for you to show that you are aware and thinking about possible dangers/hazards while driving. This is known as “hazard perception” and you can feel free to check out my full hazard perception guide to help you prepare even more.

driving in white out conditions
Driving in white-out conditions, Yukon, Canada. Absolutely terrifying to be honest with you.

What is this hazard perception thing? It just means you have to tell the driving examiner what you see – or maybe it’s something that you can’t see – in your driving environment that could be a potential hazard. The examiner will literally say to you, “Now tell me some potential hazards?” (something like that).

Hazards while driving Animals on the road
Somewhere in British Columbia

ICBC Road Test Class 7 Hazard Perception

For the ICBC road test class 7, you will do this while stopped

Your examiner will ask you to pull over to the side of the road to do your hazard perception. If they ask you to park there, be sure to set your parking brake, too. Check out our epic road test tips article, but be warned it’s very long.

Hazard perception ICBC Road Test
Construction zones can be hazardous
Construction Zones
Logging trucks, construction zones, and flag people can all be potential hazards.

Notice your immediate environment

It might seem like the examiner has asked you to pull over at the most boring place in the world. It may not seem like there is anything exciting in the driving environment where you are. But, you can still just say any potential hazard that you can see or something that you can’t see.

Road with potholes
Poor road conditions can be a potential hazard. [Chicken, Alaska]

Things that we “can’t see” are a real and colossal problem for us drivers

These potential hazards could include really anything that is in your environment, including:

  • Weather
  • Road condition
  • A blind driveway
  • A hill or curve where visibility is reduced
  • Kids playing
  • A crosswalk coming up

But try not to get stuck memorizing a potential hazard. Just say what you can actually see, or not see. If a family of skunks is walking around in the middle of the road, just say that.

Driver distractions

If a large UFO is distracting you and you think the distraction may be hazardous – or it looks like the UFO is about to make a crash landing – then say that. Okay, maybe there’s not actually going to be a UFO. But maybe you know what I mean. Drivers getting distracted is a real, serious problem.

Drivers can get distracted for any reason, and this can include something as simple as a cute little child carrying an innocent balloon while strolling down the sidewalk.

Planes making emergency landings

Okay, I’m getting perhaps a little off-topic, into the realm of “freak accidents.” Not to scare you, but airplanes have made emergency landings onto highways in British Columbia, such as this small plane crash that happened near the airport in Richmond, BC.

What’s my point? I guess not to get distracted by the sky, or things in the sky, but not to completely ignore it either. There can be many distractions in the sky, including rainbows, skydivers, interesting planes, possibly UFOs, and other things.

airplanes in the sky
Things in the sky can be distracting.

When the sky is the same color as the road and the cars

If the only thing you see is that the particular shade of the ominous grey sky, is the same color as the road you are on, and there’s a grey car of the exact same color, also coming towards you, then say that (Vancouver folks, you feel me).

At least two different drivers have actually said this to me when they came to get driving lessons after having a collision:

“The sky was the same color as the road. And the car was the same color as the sky and the road. So I didn’t see it. So I crashed into it.”

Is this a potential hazard? Well… Absolutely.

fog and bad visibility while driving
Fog and bad visibility are potential hazards while driving.

The sun

During certain times of the year and of the day, drivers including yourself, perhaps the ones driving toward you, or perhaps all of the drivers on the road may be blinded by the low sun in the sky. Is this a hazard? Of course. Sometimes there are a lot of red lights from brake lights and traffic lights reflecting on a rainy surface.

Bright sun while driving
Dempster Highway, Northwest Territories, Canada

Some common hazards may include things like:

  • You can’t see what’s around a curve or hill
  • You can’t see an intersection or driveway because of visibility issues (there are trees, bushes, flowers, structures, or something else in the way)
  • There’s a crosswalk you can see but your visibility isn’t good to tell if there are pedestrians near the edges
  • The road is wet and very slippery because it’s the first time it has rained in a long time
  • The sun is shining straight into your face and it’s hard to see things
  • A school zone or playground zone is coming up, and there may be children nearby playing or running into the road
Hairpin Road
Narrow roads with limited visibility and hairpin turns can be potentially hazardous. North Vancouver, Canada

ICBC Road Test Class 5 Hazard Perception

For the class 5 road test, you will have to do this while you’re driving

ICBC road test hazard perception

I guess this means after you have been driving on your own for at least two years, you are expected to be able to see hazards, think, drive, and talk, all at the same time, lol.

Both ICBC Road Test Class 5 & Class 7 Check Your “Global Skills”

ICBC Global Skills

What are ICBC’s Global Skills?

ICBC’s global skills are simply a way to measure drivers and their success or lack of success on the road tests. Demerit points are not a thing anymore, at least not for these particular tests. So ICBC has come up with a newer and totally slightly confusing way to mark the road test.

Both the ICBC road test Class 5 & Class 7 will naturally check you for these important driving fundamentals. Let’s take a deeper look into each one.

ICBC’s Global Skills


  • Basically, do you see stuff?
  • Do you see the stuff you’re supposed to be seeing?
  • For example, pedestrians about to cross at the crosswalk, playground zones, and other cars doing things maybe they shouldn’t be (check out my defensive driving article to learn more)
  • Do you try to turn right on a red light, even though there is a sign at the intersection indicating not to?
Animals on the road

Space Margins

  • Do you keep a proper space margin around your vehicle?
  • Do you follow the car in front too closely?
  • Are you the correct amount of space away from curbs?
  • Are you in the correct position when you’re turning right, turning left, and going straight at intersections?
2023 Road Mastery: ICBC Road Test Class 5 vs. Class 7


  • Are you speeding through a school zone?
  • Are you going too slow because you’re nervous (40 km in a 50 km zone for no apparent reason)?
  • Are you keeping up with speeding traffic on the freeway? (Never keep up with speeding “traffic flow.”)
  • Check out my article on residential streets and speed limits to read more about that.
Space Margins ICBC Global Skills


  • Are you controlling the car smoothly?
  • Are you doing strange things with the steering wheel?
  • Are you only using one hand to steer? Do not “hook” or “palm” the steering wheel.
  • Use two hands to steer at all times, even if you’re driving a standard, unless you’re backing up in a straight line.
Steering Wheel and dash


  • Do you use your turn signals to tell other road users what you plan to do ahead of time?
  • Do you honk in a situation where it might be necessary?
  • Do you get eye contact with other road users as part of your defensive driving strategy?
ICBC Global Skills Communication

Both Tests May Include The Following Driving Skills

Each road test is not going to be exactly the same. Some people will have to do a certain skill that perhaps won’t be tested on the next person. Each location is different. Road test examiners follow routes.

At the Point Grey (Vancouver) location, there is technically no nearby “freeway” for showing your merging skills. So, Class 5 tests at that location simply won’t include this skill, although you might be asked to drive on a road with a higher speed limit (UBC).

Nissan 370Z

The following may be tested on both ICBC road test Class 5 & ICBC road test Class 7

  • Intersections, going straight through, right turns, left turns
  • Pulling into traffic
  • Backing up
  • Changing lanes
  • Pulling over & stopping/parking at the side of the road
  • Hill Parking
  • Angle parking
  • Reverse Stall Parking or forward stall parking
  • Parallel Parking
  • 2-point turn or 3-point turn
  • General driving, hills, curves, school zones, residential streets, busier streets, all that fun stuff
  • Knowing what to do around emergency vehicles

Not every skill will be part of your test, but practicing them all will give you the best chance of being prepared. The thing is, examiners, want to obviously see that you are safe and do not break any laws, such as changing lanes over a solid white line. You may want to read up on Right-of-Way in the Parking Lot, too.

ICBC Road Test Class 7 Failure Rate

2023 Road Mastery: ICBC Road Test Class 5 vs. Class 7

For the class 7 ICBC road test, around 50% of people fail

Maybe this is why they don’t even bother wasting time on the freeway

Your examiner is basically looking that you:

  • Know what you’re doing, with a certain amount of confidence
  • Can pass all your global skills
  • Make good decisions, especially at intersections
  • Control the car smoothly
  • Don’t break any laws like speeding, reversing in an intersection or crosswalk
  • Don’t do anything remotely dangerous such as not noticing a pedestrian, lane changing when it isn’t safe, etc.
ICBC Road Test Class 5 and Class 7

You do need to know how to park, but don’t need to be perfect

It takes a long long time to get good at parking. Even driving instructors – who are just people – don’t park perfectly every day, all the time. New drivers aren’t expected to be really amazing and impressive at parking. They are expected to be safe, and legal.

It’s more important that you have grasped the general concept of how to park the vehicle while being safe, and that you have good observation skills.

Is a pedestrian about to walk behind you while you’re parking? It is way more important to simply notice this than to be highly skilled and perfect and make sure your parking looks really beautiful or something like that.

Also, you can fix your parking if you need to make some readjustments, just as drivers do in real life. It’s not a big deal. That goes for both the class 5 road test and class 7, too, of course.

2023 Road Mastery: ICBC Road Test Class 5 vs. Class 7
Good enough parking

Preparing for ICBC Road Test Class 5

It doesn’t take long to gather bad habits once people start driving on their own. This is mostly what the ICBC road test Class 5 road test is about.

For example:

  • Do you still observe and drive at the proper speed in a playground zone? Like, exactly 30 km/hr? Check out our school and playground zone article here.
  • Are you speeding on the freeway to “keep up with the flow”? Check our article about the fast lane, slow lane, right lane, and wrong lane.
  • Do you “palm” or “hook” the steering wheel? Read up about the proper ways to steer the car here in my article.
  • Do you drive with only one hand on the wheel? Don’t!
  • Do you forget all of your shoulder checks? Check out my article on blind spots and shoulder checks to read more.
  • Do you fully and completely stop your vehicle at each and every stop sign? I also have a Stop sign vs. stop line article you can check out.
  • Are you using your left foot on the brake pedal? Don’t do that!
  • Do you regularly flip other drivers “the bird”?
  • Do you cut through the gas station to get your right turn done faster?

What happens if you fail your Class 5 road test BC?

If you fail your Class 5 road test, don’t panic. You’ll get your “N” License back so you can continue to practice. After your first road test attempt, you can take the test again after 14 days. If you fail a second time, you can try again after 30 more days. If you fail a third time, you can take the test again after 60 days. In other words, nothing bad will happen per se; you’ll just need to keep practicing.


As you can see, each test is very similar. One (Class 5) is basically a little longer and is mostly checking for bad habits. I mean, if you’ve survived driving on your own for at least two years, then you must be doing something relatively right (but don’t relax too much, because two years is actually not a long time in the grand scheme of things).

The class 7 ICBC road test is to see that you’ve been properly trained to drive safely on your own, all by yourself in the big bad world. A lot of drivers simply aren’t prepared; they simply aren’t trained enough to pass. Driving is a complex skill that takes time to master, and it’s hard (if not impossible) to somehow cheat or speed up the learning process.

That’s why it’s focused on basic skills and on all intersections. Intersections close to your home are the #1 most common place where crashes happen (#2 – parking lots). Check out our epic tips for passing the ICBC road test for a lot more details on how to pass the road test.

Driving on a dirt road
Somewhere in British Columbia


These road tests are not that different. One is for extremely inexperienced new drivers, and the other is for more experienced new drivers. It’s not really complicated. Just make sure your car control is smooth, you make safe decisions, and don’t do anything illegal.

And remember you don’t need to be perfect. This one time, a new driver made contact with the curb with their wheel when parallel parking. The hubcap, which was already loose-ish, fell completely off the car.

The examiner retrieved it, and the driver still passed the road test. It’s because the rest of their driving was excellent, and hubcaps don’t have feelings.

car show

Show you are “experienced enough”

You could also think about it in a slightly different way: simply show the examiner, but also make them feel like you are an experienced enough, safe driver. How would a passenger feel when, say, a driving instructor was driving? They’d feel pretty safe, right? They would not ever question what the driver was doing because the driver would seem safe, knowledgeable, and confident in everything they did, even if they weren’t perfect.

I realize you aren’t a driving instructor, but you can still give the examiner that same feeling like you are a driver who knows things, and who can do this.

Appear safe. Appear confident. Appear that you know what you’re doing. You are an intelligent being, capable of making great decisions while operating a motor vehicle.

And if you don’t feel like you know what you’re doing, get a driving lesson or a few to help you out, and also check out my YouTube channel.

Additional Resources

Road Test Fail

A truly insightful analysis of several different learners’ ICBC road test FAILS. In this guide, we really get into the nitty-gritty to find out exactly what fails a road test, and what you need to succeed. Hopefully, it can help anyone preparing for a road test anywhere.

Road Test FAIL Tales

hairpin turn on dirt road
Somewhere in beautiful British Columbia

Author Profile

2023 Road Mastery: ICBC Road Test Class 5 vs. Class 7
Carmen Cohoe
Carmen became a driving instructor in beautiful North Vancouver at the age of 22 due to some crazy people who agreed to hire her. After that, there was never a dull moment teaching many different folks from many different places how to drive using automatic and standard vehicles and a minivan.