Do You Need To Pass Your ICBC Road Test?
Welcome to the ICBC epic road test tips guide, written by an experienced driving instructor. ICBC Road Test Tips for all drivers. Warning: This is Long. Grab a coffee. Or, read about difference between class 5&7 road tests, what to bring for the road test, or a road test experience from a real student driver.
Jump to a section:
- How To Book Your ICBC Road Test
- Get Your Vehicle Ready
- Automatic Fails
- You Don’t Need To Be Perfect
- Driving Safely At Intersections
- Common Mistakes
- Stop Signs
- Right Turns On Red Lights
- Shoulder Checks & Blind Spots
- Use Your Parking Brake
- Parking On Hills
- Dealing With Nerves
- Driving For Conditions
- Steering Issues, Steering Wheel
- Observation Issues
- Turning Corners
- Road Rules, Right-Of-Way
- Exiting a Lane (Back Alley)
- Scanning Intersections
- Driving Over Train Tracks
- Legal Lane Changing
- Freeway Driving
- Emergency Vehicles
- Opening Your Door
- Driving Backwards
- Hand Signals
- Defensive Driving
- Chances Of Passing
- Examiner Tricks
- Check Engine Lights
- Back-Up Cameras
- If You Fail
- Pre-Trip Inspection Walk Around
Maybe It’s Your ICBC Road Test Class 7 You’re Preparing For, Or Your ICBC Road Test Class 5
You have come to the right place for some excellent tips to help you prepare. The road test is an exciting, necessary, and terrifying rite of passage (or something like that).
ICBC Road Test Booking
Click here to Book your ICBC Road Test Online
1. ICBC Road Test: Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Ready
Before the road test, the examiner will check some items on your vehicle. It’s worth it to take a few moments and check it out yourself well before the road test in case something needs attention.
Here are some common reasons why ICBC cancels a road test due to vehicle condition:
- Gas or fuel gauge on empty
- Illegal or unsafe vehicle modifications
- Broken or cracked tail lights
- Signal lights or headlights not working
- Horn not working
- Seat belts not working, or frayed
- Faulty exhaust
- Doors or windows not functioning properly
- Unsafe tires
- Cracked windshield
- Illegally tinted windshield
- Lack of insurance – expired or not valid
If there is a problem with your vehicle and it is not feasible to have it fixed before your road test date, consider:
- Borrow a friend’s car if possible
- Check out these options for renting a car for your road test
- Call a driving school and use their car
You must show up with a car with a Canadian license plate to your test and you may use any car that you have permission (and insurance) to drive.
2. Automatic Fails On Driving Test BC
You Will Not Pass Your Road Test ICBC If You Do Anything Illegal
- Lane change over solid white line or crosswalk
- Driving the wrong way down a one-way street
- Reversing into an intersection
Or If You Do Anything Unsafe
- A pedestrian has to jump out of the way
- Another driver has to do evasive action in order to avoid you
- You hit the wrong pedal and accidentally drive onto the sidewalk
3. Worrying About Being Perfect on Your ICBC Road Test? Worrying About Parking On The Test? Don’t!
You don’t need to be perfect to pass your road test. No one drives perfectly all the time, not even driving instructors. We are all human.
You can make some mistakes but it shouldn’t be the same mistake over and over; the examiner will then notice a pattern that needs to be corrected.
Most people seem to be very worried about their parking ability (or lack of). If you’re stressing more about the parking than about other things, stop right now!
You should know how to park, but you don’t have to be a pro at it.
You’re allowed to make corrections. You can fix it/readjust it if it doesn’t work the first time, or the second time.
Examiners on the road test ICBC are not timing you. They’re not going to get out at the end and measure it to make sure the vehicle is exactly between the lines and perfectly straight. Although, of course, it’s a nice bonus if your passengers can actually get out of the car after you’re done parking
Or, read this detailed article Reversing A Car – The Ultimate Guide
Perfection on the Road Test And Safety Are Two Very Different Things
Being Safe is more important than being perfect on your ICBC road test, and in real life
It’s more important that you have good observation skills when parking and you’re looking in the correct direction when reversing.
When you drive forwards, you look forwards, right? So, when you drive backwards, you must look backwards.
And no, this does not mean looking in your mirror.
If your car is a bit crooked when you’re done parking, that’s not actually going to hurt anybody.
Becoming good at parking can take many years of experience. Examiners do not expect new drivers to be perfect: they expect you to be safe, and legal. True story!
4. Driving At Intersections Properly – To Pass Your ICBC Road Test
Collisions happen most frequently at intersections. Surely it’s critically important for you to know how to properly navigate your intersections safely and confidently.
Turning left is generally considered dangerous and turning incorrectly or when it isn’t safe could have very devastating consequences.
Basic Left Turn Rules
When we turn left, we yield to
- Oncoming or conflicting traffic
Here Are Some Common Mistakes I’ve Seen People Make On The ICBC Road Test & Some Tips
When You’re Stopping At Stop Signs
5. Not Completely Stopping At The Stop Sign
Also Known As The California Stop Or Rolling Stop
You don’t have to stop, take out your stopwatch and count to 10 seconds or anything like that. But, do make sure that you indeed fully & completely stopped moving! You know what I mean?
A lot of drivers don’t completely stop their vehicle. They just kind of, sort of, slow down type of thing; try to avoid this bad habit.
6. Not Stopping For A Right Turn On A Red Light
Many student drivers hear “you can turn right on a red light.”
But some don’t realize that you must stop first. If you just slow down and turn without actually stopping, it’s illegal.
This is because if your light is red, it means someone else has a green light. It’s your job to figure out who that is and to yield to them first before you turn.
If you do turn without stopping, it will be an automatic fail because red means stop; so if you don’t, technically you broke the law, and they just can’t pass people in that case.
Keep reading to learn more about how to pass your road test in British Columbia Canada
Read more about turning right on a red & green light
7. Speeding On Your Road Test ICBC
Speeding Will Not Help You To Pass Your ICBC Road Test Or Your Alberta Road Test Either!
Speeding: Technically speeding is driving 51 km/hr in a 50 km/hr zone
If the speed limit is 30 km/hr, drive 30 km/hr, not 35 km/hr.
Technically, going 31 km/hr in a 30 km zone is illegal. Examiners will mark you accordingly (some examiners are more strict than others).
Especially on the highway/freeway where drivers have a tendency to speed.
I don’t really like how strict examiners can be sometimes. I would rather you not have to feel so paranoid. However, knowing the speed limit of course is a must.
If you have sufficient experience, you should be able to tell what 50 km/hr feels like without looking.
You must show the examiner that you know what the speed limit is. Show that you are willing to accept and obey it regardless of the behavior of other traffic.
8. Amount & Timing of Shoulder Checks & Unnecessary Stopping On Your ICBC Road Test
People sometimes fail the test because they haven’t done enough shoulder checks.
Another reason is unnecessary slowing or stopping, especially on right turns.
Not sure why I lumped these two topics together since they don’t seem too related, but it just happened.
You must shoulder check every time before you pull over/pull into traffic. Also, before lane changing and merging, and before you turn right (sometimes 2 shoulder checks are required before right turns).
Even if you know there’s nothing there, you must still shoulder check anyway. This gets you into an automatic habit of checking. It may one day save you from a collision.
These checks are to ensure there are no humans in the blind spot. Vehicles, pedestrians, motorcycles, or cyclists, or any other road user, could be ‘hiding’ in this area before you turn.
Even if you are 99% sure there is nothing there, you must still check. Show the examiner that you are actively looking for road users who may be in the blind spot.
Do not stop for no reason! Good reasons to stop would be stop signs, pedestrians, red lights, etc.
9. You Must Use Your Parking Brake On The ICBC Road Test
Believe it or not, some people do not pass their road test British Columbia Canada because of this reason!
Use the parking brake every time you park.
Try not to be so nervous that you drive down the road for a while with the parking brake on! This seems to happen sometimes.
Many people don’t use the parking brake. You should use it because sometimes mechanical failure can occur. The transmission can slip into neutral, and the car may start rolling away by itself.
If you’ve used the parking brake, it will act as a backup plan.
Keep in mind, transmissions are meant for changing gears, not holding thousands of pounds in place on hills.
Parking brakes are connected to brake cables usually on the rear tires. Their whole purpose in life is to hold your vehicle in place.
When hill parking, you do not have to ensure the tire actually touches the curb. You should turn the wheels the appropriate direction; and do not just turn the wheel a bit; it should be turned all the way.
More About How To Park On A Hill Safely
Nervous Wreck On Your ICBC Road Test?
I know this is a tough one, but you have to try & avoid being too cautious. Some people do not pass their ICBC road test, British Columbia Canada because of this.
Yes, you can fail for being overly cautious.
Examiners want to see a confident and competent driver. They don’t want to see a bag of nerves. Driving 20 km/hr under the speed limit and slowing down for no reason at every intersection isn’t good. (Don’t worry. We’ve all been there).
Of course, people are nervous on road tests and examiners know this.
Just try not to be so nervous that you stop where you’re not supposed to. Or, drive way too slowly, or do strange things that you wouldn’t otherwise do.
Remember to breathe; this helps a lot. Also remember, it’s just a road test. I know that sounds weird, but it really is just a road test.
10. Adjust Your Driving For The Conditions, Just As You Would in Real Life
Drive for conditions: Slow down in the snow, for example. Or any other time conditions are not ideal. (yes you could be failed for driving too fast for conditions).
Show the examiner that you are an intelligent being capable of making appropriate decisions based on the conditions you encounter.
The same thing goes for strange situations that you were never taught about on your driving lessons.
If you don’t know what to do, think about it.
What would be the best, most safe, option?
11. Reacting Properly To Pedestrians On Your Driving Test
Examiners want to see that you’re willing to help pedestrians, not fight with them over the available space.
This means if you aren’t sure if there’s enough time to go before a pedestrian, you should wait patiently. This is much better than the alternative of trying to race them, or cutting them off, or driving so close to them that you give them a heart attack.
Sometimes pedestrians are unpredictable and cross where they aren’t supposed to.
If you aren’t sure what to do, try to think of what the safest option is. Keep in mind you should be keeping track of what’s behind you. We don’t want any slamming on the brake if there’s a semi-truck following too closely behind.
Issues With Poorly-Behaved Pedestrians On Your ICBC Road Test
Say you’re turning left at a traffic light and you’re waiting in the intersection because there’s a lot of traffic. Then the light goes yellow. You start to turn, but you see there’s a pedestrian starting to walk across the road where he shouldn’t.
In this case, you should start to exit the intersection and honk at the pedestrian. ‘ASK‘ him to hurry up and get out of the way.
Student drivers often don’t know what to do in this situation. They may fail the road test for not dealing with it properly. Many will hesitate inside the intersection after the light has gone yellow and wait patiently for the pedestrian.
However, if the light is yellow/red by that point, that pedestrian has no right to be there. And while you can’t run him over, you should be starting to leave the intersection and alerting him.
12. Steering Wheel, Hands On The Wheel During Your ICBC Road Test
- One hand on the wheel is not okay (not considered safe).
- ‘Hooking’ or ‘palming‘ the wheel are not okay (not considered safe nor good control).
- Improper use of the steering wheel when turning can fail you, even if everything else is perfect.
*Note: ICBC driver examiners do not care if you dry steer on the road test. However, if you do this habitually, your power steering components may wear prematurely. You might end up with costly repair bills.
(Perhaps they don’t care because you are using your vehicle, not theirs). Just my guess.
You must use two hands on the wheel at all times. The only exception being when you are reversing in a straight line.
If you’re driving standard, put your hand back on the wheel once you’re done shifting gears. Every. Single. Time.
I have received a lot of questions regarding if you can take your hand off for a moment to scratch something. Or, perhaps to move your hair out of your eyes. Good news –> YES, you are allowed to be human!
13. Observation Issues On Your ICBC Driving Test
- Not noticing yellow lights
- Failing to notice pedestrians
- Driving too fast in playground/school zones
- Not noticing turning restriction signs and turning against them (i.e. right turn on red light with turning restriction).
The funny thing is, the examiner may not stop you from completing your illegal turn against this sign if they can tell it is not dangerous. That is an automatic fail.
If you have these issues, you may need more practice/experience.
Observation issues are very common among learners. Learning to drive can be totally overwhelming. It just takes some experience.
14. Turning Problems : Turning Wide, Cutting The Corner, Sloppy, etc. Nice Turns To Pass Your Driving Test In Canada
Improper turning simply comes from a lack of training, or insufficient practice. Cutting corners on left turns or turning wide on right turns, or both.
15. Confused About Basic Rules of the Road?
Right-of-way confusion is a thing that most new drivers struggle with at some point or another. It’s about understanding – with confidence – which cars you have to wait for in different situations.
Some people do not pass their road test British Columbia Canada because of this foundational, but very important understanding.
16. More details to think about on Your Road Test: Leaving a Parking Lot, Lane, Or Driveway
Did you know that you’re supposed to stop completely before exiting a parking lot, lane, & back alley; even if you can see nothing there? Simply stop and treat as you would any other stop sign.
This may cover the part where you leave the parking lot at the beginning of the road test.
If you’re driving down a lane (back alley) the speed limit is 20 km/hr maximum.
17. Scanning With Your Eyes, Especially At Intersections on Your Road Test
You should be doing a left to right scan of intersections before you go through them. Do it at all intersections including 4-way stops & approaching traffic circles. Especially important when you’re stopped at a red light and it changes to green.
Don’t just go through intersections without looking.
Don’t make the foolish assumption that stop signs can stop cars, or that red lights can stop cars. That is exactly how people get into trouble.
Scanning : Make It Obvious for the Road Test Examiner
Make it obvious on the road test that you are doing a good scan.
Turn your head and take a good look in each direction.
Is it actually safe to go?
Don’t just use the corner of your eyes. From the examiner’s point of view, it might seem like you aren’t looking at all.
18. Driving Over Train Tracks
If you’re going past some train tracks, even if they don’t have any stop sign or lights, scan before proceeding.
There probably isn’t one coming, but if you fight with one, you will lose.
Is Your Lane Change in Canada Legal? Are You Sure?
Illegal lane changing is surprisingly easy to do. It’s illegal to lane change over a solid white line and while it’s not technically illegal to change lanes in an intersection… It is definitely frowned upon and likely dangerous.
19. Merging Onto The Freeway
You’re allowed to speed up to the freeway speed limit when you are driving on the acceleration ramp. This is the ramp that leads onto the freeway.
When your car passes the sign that basically says ‘If your vehicle can not do 60 km/hr, stay off the freeway,’ then that is considered the freeway ramp. This ramp does not actually have a speed limit. (Don’t get any ideas though)
Just make sure you aren’t speeding up too early while you’re still in the 50 km/hr zone.
Match the flow of the traffic, but do not go faster than the speed limit.
In other words, don’t merge at 60 km/hr in a 90 zone unless you have a good reason. (This would be covered above where it basically says Do not drive like a Granny )
Also, when you leave the freeway, generally you should not slow down while you’re still on it.
Wait until your vehicle is completely and positively off the freeway, and on the exit ramp, before you slow down. This way, vehicles behind aren’t forced to slow down if they aren’t leaving. We are Canadians… after all.
Technically, these exit ramps do not have a speed limit either. The yellow exit speed sign you see – since it’s a yellow road sign – is a suggestion/recommendation. It’s a good idea to follow these. But, you don’t have to slam on the brakes. Slow down gradually.
20. ICBC Road Test: Dealing With Emergency Vehicles
Read Up On How To Deal With Emergency Vehicles – It’s A Bit Hard For New Drivers To Practice This
I have seen people fail road tests that would have otherwise been perfect because they panicked. They didn’t act accordingly when an emergency vehicle was approaching.
New drivers don’t have much experience with this and it is a strange skill to expect anyone to practice. Just be sure to read up on it as much as you can and be aware of your surroundings. Just do your best.
This might sound funny but an important part of it is simply noticing the emergency vehicle. If it’s obvious you’re oblivious, this is a problem.
The other part is acting the proper way.
21. Proper Left Turns At Traffic lights – Leaving The Intersection
Exiting the intersection (making your turn) when you’re turning left is somewhat of a fine art. You do not want to leave the intersection until it’s safe, but once it is, you don’t want to hang around for any longer than that.
22. Shoulder Check Before Opening Your Door
Make sure to shoulder check (left) before you open your door.
You are looking for pedestrians and cyclists – and anything else.
23. Driving Backwards
Some common mistakes here include
- Looking the wrong way while reversing
- Lack of 360 degree check before reversing
- Unsafe reversing
Parking On Hills
Parallel Parking Skills
Reverse Stall Parking Skills
24. Basics Skills For Your Road Test In Canada: Know Your Hand Signals
Make sure you know your hand signals. The examiner will check to make sure you know how to do them.
25. Defensive Driving
Search This Website
There is a lot of info on this website. Use the Search Function if you’re looking for something specific.
26. Practice Driving
Practice driving (duh?) If you’re having issues, get some lessons – or some kind of fresh perspective – if you can.
27. Driving In The Back Lane
Unless Posted, The Speed Limit Here Is Maximum 20 km/hr
Driving in a lane or back ally might be part of your road test. Some new drivers never experience these, so it’s good to be aware of the possibility. The official speed limit for back lanes is 20 km/hr unless there is a sign saying something else.
Entrances to lanes, parking lots, and driveways are legally treated much more like a private driveway than an intersection.
In other words, drivers exiting the lane are required to completely stop their vehicle before the side-walk (or before the edge of the road, whichever comes first).
This is to check for and yield to any pedestrians, road users, and traffic before proceeding. Treat as though you are facing a stop sign. To get some further details about exiting lanes, read this.
Quality And Quantity Of Practice
Many drivers memorize a route and then going on autopilot. This doesn’t help anyone learn, because it is all about learning the necessary skills so that you can drive anywhere, especially unfamiliar areas, with confidence and with ease.
One of the worst things you can do (aside from not practicing at all) is to drive the same roads all the time.
Go the long way home, challenge yourself, and get lost – it may be one of the best things you can do to improve your driving.
The Chances Of Passing ICBC Road Test
*** About 50% of people who go for the Class 7 road test (‘L’ drivers hoping to pass the road test to get their ‘N’) actually pass the test.
Getting an assessment driving lesson from an experienced instructor at a reputable driving school before going is highly recommended.***
Examiners Don’t Trick You
Will the examiner try to trick you? No, they don’t.
What I mean is they are not going to ask you to drive the wrong way down a one-way street or to do something illegal or unsafe.
Remember: It’s a test after all, so they are not going to help you either, and they shouldn’t have to.
Their job is not to trick or to help you, but to assess your skills.
Question: Can You Fail Your Road Test For Not Turning Right On A Red Light?
No, you won’t fail for not turning right on a red light. It’s a red light, after all. It might be good to look around the intersection or to your left.
At least the examiner will know that you’re aware of the possibility, and not a completely clueless, knowledge-less driver.
Book A Road Test ICBC
To book your very exciting ICBC road test
Just click on this ICBC Road Test Booking link here. There, you will be able to book, reschedule, and cancel your appointment.
ICBC Road Test With ‘Check Engine Light’
Question: My Car Has Check Engine Light. Can I Still Take The Road Test?
Well, I don’t know, so I asked ICBC online. I would prefer a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer, but I didn’t get it.
ICBC says: The check engine light may simply indicate that the vehicle is due for routine service rather than indicate an imminent breakdown.
For this reason, we do not automatically disqualify drivers from using a vehicle that is displaying the check engine light. However, you must be certain that your vehicle will not breakdown during the road test, and you will most likely be questioned about it by an examiner.
Did you know you can ‘Tweet’ ICBC and they’ll write back? Here’s what I got:
Q: How Can I Do The ICBC Road Test ASAP?
Question : What is the best way to take your road test as soon as possible? Is it more effective to call in to book your road test?
I have also heard that people go to a testing center early in the morning and if someone does not show up for their test, the person waiting can take the test in their appointment slot. Is this true?
Yes this was true, but I think with Covid it may not be the same. Standby appointments are not currently available due to Covid.
There are many reasons why a slot may become available (the vehicle might have a crack in the windshield or is unsafe, and then the test will not happen for that person… read this) or the person with the scheduled appointment may not be able to do the test for another reason.
You can also book your road test online.
I have heard a lot of people say they’ve had good luck with this if they check it often, a slot can potentially become available for the near future as it is always changing and being updated.
People change their mind or their plans a lot, leaving you a chance to swoop in.
Back-Up Camera During Road Test
Question: Can I use the back-up camera in my car during my road test?
Yes, yes you can use your back up camera for the driving test. An ICBC examiner says:
You can use a reverse camera, but as a tool – you can’t solely rely on it. We still want to see that you’re looking back when reversing.ICBC Driver Examiner
ICBC FAQ Page (Frequently Asked Questions)
If You Fail Your Novice Driver’s Test In BC, What Will Happen?
Failing the ‘N’ Road Test
It’s not the end of the world. You just get your license back so that you can keep practicing and learning. No biggie. Even I failed my first road test.
You won’t have your license taken away just for failing a road test. I believe you have to wait 2 weeks before being able to do the road test again.
*There may be different rules for seniors doing re-exams and for people with licenses from other countries.
Question: Can I Take My B.C. Road Test Using A Vehicle With An Alberta License Plate?
Yes you can. Or another vehicle with a license plate from another province, as long as it is properly licensed and insured. It must be a Canadian license plate.
As per ICBC:
10 most common reasons a vehicle might not be accepted for a road test:
1. Cracked or illegally tinted windshield or windows 2. Dash warning lights (e.g. air bag) that affect the safe operation of the vehicle 3. Seatbelts not working or frayed 4. Brake lights, signal lights or headlights not working or with badly cracked or missing lenses 5. Vehicle not properly licensed or insured 6. Unsafe or illegal vehicle modifications 7. Horn not working 8. Unsafe tires 9. Doors or windows not operating (e.g. doors don’t open from inside) 10. Gas tank or electric charge too low
Bonus Tip: Remember Your Pre-Trip Inspection ‘Walk Around’
This isn’t anything ridiculously fancy. But you do need to walk around your vehicle before driving every time. You need to get at least a visual on all 4 tires, not just 2. Check that the tires are in good shape and the path between the tires is clear. And check the blind area that you will be driving through. If you’ll be driving forwards, check the front blind area. If you will be backing, be sure to walk around the back of the car and check that area.
If you haven’t taken driving lessons and are going for your ICBC road test, I would recommend getting at least one driving lesson from a good driving school instructor, if you can find one. There are a lot of little details that the examiners are strict about.
Brand new drivers don’t need to be perfect, but you should be safe in all your decisions, doing nothing illegal, and never looking confused by the rules of the road. A little confidence is a good thing.
Most people seem to be worried about parking. And while that is a valid concern, it’s much more important to be concerned with your intersection turns, turning right, turning left, going straight at intersections. This is where crashes happen most frequently, and it’s where you really need to know what you’re doing.
Keep practicing and make sure you’ve driven at least 60 hours if you are keeping track. There are long wait times for the road test these days. If you need to book another road test, keep checking the online booking system frequently because you can often get a spot when someone cancels. Good luck!