How to Pass the Iowa Permit Test

iowa-road-signNeed to pass the Iowa permit test but don’t know where to start?  In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the steps required to pass the Iowa permit test, get your permit, and finally go on to earn your unrestricted driving privileges.

Iowa uses a Graduated License Program (GDL), which is designed to help you earn your permit and finally your license over an extended period of time  You will need to pass the permit test as well as gain driving experience under the supervision of a licensed driver before you go on to drive on your own.

In Iowa, the GDL process has three steps:

  • Instruction Permit.
  • Intermediate License.
  • Full License.

Step I: The Iowa Instruction Permit

When you are 14 years old, you can apply for your Instruction Permit (or learner’s permit) in the state of Iowa. While holding this permit, you can practice your driving skills as long as you have a licensed driver age 21 or above in the passenger seat.

Before you can get your permit, you’ll need to pass a written knowledge test (also known as the permit test). During this test, you will demonstrate your knowledge of traffic laws, signals and signs.

Study Hard to do Well

If you want to do well on the exam, you must prepare ahead of time. We provide a free copy of the Iowa Driver’s Handbook for your use, and you can pick up a physical copy by contacting the Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicles Division (MVD).

Take Practice Exams

Practice exams are a surefire way to increase your odds of doing well on the permit test. Our Iowa practice permit test will teach you everything you need to know to pass.

Visit Your Local MVD Facility and Do Your Testing

Before you leave to take your test, make sure you bring:

  • Your parent or guardian. If he or she can’t be present, you must bring a signed copy of the Parent’s/Guardian’s Written Consent Form (Form 430018).
  • Proof of identity (such as a birth certificate or passport).
  • Proof of Social Security number.
  • Proof of residency (such as a school enrollment card).
  • $6 for testing and permit fees.

You’ve studied hard, and now your work is going to pay off. After you pass the permit test, you will also be given a vision test. If you want to drive safely, you must make sure you can see well enough.

Begin Your Driving Practice

Now that you have your permit, you can begin to practice. To move on to the next phase in the GDL process, you must complete 18 hours of supervised daytime practice driving and two hours of night practice. You are also required to sign up for a state-approved driver’s education course and complete 30 hours of classroom training and six hours of behind-the-wheel training with your instructor.

Note: In the state of Iowa, drivers who carry the Instruction Permit have the option of applying for a Minor School License (MSL) when they are 14 and a half years old. This license will allow you to drive without supervision as long as you are going to or from a school-related activity between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. You must live within one mile of your school, have completed driver’s education, have held your permit for at least six months without any violations and have permission from your parent or guardian to apply for the MSL.

Step II: The Iowa Intermediate License

When you are at least 16 years old, you have held your permit for at least one year without any violations and you have completed all your required training, you can apply for your Intermediate License.

When you are ready, visit your local MVD facility and bring along:

  • Your Instruction Permit.
  • Your parent or guardian and a signed copy of the Parent’s/Guardian’s Written Consent Form (Form 430018).
  • A certificate of completion for your driver’s education course.
  • Proof of identity.
  • Your Social Security number.
  • Proof of residency.
  • $6 for testing and license fees.

At this point, you will be required to take a behind-the-wheel test to show that you know what you’re doing on the road.

The Iowa Intermediate License comes with a few rules:

  • You may not drive between the hours of 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed family member age 21 or older or a designated driver age 25 or older. There is an exception for driving to and from work or school.
  • You must log an additional 10 hours of practice driving, with two of those hours taking place at night. You must be supervised by a parent or guardian age 21 or older while doing this practice.
  • You may not use a cell phone while driving except to dial 911 in an emergency situation.

Step III: The Iowa Full License

When you are 17 years old, you can get your full license as long as you don’t have any traffic violations. You first must have completed all your practice driving. When you have, simply visit your local MVD facility with $4 in license fees, and trade your Intermediate License in for a full license.

Congratulations! You are now an unrestricted driver.

Additional Information

The state of Iowa prohibits all drivers from sending text messages or checking the Internet while driving.