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Chinese Driving Lessons: Studying for the test




Tourist Sign

Tourist directions sign

In preparation for a three-month road trip round the US in January, I’m trying to get my Chinese driving license.

It’s been a long while since I’ve driven, so once I have the license I can practice driving here before we travel. I’m sure that driving in the US will be a whole lot easier and safer than here in China.

For people who already have a foreign license, we just need to take a multiple-choice questionnaire to qualify for a Chinese license.

There is a question bank of ~1300 questions, and from these you have to answer 90/100 correctly in 45 minutes. Many of are either common sense or based on international driving laws. Others are less obvious…

Here are a few of my favourites, with the correct answer in bold type.

Not helping

The downloaded official study guide I was using had some of the correct answers as blatantly wrong:

The cycle for recording the accumulated penalty points for violating road traffic safety regulations is
A. 3 months B. 6 months C. 12 months D. 24 months

The cycle for recording the accumulated penalty points for violating road traffic safety regulations is
A. 3 months B. 6 months C. 12 months D. 24 months

The correct answer is C, but one of the later study questions gets it wrong. This was rumoured to carry through into the electronic test. For example:


Ce n’est pas un tunnel…

Is this the sign for a tunnel?
True or False?

I got that question in the real test and couldn’t decide whether to answer that it was a tunnel, or to deliberately answer it wrong, as per the study guide.


The safety advice is also unexpected. Option D is official advice to avoid drowning:
After a vehicle falls into water, the wrong method for the driver to rescue himself is to __________.
A: Close the window to prevent water from flowing into the vehicle
B: Immediately use hand to open the door
C: Let the water to fill up the driver’s cab so that the water pressure both inside and outside is equal
D: Use a large plastic bag to cover the head and tight the neck closely

…or how to avoid drowning by suffocating yourself first.

Chinese Police Hand Signals

Heeeeey Macarena

More health and safety advice:

When a head-on collision is unavoidable, the driver should free the steering wheel, raise the leg and lie sidewards on the right seat at the moment of the head-on collision. This can ensure his body is not stuck by the steering wheel.
True or False?

True…apparently it’s best to undo the seat belt and duck out of the way of all those dangerous airbags…

When a ball rolls onto a road, the driver should __________.
A: Maintain the original speed
B: Swiftly bypass
C: Immediately reduce speed and be prepared to stop anytime so as not to hurt the chasing children
D: Ride over the rubber ball

E. Bonus points for slowing down and riding over the rubber ball, whilst smiling at the children.

When encountering a traffic accident on the road, the driver should bypass or make a U turn to escape as fast as possible and should never go and help transport the injured persons.
True or False?

Traffic Sign

Stop to yield

If you do bother to stop there is a whole section of first-aid questions, teaching you what to do if someone’s head is squashed under a tyre. Thankfully no pictures to accompany them. Some of the first-aid suggestions also seem more harmful than good.

Here’s a few that weren’t on the UK driving test:

The main feature of pedestrians participating on road traffic is
A. They move slowly
B. They like to get together and look on
C. They are not stable
D. They walk around at will and can easily change directions

E. All of the above

When encountering people carrying load on shoulder poles or carrying farm tools on shoulders, the driver should observe their movement, control speed and pass by keeping a sufficient safe distance.
True or False?

When encountering slow-moving old people crossing the road, the driver may continuously honk to urge them.
True or False?

Few people in China have read that question. Or this one:

When driving, the driver may spit to the road or street out of the window.
True or False?

For studying for the exam the Chinese driving test study website helpfully organises the questions into their categories. This test preparation website is a decent mock-up of that used in the real test.

Next time, how to take the driving test in Beijing.





Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.


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