How to take the driving theory test in Italy

Update : From January 2011, theory tests are required to be done in Italian.

Back when I was living in Singapore, I went through the usual routine of getting a motorcycle license – registering in Bukit Batok Driving Center, taking the driving theory test, going for practical motorcycle lessons and then getting a license after passing the practical motorcycle test. And since then, I’ve been riding and having fun in my journeys such as the Vespa Ladies day out and the trip to Malacca with my fellow Vesporeans.

But since coming to Italy, I thought that it would be as simple as to just convert it. But in the end, it seems that my riding license isn’t valid here. I’m not certain why, but it could be partly because as a commonwealth country, as we drive on the left, like in the UK. Moreoever, conversions can only be done for people staying for less than a year in Italy. Since I’m staying here long term, I just might as well take retake my license.

Hence somewhere early June, I registered at a driving school to undertake the A3 license which will allow me to ride all types of motorcycles.

Anyway, when enrolling you’d need to get ready some items :

  • Permesso di soggiorno – Your permit to stay in Italy
  • Carta D’Identita – The Italian Identity Card
  • Codice Fiscale – This is similar to the Social Security Number
  • Marca da bollo – This is a stamp that can be bought at Tabaccaio. Costs about 14 euro
  • 3 nice ID sized pictures of yourself
  • Money for the driving school. It costs 180 Euro for my entire lessons.
  • Money for the driving theory test. It costs 80 Euro.

After which, you’ll be given an appointment with a doctor. He will do a colour blind check, blood pressure check as well as an eye sight test. Once he’s validated your physical fitness, you will get a paper certifying that you are physically able to drive.

And then you can commence with the theory lessons.

The driving school that I go to, L’ACI was publicised as having English speaking staff. As I am still not very fluent in Italian, I thought that it would be better for me to learn in English. Unfortunately, the staff are not very fluent in English either so I had to rely on Cart on helping me. But the staff were friendly and patient, and there were always someone to assist you when you need help.

My only qualm is that my lessons doesn’t seem to follow a table. You only get information when you start each day itself. I would have preferred to know what I was studying in advance.

But in any case, it wasn’t too bad. As mentioned, the staff were patient so I can always ask to clear any doubts. And because they are not fluent in English, I was able to learn more Italian words and terms. So it was a fair trade-off. Regardless, it would be useful to supplement your learning with a textbook. I recommend reading this book, L’Esame Per La Patente di Guida Per Cittadini Stranieri – Inglese by Essebi.

This book is supposed to be translated from Italian to English by Simon Creasey and Mike Farrell who gives me the impression that they are native english speakers but the translated part doesn’t sound very smooth or natural. You’ll see instances in the book where they spelled Motorbikes as Motorbykes. And Kilometer as Chilometer.

Regardless, it is still very useful in knowing the rules and terminologies needed for the theory test. The proof is in how my book is starting to get frays from all the flipping and turning.

Most importantly though, I recommend that you do as much sample quizzes as possible. Its NOT ENOUGH just to read the book. With over 300 quiz combinations, it’ll test your road-worthyness knowledge.

In each quiz there are 10 questions. And each question, there are 3 parts where you answer Vero or Falso. The school provided me with an online simulation of the quiz which made me solidify even more what I’ve learnt. And one thing that I’ve realised is that the test is really tricky mostly because of the play in words as well as signs that look similar to each other. So you have to be very very vigilant and not be tricked.

And again, the English translation sometimes are really frustrating. Hence I feel that its very useful if you know at least a basic amount of Italian, just to flip the translation from English to Italian once in a while so you don’t get tricked by this.

I’m quite annoyed with this one because of the translation. Tempo in Italian means time, not speed. So I should have gotten another point

Nevertheless, do as many quizzes as possible. Aim for less than 4 errors as you only pass when you get 26 points and above. And don’t feel too deflated when you don’t do well in the beginning. Better to do mistakes here than to pay an additional 80 Euro for a re-test! Soon you’ll get a feel of the mechanics. I only felt a little more confident as my statistics went better as I went along.

So continue to do the simulation tests. As my friend Lynn would say, do it in the toilet even! Seems very fastidious, but trust me, when the day comes you’ll feel more confident as you have enough artillery to go to war.

On the day of the exam, you could do some last minute quizzes if you like to, but I’d rather spend the last few hours before the exam to relax and listen to some music to calm my nerves.

To take the exam, you’ll have to reach a place called the Motorizzazione Civile – for the one in Rome, it is located at Via Del Fosso Dell’Aqua Acetosa Ostiense 9. Try to be there at least 15 minutes before your allocated time as they don’t allow late candidates inside the hall.

And don’t forget to bring along your original copy of your Permesso Di Soggiorno and your Carta D’Identita as well as the documents (such as the medical certificate) that the driving school has provided you.

When you see a plentiful of people carrying books, trying to do some last minute cramming, you know you are at the right place.

Anyhow, an invigilator will come out to take your attendance after which, you’ll enter a room full of monitors. The monitors do not display anything at the moment. You’ll be allocated a seat and after which you’ll need to show your documents. And then you’ll be handed a white smart card. This card will be used to be inserted in the central processing unit and you’ll see your monitor starting up. For the first few minutes, the invigilators will explain to the candidates on how to use and navigate through the touch monitor.

And then you do your quiz in 30 minutes. Read calmly. After doing your regular quizzes, this should be second nature. As always, try to compare the english translation with the Italian one just to double check. Even when you see people completing their quizzes in less than 30 minutes, use your remaining time to double check your answers because sometimes there could be some careless mistakes done in haste. No point doing it fast anyway because its not like you’ll get additional points for completing it fast. Moreover the results will be announced after everyone is done.

Once the time is almost up and you are ready to lock in, click on the confirm button. You hand the smart card back to the invigilator and exit the hall where you and fellow candidates wait for the results to be announced. After a while, the invigilators will announce your result. But they will only tell you if you got a pass or a fail though. I tried to ask how many points I had in total but the information wasnt delved and details will only be known after a day or two online.

Anyway, for now, I’m happy to let you know that this lady is one step closer to riding a scooter because …

I passed my Driving Theory Test! yay!

Update : I passed my riding test too! AND my driving exam! 🙂

6 Replies to “How to take the driving theory test in Italy”

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  2. hi rinaz congrats!!!
    i also had my theory test a month ago for patente B.
    i did not enroll at any school.
    i just bought the book that you suggested, did self-study and went through hundreds of online tests.
    4 hours from now, i will have my practical driving test…
    i hope to pass!!!
    mamma mia che fatica!!!!!
    italian language is really a barrier!!!

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