With the impending purchase of an apartment here in Amsterdam, I figured it was probably a good idea to go ahead and get a Dutch driver’s license (called a ‘ribewijs’). American driver’s licenses are only valid for 6 months after you move here, unless you have the 30% ruling, in which case you can exchange it for a Dutch license. Since I’ve been here almost a year and a half, and don’t have the 30% ruling, that means I have to go through the standard testing system to get my license.
First, there is the ‘Driving Theory’ exam. After you pass that, you next take the ‘Practical Exam’, which is where you actually get behind the wheel. Yesterday was my Theory exam. You make a reservation online ahead of time, and fork over €38 for the privilege.
The exam consists of 65 questions total. The first 25 are situational questions where you are shown a picture of a car on a street in certain predicaments, and have to decide whether you should: A) Brake, B) Release the Accelerator, or C) Do Nothing. You must get 13 of these 25 right. The next section is 40 questions on the rules of the road. It can literally be anything from speed limits on gravel roads to the order of priority between bicycles, trams, disabled persons, and cars. Some questions are Yes/No, some are multiple choice, and others ask you to fill in specific numbers, such as the BAC limit for drivers with a license less than 5 years old. You must get at least 35 of these 40 correct.
The questions are displayed on 2 screens in the front of the room, and every seat in the room has a small device built into the table for entering your responses. The man seated next to me was from Florida, and there were a few other Americans in the room, along with some Brits, and people from other countries who wanted to take the test in English. The English version is only offered roughly once every 2 weeks in Amsterdam. Other cities may have different schedules.
After taking the test, the moderator leaves the room to get the results. When she comes back, she walks to each person and announces “Not Good” or “Congratulations”. I was the first person to get the results, and it was a “Not Good”. I had passed the first section, but failed the second. You are allowed to leave once you have your results. The Americans next to me and behind me both failed. Of the first 5 people to have their results announced, 4 failed. One lady failed for the 3rd time. Evidently the pass rate is only about 40%.
I was disappointed, but to be fair, I did half-ass the studying. I got an English-language guide to road signs from a government website, and then paid for 2 hours of studying/testing on another website. 2 hours was not enough. There were whole sections that I didn’t get to, and therefore had to guess when questions about those areas came up. I’ll study some more and re-take the test. At almost €40 a pop, and with most people failing, this is a pretty good money-maker for the Dutch government. Glad I could help stimulate their economy. Let’s hope the second time is a charm.