South African Learner’s Licence Test – Intro – K53

The South African learner’s licence test is not something you can pass without preparing well for it.

This series of Web pages will aim you in the right direction to get a good start so that you can be one of those who pass easily and first time.

The step after that will be for you to take some driving lessons and pass the daunting K53 driving test. This site will help you in that regard too.


Contents of this page

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What the South African Learner’s Licence test covers

Minimum age requirements for a learner’s licence
Disqualifications – what can prevent you from obtaining the licence
What your must have when you apply
What the learner’s licence authorizes
How long a learner’s licence is valid for
How the learner’s licence test is conducted
Pass marks for the test
How to prepare for the test


What the test covers

Know and understand:

  • all the rules of the road (and there are lots of them!)
  • the basics of the K53 defensive driving system
  • what the various vehicle controls are used for (steering wheel, gears, foot-brake, etc.)
  • the meanings of the road traffic signs, signals and painted road markings, and how the driver should respond to each of them

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Minimum age requirements for a learner’s licence

  • Motorcycles 125 cm3 or less (without a side-car): 16 years
  • Light motor vehicles not more than 3,500 kg: 17 years
  • All other vehicles (including motorcycles over 125 cm3): 18 years

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You may not obtain a learner’s licence…

  • if you are currently disqualified by a court of law from driving a motor vehicle
  • if you already hold a valid driveing licence for that class of vehicle
  • if you have a driving licence that is currently suspended or cancelled
  • if you have one of the following :
    • uncontrolled epilepsy or sudden attacks of disabling giddiness or fainting due to hypertension or any other cause
    • any form of mental illness to such an extent that it is necessary that you be detained, supervised, controlled and treated as a patient in terms of the Mental Health Act, 1973 (Act No. 18 of 1973)
    • any condition causing muscular in-coordination or uncontrolled diabetes mellitus
    • defective vision, determined by a prescribed standard
    • any other disease or physical defect which is likely to render you incapable of driving effectively and controlling a motor vehicle without endangering the safety of the public (deafness is not regarded as such a defect)
  • if you are addicted to the use of any drug having a narcotic effect, or to the excessive use of intoxicating liquor.

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What your must have when you apply

  • Be of the minimum age (see above).
  • Meet the health requirements (see above).
  • Pass the eyesight test that is conducted at the testing centre.
  • Have with you your SA identity document or a passport.
  • Have with you two recent passport-size identity photographs (black and white, or colour.
    • Note that some testing stations seem not to want to accept colour photos, but the Legislation states that they are acceptable.

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What the learner’s licence authorizes

Once you’ve passed your learner’s licence test and have been issued with your licence, you will be allowed to:

  • drive on public roads (including freeways), provided you are have a licenced driver with you
    • that driver’s licence must be valid and for the class of vehicle you are driving
    • s/he must be seated next to you or, if that is not possible, then directly behind you.

Note: A learner motorcycle driver may not carry a passenger (not even the driving instructor); you are therefore permitted/required to ride unaccompanied.

You may have passengers in the motor vehicle provided they do not pay you any fare.

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How long a learner’s licence is valid for

The learner’s licence is valid for 24 months from the date of issue. That means you have 24 months in which to learn to drive competently and pass the practical driving test.

It is therefore a good idea to start taking driving lessons as soon as possible after obtaining your learner’s licence.

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How the learner’s licence test is conducted

The official South African learner’s licence test consists of a number of questions for which you must choose the correct answers from several options. This is called a multiple-choice test. At some testing centres you are able to conduct the tests using a computer; otherwise it is a pen-and-paper test. When you call your local traffic department to arrange a booking for your test, ask them whether they use computers or test books for the test.

For the pen-and-paper test you will be given a book of questions, an answer sheet, a chart of road signs and a book showing various road layouts as well as pictures of the controls of a vehicle.

The examiner will explain how the test is to be conducted and which sections you must answer, depending on which class of vehicle you wish to drive once you have qualified.

Make sure you listen very carefully to the instructions. If you’re not sure about any aspect of the testing procedure, don’t be shy to ask. There will probably be other people who need clarification too and your question to the examiner could help those candidates as well.

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Pass marks for the test

Although the allocation of questions and pass marks for the learner’s test may change from time to time , the test normally consists of 64 questions spread across the syllabus as follows:

Pass Mark
Rules of the road 28 22
Road signs, markings, signals 28 23
Controls of the vehicle 8 6


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How to prepare for the test

The South African learner’s licence test is not easy. Some of the questions require some real thought. So it is important to prepare properly, using the best teaching materials available.

For guidance to preparing for the test, start at the Test Preparation page.

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