How to Get Your G1 Ontario Driver’s License

Three days ago I took the G1 knowledge test, which I happened to pass with a perfect score. Having just gone through the experience of getting my first Canadian driver’s license, I’d like to take a moment to describe the experience for those who are looking to hear about the process of getting a G1 driver’s license in Ontario. Personally I couldn’t find much on this topic when I searched for it before taking the test, which adds to why I want to recount my experience online.

In Ontario there is a graduated licence system that one must follow in order to obtain their driver’s license. After you’ve passed a vision test and a knowledge test, you obtain your G1 driver license (which is the first of step in the rather lengthy process to achieving your G license).

Obtaining your G1 is definitely cool, however it means that in order for you to actually get behind the wheel of a car, you need to have a fully licensed driver – with at least 4 years of driving experience – with you at all times. After holding a G1 license for 12 months (eight months if you take – and pass – an accredited driving course), you’ll be eligible to take a road test and get a G2 license. The G2 has some restrictions, but it enables you to drive on your own. After an additional 12 months, you’ll be eligible to take a more challenging road test, which if you pass, means that at long last, you’ll graduate to a full G license.

Preparing for the test

As a busy professional, I didn’t have much time to prepare for the written test. I needed to learn all the concepts for the test in just three evenings (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, as I took the test on Saturday morning). In total I spent about 12 hours preparing for the test (4 hours per night).

The first thing I did was to read the official handbook, cover to cover, over the course of the first two nights. I couldn’t find the copy of the book I bought a while back, so I opted to use the free online version instead. Learning the theory from the book, line-by-line, is certainly important but it won’t likely ensure that you actually pass the G1 test. The reason for this is that there are too many arbitrary rules and numbers for you to accurately remember them all without making any mistakes, by simply reading the theory through once.

The key for me was that I spent Friday evening taking practice tests online. I used this free site, and took all the G1 tests they’ve got up there. At first, as you take these online tests, you may make some mistakes, but this is actually a blessing in disguise, as it will help you realize what your strengths and weaknesses are.

In my case, I immediately nailed all the questions that were logical, but did poorer when it came to things that were entirely arbitrary – as such questions about license suspensions rules. So before proceeding further, I read the rules pertaining to this area again, and also thoroughly reviewed the demerit point system. As I worked my way through this information for the second time, I did so with the earnest intent of really memorizing all of those rules and numbers.

Having read through that data a second time, I took the online practice tests once again and pretty much got 100% on all of them (including the lengthy 200 question “marathon” test). I knew at this point that I was ready for the real deal.

I can’t stress enough though, how much you really want to study and practise, because up to 70-80% of people fail their Ontario G1 knowledge test the first time they take it.

Going to the testing center

Believe it or not, I went to the wrong place first. There was an MTO near my house, so naturally I assumed I could take the G1 test there. After waiting in line for 20 minutes, the lady told me that I was at the wrong place. So I had to head over to an actual testing center that was about 20 km away. To save yourself the same kind of hassle and to find the DriveTest examination center nearest you, take advantage of this useful link.

The good news is that you don’t need to book your G1 test ahead of time. You can go anytime the office is open, though they recommend that you show up at least an hour before closing.

As soon as I arrived, I lined up for the help desk, where I was asked what I was there for. I provided my ID, and they asked me if I’d had a driver license before in any other country. After that, I was given a ticket and went to sit down Mr. Bean style as I waited for my turn.

The vision test

After asking you for your ID and having you sign some paperwork, the first thing you’ll do is take a vision test. You are not escorted, as one might expect, into a separate room to take the vision test, instead you stand there in front of the the DriveTest employee, and are instructed to pick up the pair of binoculars that are attached to the desk.

I was a little worried about this test, as I’ve read horror stories about people with good vision being rejected. Thankfully, in reality the test was very simple and straightforward. You’re shown a group of numbers such as “9 3 7 5 3 2″ in three different positions, while you keep both of your eyes opened. Your vision would have to be fairly poor in order for you to mess up those numbers, as they’re printed quite big (they’re larger than the font in this post and they appear even closer to your eyes than your computer screen). Finally, a light goes off on the right or the left, a couple of times, and you need to say on which side the light appeared (this step is done to test your peripheral vision).

Don’t stress about the vision test, even if one of your eyes is weaker than the other, you should have no problem thanks to the fact that both of your eyes are tested at the same time (not one by one, as is sometimes the case at an optometrist’s office).

Going to the testing area

So long as you pass the vision test, you’re immediately asked to pay the $125 test fee, which can be paid via debit card, credit card, or cash. Next they take your photo right then and there, for which you can’t smile and need to keep you chin down as you look at the yellow dot below the camera.

Moving on, they stamp the back of your hand (with a little Government of Ontario logo), and you’re sent to the testing area with a yellow piece of paper with your details on it. You’ll deposit that paper into a basket and take a seat while you wait for the actual writing of the test to commence.

Overall the atmosphere at the testing center was friendly and relatively relaxed. The only worrisome point was seeing how many 16 year old kids were being told that they didn’t pass, and their resulting long faces.

The knowledge test

When they call your name, you head over to the desk and they give you a test form and a pencil (with an eraser, which you’re permitted to use). There are two test sheets, each of which contain 20 questions. The first one is about the rules of the road, while the second set of 20 questions is about road signs.

You need to get at least 16 questions right on EACH of them in order to pass the test. If you get 15 right on one, and absolutely nail the second perfectly, you’ll still fail the test nevertheless and will have to take it again another day (and pay an additional $10 to do so).

The “real world” test questions are remarkably similar to those on the online practice tests. In fact, most of them are included on the real test verbatim. If your memory is any good, you’ll run through and answer most of questions in a matter of seconds. In my case, I had all 40 questions answered in about 5 minutes. I found the test to be quite easy after practising online. If you got 100% on the online marathon test, it’s likely you won’t fail the real test because you’ll be presented with virtually the same questions and format.

Keep in mind that sometimes there will be trickier questions. However, with some common sense you should be able to figure them out. For example, one question asked what the number one cause of skids on the road was. The possible answers included over-inflated tire pressure, going too fast (speeding), and ice or snow.

While realistically the majority of skids will happen on ice or snow, particularly in Canada, you have to answer the way they want you to answer. When the weather conditions are good, speed is the number one cause of skids. When there is black ice on the road, too much speed in relation to the road condition is still the actual cause of skids. So, while it may be tempting to go with “ice or snow”, what you really want to select instead is “speed”.

When you’re done answering the questions, you deposit your test in a tray and your pencil in another, and then have a seat again. After five or so minutes, they’ll call you up and tell you whether or not you passed the test. If you passed, they’ll hand you a yellow paper that includes your test score, as well as your temporary G1 license (which is a piece of thick A5 paper). Your actual plastic license will be mailed out and reach you in about two weeks.

Having passed your G1 test, you can now leave the testing center and go celebrate! (The whole experience at the testing center took about 45 minutes for me.)

My next step will be to find an accredited driving school in North York and take (and pass) their course, so that I can take the road test at the end of November an obtain my G2 license.

I hope this firsthand account helps others out there who are preparing for the first time to get their G1 license. Best of luck to all of you!

Comments

  1. Hari Prasad says:

    Thanks you so much for the info..its of great help.

  2. My pleasure, Hari. Best of luck to you.

  3. Do you know how much it was to write you G1 exam. We are searching on line but, can’t find that information. Thank you

  4. Hi Denise,the G1 exam was $125, as I mention in the post above.Best of luck,Antonio

  5. i heard you can go to write your g1 test 5 months before your birthday or something..is this true :o ?

  6. Hi Von,

    unfortunately you need to be 16 years old at the time of application. (See FAQ #4 on the official DriveTest site: http://www.drivetest.ca/en/faq/FAQ.aspx.)

  7. What happens if I fail the test? Will I have to pay a second time the next time I take the test?

  8. Matthew, you can take the test again and only pay $10 each time you re-try.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thanks. Before I read this article, I didn’t really know what to expect with regards to the G1 test.

  10. Cassy Tru says:

    Thanks very much, I had no idea what to expect or how much I should study beforehand

  11. Thank you so much!

  12. Thank you for the interesting blog.

  13. You should be able to cut the wait between G1 and G2 from 12 months to 8 months by taking a class. These include 2-3 days of classroom time and driving practice. I found one in old timey yellow pages, but there should be more modern methods of finding one these days.

    Btw, the floatinG like bar is pretty horrible on the Blackberry browser.

    • Hi Leons,

      thanks for stopping by. I’m aware of the eight month waiting period when taking a certified MTO course. In fact I’m looking for a good school these days. Young Drivers appears to be the gold standard, but they are awfully expensive. I’ll need to make an executive decision on this matter soon though.

      Many thanks also for the feedback in regards to the floating bar. I’m going to see if I can find a less conspicuous positioning for it.

  14. Hi , so if you fail your g1 rule part of test twice and decide to go back another time to do it again do you have to repay the $125 dollars or can you just pay $10?

  15. Natasha Durgen says:

    Hello Antonio. Where can I go online to practise. i have read the book but would love to do a online practise quiz before i go in to write my G1. thanks

  16. Alexandra Briscoe says:

    That was awesome! Thanks so much for posting your experience :) Now I have an idea of what to expect tomorrow !

    Alexandra

  17. Dear Antonio,

    Thank you so much for this post. I was looking online for some useful information regarding the G1 written test but even the MTO’s website didn’t have anything good. I’ll be sure to check out your other posts as well.

    As I was reading your post, new questions were forming in my head to which your answered appeared shortly after. This is called perfect writing. Now I don’t know what you do for a living, but I’m darned sure you are very successful at it.

    Oh, and congratulations on your G1 license by the way (and also the road test if you finally managed to find affordable classes – in which case I would appreciate a reference, otherwise good luck for the end of this month!).

    All the best,
    Fardad

  18. OMG finally found someone actually wrote down their experience of G1!!! I thought I had to call the test place and make a appointment but seeing your post now that I dont need too! so I gotta say the vision test is weird, they give you a binocular?

    Do they ask for 2 IDs? Or just one?

    • Hi Jade,

      I was asked for one ID only. The vision test is really easy, so it’s not something worth worrying about. :) The “binocular” is attached to the desk, so you look into it rather than having them hand it to you.

  19. thanks for the info, i just went for my test and failed it by 2 questions, so i figured id come home and get a little more studying in, only to keep thinking i got ripped off thinking i would have to pay another 125 bucks, im glad its only 10 bucks everytime after if you fail, i was ready to write a letter lol, thanks again :)

  20. Thanks for posting this info which is really helpful. I’m wonderfing the website you practice free online is really the same formate and same questions as the real written test. I am also practicing the same website as you, but I’m afraid that is not enought for practicing.

  21. Thanks for the very useful info! The MTO website isn’t as informative.

  22. Hi, I took my g1 without giving my indian driving licence and now i have to wait for 1 year. Can I produce my driving licence and waive my waiting period ?

  23. What if I just want to take the G1 test for now, which comes to 10 bucks. Or is that not an option and I have to pay the entire package price?

    And by the way, this is an extremely useful post. Thank you.

  24. Chelsea says:

    Hi :)

    I was wondering, I’m turning 16 in 2 months and I’m already doing some practice tests and reading the book. When you first go there, they ask for I.D right? What sort of I.D? I heard from my friends that already took it, that you need photo I.D. Unfortunately my Ontario health card doesn’t have my picture on it yet and I don’t have a passport. So does that mean I have to wait till I do get photo I.D?

  25. Ricky Shoker says:

    This information was most useful. I passed my G1 exam this morning. Links for practice tests were very helpful. Thanks!

  26. I’m taking the test tommorow i think?!? And I was wondering what percent I have to get to pass?

  27. Shinedle says:

    I got 5 wrong on the rules test. Do I have to take the whole test again or just the rules?

  28. Amy Winchester says:

    This is incredible! I’ve tried simple googling ‘getting my g1″ and nothing has been that helpful, until I found this. Thank you so much!

  29. Thank you so much for sharing the experience.. the best blog I could find on the topic.
    God Bless…

  30. Great & insightful post, Antonio! Thank you for writing it!

  31. hey i was told that i can take my g1 test in ontario 3 months before my 16 birthday is this true? i lived in ontario and i have my truck ready to go just wanna know if theres a way i can get my g2 faster?

    thanks

  32. This is the most informative blog and piece of information i have ever read anywhere about getting a G1 license and taking the test. I always thought it was much more complicated than this. Being an adult in my mid 20′s it is kind of embarrassing that i don’t have my license yet however iam now at ease because it sounds quite easy. Thank you for this!!!

    • Hey Lauren,

      I’m also an adult getting my G1 license later than the average person, so you aren’t alone in that. I am a bit nervous/anxious over the entire process (getting to the test center test, bringing appropriate ID, PASSING the test etc), even though I have been studying quite a bit. However, this blog has been really helpful in letting me know what to expect!

  33. loraine says:

    I was wondering if you are not a permanent resident – can you still begin the process using your passport as ID?

  34. loraine says:

    bide the way, best driving license post ever !

  35. Very helpful post. Read it two days ago. Already had practiced on some other websites but ran through the marathon questions on the site mentioned above. Went to Brampton Drive Test today. The centre was v.v. Busy and some of the staff was on their lunch breaks therefore the whole experience took me about 2 hours.Passed my G1 and was given an exemption for 1 year waiting period due to my home country’s licence. So now gonna find an instructor and start practicing. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  36. Thanks so much! Your personal account is awesome! I also found little info as to how to go about obtaining a licence. I was just going to go to the service centre down the street. Hope these marathon tests help me pass. Definately not a road less travelled to get this licence!

  37. Melissa says:

    Information on obtaining the G1 was very accurate, except for this: If you fail your G1 test, you can pay the $10 on the same day and do it over again immediately. You dont have to leave and come back another day if you dont want to. After all, they show you the test, so you will see which questions you got wrong. If you are comfortable doing it over, just pay your $10 and go again.

  38. Hey Antonio, I just wanted to thank you for this blog even though I already knew ALL of this since I took the test last week but failed. I got a 15/20 on road and 20/20 on signs. Your information is 100% accurate so I wanted to thank you on behalf of all viewers including myself. Great job and thanks for taking your time to write this blog. Take Care!

    ~ Kannon

  39. Jeremy Kamutzki says:

    Thanks very much for this article! it was extremely useful for me, as well as the practice tests. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to study for this as well as my exams, but after spending approx. an hour doing practice tests, my scores were around 95%, so I think i will be able to take this as well as study for my exams. Thanks very much for taking the time to write this article!

  40. raj randhawa says:

    hi antonio i already cleared my g1 test. I was new here and didn’t show my experience. Is that possible if i show experince to them now??

  41. Anonymous says:

    Somebody mentioned to me that I do not have to wait for months after my G1 license to obtain my G2 if I am over the age of 18, is that true or would I have to take driving classes to shorten the time period in between the tests?

    • Unfortunately that’s not the case. I took the G1 when I was 30. You’ll have to wait 12 months regardless of your age before taking the G2 test, unless you take an approved driving course (in which case, there is an 8 month waiting period).

  42. Thank you indeed, it great info.

  43. Heather_J says:

    Hello, Antonio
    I am preparing G1 test, and this info helps alot.
    There’s not much info on the Internet;;
    Thank you

  44. Hey man this is great! im 16 and really needed help finding info as there is hardly ANY on the web. thanks for taking the time to write this as it helped me and im sure has helped many others in my positiion :)

  45. Hi Antonio,
    I was told by a friend of mine that if you go and give your G1 test right on your 16th birthday, you only have to pay $10
    do you know if this is true or not?

    • Unfortunately not true, Aisha. Best of luck.

      • Carina Peralta says:

        Hi Antonio,

        I read all the comments…..just like to clarify,so if I am still on a working visa here,I won’t be able to apply for a G1 license and have to wait for my PR, is that right? Coz I am planning to take the tests this August so that when I have my PR and my kids here coming from my country I already have a G license.

  46. Katherine says:

    Hello, thank you for this post. I know what to expect tomorrow :) kind of:) I am getting my G1 @ a late age:( I never had the need for one. Now I am 32 and regret it. I will be back tomorrow here and let you know how it went. Also I looked up some classes and they are pricy! yikes! Did you get your full G yet? or are you @ G2? if so can you make a post what to expect for the G2 test? what they are looking for? if you passed for your G2 what was the hardest thing?

    • Hi Katherine,

      I got my G2 equivalent in BC, because I moved there early in the year. Best of luck.

      • Katherine says:

        I got my G1! YAY! I only got 1 wrong :) the site you suggested for practice test was perfect! Helped a lot! so to celebrate when we got back (dad came with me-hubby out of town) my dad wanted me to get the feel behind the wheel, so we did, I got in and automatically got sick to my stomach thinking of driving. For now I will just soak it in, and book some lessons. Looking forward to my new Freedom @ 32!..hahahahahaha.. Thanks again for this blog!

  47. Your blog is very useful and helpful. It is also very encouraging and help anyone (and I for one) to get some courage and do it knowing what is the process involve. Thank you for posting it and I do hope to pass the test and try the online test you have suggested.

  48. Hi, I was wondering, if you fail the test once and decide to take it again the day after, is there any restriction (in other words a cooling-off period before i can take it again)?

  49. Thank you so much for the post, it helps a lot :)

  50. Thank you so much. I now know what to expect. I’m getting my G1 tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll pass :D

  51. thanks. this was very helpful.

  52. Priyantha K.L. Arachchige says:

    Thanks very much. It really helpful and give a clear picture about the test and the related procedures..

  53. Eli Rodreagez says:

    Thanks for the post! I was just wonder if the room where you wrote the test is really full, as I think it would be less stressful to wright in a room with less people.

  54. Thanks for your detailed account! I was just wondering, do they allow you to take your test score out of the room with you? Like to show your parents or take home with you (and is tha tyellow piece of paper the only place where the score will be written)? Also, is it all multiple choice?

  55. this was so helpful! thank you

  56. Very useful article. Thanks for posting.

  57. kadiyala venkat says:

    hii antnio..a gud info by u… i am from india….i had my indian license from past 3 years..is it necessary for me to wait
    8months or 1 year after G1 test? thank u

  58. Thanks a lot for this. Been doing the marathon tests quite a bit and I’m feeling more and more confident as I go a long. Really have an insight of what to expect now.

  59. Hi!
    Thanks 4da info!its really useful.am going for my test next week and this really helpd!!

    F……..M

  60. thanks for the information , there lots of details, fantastic.
    im preparing for my g1 , probably going in 3 days

  61. Aaron Schwartz says:

    Very useful. Well done. Thank you.

  62. YOU say ” There are two test sheets, each of which contain 20 questions. The first one is about the rules of the road, while the second set of 20 questions is about road signs. You need to get at least 16 questions right on EACH of them in order to pass the test.”

    ”Adam says: on
    December 9, 2011 at 1:46 am
    thanks for the info, i just went for my test and failed it by 2 questions, so i figured id come home and get a little more studying in”

    My Question is—- how many wronges can you make in the 2 tests that contains 20 questions on each sheet?
    Is it 4 wrongs in each test,
    or is it 2 wronges in each test to fail.

    “CONFUSED” >_<

    pls confirm, Thanks!!

    Sha

    • Hi Sha,

      if you get 4 wrong question on each test (a total of 8) you’ll pass. If you get 5 wrong on one test and 0 wrong on the second test you’ll fail (despite the fact that the total is only 5). To pass you need to get 4 or fewer wrong answers in each of the two tests. Adam probably got 6 wrong answers (so 2 on top of the 4 allowed).

  63. Is this any way u can do it online? like do the real test!!

  64. My birthday is December 31st.. Do you know if it would be open then? And is it true that after January 1st 2013 you can’t get your G1 until you’re 18?

  65. Very useful. Thank you.
    and which driver school is better? the lower price .

  66. Hey, I was just wondering how long it took you to receive your g1 license? I have been waiting a month for mine to come!

  67. Hi Antonio,

    I went to take the G1 Test today, for the first time. The experience was how you exactly described it in your blog. Knowing what to expect inside the testing centre helped me ease my nervousness a bit. And yeah, I passed! :) Thank you for your help!

    S.G.

  68. Hi there,
    Just wondering if you would know if the vision test is the same as you described it now in 20!2? My left eye is weaker than my right one so I’m nervous about it. Thanks.

  69. Hi there i just got my G1 yesterday and was put on my parents insurance today. How do i get my legit G1 liscense like photo card? Is it just sent in the mail? Or do i have to notify them for them to mail it?

  70. thanks so much! this is so helpful ~~~ I have been thinking about taking the G1 test for a long while, but every time I googled, not enough info about it, then I let the idea go after 5 min browsing…
    After reading this post, I will take my exam this Saturday!

  71. Hi Antonio,
    I have two queries
    1) Does that matter if I have a driving license from another country which esatablishes that I have prior drving experience.
    2) what are the operational hours of the drive test centers and are they open on Saturdays

  72. Thanks so much for this. I’m actually taking my G1 next week or so and I didn’t know if you had to book ahead of time. But on top of that, you gave me a bunch of great information. I really appreciate it. I’m the same as you. I have trouble with the rules but the signs are just fine. I took the marathon test like you said and got 93% on it, which isn’t a 100% like you, but I’m guessing it’s just fine. Thanks again. Hope you do great on your G2 test! :D

  73. thanx , very useful info…i feel very relaxd now…

  74. Hey so im just wondering in london ON the drive test center isn’t open on the weekends witch is the only time i can do it what should i do? Im wanting to get my G1

  75. Nicely done, Antonio.
    I am taking the G1 test this week and your blog covers a lot. Thanks a bunch for sharing your experience and for the helpful links!
    Elvy

  76. THanks soooo much for this!!! I’ve been stressing out for the past week about this test, and your step by step examination calmed me right down. I’m taking the test tomorrow.Hopefully I’ll pass!

  77. very helpful information…thank you very much

  78. Thanks you ! very helpful

  79. Hi i failed in rule part, now again i hv to attend both part?

  80. thank you very very much! the world needs more kindly people like you!

  81. Couldn’t find anything about the G1 exam online that was as informative as your post here. Thanks a ton for this!

  82. How long are the courses after the g1 please

  83. Thank you for this! You inspire me to take the test this Saturday! I’ve been procrastinating this test for 3 years.lol! I am so really scared!

  84. Inzamam Haque says:

    Hey! This was a nice walk through the whole procedure. But did you find a good accredited driving school in north York? Young drivers and CAA are the best but they are so expensive. Which one did u end up going to? Would be great if you could let me know. Thanks!

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