What is the Pre-Licensing Course and how do I find one?

It is a DMV-approved, standardized course that provides the knowledge you will need as a new driver. The course covers many important topics, including:

  • driving within the highway transportation system
  • driver habits and skills
  • feelings, attitudes, and risk-taking
  • alcohol, other drugs, and driving

* The Pre-licensing Course will not give you hands-on driving instruction or prepare you for the driver license road test. If you want hands-on driving instruction from a licensed driving school, you may find a licensed driving school using the driving school locator on our website.

The Pre-Licensing Course includes approximately 5 hours of instruction. New drivers must complete the course before taking a DMV road test and applying for a license, unless they complete the State’s 48-hour Driver Education Program through their local high school or college.

Whichever format you choose, you must have a valid NYS DMV Photo learner permit before you begin the course.

All courses use the same curriculum content. You can find the course curriculum and other information in the Pre-licensing Course Student's Manual (PDF) (MV-277.1) and the Pre-Licensing Course Instructor’s Manual (PDF) (MV-277). This information may be helpful to you before taking the class and as a reference afterwards.


The Classroom Pre-Licensing Course

The Classroom Pre-Licensing Course is delivered through many driving schools, high schools and colleges. You must be at least 16 years old to participate in the classroom course.  


The Distance Learning/Virtual Classroom Pre-Licensing Course

The Distance Learning/Virtual Classroom Pre-Licensing Course is also delivered through many driving schools, high schools and colleges and you must be at least 16 years old to participate. This course is taught live, in real-time, with face-to-face interaction between the instructor and participants, just like in the traditional classroom course, but using distance learning technology. To participate, you must have access to a device capable of connecting to the internet and using web conferencing platform.  When you contact a driving school, high school or college that offers Distance learning Pre-Licensing, they will provide more specific information and instructions about what your device requires to take the course.  

Not all driving schools can deliver the Pre-Licensing Course. To find a course in your area, , search online for “Driving Instruction” or use our driving school locator. Once you find a school that appeals to you, contact the school to confirm whether they deliver the Pre-Licensing Course and in what format – classroom and/or distance learning. From there you can enroll in the course with that school.


A word about completion certificates:

  • You will be issued an MV-278 Pre-Licensing Course Completion Certificate when you successfully complete either the Classroom Pre-Licensing Course or by Distance Learning/Virtual Classroom.

You must have one of these certificates to schedule your road test.  You must bring the original certificate to your road test to turn in to the license examiner.1


The Online Pre-Licensing Course

The Online Pre-Licensing Course is offered by DMV-approved providers through the Pre-Licensing Course Internet Pilot Program. Contact an approved online course provider to enroll in an online course.

You can take the Online Pre-Licensing Course as long as you:

  • are at least 18 years of age, and
  • possess a valid New York State Photo Learner Permit, and
  • have access to a device capable of connecting to the internet.

NOTE:  You will not receive a completion certificate for this course. The course provider will report your completion of the course electronically to DMV (usually within 48 hours). Once your completion is entered on your permit record, you can schedule your road test either online or by telephone at 1-518-402-2100.  The scheduling system will not ask you for a completion certificate.


For how long will my Pre-licensing Course Certificate be valid?

Your Pre-licensing Course Certificate is valid for one year from the date it is issued.  A Student Certificate of Completion of Driver Education is valid for two years. If your Pre-licensing Course Certificate expires, you must complete the course again to receive the certificate required to schedule a road test.

Your certificate must be valid on the date that you make your Road Test appointment but can be expired on the date you take your road test.


Do I need a Pre-Licensing Course Certificate to change my license from one class to another?

No, you do not need a Pre-licensing Course Certificate or a Student Certificate of Completion if you have a valid NY State driver license and you apply to amend to another license Class.


How much supervised practice driving must I get before I take my road test?

If you are under age 18, before you take your road test you must

  • have a minimum of 50 hours of supervised practice driving with
    • at least 15 hours at night (after sunset)
    • at least 10 hours in moderate to heavy traffic
  • bring to the road test a Certification of Supervised Driving (MV-262) completed by your parent or guardian to certify that you have had the required hours of supervised practice driving (you must give the MV-262 to the license examiner each time you take a road test)

We recommend that all drivers of all ages have this amount and type of practice. We also recommend that you take a driver education course or professional driving lessons.

There are additional requirements for motorcycle permits.  See Get a motorcycle license.

Find a driving school for supervised driving instruction

Use our driving school locator


What should I practice for my road test?

  • Steering:  Steer smoothly whether you are driving straight ahead, turning, or backing up.

  • Acceleration:  Accelerate smoothly and moderately. Don't race the engine or cause it to stall.

  • Braking:  Bring the vehicle to a stop gently. Start braking well before your stopping position to avoid abrupt stops. Make sure you stop your vehicle in the proper position of the lane.

  • Clutch/Gears:  Always be sure your vehicle is in the correct gear. With either an automatic or manual transmission, shift into the proper gear at the right time without "grinding" the gears.

  • Speed:  Obey the posted speed limit, of course, but also adjust your speed properly due to weather, road, visibility, and traffic conditions.

  • Following distance:  Keep an adequate space "cushion" between your vehicle and those you are following. Use the "two-second rule" described in the Driver's Manual. Be sure to increase your following distance in poor weather or visibility.

  • Traffic signs, signals, and markings:  Know the meanings of signs, signals, and pavement markings, and obey them consistently.

  • Stopping position:  If a stop is required, stop your vehicle before it reaches an intersecting street. If stop lines or crosswalks are present, stop before crossing them. If your view is blocked after stopping behind the crosswalk, move up until you can see your way, then stop again if necessary.

  • Lane selection and position:  Keep your vehicle in the proper traffic lane, especially when preparing to make turns. Don't allow room for another vehicle to pass you on the side that you are turning toward.

  • Communication: Let other drivers and pedestrians know which way you want to go. Use your directional signals or horn consistently and at the proper times.

  • Observation:  Look for and identify potential problems or hazards in the traffic around you - not just straight ahead, but behind you and on either side. Check your mirrors frequently, but be sure to look over your shoulder behind you when changing lanes or backing up.

  • Anticipate and react:  Anticipate possible driving errors by others and be ready to react safely to make up for their mistakes.

For more information, please contact Driver Training Programs at (518) 473-7174. If you have concerns or would like to submit a complaint, please use our Driving Training Programs Complaint Form (PDF) (DTP-201).

  1. 1. If you lose your certificate, contact the school that issued it to obtain a replacement.

    Applicants who complete the online version of the course will NOT receive a Pre-Licensing Course Completion Certificate (MV-278). The course provider will report course completions to DMV automatically and applicants will NOT have to show a completion certificate when appearing for the road test.