Your First-Time Arkansas Drivers License Guide

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: October 14, 2023

If you’re looking to get your Arkansas drivers license, we’re here to help. Welcome to our step-by-step guide to get you off of your couch and out onto the road. We know you have a lot of questions, so let’s get going.

Steps to Getting Your Arkansas License

If you’re looking to get your Arkansas drivers license, we’re here to help. Welcome to our step by step guide to get you off of your couch and out onto the road. We know you have a lot of questions, so let’s get going.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, getting your first license can be an exciting, scary, and confusing time, sometimes all at the same time. First off, let’s clear up some Arkansas DMV terms. In some cases, it seems they’ve gone out of their way to make it confusing.

Terms (and abbreviations) you should know:

See? I told you they made it confusing!

Who Must Take Arkansas Drivers Ed?

Arkansas is one of the few states with no drivers ed requirement. However, it’s probably not a bad idea for anyone to take a drivers ed course before getting their first license.

The Path to a Arkansas License in a Nutshell

The quick and dirty looks like this:

Now let’s take a look at what it’ll take to get those three steps done.

Step 1—Take Drivers Ed

Again, while there is no requirement for drivers ed, it can help in some key areas:

  1. The Classroom Instruction Phase will make passing the knowledge test easier than just studying the Alabama driver manual.
  2. The Behind-the-Wheel Instruction Phase will not only get you ready for your road skills examination, but it will also get you out on the road to practice your driving.

The classroom portion teaches topics like:

As set forth by the Arkansas Department of Career Education, a quality drivers ed program should encompass 30 hours of classroom instruction as well as six hours of practice driving on public roads and six hours of in-car observation. The classroom portion is designed to assist you in preparing you for your written exam while the behind the wheel portion prepares you not only for your driving test, but will serve to make you a safer driver for years to come.

It may be helpful to know that, for your convenience, Arkansas residents wishing to take drivers ed may do so at their high school or college, at private driving training school, or online.

Perhaps the easiest way is to complete the classroom portion of drivers ed is online. Taking drivers ed online means you can complete this portion at a pace and on a schedule that works best for you.

On the other hand, if you (or your folks) would prefer a traditional driving school experience, check out our guide to selecting the best driving school.

Step 2—Getting Your Permit

Whether or not you have completed drivers ed, you can apply for your instruction permit at age 14. Application for a permit will happen at the State Police Troop Office in your county. The process includes a written test at the office and a driving test that you will schedule afterward.

When you arrive, be sure to have the following:

Check out this list from the DPS to make sure you have all of your paper ducks in a row before you go.

Now it’s time for your written permit test

The test will include questions about:

To pass the 25-question multiple-choice test, you’ll need to score 80%. Here are some suggestions on how to prepare.

How to Pass the Permit Test

Another way to give yourself a leg up on passing the permit test is to consider one (or more) of the following:

A permit practice test has everything the “real” test does, except the pressure. That’s because practice tests feature questions taken from actual DMV exams. It’s like seeing all the answers before the test even begins! Don’t head for your test without a dress rehearsal; you want to pass the first time.

What If Your Test Didn’t Go Like You Planned?

What if you get to the testing center and, despite all your best preparation, your nerves get the best of you, and you wind up failing the test? First, don’t panic. Nearly 1 out of 3 test-takers fail on their first attempt.

If you do happen to fail, here are some tips to get you ready for your next try.

Another Note—If you’re new to Arkansas and started this whole license dance somewhere else, here are some tips that might help.

Next step—Road Skills Test

After passing your written test, it’s time to schedule your road skills test. As you are making your test-day plans, be sure to remember that the office requires that all applicants appear 15 mins prior to his/her assigned appointment. BTW, all office locations are closed from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch.

During the test, you will be observed (and graded) on your ability to perform maneuvers like:

Once you have passed the road skills test, you will receive your learner’s license. 

Step 3—Practice, Practice, Practice

Now it’s time to put that learner’s license to good use. don’t forget: You cannot drive with your permit unless accompanied by a licensed driver aged 21 or older in the front seat. You’ll have to drive six months with your learner’s license before you can move to an intermediate one.

While you might be nervous at first, do your best to enjoy this time and always pay close attention to what’s going on around you. You never know the kinds of things, good and bad, that you might learn from the drivers around you. Also, do yourself the favor of driving in as many conditions as you can, places like:

It’s better if you don’t see these things for the first time on your own. Remember, you’ve got six months to kill, so drive every chance you get. It can only do you good.

BTW—If you are planning a family road trip, you may get the chance to do some practice driving in another state. Check this out to see if you can.

Step 4—Get Your Intermediate License

After six months with your learner’s license, you become eligible for an intermediate license, provided you didn’t have any serious accidents or traffic convictions in the previous six months.

Like your learner’s license, your intermediate license comes with some restrictions:

When you reach 18, you can then step up to a regular drivers license. Upgrading your license is easy as long as your record has been free of serious accidents or traffic convictions in the 12 months preceding your application.