If you’re looking to obtain your driver’s licence in Alberta, you’ll need to go through the province’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program.
This program is designed to provide new drivers with plenty of practice and experience before they drive independently with minimal restrictions. In Alberta, the GDL program is split into two classes: the Class 7 licence and the Class 5 licence. The entire process requires a minimum of three years to complete, though going through driving school can shorten this time.
Here’s what you need to know about each step in Alberta’s GDL program:
Summary: Alberta’s GDL Program
Alberta’s GDL program is split into two parts – the Class 7 and Class 5 Licenses:
- The Class 7 licence
- Who can get this license? Anyone living in the province of Alberta aged 14 or over, that passes a vision test.
- What is it? A learner’s permit, that allows you to practice with an experienced driver.
- What does it take to get? Pass a written knowledge test on traffic signs, rules of the road, and safe driving practices. You need a minimum score of 25 / 30 (80%) to pass.
- The Class 5 licence
- Who can get this license? Individuals who have had their Class 7 license for a minimum of 12 months while maintaining a clean driving record.
- What is it? A full driver’s license, that allows you to drive unaccompanied.
- What does it take to get? Pass an in-car road test at any driving test centre.
Summary: Licensing Fees
There are a few major fees that you’ll be required to pay as part of Alberta’s GDL process:
Knowledge test for Class 7 licence $17.00
Road test for Class 5 licence $83.00
Five-year licence $93.00
The Class 7 License
How do I get my Class 7 License in Alberta?
To obtain a Class 7 licence, novice drivers must:
- Be at least 14 years old (you can apply for the licence up to two months before your 14th birthday)
- Pass a vision test
- Pass a knowledge test at a registry agent office (the test covers traffic signs, rules of the road, and safe driving practices). The knowledge test is a multiple-choice exam that is available in English and French. It takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, and you must achieve a score of at least 25 out of 30 to pass
What are the restrictions of the Class 7 License?
Once you’ve obtained your Class 7 licence, you’ll be allowed to drive with a supervising driver who is at least 18 years old and has a Class 5 licence or higher. You’ll need to display a “supervised driver” sign on the back of your vehicle, and you won’t be able to drive between midnight and 5 a.m. You’ll also need to maintain a zero-blood alcohol level while driving.
What should I bring to my Class 7 License knowledge test?
Since the Class 7 Licence knowledge test is a theory-based exam, there’s not much you need to bring with you. You’ll need:
- Two pieces of identification (e.g., passport, health card, birth certificate)
- Money for test fees – cash, debit or credit card
- Glasses or contact lenses (if you need to wear them to drive)
How can I practice for the Class 7 Licence knowledge test?
Typically, we find the best way to practice for the knowledge test is to develop a study strategy that uses a combination of the Alberta Driver’s Guide and a rigorous exam-like prep course. The Class 7 exam is entirely based on the Alberta Driver’s Guide, so understanding the guide well is key to passing the exam. That said, the Driver’s Guide can be a bit confusingly laid out, and internalizing / memorizing the information contained within is tough. That’s why we recommend pairing the Alberta Driver’s Guide with a well-designed prep course, so that you can get actual exam-like practice before going in for your test.
In order to evaluate a prep course, you’ll want to make sure that it covers the rules of the road, signs, markings, signals, and safe driving practices, since these will be the topics covered on the exam. While there are some great free resources out there, they often have limited coverage and don’t necessarily save your progress or results.
Remember to study and practice regularly, and don’t wait until the last minute to start preparing for the exam. Good luck on your Class 7 knowledge test!
What happens if I fail the Class 7 licence knowledge test?
If you fail the Class 7 licence knowledge test in Alberta, you will need to wait at least one day before you can retake the test. There is $17 a fee for each test attempt, so you will need to pay again to take the test. Fortunately, there is no limit on the number of times you can retake the test – the government of Alberta allows you to write the test as many times as needed in order for you to pass the test.
If you have failed the test multiple times, it may be a good idea to take a Class 7 Licence Prep Course to help you prepare for the exam.
How long do I need to wait before getting my Class 5 licence?
As a Class 7 licenceholder in Alberta, you are required to hold your Class 7 licence for a minimum of 12 months before you can take the Class 5 basic road test. However, if you take an approved driver education course, you may be eligible to take the Class 5 basic road test after only 8 months of holding your Class 7 licence. Keep in mind that passing the Class 5 basic road test is not the only requirement for obtaining a Class 5 licence. You must also have a satisfactory driving record and meet other eligibility criteria.
The Class 5 License
How do I get my class 5 licence in Alberta?
The Class 5 licence is the second and final step in Alberta’s GDL program. To obtain a Class 5 licence, you must:
- Be at least 16 years old
- Pass a vision test
- Pass a road test at a registry agent office (the test evaluates your ability to handle the vehicle and your knowledge of traffic laws)
- Before you can take the road test, you’ll need to complete a minimum of 50 hours of supervised driving, including 10 hours of night driving. You’ll also need to wait at least one year from the date you obtained your Class 7 licence before you can take the road test.
The road test takes approximately 60 minutes to complete and is split into two parts: basic driving skills and road driving. You must achieve a score of at least 75% to pass.
Once you’ve obtained your Class 5 licence, you’ll be able to drive independently.
What are the restrictions of the Class 5 licence?
Once you’ve obtained your Class 5 licence, you’ll be able to drive independently with no supervising driver required. However, there are still some restrictions that you’ll need to follow as a new driver, including:
- You must be a probationary driver for a minimum of two years
- You must have no more passengers than there are seat belts in the vehicle
- You will be suspended if you accumulate 8 or more demerit points
- You must have a zero blood alcohol level when driving
- You are not able to re-class your licence to a commercial driver’s licence (classes 1, 2, 3 or 4)
- You cannot serve as an accompanying driver to a learner
Once you complete the two-year probationary period, you are officially a fully licensed driver in the province of Alberta.
What is involved in the Class 5 License road test in Alberta?
The Class 5 License Road Test (or “Basic Road Test”) is designed to assess your driving judgement, ability, and overall safety. The road test is approximately 60 minutes long, and covers a variety of driving, steering, and parking maneuvers. In a typical Class 5 License Road Test, you can expect to be tested on:
- General city driving / handling of the vehicle
- Turning maneuvers and proper lane selection
- Speed limit adherence
- Proper determination of right of way at intersections
- Perpendicular parking
- Uphill and downhill parking
- Parallel parking (except for drivers aged 65 and over)
Previously, Albertan drivers also had to pass an advanced road test, but the province is eliminating this requirement as of Spring 2023.
What should I bring to my Class 5 License road test?
You need to bring your own vehicle for your Class 5 Road Test – the testing centre will not provide one, contrary to popular belief. In order for a vehicle to be eligible for use during a Class 5 Road Test, it must have:
- A valid licence plate and insurance
- Headlights, brake lights, signal lights, and a horn
- A working speedometer
- Brakes and a parking brake
- Unobstructed windshield/wipers
- Tires are in good condition
- Driver and passenger doors
- Vehicle seats/seat belts
- An exhaust system/muffler
- Two functioning side mirrors and one functioning rearview mirror
- Enough fuel for a road test
How can I practice for the Class 5 Licence road test?
There are a few key things you’ll need to do in order to set yourself up for success in the Class 5 Road Test. In our experience, they are:
- Practice driving: Practice driving as much as possible, especially in the areas where you will be taking the road test. Try to get as much experience as possible in different driving conditions, such as during rush hour, in heavy traffic, on the highway, and in bad weather.
- Take a driving course: Consider taking a driver training course, which can help you improve your driving skills and prepare for the road test. You may also be able to get a discount on your car insurance if you complete a driver training course.
- Take a mock road test: Consider taking a mock road test with a driving instructor or a friend who has already passed the Class 5 road test. This can help you get a sense of what to expect on the actual road test and identify areas where you need to improve.
- Practice your parallel parking and backing up: These are two of the most common maneuvers tested on the Class 5 road test, so make sure to practice them as much as possible.
- Familiarize yourself with the vehicle: If you plan on taking the road test in your own vehicle, make sure to familiarize yourself with the vehicle’s controls and features. This includes things like adjusting the mirrors, using the signals and brakes, and knowing where the windshield wipers and headlights are located.
- Be prepared for the test: On the day of the test, make sure to arrive early, bring all the necessary documents, and ensure that your vehicle is in good working order. Dress appropriately and make sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before.
What happens if I fail the Class 5 licence road test?
If you fail the Class 5 Road Test in Alberta, you will need to retake the test and pay the $83 fee again. There is no limit on how many times you can retake the test, although you do need to wait at least 24 hours before rebooking.
I heard that Alberta recently made changes to the GDL program. What changes were made?
Previously, new drivers in Alberta were required to complete a 3-step process in order to get their full license. In addition to passing the knowledge test and the basic road test, drivers in Alberta also had to pass an advanced road test. Starting in spring 2023, however, Alberta will no longer require the advanced road test for Class 5 and Class 6 Graduated Driver’s Licences (GDL). Additionally, a few more changes have been made:
- The Class 5 Road Test is now 15 minutes longer (60 minutes long rather than 45), and includes attributes from the advanced road test
- The probation period for new drivers can be reduced by a 6 months if students complete a driving school program
- The last 12 months of probation require students to maintain a completely clean driving record, without violations or infractions
Getting your driver’s license in Alberta, while a long process, need not be a difficult one. Whether you’re going for your Class 7 or Class 5 License, just remember to practice diligently, get help when you need it, and maintain a clear frame of mind. Succeeding on your road test is as much a mental game as a technical one, so making sure you’re well-rested and feeling confident before your exam is key. Best of luck!
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