How to pass your practical driving test

It's an experience to make every learner driver nervous - but your practical driving test needn't be stressful.
  • L-plate getting torn up stock image
    Matt Joy
    Last updated: 04 June 2014, 12:56 BST

    The prize is that coveted driving licence and the freedom that goes with it. Unfortunately you have to face the dreaded driving test first.

    It’s a nerve-wracking experience, but with some careful preparation you can considerably improve your chances of passing your test first time.

    Practice, practice, practice

    There’s a very simple piece of psychology that applies to the practical driving test, namely that practice makes perfect. It makes even more sense in this situation, because human beings can struggle to perform the most mundane actions when under pressure – this is one reason why footballers can struggle in penalty shoot-outs. The best way to combat this phenomenon is to get as much practice as you can manage.

    Young girl reverse parking

    Concentrating on your manouevres is a key area, and make a point of practising the one you find the most difficult. Learner drivers should be accompanied by a full licence-holder at all times in any case, but it’s important to have someone with you who can make sure you’re performing the manouevres correctly – you don’t want to learn bad habits.

    Hit the books

    The theory test might be a distant memory but you’ll still need to stay sharp on the day in case the examiner asks you a question from the Highway Code. It could be about a variety of things, so it will pay to make sure all that theory knowledge is still fresh in your mind. From unusual road signs and markings to what to do in an emergency, demonstrating your knowledge will be as crucial to success as not hitting a kerb.

    Final prep

    The night before your test, make sure you get a good night’s sleep, leave plenty of time beforehand to get ready and arrive at the test centre in plenty of time.

    Confident learner takes driving test 2014 stock image

    By now you’re as prepared as you will ever be, so be confident in your abilities. Your biggest enemy now is nerves, but try not to let them get the better of you. Concentrate on your actions and the instructions given by the examiner. You should be driving in a familiar car on roads you know so try to treat the drive as if it were a normal lesson.

    It’s easy to forget to do the simple things when under pressure so remember to signal and check your mirrors often regadless of traffic and road conditions; even on a dual carriageway this is something you should always be doing, and be careful of your speed as it’s easy to let nerves affect how quickly you drive.

    In the end

    Like any exam the key thing is that you give it your best shot. Even if the outcome isn’t what you’d hoped for, you can take away the experience and come back better prepared next time.

    On the other hand if you do get the thumbs up, a word of caution: drivers are at the greatest risk of an accident in the first year of driving, so take extra care and try to improve your skills still further by taking Pass Plus training – it could help to cut your insurance premium too.

    Matt Joy
    Last updated: 04 June 2014, 12:56 BST

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