A stress-free guide to passing your driving test
Taking your test is a big deal, and a lot of work goes into it. But even if you've spent loads of time perfecting your parallel parking, there are still some common pitfalls that can catch you out on the day. Don’t stress, though – we’ve put together some advice to help you relax, think clearly and nail your test:
Wait until you’re ready
If you don’t feel up to taking your test, you might not be. If that’s how you feel, why not move your test and get in a bit of practice with a few more lessons? And don’t be afraid to rebook if your test clashes with other stressful events, like exams. It makes more sense to wait a little longer and go in feeling calm and confident.
Practise the format
The driving test structure changed at the end of 2017, so make sure you’re up to speed with the new format. You can find out more about the ‘show me, tell me’ questions in the short DVSA YouTube guide. The longer independent driving section is all about feeling comfortable, though, so have a few goes at using a sat nav and following signs. Once you can do that, you’ll be able to navigate wherever you are.
Pack in advance
When we’re stressed, we forget things. Avoid a panic before you even leave for the test centre, by packing your bag the night before. For the test, you’ll need your UK driving licence, theory pass certificate and a car. That’s it. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, pack spares. And take a snack to keep you fuelled, in case you have to wait around a bit.
Try to de-stress
There are lots of little things that can help you keep calm. Don’t drink too much caffeine before you head off – stick with water, as staying hydrated will keep you alert, and you don’t need those coffee jitters. You could also try some basic relaxation techniques. There are loads of free apps which can teach you breathing exercises and mindfulness. So you can go into your test feeling really prepared.
Don’t suffer in silence
Driving tests aren’t like school exams – you don’t have to stay silent. If you don’t catch an instruction because you’re focused on your driving, tell the examiner. Asking them to repeat something is better than making a mistake. And if it helps you to think out loud (“I’ll just wait for that van to pass”), go ahead – but it’s worth asking the examiner if they mind, before you start the test. Just one thing though: don’t expect them to chat back – they’re concentrating on their job.
Don’t let your mind wander
Most people don’t fail because of tricky parking spaces, dodgy drivers cutting them up or taking a wrong turn. They fail because they don’t take proper observations at junctions or check their mirrors before changing direction. This could be because they were worrying about something else, or maybe they just didn’t exaggerate those ‘glances’ enough. So make sure you turn your head a little when you look – and forget any distractions, and just focus on your driving.
Want more feedback on your driving, before you book your test? Telematic car insurance like O2 Drive Box on Board monitors your habits on the road and breaks them up for you to digest, on your phone. It makes it easy to understand your weak spots, and if you improve, your car insurance costs could fall. The O2 Drive app is also available to access as a guest, letting you view your driver score. So why not take it for a test drive while you prepare for your own test?
See more articles to help you to drive smarter and make the most of your car.