Nerves and confidence are the two main factors when it comes to success or failure in the practical driving test.
It is natural to experience a certain amount of nerves as you approach the test. The examiner is expecting this and will make some allowances although it will not excuse dangerous or serious mistakes.
The best way to beat nerves is to be confident in your own ability. Insufficient preparation is the other principal cause of failure and it will have a bearing on your confidence going into the test. Your driving instructor will probably assess you before booking you for test via a mock driving test. Don’t go against their advice, even if you suspect they merely wish to retain your custom. In the vast majority of cases this will not be true, and you will probably save money in the long run by waiting until you are deemed to have a realistic prospect of passing.
Make a test appointment early in the day. This will ensure you have less time to get worked up. Don’t pay any attention, however, to myths about daily pass quotas or people only passing on a Monday etc. as there is no proof of this and the DSA say this is not true.
Try to make sure the test date does not clash with other stressful events such as school exams or wedding preparation.
In the week before the test
Get as much practice as possible. Book extra lessons with your driving instructor. In your final sessions, ask the instructor to concentrate on the manoeuvres your least confident with.
Complete at least one ‘mock test’ in which your instructor ensures that conditions are as realistic as possible, providing a full debrief at the end of the session.
Don’t be demoralised if you mock exam isn’t perfect, it is basically to give the instructor an idea of which skills you need to brush up on to get you to test standard.
Don’t listen to the advice of your friends / family. They doubtless mean well, but their instructions may be confusing, misguided or otherwise unhelpful. Remember that your driving instructor has years of experience as well as a professional training.
On the day before the test
Don’t drink any alcohol.
Get a good night’s sleep
Get all the required documents together so that you are not rushing around looking for them just before you leave for the driving test centre. Remember you will need BOTH parts of your driving licence.
On the day of the test
Think positively from the moment you wake up. Tell yourself that you are going to get through the day calmly.
Eat light meals at your normal mealtimes and ensure you get your regular fluid intake. Even if your test is early in the morning, it is important to have a good breakfast in order to boost your concentration levels. Try not to over eat, however, as this may make you uncomfortable or lethargic.
Wear clothes that make you feel as comfortable as possible, especially comfortable shoes.
Try not to worry too much about the test until it is time to leave.
Definitely do not drink any alcohol.
You need to be there about 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment time or you risk the test being cancelled. But try not get there to early or you will get in the way of others taking their driving test.
On the hour before the test
Listen to the last-minute advice of your instructor, and don’t be afraid to ask him or her for clarification / reassurance on any matter.
If you are driving to the test centre, do so to the best of your ability. Maintain the accuracy and observation levels you have been taught so that you are properly ‘warmed-up’ by the time you arrive at the test centre.
Just look upon your test as a normal driving lesson, but with a different instructor.
During the test
Remember that some nervousness is normal. It can increase your alertness and improve your performance.
Don’t be intimidated by the examiner. He is merely a person doing a job. He is not a god and he will not be judging you as a person.
Don’t try to interact too much with the examiner. Silence is normal in the test car, as the examiner does not want to distract you or break your concentration.
Listen carefully to the examiner’s instructions. If you are in any doubt of what they say just ask them to repeat the instruction.
Bear in mind that the examiner just wants to see how you would normally drive – nothing you don’t already know!
If you come across a new situation, don’t panic, stay calm and assess things carefully before you proceed. Be prepared to change your decision if necessary.
Take a deep breath and exhale slowly if you feel you are getting a bit tense at any point in the test.
Don’t give up if you feel you have failed the test. You may be mistaken, so don’t drop your concentration levels.