Learning to drive

Preparing for your practical test

When you take your practical driving test, the day should contain no surprises. We’ve already talked you through how the test is structured. Your instructor will have given you ample opportunity to prepare and practise, and they won’t have suggested you apply for your practical test if you weren’t definitely ready for it. So there’s no need to be nervous!

Prepare to pass

Things need to start well before your test; you need to get a decent night’s sleep. That’s easier said than done if you’re apprehensive, but try to relax and ensure you’re not tired when you turn up for your test.

Start your test day with some breakfast, as it’ll help your brain to function and give you much-needed energy. Even if it’s just a slice of toast, it’ll help. Wear clothes you feel comfortable in and shoes which make it easy for you to operate the pedals safely.

Get to the test centre in good time. You’re much better sitting at the test centre for ages than hanging around at home fretting – only to get to the centre late because of a traffic jam. If you arrive late, you’ll miss your slot and it’s game over.

Make sure you take your documentation with you. That means your theory test pass certificate if you’re not exempt, and your photo card licence. Without these, you can’t take your test.

For the whole test, make sure you listen intently to the examiner. Don’t be afraid to ask to hear instructions again if you need to.

The examiner isn’t asking you to be superhuman – only to prove that you’re a safe, competent driver. To have got this far you must be ready for driving solo, or your instructor wouldn’t have told you that you’re ready to take your test – so you’re definitely up to it.

 

How to overcome test-day nerves

There’s no denying that a driving test can be a nerve-wracking experience, but there are things you can do to keep your worries in check…

Follow these tips to keep calm and bring your A-game on the big day:

  • Prepare fully: Do lots of mock tests and make sure you’re constantly passing them before you even consider applying to take a test. If you’re struggling with any particular aspects of the test, focus on those especially, so you can nail them in good time.
  • Don’t tell your friends: Once your mates know they’ll waste no time in quizzing you about your test – both before and after you take it. So just land it on them that you’re mobile, after you’ve passed.
  • Think about the timing: Think about what else is going on in your life when you take your test. If you’re going to be in the middle of exams or about to have a baby, a driving test won’t help your nerves.
  • Stay off the medication: It’s no good popping pills in a bid to calm your nerves; the chances are they’ll just slow your down generally. And make sure you get a plenty of sleep the night before.
  • Book the right test centre: If you think you’re more likely to pass by avoiding the test centre closest to where you live, make sure you book further afield.
  • Don’t be too matey: Your examiner will want to be treated with respect, but don’t overdo it. If you try to ingratiate yourself too much, it could end up backfiring on you. Concentrate on driving well, not trying to make a new friend.
  • Don’t expect perfection: The examiner isn’t expecting a perfect drive, so neither should you. Do your best and make sure that’s up to the test standard; anything better is simply a bonus.