13 Tips For Passing Your Driving Test First Time
Corner Park Garages, Swansea and Cardiff
October 22, 2018 at 2:52 PM
Learning how to drive is an important life skill for the majority of people to have and something that we normally do as teenagers to gain independence. Getting behind the wheel is a big responsibility which is why every driver in the UK has to pass a theory test, hazard perception and practical driving test before being allowed to join the exclusive pink license holders club.
Having your driving judged by a stranger can be an intimidating and nerve-wracking experience. For some people this can be enough for them to panic and not drive the way they've been taught, causing them to fail.
We've compiled our top tips to help you feel prepared before the big day to give you the best chance possible to pass at the first time of asking.
DON'T RUSH INTO BOOKING YOUR TEST
The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) recommends that learners should have between 40 to 45 hours of lessons before taking their driving test. For some people that will be too many, and for others it won't be enough.
The important thing to remember is that you need to feel confident that you can pass your test. Your instructor should tell you when they think you're ready, but ultimately, it's up to you to decide when to book your test.
Only a fifth of drivers pass their test at the first time of asking. Learning how to drive is expensive, and you're likely to waste more time and money if you take your test too soon.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TEST CENTRE
The location of your test centre will determine the roads you'll be driving on. As a result, some test centres have higher pass rates than others due to the nature of the routes learners have to take.
It's only natural that test centres located in areas with lots of complicated roundabouts and congested areas have lower pass rates that those in more rural areas with less traffic and fewer vehicles to contend with.
While it's not cheating to choose a test centre with higher pass rates and easier roads to drive on, you should still feel prepared to drive on those more difficult roads after passing your test.
PRACTICE LIKELY ROUTES
Once you've chosen your test centre, familiarise yourself with the roads you'll be asked to drive on and practice the routes you might have to do on your test. If you've driven on these roads a few times before, you'll be much more comfortable and confident when you've got an examiner in the front seat.
Practicing these routes also gives you the opportunity to know where you might be asked to perform your manoeuvre. If you've already done it in the same place before, it will make things seem easier and less intimidating.
Make sure to drive on a variety of roads including dual carriageways, country lanes, major and minor roads so that you have experience of all of them.
DO A MOCK TEST
Just like in school, it's easier to understand where your gaps are and where you're more likely to fail by doing a mock test. Your instructor should behave like the examiner so you know what to expect on the day.
Doing a mock test using one of the test centre routes will also be helpful; you might even get lucky and be given that route on your actual test. If you fail a mock test with a major fault, you might not be ready just yet to take your real test.
Have a few more lessons to get your confidence back up and then ask your instructor for another mock.
TRY TO GET EXPERIENCE OF ALL WEATHER CONDITIONS
By taking a driving test in the UK, you can never guarantee what the weather will be like, even in the summer months when it's supposed to be dry and sunny. As such, try to get your driving instructor to take you out in varying conditions.
You will pick up priceless experience by driving in dark, wet and foggy conditions as well as when it's bright and dry which will be invaluable when it comes to taking your test. If you've already driven in pouring rain or a thunderstorm, you're less likely to be deterred by it on the big day.
FAMILIARISE YOURSELF WITH HOW THE TEST WORKS
As of Monday 4th December 2017, the practical car driving test in England, Scotland and Wales was updated to modernise the skills that new drivers were being tested on.
The independent driving section, originally introduced in October 2010, was increased to 20 minutes and requires the candidate to drive safely without constant direction from the examiner.
As part of the newly extended independent driving section, most candidates (four out of five) will be asked to follow directions from a sat nav provided by the examiner.
The 'turn-in-the-road' and 'reverse around a corner' manoeuvres will no longer be tested. Instead, candidates will be asked to perform one of the following: a parallel park at the side of the road; park in a bay; or pull up on the right hand side of the road, reverse for two car lengths and rejoin the traffic.
Finally, the 'show me' question is now asked during the test while the candidate is driving. For example, showing how to wash the windscreen using the car controls and wipers. There will also be a 'tell me' question before you start driving.
By knowing what to expect on the test, you can be better prepared for what you're going to be asked to do and feel more comfortable behind the wheel.
STICK TO THE CAR YOU LEARN IN
If you use your instructor's car for official lessons and then have your own to practice in with a family member or friend, it is advisable to use your instructor's car for the actual test.
Largely this is because it will definitely be up to the examiner's standard, but you're likely to have spent more hours in it and have more experience driving it.
WARM UP WITH A SHORT LESSON / DRIVE BEFOREHAND
Having a short drive before you take your test will help you to feel more settled behind the wheel. Don't book a full hour otherwise you might get fatigued and make a silly mistake on the actual test.
Getting your driving instructor to pick you up from home or work and letting you drive to the test centre should be long enough if you don't have time for a proper warm up lesson.
CHECK YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED
You won't be allowed to take your practical driving test unless you bring your theory test pass certificate and your provisional driving license. Before you set off for the test centre, double check that you have both of these things with you.
You also need a car that meets the rules, which if you're using your instructor's car, won't be a problem. You can see everything you need to bring with you here.
ARRIVE ON TIME
Plan to arrive at your test centre around 10 - 15 minutes before the start of your test. That way you have long enough to prepare and try to settle your nerves without having to wait around for too long.
Rushing to get there on time will leave you feeling flustered, stressed and under pressure which is not the frame of mind you need to be in before any test. Arriving late puts you at risk of missing the test entirely and having to rebook and pay for another one at a later date.
KNOW THE VEHICLE FOR THE 'SHOW ME, TELL ME' PART
This is where using your instructor's car also comes in handy. They can easily give you a brief overview of the mechanics of the car, where certain things are and how to use them. This knowledge will be invaluable in the 'show me, tell me' section of the test.
The questions in this part examine your basic understanding of the car. By mastering them, you will avoid picking up any unnecessary minors during the initial part of the test.
EXAGGERATE MIRROR CHECKS
One of the biggest causes of minor faults for many learner drivers in their test is a lack of observation. The examiner needs to see that you are checking your mirrors regularly, especially when setting off, changing road position, approaching hazards and changing gears.
Examiners are trained to look out for your mirror checks (and are equipped with an extra mirror of their own to do so), but sometimes you can check a mirror by only moving your eyes, which is an action that can be easily missed.
Make sure to move your head when checking your mirrors so that the examiner can see out of the corner of their eye you're being observant of other things around you on the road.
STAY FOCUSED ON THE ROAD
Throughout the test the examiner is going to be making notes about your driving and marking any minor or major faults down on a piece of paper. Don't pay any attention to this or try to read what is being written; you need to stay completely focused on the road and driving safely.
If you make a mistake or think you've failed, try to not let it affect you. The examiner is the one that has the final say on whether you've passed or not, so if you've addressed a mistake correctly and done all you can to maintain the safety of yourself and other road users, that mistake might not even be marked down as a minor.
Remember to stay relaxed, drive as safely as possible and follow the tips on this page. If you do all that, you should pass your driving test with flying colours.