15 driving test tips to help you pass first time

15 driving test tips to help you pass first time
Ease those learning to drive nerves with our top tips to help you pass your driving test first time. 

Each year, there are around 1.6 million driving tests in England, Scotland and Wales; yet, according to official statistics, more than half of all learners will fail. You can avoid becoming part of this statistic by ensuring you are as prepared as you can possible be for the practical test. 

That's why we have put together the top 15 expert driving test tips to help you pass on the big day.

How to pass your driving test quickly

1. Be on time

It's an obvious one to start with but turning up in good time for your test will start you off on the right foot.

Arriving late puts you at risk of missing it entirely, while rushing to get there in time will leave you feeling flustered, even if you do make it.

Arrive at your test centre 10-20 minutes beforehand so you have long enough to prepare, but won’t be waiting around too long.

Ensuring you get a good night’s sleep is also important to avoid unnecessary stress or anxiety.

2. Have a lesson beforehand

We’d also recommend fitting in a driving lesson on the day of your test if possible – that way you can go over any manoeuvres or ask for clarification on last-minute questions you may have.

A lesson beforehand will help calm your nerves and put you in the right frame of mind for driving, especially if you have been receiving two-hour lessons in the weeks building up to your test, which we'd also recommend.

3. Check you have everything you need

Thousands of driving tests each year don’t go ahead because the candidate fails to turn up with everything needed on the day.

Make sure you have all the required documents and that your car is properly equipped and up to the test standard.

You can double check what you need to take with the RAC's how to pass your driving test guide.

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4. Use your instructor’s car

Being in a car you know well and feel comfortable in can maximise the chances of passing your driving test first time.

Not only will it definitely be up to the examiners’ standard (there are certain requirements like having additional mirrors that test cars have to meet) but you’ll also have an advantage when it comes to the ‘Show Me, Tell Me’ section of the test – knowing precisely where and how to activate controls such as the air-con or fog lights, for example.

For the ‘tell me’ question you’ll need to explain how you’d carry out a safety task. For the ‘show me’ question, you’ll have to demonstrate how you would carry out a safety task.

Ask your instructor to talk you through the mechanics of the car as many times as you need. This will help you to sail through the beginning part of your test, so you can start it off feeling confident before you’ve even got out on the road.

5. Take your instructor along for reassurance

It’s by no means compulsory to take anyone along with you but be aware you have the option to take your instructor in the car for the duration of the test. It may put you at ease and help you to feel more comfortable.

They’ll also provide another pair of eyes – so if you do happen to fail, they’ll have additional constructive feedback. In fact, you can take anyone you want along for reassurance, providing they are over 16.

6. Ask your examiner to repeat, if you need

If you don’t hear an instruction properly during you test, stay calm and just ask the examiner to repeat it.

Panicking will only cause you to lose focus and slip up.

7. Don’t assume you’ve failed

One of the most important tips to pass your driving test is to never assume you've already failed. If you do make a mistake, remember you’re allowed up to 15 minors during your test so try not to dwell on them and always assume you’re still going to pass.

An error like stalling is a minor fault (as long as it’s not in a potentially dangerous situation), even if it feels like you’ve made a huge mistake at the time. If it happens, remain in control and restart the car.

Don’t let minor mistakes play on your mind, or you run the risk of making even more.

8. Choose where you want to take your test

Where to take your driving test

It’s natural that driving test centres located in congested areas with lots of complicated roundabouts have lower pass rates than those in rural areas with nothing but a few tractors and stray livestock to worry about.

While taking your test on the Isle of Mull - where there’s a pass rate of more than 90% - is unreasonable for most of us, compare the test pass rates of your local test centres.

It’s not cheating to take your test somewhere with a higher pass rate - but do ask yourself whether doing so will properly prepare you for driving after taking the test.

9. Get to know your test routes

It’s impossible to know where you will be directed on the day or what traffic or hazards you’ll face along the way.

However, once you’ve selected your test centre, you can always get to know the area and test routes beforehand.

Make sure you’ve practiced on a variety of roads. A mixture of major and minor roads, country lanes and dual carriageways is important if you want to avoid any nasty surprises on test day.

10. Exaggerate those mirror checks

Driving test tips

One of the biggest cause of minor faults for many learner drivers in their test is a lack of observation.

Check your mirrors regularly - especially when setting off, approaching hazards, changing road position and changing gears.

While examiners are trained to look out for you checking your mirrors (and will have an extra mirror to do so), sometimes being a bit over the top in your mirror-checking won’t do any harm.

Move your head when checking your mirrors and your examiner is less likely to give you a minor fault than if you give the mirror a quick glance, you could even get into the practice of saying ‘mirrors’ quietly outloud every time you check to make sure your examiner knows you are doing it.

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11. Choose when you take your test

Don’t book your test for a time when you’re likely to have other things on your mind.

Whether its school work, exams, family commitments or anything else, make sure it falls at a time you can give it your undivided attention to ensure you have the best chance of passing.

12. Learn to drive in different conditions

You can hope for dry and sunny weather when it comes to taking your test but, as we all know, there are no guarantees. Make sure you’ve practiced with your instructor in both rain and shine.

Also get out on the road when it’s foggy and dark, just so you can feel confident if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

13. Listen to your instructor

After hours of driving lessons, your driving instructor will have a pretty good idea about whether you’re up to the challenge of passing your test.

It’s not in their interest to encourage you to take your test early - doing so will only waste their time, harm their pass rate and knock your confidence.

If they say you’re up to the job, have faith in yourself.

They’ll also have a clear idea of your weaknesses - ask to concentrate on them in lessons, and consider a last minute lesson before your test to calm your nerves.

14. Go over your theory again

It can often be some time between passing your theory test and practical test so it’s a good idea to go over your copy of the Highway Code and the meanings of road signs again before getting in the car with the examiner.

Even if you’re pretty confident it can still help you feel more relaxed. It’s also a good idea just to check you’re up to date with the latest DVLA standards of driving in case they’ve changed.

You might want to consider a theory test practice app. Driving Theory Test UK is a great place to start, with all necessary learning materials, hazard perception clips and Highway Code info included. You can download it here:

MyRAC-google-play-store MyRAC-app-store

15. Don’t rush to get your licence

No matter how much you want to get out on the road by yourself, there’s no point taking your test until you’re ready. Rushing to pass will only leave you lacking the experience you really need to be on the road independently.

Failing your test will also knock your confidence, especially if you take it too early.

Don’t waste your own and the examiner’s time –wait until your instructor says you’re ready to give it a go.

Bonus tip! Listen at the end

You’ll be given some of the best driving advice you’ll ever get – whether you’ve passed or failed – at the end of your exam.

If you’ve failed, the examiner will clearly explain why, and what you can do better next time. Even if you’ve passed the feedback the examiner gives you will be invaluable as it’s highly unlikely you made it to the end of your test without a single mistake.

Remember, there’s always room to improve your driving.

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