Learning to drive is more marathon than sprint for most of us.
That said, there are ways to make your learning journey to test day run as smoothly as possible.
The following tips will help you get off on the right foot for driving test success.
Practise lots – then practise some more
It's an obvious point, the more you repeat your driving manoeuvres and skills, the sooner they'll become second nature, the more your confidence will grow.
So reflect on your progress with your instructor following each driving lesson, identify areas you're finding tricky, and request extra time perfecting them.
If you can practise between lessons with a friend or family member, this can often make speedier progress.
Focus, listen and observe
Complete focus and concentration isn't just important to making the most of your lessons – it's absolutely crucial to safe, responsible driving.
So when your instructor introduces some new knowledge or demonstrates a manoeuvre, dedicate yourself to taking it in. Observe, reflect, and ask questions for further clarification if you need to.
A lack of appropriate observation can account for test failures. Take care of the details – the mirrors at junctions, the blind spots when changing lanes – and the details will take care of you.
Know the test route
The more familiar we are with our environment, the more confident and assured we are navigating them. The same is true of driving.
Although exact driving test routes are never disclosed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), they remain very similar from year to year, and your instructor will know most of the challenging roads and junctions. Make sure you experience those routes inside-out during your driving lessons.
Prepare to the hilt
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail," Benjamin Franklin once said. First off, make sure that you're really ready, in terms of both knowledge and practice, before committing to the practical test.
If you push for an early test, more out of hope rather than knowledge, then it's more likely than not you'll be wasting your time and money.
In the immediate lead-up to the test, make every effort to get 'in the zone'. For instance, many instructors offer a lesson immediately before the test, so that you arrive at the test centre warmed up and ready to go.
And when it comes to the big day itself, get a full night's sleep, and don't forget breakfast too.
Nerves are perfectly normal, and can be a positive sign that we're really focussed about the task in hand. If you believe that you're likely to get nervous during the test, consider practising some common relaxation techniques.
Breathing is a simple yet effective tool. When nerves kick in, our breathing becomes sharper and more shallow. And the less deeply we breathe, the more worked up we get. Slowing down your breathing can have a calming effect, get your adrenaline levels into check, slow down your heart rate, and relax tensed up muscles.
Give it a try, you might be surprised how much it helps.
And one last thing. Learning to drive should be a enjoyable experience. While driving isn't something that should be taken lightly, it shouldn't feel like a weight on your shoulders either. Approach the lessons with an open mind, and don't get too down about any setbacks along the way. So try to savour each moment of the journey. Good luck.