Learning to drive is more marathon than sprint for most of us. That said, there are ways to make your learning journey run as smoothly as possible, and hopefully have you passing your driving test first time. The following tips will help you on your way to driving test success.
Practice driving a lot - then practice some more
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. The more hands-on driving experience you get, the better you'll become.
Reflect on your progress with your instructor following each driving lesson. Identify areas you're finding tricky and ask to focus on those areas in your next lesson.
Driving instructors use a logbook to track your progress, so you can both stay up to date on what you've covered and what needs work. Our app will also help you track your achievements and areas you can improve - just search for AA L-Drive on the app store.
Ideally, you need to get good at recognising your own strengths and weaknesses so you can improve. Pupils who take an active role in their learning are generally better at knowing when it's the right time for them to take their test.
If you can practice between lessons with a friend or family member, this'll help support your progress.
Know what to expect in your driving test
The practical driving test is made up of:
- An eyesight check.
- 'Show me, tell me' safety questions.
- Reversing manoeuvres.
- Following directions from a sat nav.
- 20 minutes of independent driving.
The DVSA have created an official guide on what to expect during your driving test.
The 'show me, tell me' questions, independent driving, sat nav driving and reversing manoeuvres were added to the driving test in December 2017. These changes were made because road collisions are the biggest killer of young people and the DVSA wants to reduce this number. For example, 52% of drivers now use a sat nav which can be a distraction. The DVSA wants to make sure new drivers can use them with confidence before they pass their test.
Learn from other people’s mistakes
If you know what others fail on in the test, you have the chance to prepare and avoid doing the same. We’ve put together a list of the most common ways people fail their driving test, so take a look at the kind of mistakes you should be avoiding.
Visit the driving test centre before your test
A great way to boost your confidence is to visit the test centre before the day of your test. That way you'll be able to familiarise yourself with the route there and know what to expect.
It's also a good idea to take plenty of mock driving tests so you can experience test conditions, and see what it's like to drive without any feedback.
Prepare to the hilt
Preparing for your driving test starts with making sure that you're really ready - in both knowledge and practice.
- In the immediate run-up to the test, try and get 'in the zone'. Many instructors offer a lesson immediately before the test so you arrive at the test centre warmed up and ready to go.
- Get some exercise the day before your test. It'll help you sleep and hopefully reduce your nerves.
- Don't drink the night before your test and don't overdo the caffeine on the day.
- If you're worried about nerves, book your test for the morning so you don't have to fret about it all day.
Breathe through your nerves
Driving test nerves are perfectly normal and can be a positive sign that you're really focused on the task at hand. If you think you're likely to get nervous during the test, consider practicing some common relaxation techniques.
Breathing is a simple yet effective tool. When nerves kick in, our breathing becomes quicker and shallower. And the less deeply you breathe, the more worked up you'll 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.