Staying calm before your driving test

Take your fear out of the driving seat - for good

Driving test nerves

Driving tests, both practical and theory, are an undeniable rite of passage - and just the idea of them can bring most of us out in a cold sweat. If you've got a serious case of pre-driving test nerves, here are the best ways to banish your driving anxiety.


Before you take your driving test

  • Chat to your instructor about how you feel if you need reassurance.
  • Practice any manoeuvres which you think need a little more work and focus. Don't shy away from the parts of driving you find difficult and hope they won't show up during the test - you'll need a full skill set to pass.
  • Ask your instructor if you should take any extra lessons to focus on things you find tricky - they will be able to highlight any areas that need extra work.
  • Visit the driving test centre that you're going to take the test at; taking in the reception area and getting familiar with your surroundings will help you feel calmer on the day.
  • Practice with family and friends as much as you can - they'll also help to boost your confidence.
  • Accept that nerves are normal - you're bound to feel a bit anxious before you take your driving test. After all, you've worked really hard to get to this point. 
  • You could keep the date and time of your test private to minimise stress. That way, if you pass it's a great surprise - and if you fail, you don't have to worry about telling people. 

The day before your test

  • Get some exercise. It'll help you relax that evening, and give you an endorphin boost - great for keeping a positive attitude. 
  • Don't hit the town the night before - even if you're feeling anxious, you'll feel twice as bad the following day - and you might not legally be able to drive.
  • Get plenty of sleep and book your test for the morning if you'd rather not worry about it all day. 

On the day of your test

The trick is to treat it like it's just another normal day - try and stick to your routine as much as possible, whether that's going for a job, walking the dog, or just relaxing and watching some TV. 

Lots of people book an extra lesson with their instructor to get used to the feeling of driving a car before their test, and so it's fresh in their memory. 

  • Drink plenty of water but steer clear of too much caffeine - you want to feel alert, not totally wired.
  • Switch your phone off or turn it to 'Airplane Mode' an hour before the test to help clear your mind.
  • Eat a decent breakfast and dress comfortably - you want to be able to move freely and focus on your driving.
  • Check the time of your test, the test centre address, and that you can get there in plenty of time to sit down and relax beforehand.
  • If you need the moral support, take a friend or a family member with you.

During your test

You might feel you'll struggle to overcome your driving test nerves - but it can be done. Here are some simple ways to give your driving anxiety the heave-ho - and focus on making the most of your driving test:

  • The first 12 seconds of the test are crucial - so focus on starting the engine, preparing your car and looking around you as you prepare to move off.
  • Listen to their instructions - and ask the examiner to repeat them if you don't understand.
  • The examiner doesn't want to see any fancy moves - they're not expecting showmanship.
  • If you make a decision which you're not happy with, you're allowed to give the examiner an explanation of why you behaved in that way.
  • If you come across a new situation, don't panic - take a deep breath and think about your approach before you continue.
  • If you make a mistake, relax - it doesn't mean you've failed! You're entitled to 15 minor faults during your test, so there's room for error.