Learning to drive is exciting, but taking your test is always the most nerve-wracking part. Our tips and tricks can help you overcome nerves and get the licence you’ve worked for.
Practise, practise, practise
The single best piece of advice for passing your driving test – or any test, for that matter – is to know your subject, inside and out. So book in as many lessons as you can afford with your instructor, and tackle any problem areas that you’re struggling to nail.
It’s also a good idea to arrange extra lessons in a friend or family member’s car. This allows you to get extra experience at other times of day.
Check the weather
One of the things your examiner will be looking for is your ability to react to changing conditions. So be prepared and know what’s coming before you set off.
If there’s rain, familiarise yourself with the windscreen wiper controls before setting off; if there’s bright sun (and you don’t wear spectacles), you’re allowed to wear sunglasses.
Remember all your documents
You won’t be able to take your test unless you have several important pieces of paperwork with you. You’ll need:
- Your provisional driving licence (including paper counterpart if you’re in Northern Ireland)
- Your theory test certificate (dated within the last two years)
- L-plates and proof of insurance (if you’re using your own car)
Don’t tell anyone
Nerves can play enormously on your ability to perform at your best - the pressure of family expectation in particular. So don’t tell anyone that you’re booking your test. They’ll think it’s just another lesson; then, if you pass, you’ll have a great surprise to share. And if not, they’ll may never have to know.
Eat breakfast, but skip the coffee
What’s that advert that says ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’? It’s very true. You can become irritable, impatient and unable to concentrate – all of which spells bad news for your driving test.
Have a little breakfast, but nothing heavy that will weigh on your stomach and make you feel sleepy. People often recommend eating bananas, as they contain a kind of protein that your body converts into serotonin – a hormone that makes you feel happier.
It’s a good idea to avoid caffeine, though. This can set your nerves on edge. So swap the coffee (or Red Bull) for fruit juice instead. The sugars in this should give you the instant boost you need.
Chat with your examiner
Having a conversation with your examiner can help to break the ice and you to relax. Not only will it help you realise they’re real people and not just there to catch you out, but – if you can crack a few (appropriate) jokes and share some laughter, this is proven to reduce the levels of cortisol – a stress hormone – in your blood.
Leave your phone at home
Even on silent, a buzzing phone can provide an unwelcome distraction. Before your test starts, you might find yourself fidgeting and playing with your phone, distracting you from last-minute cramming on the ‘Show Me, Tell Me’ bits of the test.
Time your test to suit you
Think about how confident you are and your own body clock. What time of day are you going to perform best?
- If you’re full of beans first thing, we suggest booking an early morning slot. These rush hour slots are also good if nervous, because traffic is heavy, meaning everyone is moving more slowly and you have more time to make decisions.
- If you’re not a morning person, book a test for closer to lunchtime. You’ll be more awake and better able to concentrate.
- If you’re booking a test in winter, aim for an afternoon slot. This gives roads chance to clear of any frost or snow that can cause your test to be cancelled.