Tips for Practical Test success

When the day of your practical test arrives, the examiner will assume your driving is test standard. You should have had a number of mock tests before the day to make sure you are ready.

It’s natural to be nervous; but you must think positively. Think of the test as an opportunity to demonstrate to the examiner what a good driver you are. The examiners are all very experienced and will look to put you at ease, if you are very nervous where possible they will look to give you the benefit of the doubt.

1.) Your Test date and time

Make sure you choose a date and time that best suits you. If you are not a morning person, make sure you book an afternoon test to maximise your chances of success!

2.) Preparation

Look to get plenty of good quality sleep the night(s) approaching your test; Studies have shown that getting good rest has cumulative benefits which improve concentration levels, increase confidence and affect areas such as perception and decision making.

3.) Keep Calm

In many cases nerves can be the reason for being unsuccessful in the practical test. If you feel these starting to build, look to control your breathing, taking longer breaths and breathing out slowly; this will help to lower your heart rate and keep you calm. Make
sure you have enough air flow in the car or a window open slightly to avoid becoming
too hot and uncomfortable.

4.) Concentration

Keep your focus from the minute you meet the examiner to the time you turn off the engine at the end of your test. Even if you think you’ve driven really well, don’t become complacent until the examiner gives you the good news. Statistically many tests are lost in the first 5 or last 5 minutes, so keep your cool and focus right until the end. Start as you mean to go on; show the examiner you have a good style and technique.

5.) Confidence

You have probably spent a lot of time, effort and money to get to this stage – make sure your confidence is high on the day. Think of the test as a simple task to complete; You know how to drive a car, so let your confidence come through and transmit this to the examiner.

6.) Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you are unsure what the examiner is asking you to do, don’t feel silly about asking them to clarify. It’s best to be sure what their instructions are rather than guessing!

7.) Manoeuvres

A lot of people are nervous about manoeuvres, especially reversing. Remember the majority of the test is about driving forwards! Think of the manoeuvres as a small section of the test that can be dealt with quickly and successfully. The examiner is looking for good control of the vehicle, safe observation and a fair degree of accuracy. You’ve done them successfully many times before. If they start to go slightly wrong, it’s how you put them right. Again, this is an opportunity to demonstrate this to the examiner. Don’t feel rushed if there are people waiting, take your time, keep calm and concentrate on what
you need to do – don’t let others potentially come between you and obtaining
your licence!

8.) Focus

If you feel that you may have made a mistake during the test, don’t allow this to play on your mind as very quickly faults can multiply.

Don’t be tempted to try to have a look at the examiners sheet, keep your eyes on the road and your focus on the task in hand. Most mistakes are not as serious as you think; remember, you are allowed 15 driving faults and can still be successful.

9.) Inner Commentary

To help keep your nerves in check, talk yourself through the things that the examiner is asking you to do. Repeat the instructions to yourself in your head.

When the examiner gives you directions (i.e. at the traffic lights turn right; take the third turning on the left; at the roundabout follow straight ahead…) repeat these to yourself – this is particularly useful if you have had to stop for a few seconds due to traffic or hazards before you begin moving again. It also when doing manoeuvres as you can approach them in a systematic way and you will know what’s coming next.

10.) Be Positive!

This is your opportunity to earn the right to be able to drive with no one sitting next to you and gain your independence. You have probably invested a lot of time, effort and money getting to this point. When you are successful this is just the beginning of a new chapter in your driving career.