How to build up your pass rate
1. Know the test routes
This is rule number one and is easier said than done for someone who has just qualified as a driving instructor. However, there are a few ways to pick up the test route areas relatively quickly.
Sit in the back of your pupils tests
You might be thinking “most of my pupils don’t want me to sit in on their tests?!” However, try saying the following to them as they approach the test.
“When you go to take your driving test, your examiner will call your name in the waiting room. They will ask you to sign a declaration that the car is insured for the test and they will then ask you if you want your driving instructor to sit in on your test with you. The benefits of having your driving instructor sitting in is that they will be able to observe and if the examiner makes a decision against you which isn’t right, your instructor can help you with the appeal process.”
Obviously we know the likelihood of an examiner making an incorrect decision is extremely unlikely and if they do, you can assist them with the appeal. However, you get what you want which is sitting in the back of the car and learning the test routes. The learner will also have confidence with you in the car and will trust that the examiner will mark the test correctly.
2. Learn the 8:10am test route
You might be scoffing at the 8:10am test route. But if you sit in enough 8:10am tests (some test centres are 8:20am) you will notice a patten start to develop.
During rush hour times the test routes used are limited as the examiners can’t afford to get stuck in traffic. As you know in rush hour it’s the same areas/junctions that build up with traffic at the same times.
Most test centres will reduce the available routes for the 8:10am test to just 4-5 routes. If you know all of these routes, then guess what? You can pass this onto your pupils and study these routes and practice them more than you normally would.
If you decide to learn and start booking the 8:10am test for your pupils then you will need to make sure your pupils start taking lessons at 7am or 7:30am so they are familiar with the traffic. This is a great way for the instructor to sell 7am-9am lessons, often difficult to sell or get consistent takers.
3. Devise a tricky areas tick sheet
Like accident black spots across the UK, you will notice your pupils keep making the same faults in the same places. Be it the city centre double roundabout or a sneaky no entry. You’ll find in most test centre towns/cities there are often 20+ tricky areas/junctions.
For example, one of the most well-known series of tricky obstacles that always comes to mind is Sheffield’s series of ring roads and roundabouts one after the other in its city centre. If you’re a driving instructor in Sheffield, thoroughly explaining and walking through this area with your pupils is a huge must before their test.
Unless you record how your pupil does each time you go over it, how do you remember if they are test standard on it?
Create a simple tick sheet, see the diagram.
A tick means it’s 100% right, 1/2 means it’s still needs work, T means talk through/first attempt and a X means the pupil is completely getting it wrong.
Often your pupils will say “When can I book my test?”
An easy way to manage their expectations is by going through the tick sheet with them and explaining to them once they get 75% of the tick sheet correct then it’s time to do a mock test.
If the pupil scores 4 serious faults in a mock test over the course of 40 mins then they can book the test for 4-6 weeks time. Based on a 2-4 hour lesson a week to chip away and reduce the serious faults.
There is no point proceeding to a mock test when they are getting 80% of the tricky areas wrong.
Many reading this will be thinking you shouldn’t teach leaners to pass the test, driving for life etc. but the truth of the matter is most 17-20 years just want to pass the test. So if you give your pupil targets then they have light at the end of the tunnel and something to aim for.
If you have an driving instructor franchise with driveJohnson’s then things like tricky area test sheets are available within our private training zone area.
4. Do a mock test with your pupils
Sometimes pupils aren’t aware of the standards required for the driving test until they do a mock test with their instructor.
It can often help to do a mock test with your pupils quite early on. For example, when they have just grasped driving, changing gears, good clutch control and fairly good lane position. By doing a mock test early on it can often help your pupil realise what test standard is and how far way they are from test standard. Once they can move off, judge traffic okay and change gears they often think they can drive and go for test.
Help them realise the standards early on by doing a mock test with them. The only time you should consider holding back on a mock test early on is if the pupil lacks confidence. Doing a mock test then could demoralise them. Sometimes you only need to do a 10 minute mock test so your pupil can grasp the level required.
Use the exact terminology the examiner uses (if you don’t know, sit in on tests). As your pupil improves start making the mock test routes harder and harder so your pupil has to work harder too. If you can get them to a level where it almost becomes a game to try and get them to do a serious fault by choosing tricky areas and targeting their weaknesses then they should find the actual driving test route easy (or easier).
Many DVSA enforcement officer’s/managers recommend instructors provide mock tests to their pupils as a means of preparing the pupil for test. Rob who provides driving lessons in Romford said this was brought to all the ADI’s attention at a recent meeting in Ilford which included a DVSA enforcement officer.
5. Use examiner terminology and practice manoeuvres in the same places used for tests
There’s no better feeling than knowing what’s coming up next when you’re under pressure. If you use like for like terminology, your pupil will feel more at ease on test. Practicing manoeuvres in the same place helps and if they get the same place on test (which is likely if you know all the routes), the pressure will be slightly less and their confidence will be slightly higher.
6. Practise giving your pupil directions at short notice
It sounds bad, but it sometimes happens on a test. See how they respond and be prepared to intervene. Help your pupil understand what to do if directions are given at short notice or they are changed because of road works etc.
Many pupils are obsessed with getting in the correct lane to follow a direction but won’t do it safely.
It will take some time and practise getting them to go the wrong direction safely rather than going the correct direction not safely.
Due to the new test changes, pupils must also be aware of how to respond to directions given through a sat nav meaning you’ll need to get used to how to set up routes on a TomTom.
7. Medication for really nervous pupils
The obvious one is Calms/Rescue Remedy for pupils before they take their test. However, if your pupil is really nervous then they could consult their GP and in many instances Beta Blockers can be prescribed. This helps control the heart rate/anxiety levels.
Written by Anthony Johnson
Grade A - 51/51
ORDIT Registered Trainer