How can I deal with driving test nerves?

Driving test nerves will always come in to play, whether it’s 1-2 weeks before your driving test or just hours before. Some people crumble like a Rich Tea biscuit and others are a lot better. Watch the video to see how a good mental approach to your driving test can help.

Driving Test Nerves – prepare yourself mentally

Establishing you are practically and physically ready

The key to being mentally ready for your test boils down to being physically ready too. It’s like going for a football trial or an audition on the X Factor. If you have lots of people around you, like your team mates and coaches saying that you’re great and will make it, that should give you some confidence going into the trial.

However, if your coach is saying to you that you’re not ready, then why on Earth would you want to go to the trial? We’ve all seen the X Factor and, occasionally, you see the odd deluded person with their family backing them. Generally, those that don’t get through tend to know before they even open their mouths that their singing isn’t good enough to make the cut.

If you’re reading this and you think you’re genuinely ready, but your instructor doesn’t, seek a second opinion. You might be right or it could be that your instructor isn’t very good after all, but at least obtain a second opinion before potentially wasting your money on the driving test and 2-4 hours of preparation lessons on the approach. That’s around £120-150 down the drain!

Establishing you are practically and physically ready

If your instructor says you’re ready, that should give you a good boost. Any instructor with standards and a good pass rate won’t put a pupil forward for their test unless they believe you’re ready.

Here are a few pointers.

Enjoy the test

As daft as it sounds, try to enjoy the test. Don’t fear it, just think to yourself “my objective today is to give this guy in a tie (examiner) the best drive of their life.”

Figure out your examiner

Look at your examiner at the beginning and think to yourself, “what does this person want from me?”

You should quickly collate the following information about them:

  • 35 years old (usually)
  • Very pleasant and welcoming (usually)
  • Probably not a thrill seeker.

With this quick analysis in mind, you should want to give your examiner a smooth and considerate drive. Aim to drive like a chauffeur. Chauffeurs usually drive important people around that want a smooth drive but also want to get from A-B as quickly and safely as possible. The quickly part means on straight roads, make progress and get up to the speed limits where it is safe to do so (weather and traffic permitting).

Time your approaches

When you’re approaching junctions, say to yourself, “I want to time my approach.” If you can time your approaches so you don’t have to stop very often, your examiner will see quite early that you’re a good forward planner and they will want to pass you.

Don’t dwell on mistakes

If you make a mistake during your test (no matter how bad you think it was), don’t dwell on it. Think to yourself, “Right, no more mistakes” and focus on the road ahead.

Aim for perfection

The higher your standards, the more the examiner is going to appreciate your attention to detail. Though if you do make a mistake, as mentioned in point 4, don’t dwell on it.

The examiner may use their discretion

If you have been driving well and you do make a mistake, just remember that the examiner can use their discretion. This means that if the rest of your drive is good, something you might consider as a fail, the examiner may just mark it down as a minor fault.

The bread and butter

Don’t forget the bread and butter of driving: judge traffic, good lane discipline and keep your distance from the vehicles in front.

Sometimes too much attention to detail like mirrors or remembering to pull the handbrake up when you stop can get the better of you, meaning you forget or are late doing the obvious – the three points above.

Ask yourself, “What’s the examiner going to prefer – checking the mirrors every 4-5 seconds or slamming into a car at a roundabout?”

The examiner will write during the test

If you see the examiner writing or marking something down on their board, don’t panic. They often have to mark down aspects of the test. For example, when you complete a manoeuvre, they will have to mark it off. When you pull up by the side of the road and pull away again, they will make a note too. Every examiner marks slightly differently, some will mark things down there and then in the moment, others will mark it down 2-3 minutes later. Some examiners leave the marking until the very end, so don’t worry!

Take your time

Lastly, if you feel yourself getting worked up before the test or before a manoeuvre, take your time. Remember that while the car isn’t moving, you can’t be marked down. Take deep breaths – in through the mouth and out through the nose, get yourself in the correct frame of mind.

You can do this!

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