Five things every learner driver should consider before taking their test
Getting your driving licence is a big deal for many people.
With the freedom and opportunities it offers, it can be tempting to rush into sitting your test in an effort to get it sooner rather than later.
However, plunging in too soon can be an expensive way to find out you’re not ready for the test, wasting time and money and causing frustration.
To stop impatience from costing you the pass you desperately desire, Bill Plant Driving School has shared five things learners must consider before they think about taking their driving test.
Have you had enough lessons?
On average, it takes 45 hours of driving lessons to pass your test. This is only an average, so don’t hold yourself to these figures as everyone learns at different speeds. But every learner must really think about whether the number of lessons they’ve had will be enough to secure them a pass.
It’s only natural to want to push things along when it comes to your driving test, but this could end up being your downfall. Remember, driving is a complex skill that takes a lot of work to master.
Allow yourself enough time to get to grips with all the different elements that you’ve covered in your lessons. Have you had enough experience driving in urban areas? Do you know the Highway Code well enough since taking your theory test? Will you be able to handle your speed on different roads?
A driving test is split up into five parts:1) Eyesight check2) ‘Show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions3) General driving ability4) Reversing your vehicle5) Independent driving
You’ll need to be able to perform all of these with ease and without any prompts from your driving instructor - they won’t be in the car with you on the day of your test.
Don’t rush it—make sure you have enough space on the calendar to learn everything before test day arrives.
Does your instructor think you’re ready?
Try to follow your instructor’s advice when evaluating your readiness. If they don’t think you’re quite there yet, trust them. After all, they’re the experts on the subject and have likely been monitoring your progress since day one of your driving journey. They’ll also know the test standards much better than you and can spot anything that your driving examiner would label as a minor or major fault.
Maintaining good communication with your driving instructor is key to progression. Does your driving instructor disagree that you’re ready? Get a clear explanation of why from them and any areas that you’re falling short on. These can then become the focus of your lessons before your test to iron out any concerns that could cost you that all-important pass.
It can be tempting to think your instructor is only delaying your test to get more money out of you for lessons. But remember, passing your test doesn’t only look good for you, it makes your instructor look great too. Upholding a good reputation is key for a driving instructors’ career - it’s in everyone’s best interest that you pass your practical first time.
Have you had mock tests?
You might feel confident behind the wheel, but will that confidence still be there under testconditions? There’s only one way to find out - take a mock test.
In the lead up to the real thing, ask your instructor if they can treat some of your lessons as though they’re under exam conditions. The beauty of mock tests is you can have as many as you like - you’ll only get one shot on the day on your actual test, so schedule in as many mocks as possible.
Sitting mock tests with your instructor can help you prepare for the real thing (Photo: Shutterstock)
Your instructor will help familiarise you with the format of a driving test so there are no surprises on the big day. Plan your practice driving exams around the location of your impending test, that way you will be to mimic the real thing. If you struggle to handle the extra pressure, it might be a sign that you’re not quite ready to take your test.
Have you practised driving in different conditions?
Sadly, there’s no way of knowing in advance what the road conditions will be on the day of your driving test. Dry and overcast isn’t guaranteed on the day, so you need to be prepared for anything.
Otherwise, you might feel tempted to cancel your test last minute as you hold out for the perfect weather conditions.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will cancel driving tests in severe weather conditions like heavy snow, rain, fog or ice due to safety issues. But if only light, it’s unlikely your test will be postponed.
Ask your driving instructor to take you out for lessons in varying conditions. Yes, driving in dark, wet, overly sunny and foggy conditions might seem daunting, but it’ll give you priceless experience that’ll pay off on the day of your test and after you’ve passed.
Try to vary when and where you have your lessons too. For example, morning rush hour will be completely different to a weekday evening. Make sure your instructor takes you on a mixture of major and minor roads, like country lanes and dual carriageways.
Getting a range of driving scenarios under your belt will make you feel more confident and will stop you from cancelling your driving test due to rumours that it might rain that day.
Practising in different weather conditions means you're less likely to be caught out on test day (Photo: Shutterstock)
How well do you know your instructor’s vehicle?
Driving tests aren’t only focused on your driving ability, they’re also designed to evaluate your basic understanding of your instructor’s vehicle. This is known as the “show me, tell me” section.
Before you start driving your examiner will ask you one ‘tell me’ question, where you’ll have to explain how you’d carry out a safety task. You’ll also be asked one ‘show me’ question, where you’ll have to actually demonstrate how you’d carry out a safety task whist driving.
Taken from GOV.UK, some of these questions could be:Where would find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and howtyre pressures should be checked?How would you ensure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the bestprotection in the event of a crash?How do you check the power-assisted steering is working before starting a journey?How would you switch on the rear fog lights and when would you use them?
Has your instructor given you a brief rundown of the car’s mechanics? If they haven’t, ensure they do way in advance of your test. This knowledge will not only be invaluable during the “show me, tell me” part of your test, but it’ll also provide you with better all-round knowledge of what driving a car really involves.
You should be able to answer any of the questions without hesitation to maximise your chances of passing. Mastering them can avoid picking up any avoidable minors during the early stages of your test.
Becoming impatient when learning to drive is something many suffer from. However, it’s thisimpatience that can cost you on the big day. Take a step back, and really evaluate whether you’ve considered everything before taking your test.