Preparing for your test

Pre-test Nerves

You will be nervous - this is perfectly normal. For some people the practical test can be a nightmare where nerves can affect them far more than normal.

Performance related stress is the name for the stress that pupils experience before and during a practical driving test. The result of the practical driving test is extremely important to you because in many personal, as well as financial ways you have invested a lot in learning to drive. Some pupils have the added pressure of a job offer depending upon the result.

There are things that you can do to help yourself through this time. Realising why you are feeling this way is a start. If you are reading this article before you have reached test standard then you are at an advantage because you have more time to come to terms with this.

You have the opportunity to understand the problem and make the most of the knowledge here to help you reduce or at least manage the problem. If on the other hand you have looked up this page because your test is imminent then rest assured, once you understand that the situation is manageable you will feel more in control.

What difference can the driving instructor make?

Your driving instructor is your greatest ally in the battle against the nerve gremlin. Make no mistake about it; we know exactly what you are going through because we have not only seen it many times before, we have been there ourselves.

There are a number of factors in your favour when you attend your practical test appointment with an instructor.

1) Your instructor will not allow you to take your practical driving test unless they believe that you have an expectation of walking away with a driving licence. It is in their best interests and yours to do so.
2) You will have had to pass your instructors pre-test requirements before they will consider putting you forward for a driving test. Areas differ but in all areas your instructor will insist that you can perform all of the standard manoeuvres on the first attempt and that any ring roads or fast dual-carriageways that you have in the area are familiar ground to you and that you can perform the necessary procedures on them with moderate comfort.
3) Your general road work has been good now for quite a while. Be honest. It was pretty decent before you were even taken into the heavily trafficked areas.
4) Your instructor understands the stress that you are under and has been positively reinforcing your abilities during lessons.
5) You will have gained experience of driving on exactly the same traffic circumstances as you will be required to do with the examiner. It is not unusual for a pupil on test to recognise the roads that they are being taken down. Your instructor knows what situations you might meet and has thoroughly prepared you for them.

What can I do for myself?

Sit back and look at this from a wider viewpoint. Part of the problem is that you are too close to it. You are turning it into something that it is not.

Passing your driving test is important to you, I can understand that. It is not the be all and end all of your life. Everything carries on exactly the same afterwards if you fail the test, all is as it was before; you simply take another one and pass the next time.

Another thing that does not help is the fear of the unknown. Read the page about the practical driving test. The more familiar you are with the forthcoming test the better prepared for it you will be.

Some advice on how to cope on the pre-test hour

You will be aware that your practical driving test is near and for some that in itself can induce pressure. Your best ally on the run up to your test is your instructor. They will reassure you that you are up to the job and run you through a few things before you get to the test centre.

The easiest way to get through this period of time is to concentrate on the matter at hand and perform the best drive that you can. Maintain the accuracy and observation to the levels that you have been taught and you will feel more reassured when you do get to the test centre.

How to cope with the test itself!

You are on your own now but the examiners are not ogres. Really, they aren't. Your examiner will introduce themselves and they are trained to be customer friendly. They will realise that you are nervous, most people are.

The best way to cope with the test is to work one hundred percent on the procedures that you have been taught from the very beginning through to the very end. Right from the time that you are asked to start the engine through to when the examiner asks you to pull up in front of the test centre again and turn it off.

This might seem too obvious for words when you first read it but with the benefit of experience I can tell you that people have in the past relaxed part way through the test because they thought that they had done something wrong. This was not the case and they failed because of errors that they made after they stopped working one hundred percent.

How should I approach practical driving test day?

There are a few tips for the day of the practical driving test which help you to cope physically. There is no point in making things harder for yourself than they have to be.

1) Make sure that you have had your full quota of rest. Even if sleep was not a possibility you should have been well rested the night before.
2) Do try and have light meals at your normal meal times on the day. Either a lack of food or a glut of it can create an upset stomach type of feeling that just makes things so much worse.

Psychologically the work is just as much common sense when you think about it.

1) Do not allow yourself to dwell on the test. Pre-occupy yourself with something else to take up your time until it is time to leave. Worrying never helped anyone. If you cannot help but think about the test try to mineralize these thoughts and comfort yourself with the knowledge that you have been professionally prepared and that unless your instructor was certain that you can walk away with a licence they would not have put you in for the test.
2) Put the telephone off the hook. Well wishers are not welcome at this time simply because they work against you in regards to the point above. Talking about the test makes you think about it and you will naturally worry more than necessary. That is simply part of the human condition I am afraid.

The practical driving test

You will spend some time before your test with your instructor and that they will work with you to fine tune your performance on the day. They know that your state of mind is as important as your general driving standards.

Your instructor has come to know you and knows how you will be on the day, they can take a pretty good guess even before you come out of the house. They have seen you in stressful situations before. Do you remember the first time that you pointed the front of the car at a major roundabout looking for a suitable gap?

In the trade we usually expect that test nerves will reduce the effectiveness of our pupils by up to twenty percent. We balance this by aiming higher than the minimum acceptable standard before we put you in for it. Everything possible has been taken into consideration without you having to do a thing.