You’re learning to drive and need the ultimate guide to passing your driving test first time right?
The driving test is quite scary for some learner drivers – are you one of them?
Are you currently taking driving lessons?
Have you got the right driving instructor, and so many more questions left unanswered making it harder for you to know if you’re ready.
In this blog post, I’ll give you my top tips for passing your driving test first time, I’ll come back and update as and when I find better tips too!
Before You Take Your Driving Test – Plan, Prepare, Perform
Statistically speaking there is no magic spell that will guarantee that you will pass your driving test first time.
That’s a fact.
The driving test (despite being roughly 40 minutes in length) is going to be the longest 40 minutes of your life if you don’t have a plan!
So you’re probably asking…
How To Plan For The Driving Test?
Planning for the driving test might take you weeks, if not months.
When I was learning to drive, it took me around 20 hours of driving lessons, and around 3 months of preparation prior to this learning my theory test.
I get it, it’s not easy!
And whether you’re currently learning to drive, or are planning to learn to drive, consider the following:
- Who are you going to take your driving lessons with?
- Are you going to take your driving lessons or driving test in your own car?
- Do you even have a car yet?
- When do you want to aim to pass your driving test?
These are all important considerations to take into account during your planning stage before you take your driving test for the first time.
Who Can Teach You To Drive?
When it comes to learning to drive, there are a few options here…
You can either learn to drive from a professional driving instructor or from a family member – it’s entirely up to you, but there are pros and cons of each.
A professional driving instructor – and I’m not talking about someone who’s been in the industry for a short period of time…
Are likely to come at a premium cost compared to a family member maybe?
Do you really want a family member to teach you how to drive and pass your driving test?
It’ll likely be an experience for you that could be described as “awkward” at times.
Choosing A Professional Driving Instructor
When you’re planning to take your driving test, you’ll want to choose an excellent driving instructor.
That doesn’t just mean any driving instructor – you’ll want to choose one that’s well known in your local area.
Has an excellent pass rate!
This might come at a cost, but driving instructors that are in this for the long haul and want to really help you, will likely charge a higher fee.
My recommendation to you is to choose a driving instructor that one of your friends have used and gotten great results with.
What To Look For When Choosing A Driving Instructor
- They should be patient and calm with you.
- Your instructor should be talking at a level that you understand.
- A driving instructor shouldn’t get angry with your mistakes.
- They need to be understanding, professional and willing to listen.
Picking the right driving instructor when you’re learning to drive is SO important! It really does go a long way.
How About A Family Member – Can’t They Teach Me?
The simple answer is…
But I don’t recommend it. Why? Because having a family member to teach you how to drive is likely going to cause some conflict at the best of times.
Not to mention, your dad or mum likely took their driving test many, many years ago.
With new driving test topics in place, and some restructuring, your parents aren’t going to be the best people here to help you pass your driving test.
Now that we’ve discussed this, I think it’s time to look at some driving test tips, for those of you who are eager for them!
Let’s go through these…
1: Practice On Your Driving Lessons In Different Weather Conditions
Rain, wind, sun…
They’re all weather conditions that our planet will throw at you when you’re trying to practice to drive to take your driving test.
But there is absolutely a great reason why you should practice in different weather conditions right?
Have you guessed what they are?
The answer is reasonably straightforward. You’ll be driving in all weather conditions in everyday driving.
Whether that’s driving to and from work, giving someone a lift on a weekend, or just going to that Starbucks Drive-Thru that you’ve always wanted to go through straight after passing your driving test.
And it could be raining, in fact, it most likely will rain!
Your wipers will be going at full speed, road spray all over your windscreen and visibility will be difficult.
By practicing driving in different weather conditions on your lessons, you’ll prepare yourself for what’s to come in everyday driving
It’s great preparation for your driving test for sure.
2: Learn To Drive With A Sat Nav
With the recent introduction of sat navs in the driving test, it’s something you’re going to have to get used to.
Personally, I don’t agree with using a sat nav for the driving test.
Most people end up using their phone as a sat nav as we aren’t all fortunate enough to get a brand new car with a fancy touchscreen.
And that’s okay.
A proportion of your driving test will be to follow directions given to you from a sat nav, it’ll be a pre-planned route – don’t panic if you miss a direction.
You won’t fail your driving test for missing a wrong turn – so long as you do it safely and with control.
3: The Most Important Tip – Learn From Your Past Mistakes
We all make mistakes right?
It’s a normal part of being human. But it’s important that we can learn from our mistakes that we make.
No one should be annoyed at you for making a mistake, and your professional driving instructor should help you with
4: Practice Driving Test Routes In Your Area
It’s no surprise that you’ll likely be taking your driving test in or around the area near you.
And regardless of how much driving you’ve done on your driving lessons, I bet there’s some topics that don’t come up on the driving test because you simply don’t like them.
Roundabouts! I bet you hate them, even though I’m not a fan of roundabouts and I’ve been driving for several years now…
I try to avoid complex roundabouts, and whilst everyone most people likely struggle with them, they could easily be part of the driving test route that you go on.
The worst part…
You won’t know what route will be thrown your way on the driving test, so it’s important to try and practice as many routes as possible.
There’s likely going to be upwards of 10 driving test routes that the examiner could choose from.
They don’t tell you – you just do it, the routes are designed to cover a variety of driving test topics.
Some however will contain more roundabouts than others though
What Topics Will Be On The Driving Test?
You’ll cover a variety of driving test topics on the test right?
Here’s some that you will encounter:
- Roundabouts, many different variations such as mini roundabouts.
- A manoeuvre such as a reverse bay park or forward bay park.
- Independent driving, you’ll be asked to follow road signs.
- Guided driving from a Sat Nav.
Of course, there are so many more topics that will be covered.
Talk to your driving instructor to find out what routes are the hardest and cover some areas that you’re not as comfortable with.
It might sound counterintuitive to go over the things you hate, but in reality, everyday driving these are things that you are going to naturally find.
5: Clutch Control – I Know You Hate It!
How’s your clutch control?
If you dread to even think about this topic then you’ve answered it for yourself.
You need to practice more.
Chances are your driving instructor isn’t teaching you the CORRECT method, and there is a method that you should follow.
Once you’ve passed your driving test, there’s a very good chance that you’ll buy a petrol car…
This is where the problems arise…
You see, when you’re learning to drive you will likely be learning to drive in a diesel car.
Because a diesel car has more “get up and go” feeling and tends to be more powerful with regards to torque – that’s essentially how much the car can pull right.
This means that when you’re trying to find the “biting point” you end up seeing the bonnet of the car lift up – petrols don’t tend to react in the same way.
And most driving instructors will simply buy a diesel car and teach you to drive simply because they can’t be bothered with teaching you properly.
A video I recommend you watch is from Go2 Driving School:
It’ll teach you everything that you need to know about Clutch Control!
6: Know Your Speed Limits!
So there’s some blue flashing lights behind you…
Yeah, you’ve exceeded the speed limit before even passing your driving test.
If you’ve got a professional driving instructor helping you to pass your driving test, you likely won’t end up in trouble because they take some responsibility for your driving.
That’s not to say that YOU aren’t responsible for your own actions on the road.
Typically you’ll find a speed limit sign as a circular sign with a red ring around the outside here in the UK.
You’ll also find what’s known as “Repeater Signs” usually on every other lamp post where applicable, reminding you of the speed limit for that road.
Most modern cars will actually display the car’s speed as a digital readout in the instrument cluster.
This is a great idea, but don’t get too attached to this – don’t rely on it too much as if you ever get a car without this feature, you’ll forget what speed you’re doing!
I’m ABSOLUTELY one of many that has got this feature, despite having an analog readout, I always look at the digital readout – this will come back to catch me one day.
If you’re unsure what the road speed is, check with your driving instructor of the speed limits on local roads and how best to identify a new speed limit.
Does Your Car Have A Speed Limiter?
Okay, yes, most cars have a hardcoded speed limiter that prevents the car going faster than…
Say, 140mph for instance – but this isn’t really useful on our roads now is it.
We need a way of limiting the speed of the car at more appropriate road speeds, such as on rural roads.
Check if your car has a speed limiter function that will alert you when you exceed a defined speed limit of your choice.
This feature can be a great way to prevent you from breaking the law – not that I encourage even trying to break the laws of the road or anything else for that matter.
7: Make Sure You’ve Got The Right Footwear!
You should make sure that when you’re learning to drive, preparing to take your driving test that you’ve got the right footwear.
It’s essential that you remain in control of your car at all times when learning to drive, and even more so when you’re trying to pass your driving test.
You don’t want to turn up for your driving test if you’re wearing loose sandals or flip-flops, you won’t be correctly in control of the car.
Even if you think you are – trust me, you won’t be.
Get yourself a good quality pair of trainers, something that you can fit securely onto your feet and that has good grip.
8: MSM (Mirror-Signal-Manoeuvre) – Get To Know It
Early on when you’re learning to drive you’ll likely be taught the MSM (Mirror-Signal-Manoeuvre) routine…
It’ll be embedded into you like you learnt to walk all those years ago.
It’s a routine that allows you to make a change of direction safely.
Make sure to get to know the routine with your driving instructor in preparation for your driving test.
The MSM Routine For Your Driving Test
- You want to make sure you check your mirrors, a lack of this observation is one of the most common reasons for failing a driving test in the UK and possibly worldwide.
- Always use the routine when you change direction, approach junctions, roundabouts, traffic lights or when you come to a stop.
- Make sure to also use the POM (Prepare-Observe-Move) routine when driving every time you intend to move off from a stationary position.
If you don’t follow these routines, you won’t pass your driving test.
The driving test examiner is going to regularly make sure that you’re up-to-date with your surroundings whenever you stop, move off and approach junctions and roundabouts.
9: Get Started With A Mock Driving Test
A mock driving test is the perfect way to simulate what the actual driving test will be like.
I took several mock driving tests when I was learning to drive and in combination with a professional driving instructor as well as commitment…
I was able to pass my driving test for the first time with ease – and the 40 minute test I mentioned earlier, flew like a breeze.
That being said, the several mock tests that I had covered topics that I hated and they helped me with becoming a more confident driver in my own ability.
Talk To Your Driving Instructor
You might feel as if you’re not ready to do a mock driving test – your driving instructor might have a different opinion on your ability.
When you’re learning to drive you’re trying to consume a lot of information, very quickly, all at once.
During this time, you might overlook your own ability and actually might be ready for a mock driving test without even knowing it.
My advice is simple here, talk to your driving instructor!
10: Try To Avoid The Most Common Mistakes
If you’re really working hard at getting that first time pass on your driving test, then you want to be avoiding the most common mistakes.
It might sound obvious, but is harder than you might think.
You see, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, it’s important to identify what your weaknesses are and see how you can best improve upon them.
Do you need more lessons?
Or what about your theory test?
The Most Common Driving Test Mistakes For 2016/2017
- Junctions (observation)
- Mirrors (change direction)
- Control (steering)
- Junctions (turning right)
- Move off (safely)
- Positioning (normal driving)
- Move off (control)
- Response to signals (traffic lights)
- Reverse park (control)
- Response to signals (traffic signs)
11: Control Your Nerves
Your nerves could get the better of you when you’re learning to drive, and that’s a common problem amongst new drivers as well after passing their test.
As a learner driver, you’re trying to balance your nerves as well as keep everything together whilst learning to drive at the same time.
It’s hard – I get you.
I had some nerves when I was learning to drive, so completely understand how you feel.
If you’re finding it hard to control your nerves it could be worth trying to figure out EXACTLY what is causing you to be nervous!
Once you are able to track down what’s causing you to be nervous, you’ll be able to better prepare for the driving test.
I was nervous, and once that examiner gets into your car you’ll be 10x more nervous, and that’s okay.
As long as you have a plan of action to manage the nerves, you’ll be okay.
12: Make Sure You Know How The Driving Test Works And What To Expect
Preparing for that critical moment – which is your driving test is great, so long as you know how the driving test works.
If you’re not sure how the test works, I’m going to give you some pointers so that you’re prepared:
- You should turn up to your driving test centre no earlier than 10 minutes or so.
- You will sit inside the waiting room along with your driving instructor.
- You’ll need to have your provisional driving licence at hand (you no longer need the paper part)
- Your driving examiner will come and greet you and check your details, you’ll need to sign a form consenting that the vehicle is insured and roadworthy.
- Your eyesight will be tested.
Not knowing how the driving test works could be one of the reasons that puts you off of the test and raises your nerves.
So knowing how it works will help you better understand and be prepared.
13: Make Sure You’ve Had Enough Driving Lessons
Another great tip that I have for you is to make sure that you’ve had enough driving lessons in preparation for your test.
How do we define enough because one person might only need 15 hours, whereas another person might need 40+ hours.
There’s simply no right or wrong answer to the number of driving lessons that you need to pass your driving test.
Here’s what I recommend in this situation…
Yeah, you guessed it – speak to your driving instructor.
There’s no point taking the driving test if you’re simply not prepared for it and don’t feel confident, you shouldn’t define success with any budget on the driving test.
14: Take Your Test In Your Instructor’s Car
Okay, I get it, you bought your own car and want to use your brand new car to take your driving test in right?
Chances are, you’ve been practicing with your driving lessons in your instructor’s car, and if this is the case…
Stick with it!
You see, whilst your car might make you feel more comfortable and give you the sense that already passed your driving test, you’ll have a better advantage in your instructor’s car.
Bring Your Driving Instructor With You
When you take the driving test you can decide whether your instructor sits in on the test or whether you go alone with the examiner.
I honestly believe that having your instructor with you is a great idea – they can’t contribute whilst you’re on your test.
But they can help gain a better understanding of the things that caused you to either fail your test on, or even tell you what they were really pleased with.
Ultimately, it’s your choice though.
15: Don’t Assume That You’ve Failed Your Test.
When you’re taking your driving lessons do you ever catch your driving instructor writing down on the mock test sheet?
Chances are you’ve at some point assumed failure by this point.
Failure is a big word.
You don’t like to use the word “failure” because there isn’t really such a thing.
Because true failure is where you simply don’t turn up to the test centre for a non-valid reason.
The best thing to do when taking a mock test is to simply, not assume that you’ve failed.
Keep your act together and go through with it – it could just be notes that are being written down.
16: Have A Driving Lesson Before Your Driving Test
It’s a good idea to get about an hour of driving done before you take your driving test, this will help prepare your mindset and get it into the spirit of driving.
But, don’t do too much before your driving test!
You should cover a few car topics before your driving test, some that you’re moderately or really worried about.
It will help you reduce your nerves and allow your driving instructor to give you some final words of advice.
17: Go Over Some Theory Questions With Your Driving Instructor
Even though you’ve probably not completed your driving theory test just yet, it’s still a great idea just to cover a few points here.
For instance, the different road sign meanings and what they look like.
Or, to go over some rules of the road – just to help you brush off on some of these ideas in preparation for the actual test.
18: Don’t Rush Your Driving Test
It sounds obvious, but rushing your driving test to get through those 40 minutes won’t get you anywhere.
They say the key to success is to just keep at it.
And it’s a well known, very true saying.
Take the time you need on the driving test, relax and keep your cool!
19: Be On Time
Were you ever late for a lesson in school?
Or, have you recently turned up to a conference call meeting 30 minutes late for no valid reason?
Being on time for your driving test is so important.
The examiners can only get through so many driving tests in one day, if you’re late, your test will be canceled and you’ll have to book the driving test again.
20: If You Don’t Understand Something, Tell The Examiner!
You’re not at school here, there’s no need to be afraid of asking the driving examiner to repeat themselves on a particular topic or point.
If it’s a rainy day, there’s a good chance that you might not hear everything that the instructor tells you.
And that’s okay.
Just ask them to go over a point again for clarity.
What To Expect On Your Driving Test Day?
On the day of your test, make sure to arrive at the test centre no earlier than about 10 minutes.
Other people will be coming back from their test, and might not have completed a manoeuvre.
So it’s important to give them the space and time that they deserve.
With that in mind, there’s a few things you can expect
The Eyesight Check
You’ll be required to take part in the eyesight check – this should’ve been done long before getting to the test centre.
You should’ve done an eyesight check as part of your driving lessons and/or private lessons with a family member or trusted friend.
The eyesight check will involve reading a car’s number plate from at least 20.5m from the car.
Not sure if you can do this? Measure it out exactly at home and count how many steps you take from the car…
Apply this on a car registration that you’ve never seen before, either in a car park, or somewhere else on your street.
“Show Me, Tell Me” Questions
Another part of your driving test will involve the “Show Me, Tell Me” questions!
They’re not designed to trick you, but simply gauge your general understanding of the vehicle.
You could be asked a number of possible “Show Me, Tell Me” questions, just answer them to the best of your ability, even if you don’t fully know what they are.
The ability for you to reverse is rather important, we’re not some steam train on the roads here, our car can go forwards and backwards.
Of course your car can steer as well.
But your reversing ability will be considered as part of the decision making to whether you pass, or fail your driving test.
It’s an important part of everyday driving.
Your Driving Ability
Your general driving ability will be assessed on the driving test as well.
How smoothly can you accelerate, what’s your braking like, and steering control, these are all factors that will go into how your driving ability is tested.
Final Thoughts For Your Driving Test
We’ve covered a lot in this blog post, covering loads of valuable driving test tips that will help you pass your driving test.
Whether you’ve just started learning to drive with a professional driving instructor, or are at that stage where you need to take your test.
If you found this car topics blog post helpful, please share it and check out some of our other blog posts, we release new helpful blog posts often.