Driving Test: Top tips
To all of you, who are thinking of taking a driving test, to all of you who are taking the test for the first time or the nth time and all of you who appreciate the emotion. Please read on…here are my top tips to pass the driving test.
I started my quest to take the driving test way back in 2008. In between then and now 2014, I took three theory tests, changed one instructor, got a MSc degree, a couple of jobs, two babies, and there, six years later I passed my driving test!!
My first theory test in the year 2008 got expired even without getting my hands on the steering wheel. I retook the theory test in 2010. My stint with the car began, the first ever in the UK. By then, I had a two-year-old boy; on the top of it I was trying to get a degree. Hence on the days I did not have any lectures, I started taking my driving lessons. Frankly speaking, I did not understand the concept of roundabouts and lanes at all.
I took quite a few lessons and booked the test on 23rd August 2011. I took a day off from work. So I was all set to take the test. My driving instructor suggested taking a mock test. I failed my mock test and my instructor was so disappointed with me that he told me to cancel my test. I could exactly remember his words, ‘If I let you take the test, my driving instructor certificate will be rebuked’. He pointed out hundreds of mistakes, which were not mentioned in any of my lessons. I was crushed but controlled my emotions. I thanked him and ran to my home. I gave up the thought of taking driving lessons.
With my five-year-old boy and one year old daughter, driving was soon becoming a necessity. I had to start learning again. Here comes my number one suggestion for people who were told they couldn’t drive:
1) Don’t let others perception of you become your reality.
I started taking lessons again in 2013 after the birth of my daughter. However, the very thought of taking a driving test would make me sick. The word ‘sick’ is an understatement as the way I felt was something indescribable. We all have those butterflies, but it was something different. I started reading various forums where people get united and talk about how many times it took them to pass their test, how the nerves took the better of them, horrible examiner, tough test centre, someone talking about passing it first time, other than driving, what else to do to calm the nerves. If you type in google as ‘How to pass your driving test’, hundreds of forums and posts would appear on your computer screen. I have read most of them and given numerous suggestions to calm the nerves to a number of people. I had many doubts but I tried. I told myself that in the larger context of life, driving is a small thing and there are so many people in the world who are doing fine without driving. I also told myself that other than a dent in the pocket, there are no golden stickers or an award of a special licence to pass first time or pass the nth time! I took a ‘it’s not a big deal attitude’. If you are a mum, you have to arrange childcare; sometimes you might have to take the kid along with you. I have taken my daughter in the driving lessons and know a few friends who have done the same.
2) Don’t tell anyone about your driving test date
You are in pressure anyways; hence there is no need to add to the pressure by telling everyone. This is one of my friend’s suggestions and worked out perfectly for me. I arranged for childcare. However, my husband came from work early on that day. I told my husband that I was going for a lesson.
3) Get an assessment from another instructor
If you are not happy with the way your lessons are shaping, it’s advisable to take a second opinion. It’s important to have an instructor who never gives up on you. Mine was great!
4) On the test day
On the day of the test, read things aloud. If you are religious, read out any religious text or if you are spiritual, read out anything spiritual. The key is to read it aloud so that your mind is not fixated on the test. Eat a banana. Bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’ – which will keep you cheerful. If your test is in the afternoon, eat something light such as porridge.
5) Just be Safe
Tell yourself, you don’t have to be perfect in driving, just be safe. I read it somewhere and it changed the way I looked at the test. As I said I was nervous about the driving test but I did not know the reason of my nervousness. My instructor kept on asking me the reason for my anxiousness. I did not know the answer. I thought it was reversing around the corner. We practiced that several times till we got it right. However, even after getting my skills right, I could not stop getting nervous and anxious. I told myself that I would not worry about any of the manoeuvres and react to what comes my way. I used to panic on taking too much time while coming off a roundabout. My strategy was to tell myself that safety comes first and it doesn’t matter as long as I am safe. I am the driver, I am in charge of the examiner’s safety. I make the decision.
6) Breathing exercise
Practice the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Try it from a week before the test. Don’t worry, if your test is tomorrow and you don’t have a week to practice. If you practice even before the test, it works wonders. It goes like this: 4 counts to breathe in, 7 counts to hold the breath and 8 counts to release through your mouth. You may increase the counts. In the test, don’t forget to breathe. No counts, just breathe.
8) It must be just a minor
Lastly, my golden rule, if you make a mistake, tell yourself, it’s a minor! You are allowed as many as fifteen minors. Just take the pressure off you and don’t give up until you are back at the test centre and parked up.
Carry on, you will get there.