Ask any experienced Oxford driving instructor and they’ll surely tell you that the infamous practical driving test has the unique ability to transform grown men and women alike into quivering nervous wrecks. Despite the fact that you’re talking about an experience that lasts just 40 minutes and really doesn’t contain anything challenging, the very thought of a driving test really can be stomach-turning to say the least.
Of course, the good news is that for those approaching their tests is that they aren’t alone in their troubles – it’s almost unheard of for anyone to approach a driving test with a hop, skip and happy jump. In addition, there are ways and means to ensure that your test goes as well as it possibly can the very first time, which for the most part comes down to little more than keeping your nerves under control.
More often than not it’s nervousness and nothing else that leads to careless and silly mistakes, so here’s a quick look at a few industry insights for keeping control and hopefully coming out smiling:
Make Sure You’re Ready
You may have heard that your friends took about 20 to 25 hours of lessons prior to taking their tests – this does not however mean that you’ll follow suit. You might be ready after 15 hours or it might take you over 50 hours, there’s really no set rule and you need to make sure you do what’s right for you. More often than not, it’ll be your instructor that lets you know when you’re clearly ready, so you’ll have all the advice you need.
Focus on Manoeuvres
Each year, thousands of learner drivers fail their tests having managed to drive 100% flawlessly across the route only to then make a mistake during one of the test’s key manoeuvres. As such, the moment you find yourself in a position where you’re wholly happy and confident to drive normally in all standard driving conditions, it’s a good idea to practice your manoeuvres until you can practically do them with your eyes closed.
Practice When Possible
If you can (legally!) score access to a car and a responsible driver outside your lessons, it’s a good idea to practice as often as possible and in as many different areas as possible. The reason being that not only may your test take place somewhere unfamiliar, but you need to get used to the idea of not having your instructor offer you any advice. You won’t be told that you need to shift a little to the left, you won’t be reminded to indicate and you won’t be told when to stop reversing – getting used to driving totally under your own control can work wonders during your test.
Ask For Mock Tests
Ask your driving instructor to perform a series of mock tests in the days and weeks running up to the big day in order to give you a good idea of what to expect. Perhaps even more crucially, you’ll gain valuable insights into what areas of the test you’re already totally proficient in along with which areas you need to focus on more carefully.
First Time Lucky
It’s often said that great drivers pass their tests on the second or third attempts, while lucky drivers pick up their licenses first time. To be honest however none of this is really true as there’s no set rule with regard to how many tests anyone will, should or might need in order to pass. Some tests go incredibly smoothly, others are hampered by bad weather and then there are those that simply fall apart for the silliest reasons – you cannot know what you’ll be in for therefore to set yourself a goal in terms of test numbers really isn’t a good idea.
Time Your Test Well
You’ll of course get at least some say in when your test takes place, so be sure to choose a time that suits you as well as possible. Some revel in the idea of getting stuck in with the rush hour traffic, others prefer quiet Sunday evenings and then there are those that simply cannot focus if it’s any later than 1pm. It’s a case of thinking when and where you’re at your best in accordance with the road conditions at the time.
Eat, Sleep and Live Well
Last but not least, don’t go falling into the trap of trying to calm your nerves ahead of the test by eating junk food, drinking too much alcohol or generally living an unhealthy lifestyle in the days or weeks before the event itself. You’ll need lots of sleep, plenty of relaxation, a healthy diet and a generally positive attitude to come out with the result you’re hoping for.
And then of course, the celebration can really get started!