Whether you're preparing for your first or your tenth attempt at passing your driving test, here are a few pointers to give yourself the best possible chance of success on the day.
Find a good instructor
Obviously, the first step it to take some lessons.
Driving with a qualified adult is good practice, but to really make sure you're doing everything correctly and safely enough to pass the test, you’ll need the expert help of a driving instructor.
There are many instructors out there. Ask around, your friends and family might be able to recommend someone. Any instructor you decide to go with should be approved and registered with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA).
If you can, find an instructor with a car that suits you. If your partner drives a Ford Fiesta and you plan to use it regularly for additional practice, for example, see if you can find an instructor with the same car. This way the indicator switches, windscreen wipers and reverse gear positions will all feel familiar, meaning you’re less likely to get confused during your test.
Wait until you’re ready
Don’t apply for your test until you and your instructor feel you're ready. Taking a test early to save the cost of a few lessons will almost certainly backfire – especially considering that you'll be paying for the test and to use your instructor's car.
Make sure you practice driving on the test routes beforehand – your driving instructor should know where these are. It's much easier to negotiate tricky junctions if you know the roads well and have attempted the junctions in advance.
On the day of the test, arrange to have a final driving lesson around the area of the test centre beforehand. This will help you to warm up and get into the swing of things. It will also help you to be aware of any new roadworks and other obstructions on the test route.
Also make sure you arrive for the test at least ten minutes early to give yourself time to calm down and relax – there's nothing worse than arriving stressed out for a driving test!
You're bound to feel at least a little bit nervous, everybody does, so don’t worry about it too much. Also, if you make a small mistake, put it out of your mind immediately and stay focused. It may only be a minor error and you're allowed to make up to 15 of these and still pass.
The driving part of your exam will last about 40 minutes, which will include 20 minutes of independent driving when you'll have to navigate with a sat nav or traffic signs. The instructor will set up the sat nav for you, and you can’t bring your own.
The number one rule is to be safe – if the examiner feels unsafe, then you will almost certainly fail.
If you feel you’re messing up a manoeuvre, such as the parallel park, simply pull forward and start again. As long as you haven’t done anything wrong, such as touching the kerb or failing to make effective observations, you can still pass.
You don’t need to be the world’s best driver to pass a driving test, you just need to be safe and competent. Stay calm and focus on this. And remember, if you fail, you can always take the test again.