My name is Naomi, I am an athlete specialising in triple jump. I train five times a week and often have to travel to different parts of the country to compete. I’m going to tell you guys my long journey to passing my test with all the ‘feels’.
I’ve always enjoyed training as it’s lots of fun, but it wasn’t so much fun for my dad who had to drive me to training. Instead of having a lie in on Saturdays, he had to wake up at half 8 to take me to the track by 9, and instead of coming home after a long day at work to relax and watch a bit of telly he was greeted by me with my kit on asking “Are we going yet? I’m gonna be late!”
To end his anguish, I decided to begin driving lessons and a few months after passing my theory test, my dad asked “So… when you going to take your practical test”. I thought well I’ve been driving for a year I’ll give it a shot.
I opened the DVLA website and booked my test for a month later. I continued to practice but the closer it came to the date of my test the more nervous I became. Although my instructor was great I started to have doubts about myself and messing up on things I never used to mess up on.
A couple of hours before the test my instructor and I practised all the possible manoeuvres which could come up, but we didn’t practice three-point turn as I have never had a problem with that manoeuvre… Or so I thought.
We got to the test centre in good time and I sat in the waiting room for the examiner to come in and start the test. After what felt like forever, a group of instructors came out calling out different names. When my name was called the nerves immediately began to kick in. It dawned upon me that I hadn’t practised the three-point turn and that it could potentially come up.
During my test things were going okay…until it came to doing my manoeuvre I was thinking “Please don’t be a three-point turn, please don’t be a three-point turn.” And then the instructor says “Could you turn the car around for me please?”
My mind went completely blank and I just couldn’t remember how to do the manoeuvre. I tried to run through the routine in my head but I couldn’t recall how to complete it. I started to panic and in what seemed like a blur I began the manoeuvre, but because I was panicking I didn’t check my mirrors when I should have. There was a car behind me which I didn’t see and I knew I had failed. Although I was disheartened by the disastrous manoeuvre I decided to make the most of the rest of the test and use it as a learning experience.
The rest of the test actually went pretty well. I arrived at the test centre to my hopeful looking instructor approaching the car, the examiner let us both know that I had failed and said if I hadn’t panicked so much on the manoeuvre I would’ve passed as I had 5 minor faults.
I was disappointed when I got home, I kept thinking of endless ‘what ifs’. I didn’t want to break the news to my family, but they were fine. I then booked another test for the following month, and decided to have a week’s break before continuing lessons. (Another month of dad driving me to training, oops!)
This experience taught me that I needed to come up with a way to stop panicking under pressure. Here are some of the ways I came up with:
1) It’s important to practise weaknesses until they become strengths – If you’re not feeling confident about an aspect of driving don’t just ignore it and hope it doesn’t come up on the test, practise it until it becomes easier.
2) Keep in mind that driving is beyond the test. Although you may really want to pass, remember that there will be situations in which you will have perform the aspects you have learned.
3) Keep on practising strengths so they don’t begin to tail off. Although you may feel very comfortable with different elements of driving make sure to still practise the elements you are strong at.
Check in soon to see what happened next!