So, as a year 12 (soon to be year 13) student, I’ve just finished my penultimate school year. Unfortunately, I spent the last few months of the school year trying to balance end of year exam stress with learning to drive. As an International Baccalaureate student, end of year exams means revising for six different subjects, with multiple tests for each. And so, as you can imagine, the whole process is quite stressful on its own yet I decided to combine it with the thrill of learning to drive. It goes without saying that this was a pretty stressful time, and it has made me realise that maybe I should focus my attention on one important thing at a time, and not two! Here’s why I think school exams and driving exams aren’t a great mix.
I have been learning to drive for a while now, so while I was in the midst of exam madness I was also beginning the preparation for a practical driving test, which put more pressure on my driving lessons. I didn’t want to stop having lessons completely during the exam period, as I didn’t want to risk getting out of practice, but I felt a lot of pressure to try and balance my time between revising, having driving lessons and little practice drives with my mum. Balancing all of this is harder than it seems, and I think that by putting that extra pressure on myself, I failed to dedicate enough time to each thing.
The upshot was that, when it came to the day of my actual practical test, right after all of my exams, I was so tired and worn out that things didn’t go as I had hoped and unfortunately, I didn’t pass. I was frustrated that during the test I hadn’t driven as well as I know that I’m able to, and I made one critical mistake. This was all due to the stress of the previous month packed with intense driving lessons, late night revision and exams. Even though it was really demoralising at the time, I can look back on it now and see that I simply wasn’t in the right mindset and I really just needed a rest as I’d worn myself out completely.
Luckily, I had already gotten the theory test out of the way before any major exams. I know that some of my friends had to do their theory tests at the same time as exams, which I can only imagine as being really overwhelming! I struggled enough with just balancing two separate things, let alone three.
Balancing the scales
From my experience from the last few months of school, I can tell you that I am very glad to have started the process of learning to drive whilst in year 12, so hopefully I won’t have to worry about balancing learning to drive and the real deal exams of year 13 (fingers crossed I pass before then).
So, if I were to give any advice on balancing school work, and exams specifically, with learning to drive, I would say that you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself to get everything done at once. I can tell you from personal experience that, having had a holiday break and not driving for several weeks recently, I managed to get straight back in the car as if no time had passed. So, taking time off, or simply cooling off the intensity of lessons to focus on other things can benefit you in the long run, whilst still not stalling the process of learning to drive.
For me, exams and driving tests didn’t mix, but I’ve survived (just). My exams went really well and as far as my driving is concerned? I’ll just try again another day!