As hundreds of thousands of learners face lengthy waits before they can take their driving test, here's 6 ways to make sure you remain 'test ready' when waiting
By Chloe Martell
Updated on Jan 12th, 2021
With research revealing learner drivers lost more than £1m due to the postponement of driving tests during lockdown, people are more anxious than ever to pass first time to prevent further delays. While new data from the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) revealed a backlog of 390,000 tests leading to thousands of learners still facing a lengthy wait to take their test.
We've teamed up with award-winning driving instructor Jeff Tuck to ensure learner drivers are as prepared as possible for their big day. Together we've come up with six ways drivers can ensure their preparation is as thorough as possible as well as discussing how they can avoid failing with the most common mistakes.
Driving on roads you’re unfamiliar with is a skill even the most experienced of drivers struggle with. While it’s impossible to predict the exact route your examiner is going to ask you to take, your driving instructor should have a good idea based on their previous students. Have a discussion with them on the most common routes around the centre and become comfortable driving on them - you can then practice these routes not only in your lessons, but also if you pick up insurance for learner drivers. While you’re bound to have nerves while taking your driving test, practicing similar routes to the one you’ll take on the day will only help settle butterflies.
Although it’s difficult to simulate the emotions you’ll have on the driving test itself, familiarising yourself with the process is a must. While you might have been through a mock test with your instructor before, asking for another one will only help. Your driving habits can easily change over a couple of weeks and certainly over the course of a month so you might find the elements of the test you previously struggled with you’re now able to breeze through. Mock tests can be a great way to boost your confidence knowing you’re on track to pass.
While sat navs are a great help, it takes time to become accustomed to being guided by one. A great way to get used to them is to choose a different destination to drive to each week. The key to using a sat nav is making sure you’re always thinking one step ahead. This gives you time to get into the correct lane and focus on your observations - a critical skill which often is the difference between many people passing or failing their test.
It might sound counterintuitive but if you’ve got a long wait for your driving test, taking a week off from driving could do you the world of good. It’s easy to overthink the process of learning how to drive which can result in burnout. Taking a break from it all together will help to refresh your mind and ensure you come back focused and even more determined than ever to pass your test.
Like many skills, the key to conquering manoeuvres is practice, practice, practice. While practicing in the car you’ll be taking the test in is preferable, simply becoming confident with the different stages involved in each manoeuvre is crucial. Don’t feel embarrassed if you have to ask your instructor to spend a whole lesson on this alone because it’ll be worth it in the long run. Once you're confident you have a good feel for a car and its dimensions, you’re well on your way to having a potentially tricky aspect of the driving test nailed down.
It can be easy to neglect one of the most straightforward aspects of the driving test especially if you’ve been learning for quite a while. But, brushing up on the ‘show me, tell me questions’ is a must. All of the questions that could be asked can be found in the DVSA guide here so be sure to take a look and make sure you’ve got your answers prepared and fresh in your mind. If you want to practice in a more practical sense, write all of the potential questions down on a piece of paper and ask your friend or parent to choose a couple to ask you.
Jeff Tuck, founder of the multi-award-winning driving school Drive Bug, ensures his students focus on these three key skills before taking their test:
Observations at junctions
“This is the most common reason for people failing their test and more often that not it’s because learner drivers are approaching the junction too fast. Gradually slowing down gives you an extra couple of seconds to assess the situation and make the right decision.”
“Not being in full control of the steering wheel is also a common fault. The mistake I see learner drivers making all too often is crossing the central white line when at a junction or roundabout. I encourage my students to visualise a garden fence being there which encourages them to position their car in the correct position for the lane they’ll go on to enter.”
“It’s a really simple skill to get right but especially when drivers get more confident they become lazy checking their mirrors. The key is making sure you get into a good habit of doing this. If you begin a drive consciously thinking about checking your mirrors then this routine will often last for the remainder of your drive.”
You can get in extra driving practice with a friend or family member in their car - with no risk to their No Claims Discount!
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