There are about 45 million drivers on UK roads and about 47% passed their driving test first time.1
So - theoretically at least - you've got about a 50/50 chance of passing your driving test first time.
But you can improve those odds massively if you follow the advice in this article.
Not only that, you will also:
• supercharge your driving lessons;
• learn to drive safely, faster;
• boost your confidence and self-esteem;
• save money.
Why is it so important to pass first time anyway?
Failing a driving test is not only expensive (£62 for another test plus the cost of more lessons), it's also an unpleasant experience.
You really don't want to hear the examiner utter the dreaded words 'sorry, you haven't met the required standard on this occasion'. Failing a test will not only dent your confidence, it could also cost you a lot of money.
But you're going to hear the examiner say: 'Congratulations. I'm pleased to say you've passed'. Just think how exciting that day is going to be.
Read on and it will become a reality.
Choose the right driving instructor
If you want to pass your test first time (and hopefully enjoy your driving lessons too) finding the right driving instructor is crucial. You're going to be sat next to him or her for quite a few hours so you need to be able to get along with each other. Also, some instructors are simply better than others.
If your instructor:
• doesn't have a sense of humour;
• is impatient or shouts at you;
• cancels lessons for no good reason;
• turns up late or finishes lessons early;
• doesn't share your progress record with you;
• doesn't have clearly defined objectives for every lesson;
• doesn't help you learn in the way you like to learn;
• uses a mobile phone during your lesson (it's illegal);
• asks you to take the previous student home before you start your lesson.
It may be time to find another one.
Challenge your instructor about their behaviour by all means but if there's no change, don't waste time. Sticking with an instructor who isn't right for you will lessen your chances of passing your test first time and make learning to drive a miserable experience.
Make the most of your driving lessons
First of all, make sure you have at least one lesson a week.
Missing weeks will mean it takes longer to learn to drive, it will cost you more money in the long run and - you guessed it - you're less likely to pass first time.
Consider having longer lessons
For most people, a one-hour driving lesson isn't long enough.
When you deduct the five minute objective setting/briefing/chat at the start and the debrief at the end of the lesson (and if you're not having a brief/debrief you need to ask your instructor why not) you're left with about 50 minutes to actually learn and practice something.
If you have a ninety minute lesson, you'll drive for about 80 minutes.
The result - you'll learn faster, retain more information and do better on the 'big day'.
It's also a good idea to vary the day and time of your lessons and, if you can, experience different weather conditions.
If you always have your lessons at 9am on Mondays and it never seems to rain...you're not going to be well prepared for after your driving test. Or even if it rains during your test!
Ask lots of questions!
Us driving instructors love being asked questions. The more the better. It shows you're thinking about your driving and not expecting to be 'spoon fed' the answers to every little problem.
And by asking questions (as opposed to being told what to do all the time) your learning is going to 'stick' much better.
So when you're taking your test you'll be much better equipped to deal with whatever you come across.
DON'T practice test routes!
Yes, that's right. I said DON'T practice test routes.
For one thing, there's actually no such thing as a 'test route'. Examiners may start with a route in mind but they (and do) go anywhere they like subject to being able to get back to the test centre in about 40 minutes.
You need to be able to drive anywhere, anytime. If all you do is practice what your instructor calls 'test routes' you're much more likely to fail your test.
Practice in-between lessons
Private practice between lessons can't replace professional driving lessons.
But providing they're done in the right way you will need fewer lessons and you'll definately boost your chances of passing your test first time.
Insurance for provisional drivers is cheaper than you might think too. Collingwood Learner Driver Insurance, for example, can provide you with cover from as little £0.64 a day!
Plus, if you get your own insurance you're not risking your someone else's NCD and you can arrange the insurance online, instantly.
Planning and managing the 'big day'
When you book your driving test, don't choose a time that you wouldn't want to have a job interview and if you're a morning person don't pick a test that starts at 3pm. If you like a lie in, don't choose a 7am test. Obvious really.
On the run up to your test, you might want to take some mock tests with your instructor, if only to find out what it's going to feel like when no-one is telling you what to do.
Examiners are nice people but they won't remind you to get into first gear before you try moving off on a hill in third 🙂
Managing your nerves
Examiners really want you to pass your test. That's official.
Examiners are not out to 'get you' or trick you into making a mistake. They want to see you drive to your potential so they will help you relax if they can.
They don't have quotas and you're just as likely to pass on the last day of the month as the first.
All you have to do is drive safely and confidently for about 40 minutes.
But driving as well as you know you can is not easy if you allow your nerves to get the better of you. It's just as important to know how to cope with your emotions and feelings on the day of your test as it is to know how to parallel park and get onto busy roundabouts safely.
The good news is that there are lots of things you can do, ranging from keeping your test a secret to eating bananas. This article explains how I help my customers stay calm on the day of their test.
It's perfectly natural to feel a bit nervous before you take your test (and a little bit of 'nerves' is actually a good thing, it helps you focus) but if you feel too anxious you won't be able to show the examiner what a good driver you are.
So driving test 'nerves' need to be controlled.
The best way to to be minimise test nerves is too be 100% ready to take your driving test. Too may people take their driving test before they can drive truely independently. If you still rely on your instructor to remind you what gear you need or how to position the car at roundabouts (or to tell you anything all all) you're not ready to take a driving test, you'll feel stressed and it probably won't go well - it's that simple.
But even if you ready to take your test you might still feel very nervous. The good news is, there is a lot you can do to feel more relaxed on the 'big day'. Here are a couple of tried and proven methods that will help you get that pass certificate - first time:
Don't think of it as a 'test' - the word 'test' generates negative feelings in most people. It conjures up the possibility of failing more than the (more likely outcome) of passing! Instead, think of it as a demonstration of your driving skills to someone who wants to turn to you at the end and say 'well done, you've passed'. The word 'test' shouldn't even come into it.
Visualise success - visualisation is a powerful tool. Professional sportsmen and women who imagine winning, imagine being handed the trophy often find that it comes true. Plus, they don't feel stressed. If you keep an image in your mind of the examiner handing you that pass certificate while you're driving, you'll probably find it comes true!
Common reasons for failing - and how to avoid them!
The most common faults made during driving tests between 4 December 2017 and 3 December 2018 were:
1. Junctions – observation.
2. Mirrors – change direction.
3. Control – steering.
4. Junctions – turning right.
5. Move off – safely.
6. Response to signs – traffic lights.
7. Move off – control.
8. Positioning – normal driving.
9. Response to signs – road markings.
10. Reverse park – control.
Source: DVSA, Top driving test faults made in the first year of the new test, July 2019
Discuss these with your instructor. Do you think any of them apply to you? If you do, make sure you fix your faults well before you take your test. Not the day before!
Conclusion - how to pass your test first time, easily
You're not going to be among the 53% who don't pass their test first time.
If you follow the advice above you are going to pass first time. You're also going to have some fun while you're learning and you'll become a safe, confident driver who can drive anywhere, anytime.
Relax. You've got this.