Tips for getting the most from your lessons and passing your driving test
The British driving test is the most difficult in the world. Every day, 10 people are killed on British roads and every one in three deaths is as a direct result of a newly qualified driver. Due to these horrific statistics, the test is becoming more and more difficult to assure the quality of new drivers is sufficient to reduce these statistics. The price of the practical test is now £62 and £31 for the theory. The days of rocking up, crossing your fingers, praying for 40 minutes and passing are well and truly over. You MUST study for this exam. Give yourself the best chance possible by following my top tips on how to pass your driving test first time.
1. Sleep - It's been scientifically proven that those who are well rested respond far better in reaction tests. Your driving test is one long reaction test! The night before avoid having any alcohol or caffeine - both of these will interrupt your sleep cycle. Humans optimum sleep time is 8 hours. If you go to bed at 10pm, you MUST set an alarm for 6am. Any more than this and your body and mind enter a new sleep cycle which waking from will make you groggy. To find out more about sleep, click here.
2. Food - What you eat makes your body respond in different ways. If your exam is early in the morning you need to get a good nights sleep so eat a carbohydrate rich meal e.g. pasta. Carbohydrates make your body feel sleepy. If your exam is in the afternoon you need to eat protein e.g. meat, eggs or fish. Protein makes your body feel alert.
3. Be prepared - The night before your practical test get all your documents ready and leave them by the front door. You MUST have your licence, otherwise they'll not take you out for the test. Know what is to be expected from you on the day of your exam. Have a look at how the practical driving test works and how the examiners mark it. Information taken from the DVSA guidance for examiners can be found here. At least read the part in the big red box!
4. Use this site - I've created an online driving tutorial for this website covering all subject topics you'll be tested on in regards to the exam. Study them. Driving lessons (mostly) only last an hour; it's a huge amount of information to take in. Use the tutorials to find out more. People learn in 3 ways; visually (seeing things), aurally (listening to instruction) and kinaesthetically (by doing). If you learn visually, like I do, you'll greatly benefit by seeing instructions written on a page. A tiny percentage of people learn aurally, mostly women, and that's how most of the instruction in the lesson is taught. Most people respond well to kinaesthetic learning, which is great, as your driving lesson is just that.
There are diagrams, photos and step-by-step guides for everything you need to know about driving. I've also included information about each driving test centre in Bristol. Where and what people often fail on; maps of the test routes and trouble areas with guides and photos to help picture how to navigate around it successfully. (Brislington, Southmead, Warmely).
Use this to practise with friends and family. I also publish updates with regards to roadworks and road layout on the blog. Have a look to see if there are any major disruptions at the test centre you're going to be tested at. Having an idea of what might be coming up will aid you greatly.
5. Practise - “Those who pass their driving test have had, on average, have about 45 hours of professional training combined with 22 hours of private practise. Learners who prepare this way, with a combination of plenty of professional training and plenty of practise, do better in the test." This is copied directly from the DVSA website. If you have only had a handful of lessons with an instructor and no private practise, you are attempting the impossible. Get out on the road and behind the wheel as much as you can. If you can't learn practically, you MUST practice theoretically. The best way to do this is to visit and read the online driving tutorials on this site.
6. Make the most of your lesson - I will always give you at least an hour in the car. If you turn up late, and I have another lesson afterwards, I can't let down my next client because of you. Be ready to go when the door bell rings and make sure you get an hours worth.
Be well hydrated - lack of fluids severally diminishes concentration levels. Make sure you have eaten (no crash diets), preferably something that will stimulate you like; asparagus, avocados, bananas, cod, cheese, peanuts, lettuce or fresh fruit. If you give your brain the right nutrients, you will be able to think faster, have a better memory, be better coordinated and balanced and have improved concentration. For more insight into the science of food, do some research.
7. Ask me - If you are unsure about something, ask me. That's what I'm here for. If you are thinking about driving whilst at work, text me, email me, skype me, call me. I really don't mind and will try my best to explain in the simplest way possible. I enjoy teaching and want you to pass. Even if you're not my student, send me an email - firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get back to you ASAP.
8. Don't try to do too much at once - I've seen this too much over the years. Students try to pass as quickly as they can, squeezing lessons into lunch breaks, between school/college/university exams and after work. DO NOT TAKE A LESSON IF YOU ARE ALREADY TIRED! You won't get the most from your lesson and it can be counter-productive. This exam is very stressful, be flexible. Don't pile unnecessary pressure on yourself.
9. Be relaxed and calm - Dress comfortably - The examiners aren't there to judge you on appearances; they are paid to judge your driving ability.
- Don't wear high heels - flat shoes are the best option. Remove bulky jackets and heavy jumpers.
- Breathing - In through the nose, out through the mouth. Doing this 5 times slowly will help lower your heart rate.
- Remedies - Antispasmodic stomach medicine, such as Colofac, can help keep those 'butterflies' under control. Rescue Remedy spray can help too.
- Your environment - Open the window. Fresh air will help keep you alert and cool. Make sure the car's environmental controls are set so you are comfortable. Don't sit there melting!
10. Have confidence - I will only let you go forward for the exam if I think you have a great chance of passing. If you don't feel confident with your driving ability - you're not ready. You are allowed to change your test 3 working days before hand. Don't throw away £100 (£62 for the test, £27.50 for lesson before, £27.50 for car hire) needlessly. No one likes to fail and if you think you're going to, you'll make it happen. Only when you feel confident do you stand a chance of success.
11. Music - The Mozart Effect is believed to increase learning and spatial awareness by up to 20%. Years ago it was said that by listening to Mozart made people smarter. This is not the case. What helps increase learning is to listen to your favourite music for 10 to 20 minutes before you start to learn something. It helps to increase the brains ability to make memories, and by making memories you remember how to do things, i.e driving. So before each lesson, try to listen to your favourite songs for 15 minutes and perhaps you'll be able to learn 20% faster. This will in the long run save you 20% on the cost and possibly get your licence in far less time.
When it comes to your exam, you'll have a few minutes wait before your test, why not take a MP3 player/mobile with your music on and some head phones and listen before your test starts. You'll not be learning anything here, but it could help with spatial awareness, a core skill for driving.
By Will Dracott