One of the most nerve-wracking experiences in the life of a teenager or a young adult is their driving test. Whether or not you move on and get a truck license or a motorbike license or any other extra vehicle, most of us will start with a car license exam.
And while the first one may not necessarily be the most difficult, it will more than likely be the most stressful, just because of the fact that it’s a completely new experience. And the more you pass exams, the less daunting they tend to be.
One thing to remember is that there is no shame in failing the test on your first attempt. Surprisingly enough, the pass rate is not particularly high in most states. It generally does tend to hover around the 50% mark.
So while there is a very good chance that you won’t pass on the first go, it’s not the end of the world. But it will still feel like a bit of a setback, especially if you worked hard for it, and it would be great if you could pull off passing the first time you try.
You can’t guarantee it because you never know what kind of conditions you’re going to face on the day, and you could get really unlucky in terms of what’s happening on the road at the time of your test, but you can do a lot ahead of time to increase your chances.
It’s like any other exam that you’re going to do in your life, the more you prepare and study for it, the more likely you are to succeed. So let’s take a look at some important things to remember when you’re studying for your car license exam:
When you’ve been taking driving lessons for a while and you’re getting close to the actual test, your instructor is probably focusing a lot on some of the more specific skills that you are likely to be examined on.
Things like parking, backing up along a curb, lane changes, intersections, and a whole variety of different kinds of turns. All of this stuff is important and a driver that’s road safety needs to be versed in those skills.
But the basics are important too, and after being drilled on them in the early stages of your training, they become less of a priority for your trainer. As a consequence, you can end up forgetting about them, and they can slip through the cracks.
So when I say ‘the basics’, what I’m referring to are things like putting on your turn signal at the appropriate time, knowing when to do a gear change, very thorough observation, and keeping a close eye on the speed limit.
You should make a point of running through these things in your head every time you get in your car and during your actual test, try to exaggerate each of these things so that it’s obvious to the instructor that you are familiar with them.
You should make an informed decision on where you want to do your test. Do a bit of research and find out what testing centers have the highest pass rates and check them out yourself to see if there is one that you prefer.
Once you know where you want to do the test, have your driving instructor work with you there and get you familiar with the typically used routes. Testers tend not to stray too far from set routes and a good instructor will be familiar with these routes.
By the time you’ve done your test, you should know all of them inside out. Be familiar with any tricky turns, complicated junctions, bad road conditions, or any areas where the behavior of other drivers may present a problem.
If you do enough practice on the test routes, your driving can become almost subconscious and you will just have to focus on technical skills and road sense.
Much like what we discussed earlier in regards to the basics, the theory is more important in the early stages and is probably something that you won’t have had to prioritize for a while by the time you are actually ready to do your test.
It’s understandable really, the more interesting, useful, and fun part of learning to drive comes from actually driving and not from flicking through a book. But you’re going to be asked a few questions by the instructor before you get out on the road.
And that’s when your theoretical knowledge is going to be important. If you haven’t looked at it in a while, you could find yourself at a loss while being questioned and end up with a few faults on your sheet before you’ve even got out on the road.
Familiarize yourself with road signs, with hand signals, with the mechanical setup of the car in terms of the oil, water, and brake fluid, and also learn a bit about the documentation that will be important after the test if you can.
Learn all about car tax and insurance. What kind of insurance you will need in regards to your age, your family, and how you would acquire it if you are using an international permit. Some of this stuff might very well come up, and just learning more about cars and driving, in general, is valuable.
You are unlikely to get to choose the exact time and date of your driver’s test, and even if you were, you can’t control what the weather is going to be like when you're scheduled to take it. And unless the conditions are extreme, a test won’t be canceled on account of the weather.
This is why it’s important for you to practice in all conditions. Driving in the wind or the rain is a very different experience from driving on a calm sunny day. There are different hazards and other drivers react differently.
It’s good to be adequately prepared for any weather, so you should definitely try to organize some lessons based on the weather forecast. That can be tricky to coordinate, but you can also just do some driving under the supervision of a qualified driver if it’s a rainy day.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that while it’s normal to be nervous if your anxiety gets too bad it could hinder your performance. So in addition to doing as much practice and research ahead of time, you should also practice some relaxation techniques if you are prone to driving anxiety.