Thursday, 7 April 2016

How to survive your driving test!

Hello everyone, here's another post to go along with the 'how to survive series'; please check out the other posts in this series if you enjoyed this one. (there are links to the right of this post!) :)

So I recently passed my driving test, on Monday 29th February 2016, yaaaay!
That was after two previous attempts of course..!

I had my first driving lesson in July and I was fortunate enough to have lessons with my (almost) uncle who is a qualified driving instructor. This made me feel very comfortable throughout all of my lessons as of course I've known him for a pretty long time.

1. So the first tip would be to find a driving instructor that you're comfortable with. As a already pretty nervous person, I think I would've really struggled having a stranger teach me purely because I'm not very good at making small talk haha! It's perfectly OK to meet with the instructor and chat and maybe have a lesson or two to find out if you get along. This might sound silly but it can prevent alot of stress as you won't have to worry about spending extended (and I mean extended) amounts of time with a driving instructor that you don't like.

2. The next tip would be to get the theory part of the test out of the way. (Just a quick explanation in case you're outside of the UK - here we have to complete a theory test which has a number of multiple choice questions and then a hazard perception test which basically judges your reaction times. You have to pass this part before taking the practical exam.) Alot of people forget about the theory part when thinking about beginning to learn to drive however that knowledge is really helpful for your practical lessons too! The theory includes things such as; health and safety, road signs, knowledge about the car etc and some of it is common sense (supposedly). I found that the best way to practise for the theory test was to download the official DVLA app, it does come with a small cost but is totally worth it if it saves you a £25 theory retake!!  I found that once I had completed the theory section I felt really motivated to pass the practical exam as I was already halfway there.

3. Once you've made it past the theory exam, you need to book a practical test when you and your driving instructor feel that you are ready. From my experience the waiting list can be up to 3 months long so try to book in advance! Once this is booked, you just need to get lots of practise hours, some on lessons and if possible it can really help if you go with a relative (must be over 21 and held a license for 3 years) who drives in their car. This enables you to practise much more often without the cost of paying for driving lessons. Also, many people recommend booking your test at between 10am-2pm as this is when there is the least amount of traffic on the road!

4. Ahh so its the morning of the practical test!! I found this one of the worst times If I'm truly honest. Purely because I would think about all the possibilities if I did pass and the feelings I would feel if I failed aha. Don't do this if you can avoid it, it will just make you more nervous which is not helpful. The test lasts between 38-40 minutes and will begin with the examiner asking you to read a licence plate from a distance. You'll then get asked one 'show me' and one 'tell me' questions, these are relatively easy and hopefully your driving instructor will practise these with you beforehand:) If not, its all online - I'll include a link here. 
As long as you believe in yourself that you can do it and that you've put enough hours and hard work into it, then you should have nothing to worry about.

My personal experience: I failed my first driving test on the 28th January with 2 minors and 1 major fault where I poorly changed lanes on a roundabout- ooops! I had a lovely examiner who was very friendly but of course I was very disappointed when I heard that I'd failed. However with such few mistakes I was determined to do well the next opportunity I got!
The second test  was very different... it was originally booked for the 12th March 2016 but I kept checking the website and managed to move it forward to the 13th February due to other people cancelling their tests. (This was a Saturday and you have to pay an extra £13 on top of the normal £60 to do a weekend test - capitalism, I know :( ) I had a very nice instructor again however things were going terribly from the very beginning. I stalled on my emergency stop and did an awful manoeuvre. I ended up with 4 minors and 1 major. This major was very dramatic as I pulled out onto a roundabout (those damned roundabouts!) in front of a car who wasn't indicating so I wrongly assumed she was going a different direction... The examiner slammed on the breaks of the car, and I basically had a panic attack. I still had 15 mins to go on my test and continued on even though I knew I had failed. I cried and really struggled to breathe the whole time- honestly it was one of the worst driving experiences I've had so far and it really put me off driving for a bit.
After that second failure I really felt like driving wasn't for me and I just didn't want to carry on trying to pass because I was pretty embarrassed about what had happened. But nevertheless I booked another test.
This test was in the afternoon and I was a mixture of very calm and very nervous, at this point I had decided that i was just going to give it my best shot. I had the same examiner as my first test which I really liked as he was a very lovely man. This test went 10x better and I passed with only 1 minor:D I can't even begin to explain the relief after that test was over and I found out the good news! My driving instructor and I drove home beaming and chatting about how he could finally 'get rid of me':L

In the end, I'm really pleased that it's done now. I have so much more mobility than ever before and I'm very lucky to have had such a good driving instructor and friends and family who supported me through it all, even all the tears!

Anyway, good luck to anyone out there who is on their way to passing - believe that you can do it, it will really help! Hope you're all having a lovely week, goodnight xx