Pass with flying colours
Unsure of where to start when it comes to preparing for your theory and practical driving tests? You're not alone. For many learners, taking a driving test is a nerve-racking experience.
Learning to drive is much more than just getting behind the wheel. There are no hidden secrets to your driving tests, but understanding the rules of the road is crucial in keeping yourself and other road users safe.
Whether you're searching for last-minute tips, or just want to brush up on your test knowledge, we've got you covered.
The Theory Test
Before you can become a fully-fledged driver, you'll have to perfect your technical knowledge. Practice, patience, and hard work can all help you to feel confident in breezing through your theory test first time.
If you're feeling swamped and unsure of where to start with your theory test, you're not the only one. It's easy to feel overwhelmed with the weight of information that comes with learning to drive.
Rest assured, we have compiled a list of expert tips to make sure you're feeling geared up for your theory test.
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The highway code should become your best friend when preparing for your theory test. After all, it's what the test revolves around.
There are plenty of revision aids accessible online. The official DVSA theory test kit app has an array of features that will prepare you for the multiple choice question test and the hazard perception parts alike.
Taking as many mock tests as possible will help you to understand the timings of both tests and put your study efforts into perspective.
If you're old-school, you may want to grab a copy of the DVSA official theory test handbook, which is full of example questions and plenty of other useful information to improve your road knowledge.
Changes to the highway code came into effect on January 29th 2022, so ensure your copy is up-to-date and relevant.
Be prepared for the day
Don't underestimate the power of breakfast and a good night's sleep. Making sure you're fuelled for the day means you'll be fresh and alert during your test. This is especially helpful for your hazard perception test, as you'll need to be ready to spot hazards as soon as they come into view. Fuelling up is every bit as relevant when it comes to your practical test, too, so make sure to carry this advice with you.
It's equally important to understand exactly where your test centre is and how you're going to get there. Arriving at the test centre 30 minutes early will minimise stress on the day and give you enough time to breathe before your test.
Bringing along your photocard driving licence is essential to take your theory test, so make sure to double-check that you have it with you, or there will be no test (and no refund).
Know what to expect
Understanding what to expect may seem like an obvious driving test tip, but it's an important one.
Your theory test will consist of:
- Multiple choice questions: during the test, you’ll have 57 minutes to answer 50 multiple choice questions. If you're unsure of anything, hit the flag button. By flagging questions, you can quickly go back to them before the end of the test.
- A 3-minute break before you move onto the hazard perception test: use this time wisely by having a drink of water, and don't forget to breathe!
- Hazard perception test: you have up to 20 minutes to complete this section. The test consists of 14 one-minute video clips; each has one hazard to spot, while one clip has two hazards.
The Practical Test
The countless hours revising the highway code has paid off, and you're now ready to take your practical driving test.
With the UK pass rate around 47%, we know passing the practical driving test can be a huge challenge. The best way to calm those pre-driving test nerves is to make sure you're completely prepared for the day ahead.
Practice Makes Perfect
There are no minimum number of driving lessons you must have before taking your practical test, however, the DVSA recommends around 45 hours of in-car learning to pupils having driving lessons.
Your instructor will let you know when they think you're ready to book your test. Remember not to panic at this stage, your instructor wouldn't advise you to go for it if they didn't think you were test-ready.
Practising between lessons with a friend or a family member can also help you improve on your general driving between lessons. Buying your perfect first car before taking your driving test will help you to perfect your skills, so you're completely prepared for the big day.
Don't forget to brush up on your theory test. Aforementioned, changes to the highway code came into effect in January 2022. Revising these changes could be the difference between passing and failing your practical test.
Be certain to make sure you know exactly what to expect. The last thing you need is any nasty surprises halfway through your test.
Here is everything you need to know about the structure of your test:
- Eyesight check
- Show me, tell me questions
- Reversing manoeuvres
- Following directions from a sat nav
- Independent driving
A key part of planning ahead is learning your routes. Mock tests are a great way of developing under pressure and familiarising yourself with test routes. Having a good idea of where the examiner may take you on your test will take away that fear of the unknown and boost your confidence.
Don't forget to bring your provisional licence and theory test pass certificate to the test. Failure to present these documents will result in a full cancellation (and no refund).
Staying calm is easier said than done, we know! You're more than likely going to be anxious, but it's useful to note that making a small mistake on your driving test is probably not the be-all and end-all. If you find yourself making an error during your test, don't just assume it's game over, you are allowed 15 minors before you fail.
If you go the wrong way, just breathe through it and continue on; your examiner will help you get back on route. Remember, you're not being tested on your sense of direction, but your ability to drive safely and competently at all times.
Finally, if in doubt, just ask. If you mishear an instruction during your test, or just need some clarification, simply ask the examiner to repeat it. Don't feel embarrassed to ask questions, it shows a good use of initiative in challenging situations.
After you've passed your test
Once you have passed, you can say “adios” to your provisional licence and upgrade to a full licence. Your examiner will send your details to the DVLA, so an upgraded licence will be sent to you by post.
Driving is an ongoing learning experience, and if you still feel like you need more confidence on the road, your driving lessons don't need to stop there. Your instructor will more than likely offer lessons to help you continue to improve your driving skills.
See our list of the top 10 used cars for young drivers if you’ve just passed or are on your way to full licence ownership.