In the blog post What’s been going on, I mentioned that I have been focusing on my driving this summer. Today I had my test and in this blog post I am going to talk about my experience of driving – lessons and the test.
Firstly I thought I would give a little background as to my driving history. So I am currently 20 years old and had my first driving lesson back when I was 17. I remember having it just before my 18th birthday. I was so nervous! I was driving a Vauxhall Corsa which was very nice to drive and overall I enjoyed my lessons. My instructor was a man and he was nice but looking back now I think I could have probably learnt more in the time I had with that instructor. I wanted to take a test before University and six months to do so but within that time I never booked a test and only did one manoeuvre! I even did my theory ready to book a test but never did.
I then stopped my lessons and went to University. I knew I wanted to drive but didn’t really see the point if I was going to be at Uni.
The next time I drove was in second year of University in first semester. I had the money to and wanted to get it done before third year. Also my timetable wasn’t very busy so thought it was a good time to get it done. This time I was driving in a city and had a woman driving instructor who was very nice as well. I only had 10 lessons with her as I then went back home for Christmas. However, when I came back to Uni, I had exams so left the driving for a while and unfortunately just never got back into it.
This summer I hadn’t got much planned so I decided that this would be the summer I get my driving done before I go back to University. I started lessons at the end of June with a male driving instructor (different to the first one) and he was amazing. He was great at pushing things along and making sure that we covered everything and did all the manoeuvres. As I wanted to take a test before I went back to University, we booked the practical test pretty early on for today (August 16th). The annoying thing was that I had to retake my theory as my previous one had expired. I think in total I had 20 hours before my test which was enough to cover all the manoeuvres and feel comfortable and confident driving the car.
The week running up to the test wasn’t too bad. I had around 7 hours of driving booked in the week running up to my test which was good as it made me more confident however, yesterday (day before my test), I did a mock and failed for not indicating early enough. This really knocked my confidence. My nerves really kicked in then. I just remember thinking I was going to fail. I know it didn’t matter if I did because I could take another one but I really didn’t want to have to. Anyway, that night I just felt so sick. I would try not to think about it but it didn’t really make a difference. I also couldn’t get to sleep! In the end I think I got about 5 hours!
The morning of the test has to be one of the worst things about the day! It was raining which was even worse as I had never really driven in rain before so this made me even more nervous! Since I had been up since 5, I had just spent the morning waiting for my instructor and going over the show me/tell me questions. The only good thing about the morning was getting lovely texts through from family and friends wishing me luck.
My instructor arrived at 9:14am, an hour before my test, and we drove near the test centre and practiced all the manoeuvres. We also went through all the tell me/show me questions. I was so nervous you could hear my voice quivering as I spoke! We then made our way to the test centre, parked and went in. I was only waiting in the centre for about 3 minutes which was good.
Next the examiner came in and asked me to sign the mark sheet, read a numberplate and get into car. I was then asked the tell me question “Tell me how you would check direction indicators are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.” Then he gave me the debrief and told me I would be doing the independent drive at the beginning of the test. I then began driving. So my nerves at the beginning were huge but after a while they seemed to die down. I was just so focused on everything I was supposed to be doing I didn’t really notice my nerves. A little while after coming out the centre I got asked the show me question “show me how you would demist the rear windscreen.”
I got told to pull up on the left around three times throughout the test and about half way round the route on the Sat-nav I got asked to carry out the reverse on the right manoeuvre. This is where you have to pull up on the right and reverse two car lengths.
Five minutes before the test ended. I was asked to carry out an emergency stop which I was a little nervous about as it was raining! After this we then continued on back to the test centre car park. One thing I did notice was that the part of the drive where the examiner gave the instructions felt really short compared to the Sat-Nav section.
The moment of the truth. Another horrible moment, where you turn off the car and you just sit there waiting for the result. I was so nervous! I really wanted to pass but it wasn’t the end of the world either way – that’s what I kept telling myself. So the end result was … I PASSED! I passed with 1 minor for speed – I approached a junction too fast – but I don’t mind because I passed and I am so happy.
To those of you who are driving and have a test or who have failed and are taking another test soon just know that you CAN DO IT! I was so nervous and determined I was going to fail but I didn’t. If you don’t succeed first, second or third time then keep going until you do because the satisfaction when you do pass is amazing!
Tips on How to deal with your driving test!
Try and get a good night sleep
I know getting a good night sleep when you are nervous is hard but it is really important to try as on your driving test you need to be as awake and alert as you can! I would suggest listening to asmr videos on youtube or noises that are calming to try and help you sleep.
Eat a banana before your test
Okay, so this one might seem weird but bananas are filled with Vitamin B which helps calms nerves.
Make revision cards for the tell me / show me questions
I found making revision cards really useful! I wrote the question on one side and then wrote the answer on the back. I then learnt them and tested myself over and over again making sure I knew them all. I also watched youtube videos to make sure I had a rough idea of what to do before my instructor showed me.
Engage in conversation if your examiner asks you a question
Obviously this depends on how nervous you are and if you feel comfortable talking to your examiner whilst driving but I found that after talking to my examiner I felt less nervous. My examiner asked me a question about 3 minutes into the exam asking what I would normally be doing on a day like today. I answered then asked him the same thing and if being a driver examiner is the only thing he did. Having a little conversation really helped calm my nerves and I would really recommend this to anyone who is nervous and doesn’t like sitting in silence.
Remember to breathe in the exam and if you are nervous then just try and steady your breathing. Before the exam I just stood by our back door and took deep breaths in and out to steady myself and clear my head.
Mirrors, Mirrors, Mirrors
Just remember mirrors all the time. Whenever you go to do something, mirrors! If you are changing lanes, moving out, at a junction, changing speed, changing gear, carrying out a manoeuvre, just all the time mirrors! I was so worried about getting a major for observations I just tried to check my mirrors as much as I could.
Just believe you can do it
The last tip I want to share is one that I should have done more. Self belief. Tell yourself before your test and on your test in your head that you can do it and I believe that in your heart you will do it! You will start to believe it and drive your way to a pass. I self-doubted myself and got so nervous when I should have been telling myself that it was going to be okay and I could do it! We can all do it if we put our minds to it! Think you can do it and believe you can do it and just go for it! What’s the worse that can happen!
Overall, the last two years have been a rollercoaster from one driving instructor to the next but I am so glad that I have finally passed. To all of you who are taking your tests soon or are planning on taking a test soon, I wish you the best of luck and hope this post has helped. You can do it and if at first you don’t succeed, just keep going until you do!