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28 October 2018

My Driving Test Experience

I very recently took my driving test and I was really really anxious. As you can probably understand - it's one of the hardest tests you'll ever take in your life. Waking up on the day, I tried to keep as calm as possible, watching a bit of This Morning to take my mind off how I was feeling.

An hour before my test, my instructor picked me up at my house. I made sure that I had my licence (important as I wouldn't be able to sit my test without it), my theory test pass certificate (they don't usually ask but the DVSA website still says it's a requirement) and my confidence. I drove to the test centre and not going to lie, it was the worst I've driven to a place ever. I made so many mistakes, but that's typical of big tests: you're more likely to do worse in a mock exam and better in the real thing.


Upon nearing the test centre, my instructor asked me to pull over to the side of the road, as we were a bit early. You can't arrive any earlier than 10 minutes before as to not disrupt other candidates' tests. Driving up to the test centre, I was absolutely bricking it as you could probably imagine. My nerves were further increased as I sat in the waiting room and everyone else's examiners were coming through to take them to their tests, with me being the last one picked up.

The lady called my name and checked my licence, asked me to sign the test paper for insurance purposes (tip: the signature on that form has to be exactly the same as the one on your licence), asked if I wanted my instructor in the car for the test - I didn't, but I know some instructors recommend it and led me out of the test centre. On the way out she asked me my 'Tell Me' question (you get one 'Tell Me' and one 'Show Me' during the test) about tyre tread and how it would be checked. I stumbled a bit so she helped me out - they're not there to trick you, just to make sure that you know what you're talking about.

She then asked me which car was mine and went over to it, got in and started the engine. I drove down the road following her instructions of 'go straight on unless I say otherwise' and on the first direction she gave me, I went the wrong way. If you do this on your test don't immediately assume you've failed, going the wrong way doesn't constitute a minor - as long as you do it safely.

The test was mostly driving around different road and traffic conditions, with some tricky junctions. Again they're not trying to catch you out, but to see how well you handle these situations. I was asked to pull over at the side of the road a few times and then rejoin the traffic, as they test your observation skills.

The new test now also involves a sat-nav, which in a way makes life easier, as you are given more warning before turning into a road or going round a roundabout. I was asked to pull into a car park and perform the front bay park manoeuvre, my favourite of them all. I have to be honest here, I didn't entirely look round before performing the manoeuvre, and I was told by my instructor that if you don't, then you automatically fail.

I carried on and did the bay park, turned out of the car park and immediately realised my mistake. I kept thinking from then on "I'm going to be told I've failed", I was convinced of it. If you think about this, do what I did and keep telling yourself that you may be passing, so don't screw it up at the last minute and actually fail.

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Getting back to the test centre, I was a bag of nerves - had I passed? had I failed? how many minors had I got? All of these thoughts hit me at once, but my anxiety soon dissipated when the examiner said "I'm going to pass you today". I had tears in my eyes, I was so happy I had finally passed! The examiner filled out a pass certificate for me, took my licence to be transferred into a shiny new full one and got my instructor in for feedback of my 7 minors. I can't remember what the minors were for, probably because I was too excited.

My instructor then drove me home, we said our goodbyes and I was sat there at the kitchen table in disbelief. I wanted to get straight out and drive, but that really isn't advised as you're statistically more likely to have an accident. The advice given to most people is to not drive for 24hrs, and I didn't until a couple of days after passing my test.

It's now been about 3 weeks and I have been having a great time, just going on local journeys to the shops and driving myself to the train station to go to London, which is so much more convenient than asking a relative to take me. I know I've just passed and am inexperienced so won't become cocky or think that I'm king of the road, but will certainly take on all I've learned and apply it when on the road. The only advice I can give you when taking your test is to listen to your examiner and don't let the nerves get to you, as that's what makes people fail their test first time.

How was your driving test? Do you have the freedom of finally being able to drive? Let me know in the comments.

A K Jones
xx

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