Driving test experts’ tips on how to be test-ready and pass first time

As driving test pass rates are falling, instructors offer learners advice on how best to prepare for passing

The latest figures show UK driving test pass rates are falling.

Pass rates fell from 48.1% in the final quarter of 2021 to 47.1% in the first three months of 2022, prompting learners to be urged to ensure they are properly prepared for the exam.

Success rates rose to over 50% during the pandemic, when very little testing was done, but have declined as testing numbers returned to normal. They have fallen from a peak of 59.3% in Q1 2021, when only 1,308 tests were conducted, to 51.6% in April-June 2021 and 47.1% in Q1 2022.

In view of falling pass rates and long waiting times, it is important that you prepare as well as possible for your driving test

DVSA Chief Executive Loveday Ryder said: “With less than half of learners passing I would urge them to consider our Ready to Pass? Checklist to make sure they’re ready – and reschedule their test if they’re not. This will help make more testing available and prevent people from having to pay for re-testing.”

To help learners ensure they are properly prepared, we asked experts from RED Driving School and Driving Test Success for their tips on preparing for the exam.

Ask your teacher if you are ready

The most obvious factor in being ready for testing is making sure your skills and knowledge are up to par.

Emma Bagnall from the Driving Test Success app says: “It’s really important that you aren’t pressured into taking your theory test or driving test if you don’t feel fully prepared. Ask yourself… do I make silly mistakes while driving, do I rely on my driving instructor’s instructions, did I fail a recent mock test? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it could be a sign that you’re not quite ready. Talk to your instructor and remember that you can always change your exam date so you have more time to prepare for the exam.”

Seb Goldin, CEO of RED Driving School, confirms this. He says: “Any professional driving instructor only introduces his students when they are sure they can pass. Confidence is key during a driving test. Make sure you don’t doubt your abilities – your instructor would not encourage you to take a test unless you are deemed ready.”

Practice and do mock tests

Experts agree that you shouldn’t step into a driving test without an idea of ​​what it’s going to be like. So if your teacher thinks you’re about to take the exam, try taking a mock test with them. This allows you to experience the test conditions ahead of reality and practice the different elements, including maneuvers and the show-me-tell-me questions, as you will encounter them on test day.

Ask your instructor to give you a mock test before doing the real thing

Seb says: “The ‘show me, tell me’ questions about vehicle safety are asked at the beginning of the driving test and during the journey. Even if you can’t pass the driving test based on these questions alone, having confidence in your answers before the test gives you peace of mind – especially since the “tell me” question is at the beginning of your test. Familiarize yourself with the controls on your car so that you feel comfortable and proficient during the day.”

If you can, it also helps to set out with a friend or family member to get some extra practice alongside the paid tuition. Emma says: “Whether it’s theory or a practical test, doing your homework and practicing a lot is really important.

“When it comes to hands-on testing, hours spent traveling with an instructor or licensed friend/family member can make a world of difference. Trying out maneuvers on a Sunday evening in a quiet parking lot is also useful for many as these are the test tracks many people worry about the most.”

Think about the place, date and even time of your test

It’s a myth that driving test centers may or may not have a quota of passes, but it’s true that certain conditions can make or break your chances of earning a full license, including where and when you take your test.

Emma explains: “City test centers tend to have slightly lower pass rates, while those in suburban or more rural areas often have higher pass rates. This may be due to cities having more cars and road users to watch out for, more speed cameras and changing speed limits, as well as lots of traffic lights. All of this can make learners nervous and throw them off course. That said, once these busy, central routes have been practiced, there’s no need to panic or avoid.

“Test slots during weekday rush hours also typically have slightly lower success rates, while weekend ones tend to have slightly higher success rates. However, it varies by location.”

Emma suggests researching government data on pass rates at local test centers by location and date. However, her advice comes with a caveat: Each testing center uses different routes, and becoming familiar with those routes can also help build confidence. It is very unlikely that booking a test at a center with a very high pass rate will help to get an exam the first time unless the learner is really familiar with the area and has accumulated a lot of miles behind the wheel .”

Watch out for common mistakes

The DVSA publishes information on the most common causes for the failure of the driving test and the problems are always the same.

Emma says: “A lot of these are very basic, everyday driving skills, so learners who have had a lot of practice really have nothing to worry about. However, this list can help identify tricky areas so practice can make perfect before the big day.

Some of the most common causes of error include not making effective observations at intersections; not using mirrors properly when changing direction; not having adequate steering control, including late steering or pavement climbing; poor road positioning; no safe starting and not reacting properly to traffic signs.

Plan the test day

In addition to having confidence that you have the skills and knowledge to pass the exam, Seb Goldin says there are other more practical steps you can take to prepare for the big day and give yourself the best chance to pass the exam.

Know the logistics of the day

Seb advises: “Make sure you agree exact times of the day with your driving instructor, including a warm-up lesson, before arriving at the test centre. In addition, it is important that you have all the necessary documents, including your provisional driving license and certificate of passing the theory test, in one easily accessible place.”

You will most likely take your exam in your instructor’s car, but if you don’t you will need to make sure your car meets the requirements the rules of the DVSA and is not on its list of prohibited vehicles.

Plan your diet

“Even if you think you won’t be thirsty or hungry, it’s important to feel nourished on the day of your test,” says Seb. “Plan ahead the night before and make sure you choose nutritious foods. Although tempting, it is advisable to avoid too much caffeine. In terms of food, we recommend slow-release foods like porridge, banana or granola bars.

sleep well

Finally, Seb says, make sure you’re as refreshed as possible before your test; He says, “It’s simple, but it’s necessary — a good night’s sleep is more beneficial than you think.”

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