AA Roadwatch’s Jonathan Byrne gives his top tips on how to pass your driving test; the journey from learner to novice.
Let’s face it, doing your driving test can be a daunting experience. It might be up there with doing the Leaving Cert and going to the dentist in terms of the stress, the worry etc. But as with everything - the more prepared you are, the smoother the experience can be. We have 8 tips to consider when preparing for your test:
1. Make a test-specific calendar
Before you do anything, sit down and plan out the next couple of months of driving. Consider how many lessons you have left, and when you feel comfortable doing the final test. There’s no need to rush things. Often tests can take up to 2-3 months to materialize after applying. Plan out how many lessons you want to fit in every week, along with extra trips on top of that.
2. Listen to the advice of your instructor
We all have a few friends or family members that don the tinfoil hat when preparing for a driving test. While some of their advice may be helpful, your instructor ultimately knows best. They’ve been through the same process countless times and know what’s needed. Listen closely to their advice and implement any changes they suggest while practicing in your own time.
3. Know what car you're comfortable in
Some people opt to do the test in their driving instructor's car, while others prefer their own car. Decide early-on which car you feel most comfortable in. After all, you will be doing the test in one car, so the more practice you have, the better! Get to know the car beyond what it looks like behind the wheel as you will be asked in tests to turn on wipers, indicators, etc. It’s important to know all the nooks and crannies. A basic knowledge of the engine is a big help, too!
4. Practice driving in your own time
You will hone most of your driving skill when doing lessons with your instructor, but people often neglect practice, practice and more practice! Get out and do some driving if you have a free evening or some time over the weekend. Be extra nice to the experienced drivers in the family, as you must be accompanied by someone who holds a full licence for over 2 years.
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5. Get used to the different road signs
Another aspect of the test is a knowledge of road signs. It’s more than knowing where to stop and what speed limit to adhere to. Road signs cover anything from bumps in the road to merging lanes and warnings of spills. Your instructor should provide you with a practice sheet, but browse online and know how to differentiate between them.
6. Become a parallel parker
One of the most dreaded parts of the test is having to reverse around a bend. To improve your reversing, practice parallel parking on quiet routes. Whether it ends up being your own driveway, or an empty shopping center car park – it’s a great way to practice.
7. Do a pre-test
Driving instructors will usually recommend this, but a pre-test is a great way of building confidence. In the pre-test, your instructor will act as the tester and grade you the same way as the real test. It’ll give you a good indication of where you're at with your driving and what you need to improve on.
8. Be a safe driver
This might be the most important bit of advice. Always consider your surroundings. You are operating a large machine, so only put the car in motion if you’re certain it’s safe to do so. Check your mirrors, signal well in advance and make gentle manoeuvres. If you do that, you are well on your way to passing your test!