10 Essential Driving Test Tips to Pass First Time

by EzLicence Last updated


Every learner driver hopes to pass their driving test the first go, putting them on the road to freedom and independence as soon as possible. 

Unfortunately, not everyone passes the first time, which is why we’ve put together 10 expert tips that are guaranteed to increase the chances of learner drivers passing the practical driving test on the very first go. 

Read on to gain valuable tips and insights that are proven to help you perform better in your practical driving test so that you can pass with flying colours and obtain your provisional driving licence.

Practical Driving Test Tips From the Top 10 Failures

To pass your test on the first try, learn from other people's failures instead of needing to learn from your own! The UK government has put together a comprehensive explanation of the top 10 reasons for driving test failures among past learners. 

Here are their top 10 reasons for failing the practical test. Head over to the gov.uk website for a more in-depth explanation of each point: 

  1. Not making effective observations at junctions
  2. Not using mirrors correctly when changing direction
  3. Not moving off safely
  4. Incorrect positioning when turning right at junctions
  5. Not having proper control of the steering
  6. Not responding appropriately to traffic lights
  7. Not responding correctly to traffic signs
  8. Poor positioning on the road during normal driving
  9. Not responding correctly to road markings
  10. Not keeping control of the vehicle during reverse parking

Get Familiar with the Test Routes

Each test centre has several possible routes that they will take you on for the test. You can find out the routes by possibly looking online for the busier centres, but your best bet on finding out the specific routes each centre has to choose from is to hire a professional instructor.

Driving instructors are experts on the test and have an in-depth knowledge of the routes you could be taken on at each centre in their area. Practising during a driving lesson on these routes will allow you to get to know the roads better, making you more comfortable for the practical driving test so you can face it with confidence. 

Know the Test Centre

Practising pulling in and out of spaces in the test centre car park is a must for preparing for your test and easing nerves on the day. Parking in all of the possible spots in preparation for the practical test and taking off from them will make doing it on the day a piece of cake.

Additionally, taking a look inside the test centre before the test day can help people who feel especially nervous by taking away from the ‘unknown’ aspects of the day so that you feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed by new surroundings on top of driving test nerves. 

Take Mock Tests with Your Instructor

Taking a practice practical driving test with your instructor leading up to your driving test can help you identify weak areas and get an understanding of what examiners are looking for. Your professional driving instructor will have a deep knowledge of the smaller details that matter throughout the test, like the correct head checks, and can offer invaluable feedback that will help you become a better driver.

Booking UK driving lessons to get started with mock driving tests will significantly improve your chances of passing the test the first time. Practice tests allow you to make all of your ‘failures’ with a safety net so that you can (hopefully) get all of the mistakes and learning curves out of the way before the real thing and feel confident when it is time to do it for real.  

Book a Lesson Right Before Your Practical Test

Booking a lesson in the time just before your driving test is an underrated way to adequately prepare yourself for passing on the first go. This is especially useful if you plan to use the instructors' car for the exam, allowing you to get a feel for the car and get into the swing of things so that you are comfortable, confident and ready to go when your time slot arrives, allowing you to clarify any last minute confusions about the highway code or test procedures. 

Practise the Manoeuvres Again and Again

In a UK driving test, you will be required to perform two specific manoeuvres that your examiner will assess you on. 

The first manoeuvre that you will be assessed on is pulling over at the side of the road and pulling away safely. 

You'll also be asked to do one of the following: 

  • Parallel park at the side of the road
  • Park in a parking bay - either by driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do)
  • Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for around 2 car lengths, and rejoin the traffic

The more you know how to flawlessly pull off each of these manoeuvres the more confident you will be. These are a common reason to be awarded a major fault which means you instantly fail, so it is important to get these down pat. Here are some of the main things you need to focus on when performing any one of these manoeuvres:

  • Head checks: Ensure that you perform a head check every time to indicate or move the car in a new direction. Failing to look for blind spots or check before pulling off is one of the main minor build-ups that lead to failure in the driving test. 
  • Distance from the curb: You want to be on the concrete that is next to the curb, but not too close - hitting the curb is not looked upon favourably within manoeuvre assessment. 
  • Indication: You need to indicate every time you pull off or change the direction of your vehicle throughout manoeuvres. 
  • Take your time: Don’t rush. Especially when you are pulling off from the curb to rejoin traffic. It is better to wait until there are no cars to compete with instead of joining the traffic when other vehicles are at an unsafe distance. 

Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre

This is the classic driving test phase for every junction. Every single time you manoeuvre, whether pulling off, changing lanes or turning a corner, you must check your mirrors, signal by using the indicator, check blind spots and then manoeuvre. 

Throughout the driving test, you must emphasise your mirror and blindspot checks with your head rather than just your eyes. The examiner cannot see your eyes the entire time, so clearly moving your head as you make your checks signals to them that you are diligently performing mirror and blind spot checks, every single time. 

Think Road By Road, Not the Full Exam

To prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed, break down the test by focusing on each road as it comes. Thinking ahead and anticipating things that have not happened yet will ultimately distract you from what is in front of you - the road you are on in each present moment deserves your undivided focus throughout the driving test. 

Another thought pattern you must avoid is focusing on your mistakes. If you make a mistake, deal with it and leave it in the past. Overthinking your mistakes while you are still in the test will affect your performance and can lead to further mistakes. Remember, you are allowed to make a certain amount of minor faults, so a mistake might not always lead to a failure if it's not a dangerous fault.

Watch for Pedestrians and Cyclists 

Constantly scan the road for pedestrians and cyclists throughout the test, especially at pedestrian crossings and before you take off at a green traffic light. 

As previously mentioned, you need to emphasise these checks and scans by moving your head from side to side so that it is obvious to your examiner that you are remaining vigilant and watching out for cyclist pedestrians, and any other possible hazards or unexpected driving conditions that could arise. 

The Examiner is There to Help You

Stay calm and remember that your examiner is there to help you and is rooting for your success. They want to see you pass and are happy to answer any questions to confirm aspects of the test process you might be unsure about. 

It’s up to you whether you make small talk with your examiner as you drive during your test, and they will understand if you’d rather stay quiet to focus. However, if you think it will put you at ease, chatting with your examiner before and throughout the test is a great way to ease your nerves. 

How to Pass Your Driving Test Faster

The secret to passing your driving test is simple; practise, practise, practise. Practise makes perfect is a cliche for a reason, and the best way you can nail your driving test is by practicing with a professional instructor who can give you feedback and guide you towards passing on the first go with ease. 

Book driving lessons with EzLicence and get access to a whole host of quality professional driving instructors in your area. Our user-friendly platform allows you to easily compare the services, expertise and price of driving instructors close to you so that you can pick out someone who caters to your needs. 

Don’t wait any longer, book a driving lesson with EzLicence today and fast-track your journey to passing the driving test. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I pass my driving test the first time?

If you want to pass your practical driving test the first time, don’t book it before you are completely ready. Many first-time failures often come down to a lack of preparation and confidence. Don’t rush the process and wait until you’re ready, and you’ll be much more likely to pass the first time. 

How do I make sure I pass my driving test 100%?

The best chance you have at passing the driving test the first time is to practise consistently with a professional instructor who will give you feedback and treat every lesson leading up to the test as a mock exam. If they say you’re ready to go for the test, you’ll have a great chance at passing the first go.

Is a driving test 40 minutes?

The practical driving test comprises 40 minutes of driving, along with an eyesight test and safety questions beforehand. The driving section includes a general driving ability assessment, and an independent driving section using a sat nav or traffic signs.

What should I do an hour before my driving test?

Booking a warm-up lesson with a driving instructor is a great way to spend the hour before your driving test. This way, you can get into the groove of driving and calm your nerves before the driving test begins, helping you to pass your driving test. 

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