Simple Steps to Forget Driving Test Nerves

Simple Steps to Forget Driving Test Nerves

by EzLicence Last updated


Going for your drivers test can be a daunting task for many learner drivers, whether it is your first attempt or you have failed previous tries. Getting your driver's licence can feel like a huge deal, especially for learner drivers who feel like a licence is their key to independence and freedom.

Driving test nerves can get the better of you and impede your ability to perform on the day of the test, but don’t worry - there are ways to calm your driving test anxiety. Read on to discover some simple yet effective tips designed to send you on your way to successfully passing your test (without panicking too much)!

Visualise the Driving Test Nerves Away

Visualisation techniques, mindfulness and breathing exercises are all effective ways to reduce anxiety and some of the more physical manifestations of stress. You might want to visualise yourself in your happy place, a scene that puts your mind at ease and helps you in getting rid of unwanted thoughts. 

Your mind may wander to ‘what if’ scenarios, sending you in a spiral that only fuels your anxiety rather than helping to solve anything. Being present throughout the test, maintaining a positive attitude and practising mindfulness will stop you from losing focus and getting caught up in mistakes. 

Breathing exercises such as the 1 to 5 technique are useful for reducing physical symptoms of driving test nerves, such as a racing heart and hyperventilation by taking deep breaths that help you to feel calm.   

Practice Makes Perfect

The best way to become a confident driver is to practise, practise, practise. The more you do something, the better you will do it. ‘Practice makes perfect’ is a cliche for a reason! Here are some tips for practising your driving skills for the test so that you can reduce test nerves:

Mock Exam

Give yourself a mock exam on the same route that you will take during the real thing. Doing this with a driving instructor is most effective, as they will have more knowledge of the process and possible routes. 

Practise Your Weak Areas

Identifying and targeting your weaknesses will result in a more efficient approach to improving your skills. If you have previously attempted and failed the test, look at the feedback you received from the examiner and work on these areas with your supervisor. If not, ask your instructor or parent to help you identify areas for improvement.

Book a Lesson Before the Exam

Having a driving lesson right before the exam can help to calm driving test nerves and get a feel for the car before you arrive at the test. Book a driving lesson with EzLicence to find an expert instructor in your area.  

Eat and Drink Right

Taking care of your body is taking care of your mind. Implementing healthy habits leading up to the test is important in getting in the right state of mind so that you can concentrate better on calming your driving test nerves. 

Try to Get a Good Night's Rest

Getting the proper amount of sleep is absolutely critical in adequately preparing both your body and mind for test day. More than 7 hours of sleep is recommended to maximise concentration, alertness and reaction time, all crucial for improving your performance and ensuring you drive safely on the day of your test.

Avoid Caffeine 

Although many people maintain that they cannot possibly function without it, caffeine is simply not good for anxiety. If you are already feeling the driving test nerves, consuming caffeine can worsen the feeling, exacerbating heart palpitations, clammy hands, and that jittery feeling. Stay calm and drink water or other decaffeinated beverages.  

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water leading up to the test. Hydration will keep you feeling fresh and ready to smash the test. You don’t want to feel unwell and dehydrated, as this will likely contribute to driving test nerves.

Don’t Go on an Empty Stomach

Make sure you have something to eat before your exam. Even though it can sometimes be hard to eat when you’re feeling anxious, it is important to push through and have something to eat so that your body has enough energy to get through the driving test with ease. 

Chewing Gum

Interestingly, studies have shown that chewing on gum can increase concentration and reduce nerves. Try chewing gum during your test to overcome driving test nerves.

Banana Before the Test

Bananas contain vitamin B, which is helpful for easing nerves and reducing stress. A banana also serves as a great snack which can fill your stomach while remaining easy to digest - perfect for an anxiety ridden stomach that can come from driving test nerves.

Implement a Routine to Remove Stress

A well planned and effective routine leading up to the test will help to manage your anxiety. There are a number of ways you can implement a useful routine before your driving test:

A Bedtime Routine

Plan the time before you go to bed wisely. Engage in activities that put you at ease and make you feel happy. Have a bath, light your favourite candle, watch a feel good movie - whatever it is that makes you feel relaxed and de-stressed so that you can get a proper sleep and go to bed relaxed. 

Prepare Your Day in Advance

Get everything ready and in a convenient location the day before the test. Ensure that everything is prepared in advance, so that on the day all you need to do is turn up to the test centre on time and complete your practical test. The last thing that you want for your driving test nerves is added stress scurrying around looking for your lost licence or theory test certificate before you leave. See this government guide on what you need to bring to the exam.

Book a Test in the Morning

If you can, book your test mid morning around 10-11am. This time slot sits beautifully between the earlier morning peak hour and midday lunch rush. A morning driving test is better than afternoon for the fact that it allows you to avoid waiting around for hours on end for the test to begin. More waiting means more time for you to overthink and let the driving test nerves get the best of you. 

Make the Test as Comfortable as Possible

Your comfort throughout the test can be the difference between a state of panic and relaxation. Here are some tips for optimising your comfort and peace of mind during the test and just some general things to remember that make the experience seem less scary.

Crack Open the Window

Fresh air can be helpful for anxiety, making you feel like you can breathe easy through the driving test nerves to help you relax. 

The Examiner is Your Friend

Remember, the examiner is on your side. Think about them like your driving instructor. They want to see you pass, and they are there to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure of anything. It is up to you whether you decide to make small talk with them if it makes you feel more comfortable, but if you feel like it will impede your concentration, choosing not to chat during your driving test won’t offend them. 

Deal with Mistakes

If you make a mistake, try not to spiral. The worst thing you can do if you make a small error is to freak out about it, as this will likely affect your performance throughout the remainder of your exam. You’re allowed up to 15 minors on a UK driving test, so it most certainly is not about the mistakes - it's how you deal with them. 

Don’t Tell Too Many People

Although it's tempting to share the excitement of going for your driving test with all of your friends and family, you should keep in mind that the more people you tell the more pressure you put on yourself, and the more people you will have to tell you didn’t pass if that’s the outcome. Keeping it limited to a few close friends and family can help take the pressure off, especially if it takes a few goes to pass (which is totally normal!). 

Wear Comfortable Clothes

You don’t want to be itching your body and rearranging that new uncomfortable shirt you decided to wear for the first time on test day. Wear clothes that you know you’ll be comfortable in to the test centre; it's not a fashion parade, it's a driving exam. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I calm my nerves for my driving test?

Engage in relaxation techniques, think positively and calm driving test nerves by remembering that it's only a driving exam and it won’t be the end of the world if you don’t pass. Getting driving lessons with a driving instructor can help calm your nerves too.

Can nerves make you fail a driving test?

If nerves take control in your test, then they can lead you to fail as they can affect your concentration and motor skills. This is why it is so important for learner drivers to follow our tips to help them feel calmer. 

Do driving examiners allow for nerves?

Driving examiners know you’re going to be nervous for the exam as everyone takes some nerves into the test with them. If you’re especially anxious don’t be afraid to let the examiner know beforehand, and they will accommodate your nerves by offering a moment to breathe before the driving test begins.

About the author


EzLicence takes the hassle out of choosing a driving school by helping learner drivers find, compare and book accredited driving instructors online.

The EzLicence online platform brings transparency, choice and efficiency to booking and managing driving instructors and driving lessons in London and the UK.

Find a driving instructor

Including availability, pricing & bookings

Popular Articles