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Fear of Failing...

Fri 3rd Feb 2017

The driving test is hard; it's meant to be that way. Now I don't like language that tries to gloss over what used to be called a FAIL. Call it 'deferred success', 'First Attempt In Learning', say 'you haven't passed' - but, whatever you do, don't brand anyone a FAILURE! Of course, people are no less hacked off when they fail, and it doesn't matter what the hell you call it.

The simple fact is that most people that take the test fail on the first occasion. There is some variation from town to town, but the overall pass rate is just 47.5%. The majority fail - it's a fact.

On the way to your test, we will always discuss how ready you are, what needs improving, and ensure that a test is booked only when things are coming together nicely. If things don't go to plan, putting the test date back is often the best option.

On the day, the biggest hurdle is usually nerves. Nerves might cause you to go too fast, or too slow, be hesitant at junctions, or be rash at roundabouts. Maybe even a mix of all the above within a mile or two! At various points on the test you'll be asked to park or pull up 'in a safe place'. This is testing your routines for stopping and moving off safely. When the examiner asks you to carry on, he will say 'drive on when you're ready' or something similar. At this point, if you're feeling the pressure, take that time to compose yourself; take some deep breaths, have a sip of water if you've brought some. Don't be in a rush. In the course of the drive, it's perfectly acceptable to pull over in a safe place at any time if you feel the need, so long as it's done correctly.

Even if you're not nervous, many tests are failed due to errors which can only be called 'silly'. These mistakes are usually something that you've never done before (not since lesson two anyway) but which suddenly crop up and spoil what's often a great drive up to that point!

Don't be intimidated by the driving examiner (DE). All DEs are highly trained and impartial; their job is to assess your driving, and, in the event of a fail, the feedback they give is constructive and fair. On test, I make a point of always sitting in the back (behind you!). This is actually your choice, not mine, but it does help me greatly. The more tests I see, the more I know about how examiners assess your driving. If things go wrong, I get to see not only the faults, but what might have caused them. This then gives me an idea of how to address the problem while waiting for your next test.

Now, though I really hate the patronizing 'First Attempt In Learning' crap that's spouted by lots of driving schools, it is true that, having taken one test, the second one is certainly easier. The process holds much less mystery, and knowing what the feeling of the actual test is like means you're free to just focus on driving like you know you can - and pass!