The best driving test tips from an instructor


Passing your driving test opens up so many avenues that you’ll have never realised. You’ll be able to visit friends across the country at a moment’s notice, and put the days of waiting for the bus in the pouring rain behind you.

Ask anyone that can drive, and they’ll tell you the same thing: the freedom and independence that having a driving licence brings is second to none. But before you can drive with the windows down and feel the wind in your hair, you’ll need to get your driving test under your belt.

With the help of Bodmin based driving instructor Jane Burnhill, we’ve put together a fantastic list of top tips for helping you keeping your cool and ensure you’re ready to pass your test.

If you can’t do it on a lesson, you can’t do it on your test

Before you have your driving test, you’ll need to make sure you can conquer every manoeuvre and handle anything that comes your way. How many times have you heard someone say that they failed their driving test because an unexpected incident occurred, and they didn’t know how to react? A lot of people put this down to bad luck, but knowing what to do in a sticky situation could be your saving grace.

Jane: “Focus, courage, knowledge and effort, all add up to a safe driver”

Think of these as the four pillars – you can’t pass your test on and go on to be a great driver if you’re lacking in one of these vital areas. Make sure to ask your driving instructor if any of these areas need some extra work before your test.

You’re ready for your test when you can drive on your own – not when you think you’ve spent enough money

Quite often, learners will have bought a block booking of a number driving lessons with their instructor based on what they think is enough. But the truth is you’re not ready to pass your test until you can prove that you can drive independently. So bite the bullet and book some more lessons if you don’t feel ready.

Jane: “Focus only on your driving”

Don’t get distracted by what other drivers are doing (unless you think it might effect you). Keep your focus on yourself and your driving. Remember the test is about you and how you react alongside other cars on the road.

Almost every new driver takes 25- 50 hours of lessons before they're test-ready

Learning to drive isn’t a one-size-fits-all, some people take years to be ready for their test, some only take a few months and some take just 10 hours of lessons. Just remember to go at your own pace and not rush yourself into taking your test prematurely.

Jane: “Ask questions even if they sound stupid”

Didn’t hear the examiner properly or want to confirm what they said? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s your test – you need to make sure you are fully informed to carry out the task at hand.

Examiners are normal human beings

Examiners know how it feels to be put under this kind of pressure from both personal experience and the fact they grade nervous learners every day! Although they won’t necessarily go easy on you, they are human beings who will be firm but fair on you.

If you can’t see around a corner or past an obstruction – assume that someone is there

This is not just a useful tip for your driving test but also a good rule of thumb to stick to even when you’ve passed. Being extra cautious will prevent you from getting into a potentially dangerous situation that can land you a big ‘fail’, while also showing the examiner that you have perceived a risk and responded accordingly.

Jane: “Make sure you are Knowledgeable in all areas, not just in the Highway Code and road signs”

When you’re with your driving instructor, make sure you’re also fully aware about how to respond to different road conditions and weather conditions. You never know what can happen on the day of your test!

Always plan to give way to other drivers, never assume right of way over them

Always prepare to stop – even if it’s your right of way. You never know what the other driver is thinking, so always assume they haven’t taken a road sign into account to ensure you accommodate for any potential misunderstandings.

If two or more lanes are going in your direction, always default to the left lane especially if you’re unfamiliar with the road

Left lanes are often dedicated to both turning left or continuing on, so it makes sense for drivers to default to that lane, particularly if they don’t know the road. The right lane is often for turning right only or overtaking, so you don’t want to find yourself having to switch lanes at the last minute.

Jane: “100% effort is your only option”

All you can do is give it your all, and if you fail, you fail – at least you know you did the best you can do so you won’t leave the test centre feeling like there was more you could have done. As well as this, if you think you’ve failed during the test, don’t give up. You may be surprised to find that misdemeanour didn’t land you a ‘fail’ after all, but you’ll kick yourself afterwards if you fail because you stopped trying.

If it’s your first test, you should also go into it with 100% effort because it’s an invaluable experience to learn from if you don’t pass.

At any junction or roundabout, visualise your path through to your destination, and stick to it. Don’t try to work it out as you go and stay in lane

Similar to the above, you don’t want to have to get yourself worked up by having to switch lanes at the last minute. Visualising your path and navigation route will help you keep your cool and make sure you don’t get yourself in a muddle.

Don’t trust anyone!

As mentioned previously, other drivers could possibly make mistakes which could cost you the test. Anticipating other drivers’ errors will prevent you from entering a potentially sticky situation and also show the examiner that you have gauged a potential risk.

Jane: “Breathe - a very simple thing that many students forget when under pressure”

Although it’s nerve-wracking, taking a few deep breaths is sure to help you calm down and help you perform better under the pressure.

Will you be looking to get a new car as a treat for passing your driving test? Check out our new ford cars with a range of finance options over on our website.