How to combat driving test nerves


Learning to drive is often seen as a rite of passage, however, the idea of sitting a driving test is enough to break even the most composed people into a cold sweat.

Nerves are something most people get from time to time and being anxious under pressure can impact some people more than others. This article aims to give people some advice on how to tackle driving test nerves with tips from bloggers who have beaten their anxieties.

Watch mock test videos

It can be helpful to watch videos on YouTube of mock driving tests or educational clips from driving instructors, like Paul from 1st Drive. Paul regularly uploads videos to his Youtube Channel with tips and advice on manoeuvres, common mistakes and driving tests in a bid to help others. He says on his website: “My own bad experience of learning to drive made me decide to start teaching. To me being a driving instructor has never been just a job.”

Caroline, who writes at Breaks, watched practice videos to prepare for her driving test: “Look for videos on simple mistakes that most people make, practice of the show me/tell me questions, explanations on things you are nervous about, for me it was roundabouts, so I watched lots of videos on how to tackle these. Watching videos the night before and in the morning made me feel confident as I felt the ‘mock tests’ I saw were quite similar to how I was driving.”

Keep your test date a secret

Woman sat down with a diary

Sometimes nerves can escalate when you announce you are about to sit your practical test to everyone you know. Suddenly, the pressure can seem more intense as your family and friends will be anticipating your results.

Claire from Daily Deals UK described herself as a “naturally laid back person”, so when she booked her driving test she assumed she would pass with flying colours because she “aced” the theory and felt that her lessons were going smoothly: “I was a little too cocky actually. The day of my test came and I went to pieces. It was totally out of character for me but I just couldn't keep a lid on it. I was worried about failing and having to tell people, I was worried about the money I'd be losing, I was worried about letting my family down as I'd promised to take them on a day trip and a million other things. 

“I had put too much pressure on myself with promises and being too proud. I failed! So next time I booked the test without telling anyone and found it 100 times less stressful, and thankfully I passed.”

Olivia from Dungarees and Donuts overcame her nerves to pass her driving test on the fifth attempt. She also kept her driving test date a secret to many of her nearest and dearest to help keep the pressure of expectation to a minimum: “I told fewer people than previous times as it felt like less pressure. It sounds weird, but as someone with anxiety and the high standards I put on myself, taking it seriously freaked me out.”

Research the best time of day to take your test

Learner driver

When is the best time to take a driving test? This is another question Olivia considered before booking a slot.

It might be worth avoiding rush hour traffic in the morning and afternoon when people are commuting to and from work or doing the school run: “I also researched about the best times of day to do your test. Weirdly the one at around 9am is one of the best as most people have vacated the roads and gone to work. With that in mind, the night before my test, I thought to myself, it'll be a laugh tomorrow if I fail and I can get McDonald’s breakfast as a treat for trying.”

Driving Test Tips says enlist the knowledge of your driving instructor for advice: “The best driving test time is dependent on many factors. Initially consult your driving instructor if you have one. Your driving instructor is likely to have a thorough knowledge of the traffic situation throughout the day and will match this to your driving ability.”

Ask if your instructor can accompany you

Your instructor is allowed to be in the car while you are taking your driving test, but they must sit on a back-passenger seat. Just be sure to discuss this with them before the test so you both know what will happen.

Having a familiar face close by can help put your mind at ease and shake off any driving test nerves as Sam from Griff Blog explains: “If you’re feeling nervous don’t be afraid to ask your driving instructor to stay in the car with you. This is what helped me to finally pass my test.

“After failing my test three times, I started to feel like I was never going to pass. It was so frustrating. During my lessons, I felt like I was a good driver, but on the day of my test I would get so nervous I’d make stupid mistakes. On my final test, my instructor sat in the back of the car. Even though he wasn't allowed to speak, knowing he was there instantly calmed my nerves. I also knew that even if I didn’t pass, he would be able to debrief me afterwards and help me understand where I was going wrong.”

Get some rest and have a good breakfast

Fry up breakfast

The night before your driving test, in order to help you feel rested and prepared, be sure to get plenty of sleep the night before as well as having a hearty breakfast.

Sarah from Sarah Trademark said: “I was so nervous taking my tests, it took me a few goes to pass. I would advise to eat and have water before the test and to practice breathing exercises whilst waiting. It is easy to let nerves take over and not want to have breakfast, but it is important to fuel your body and brain. I know it is easy to say, but try not to be nervous, the driving test examiner is in the car with hundreds of people taking their tests and they want you to succeed.”

There’s always next time

Although it is disappointing and frustrating to fail your driving test, it is not the end of the world and you can resit as many times as you want.

Olivia will always remember the advice her driving instructor gave her when she was learning to drive: “My instructor said to me, ‘it's only a driving test, you can redo it if you need to’. Weirdly, I am glad I failed the other times as I got a lot more practise in before getting on the road.

“The best part is, when I passed, it was like an overwhelming feeling. The advice I'd give to anyone who plans to embark on their test for the first time is to remember you can do it again.”

Thinking to yourself “I might pass, I might not” rather than “I must pass” may also help elevate some pressure. Insurance company, Admiral says to “give yourself a break” if you have failed your driving test. They continue, “let’s be honest, there’s absolutely nothing natural about driving a car.

“Just like riding a bike or playing a musical instrument, learning how to do it takes time and practice, and some people will get the hang of it faster than others. Some people cope with nerves differently, too, and nerves are a huge influencing factor in any kind of test or exam.”

Once you have passed your practical driving test, you may want to spend some time researching the new or used Ford cars for sale in your area. If you aren’t sure where to start, have a look at our Ford dealership locator to find garages in your locality and ready to enjoy driving as a qualified motorist.