How to prepare for the driving test_banner

Driving test time

Preparing for the driving test

I hardly need to say that this is a stressful situation. Unlike exams, which hold a blurry idea of distant necessity, the driving test is what stands between your child and something they desperately, desperately want: freedom.

The idea of failing can whip a learner up into a frenzy of nerves (I know, I've just lived it) but there are a few things you can do to help them calm down and do their best.

  1. Know the process

    Half the fear is the dread of the unknown. So many people fail first time and then pass the second time because they know what’s going to happen and can mentally prepare for it.

    To try and get a bit of that mental preparation going on the first time round, make sure you and your child know exactly what’s involved with every part of the test.

    Get a run-down of what happens during the practical driving test.

  2. Get the test routes down

    This is a very personal tip: I failed my first driving test because in the last minute I stopped at a green light, waiting for a green arrow. That wouldn't have happened if I’d driven the test route enough times.

    The test routes will be very familiar to your child’s driving instructor, so get the details and make sure you cover them in your private practice. An already stressed brain isn't great at making rational decisions, so being comfortable with all the road systems and that one odd roundabout that doesn't follow the rules will reduce the risk of failing for something silly.

  3. Try not to add to the pressure

    If you've been paying for lessons, you’re probably very keen for the test to go well. However, it’s your job to lower the pressure, not add to it. It’s hard to drive well when you feel like you’ll be letting everyone down if you mess up.

    Just keep in mind that your child will pass if they’re ready. If they don’t pass, they weren't quite ready - and you wouldn't want them driving by themselves if they weren't going to be safe.

Some driving test mantras to repeat:

  • You drive well with me and in lessons, so why shouldn't you drive well in your test?
  • You will pass if you are ready to pass
  • If you don’t pass, you’ll know exactly what to expect next time
  • Don’t give up: even if you think you've messed up, it might not be as bad as you think

How did it go? If they didn't get the result they wanted, here's how to help them deal with a fail.


Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .