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Driving test preparation: seven tips

There is no magical trick to guarantee a pass in a driving test. A test applicant who had had professional lessons with an instructor will have a better chance of passing. For those who do not have this opportunity here are some practical tips to improve your chance of success:

  1. Know what to expect: during a test an examiner is not allowed to help you at all. Know where the windscreen wipers are. Locate the horn. The examiner may ask you to test it before driving away. Be familiar with the manoeuvres required.
  2. Don’t drive too slowly: to play it safe and drive very slowly causes a problem. The examiner may run out of time to complete the test. He/she could also interpret your lack of progress as lack of competence.
  3. Don’t drive too fast: the examiner will sense the difference between a fast, competent driver and a fast, but nervous one. Driving too fast may cause you to miss important signs or hazards.
  4. Listen to directions carefully: it the examiner says “Turn right” he means right. Don’t get mixed up. Write the letter L on the back of your left hand, if you have a problem. If you could not understand over traffic noise etc., don’t hesitate to ask. But no questions at all are permitted to assist with your driving.
  5. Be decisive: if any tricky situation arises, you must act to solve the problem. Never think you have failed, even after a bad mistake. Brooding over a mistake, while still on test, may lead to further trouble.
  6. Don’t worry about silence in the car: it can be daunting to sit beside a stranger, who seems to just grunt: ‘turn right, turn left’. Avoid thinking the examiner doesn’t like you. If there is a little chit-chat, be happy, but don’t expect it.
  7. Concentrate all the way: the reason for silence is for you to focus on the tasks at hand. Rolling through a stop sign is a common fail item caused by lack of concentration. When the officer writes something onto the test sheet, don’t get distracted. He or she may be recording something you did well.

The most common instant fail errors are:

  • Failing to give way: know the rules and stick to them!
  • Speeding: it’s easily done during laps of concentration, often driving downhill, at road works or in school zones!
  • Disobeying lights or signs: stop signs, One-Way, directional arrows, amber traffic lights etc. Drive with your eyes open!
  • Dangerous driving: touching the kerb or driving too close to parked vehicles is a very common fail item.

Before the test the examiner will check your learner’s permit (expired?) and the vehicle. Brake lights, indicators, tyres, horn and windscreen wipers must all be in good order. The vehicle must display the current registration label and clearly visible L-plates.

Avoid misunderstandings and don’t expect to be tricked:

  • Near a keep left sign, the pupil was told to turn right, but refused, thinking keep left means, you can’t turn right. (It only means, you must stay to the left of the sign when turning).
  • Another classic failure: When told to turn left, the applicant promptly turned right into a ‘One-Way’ street, getting right and left mixed up.
  • One applicant was driving in the left lane. The examiner ordered: ‘At the next set of traffic lights turn right.’ Again, the pupil failed to realize that a lane change must first be executed, because one does not turn right from the left lane. Think!

The driving test can be compared to a wedding ceremony: Both are important beginnings, milestones in life. But it’s the journey that follows that really counts.

All the best for your test!


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