Nervous? How to approach your practical test

It is perfectly normal to have some nerves on the big day. You wouldn’t be normal if you weren’t a little nervous. For some though, those nerves can prove to be be a real problem and can severely affect them on their practical test.

When suffering from these nerves, the words from your instructor to the effect of ‘you’ll be fine’ cut little ice. This article will go some way to giving you some weapons to use against the nerves, if you are unfortunate enough to suffer badly with them.

These type of nerves have a name. It is called ‘performance related stress’.

Before an exam, for some learners all the personal factors riding on the success of their test can weigh heavy on the mind. Money invested in learning, needing to drive for their job or the relative freedom that comes with being able to drive can all be factors the lead to increased nerves on the day.

Don’t despair though, because there are things you can do to help yourself during this testing time. Determining why you are nervous is a good starting point.

If whilst reading this, you are a number of weeks away from your test, you have a head start, as you have time to address the issue before the big day arrives. This time you have will give you the chance to work out what it is that leads to the nerves and use the information in this article to best manage the problem.

If however, you are just round the corner from your test, then it is still no time to panic. If you have the knowledge required to understand your nerves, you are much better placed to deal with them.

What real effect can my instructor have on the day?

The instructor who has brought you thus far is your best weapon against the nerves. Your instructor knows precisely what it is you’re going through, as he or she has been through it many times.

Having them in your corner has several benefits:

  1. I)   Your instructor knows that it is not in your interest (or theirs) to put you in for your  test before you are ready. When they do put you in for it, they expect you to  pass. It is not in a vain hope that you do.
  2. II)  Before this point arrives, you will have had to satisfy all the pre-test requirements before they will even put you forward. Everybody is different and each learner will  have different areas of strength and weakness, but it will not be until your instructor believes that you have reached the minimum standard for every part of driving proficiency that you will be registered for your practical test.
  3. III) By the time your test comes around, your overall driving will have been good for a while. Your instructor wouldn’t have even taken you into heavier traffic if you weren’t ready for it let alone let you go for your test. Trust your instructor. They know.
  4. IV)  The strengths and weakness of your driving will be well-known by your instructor and he/she will have been reinforcing and working on them in  each of the lessons leading up to your test.
  5. V)   In the test, you will not be experiencing anything that you haven’t already been through with your teacher. The same types of roads, the same levels of traffic and the same driving conditions. Any good instructor will ensure that you   will be fully readied.

Is there anything I can do on my own?

Take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Sometimes, the perspective you have on passing or failing can be all-consuming and its importance in your own mind can become overwhelming. You only need to see the smile on a newly passed driver’s face to know what it means to them, but it is not life and death. If you fail, you fail. The sun will still come up in the morning and go down at night. You can always take it again. No one will say “sorry, you failed. You can’t take it again”. A more philosophical approach will help calm you.

Also remember that you have an hour before your test to warm up your driving skills and fine tune any last-minute teething troubles. If there are any issues, they should raise their head in that time and be addressed.

Your instructor has been with you throughout your learning process and has probably witnessed you stressed. They know you as a driver better than you know yourself. They know that test nerves account for around a 20% drop in standards on the day and this is taken account of by them so they make you that much better than you need to be. Every care will have been taken to ensure in a successful result for everyone.

How else do I cope on the actual day?

There are a few things that you can get right that are easy to get right.

It’s hard enough with out you making it more difficult than it needs to be.

  1. Have a good sleep the night before.
  2. Make sure you aren’t overly hungry or overfed at the time of your test. Too far either way can affect your concentration levels.
  3. Turn your phone off. Good luck message might be what your friends think you need, but the last thing you need is the thought of all your friends ‘expecting’.
  4. Drink lots of water that day and make sure you remember to visit the bathroom beforehand. Water is vital in concentration and is the most forgotten remedy in making sure you are at your best.
  5. You can buy a natural calming product that helps people take exams, fly and other stressful situations from your local pharmacy called ‘Rescue Remedy’. For some it helps promote an amazing feeling being in control.

Finally, just remember that examiners are not looking to fail you. They don’t spend their days revelling in the misery of failing people. They are nice normal people who are just looking for safe, competent driving.

Good luck and remember, you can do it. You just need to allow yourself to.