Managing driving test nerves
Nervousness is a natural reaction to tests and exams. And driving tests are no different. Driving examiners know this, and they’ll do their best to help you relax.
Why it’s important to practise ways of managing your nerves
Being able to manage your nerves is a really important skill – and not just for your driving test. You might be nervous the first time you:
- drive in an unfamiliar city on your own
- have to deal with a really complex roundabout
- drive on country roads at night
So learning how to manage your nerves is a vital skill for new drivers.
1 in 10 people who fail the driving test say it was mostly down to nerves
Basic tips to help manage your nerves
Talk to your driving instructor about the ways you might be able to manage your nerves. They’re used to teaching people who are nervous about taking the driving test.
Here are some other basic tips that can help.
1. Plan ahead
Do not take your test when other stressful things are happening in your life, such as school exams.
2. Get a good night’s sleep
Get a few good nights of sleep before your test – you’ll feel more stressed if you’re tired.
3. Avoid caffeine
Avoid too much caffeine before your test: it might make you feel jittery and nervous.
4. Be positive
Focus on passing your test rather than worrying about failing it. Stay in the moment and concentrate, avoid thinking back to what has just happened.
Mindfulness might be one way of helping you to manage your nerves.
So what is it? Mindfulness involves paying attention to what is going on inside you and around you, moment by moment.
Studies show that mindfulness can help with stress and anxiety.
Many people find mindfulness helpful, but it’s not right for everyone. Some people find that it does not help them.
How we feel affects how we act. When you recognise what you’re feeling, you can learn ways to support yourself. There are several ways to do this. Controlling our responses to stress is the first part of controlling the car.San Harper, driving instructor and mindfulness trained teacher
What mindfulness is
The NHS website has more information about what mindfulness is, how it could help you and different ways you can practise.
Find out about mindfulness on the NHS website
How and where to learn mindfulness
There are many ways you can learn mindfulness, which come in different formats. Mind, the mental health charity, has information on mindfulness, including how to learn and practise it.
Find out how and where to learn mindfulness on the Mind website
Talk to your driving instructor
Talk to your driving instrutor about the mindfulness techniques you’re using.
Some driving instructors have specially trained in mindfulness techniques and will build these into your driving lessons. Ask your driving instructor if it’s something they can help you with.
Blog posts about driving test nerves and anxiety
Where’s your head at? Control your driving test nerves
This blog post takes a look at what happens when you get stressed and why it happens. It provides techniques to help manage stress and control your driving test nerves.
Read ‘Where’s your head at? Control your driving test nerves’ on the Safe Driving for Life website
Tips from driving examiners: talking can help on test day
This blog post explains how talking with your examiner can help you relax. It includes advice on listening to your examiner before and after the driving test.
Read ‘Tips from driving examiners: talking can help on test day’ on the Safe Driving for Life website
How to beat anxiety on your driving test
Find out about the challenges Cat faced during her driving test and how she overcome them.
Read ‘How to beat anxiety on your driving test’ on the Safe Driving for Life website
How to control your driving test nerves
Driving instructor Diane Hall shows how emotions can affect your ability to drive safely and confidently on the day of your driving test.
Read ‘How to control your driving test nerves’ on the Safe Driving for Life website
Check you’re ready to pass
You’ll usually be ready when:
1. You do not need prompts from your driving instructor.
2. You do not make serious or dangerous mistakes when you’re driving.
3. You can pass mock driving tests.
4. You have practised ways of managing your nerves.
5. Your driving instructor agrees you’re ready.
Not feeling quite ready?
You can move your driving test back if you’re not feeling quite ready yet.
It’s free to change your appointment time, as long as you do it at least 3 full working days (Mondays to Saturdays) before your test.