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Posted by on in Uncategorized

Posted by on in Uncategorized

Are you really ready for your Practical Test ?

The UK driving test is one of the toughest there is, and the standard expected is high due to UK roads being so varied in terrain and width.

The main question is do you feel ready ? it is your driving test, and even though driving instructors tell you your ready and that you can do it, does that match you feelings, because if you do not feel ready then you wont pass.

 The national average in the UK first time pass rate last year was 47.1%, which is low, so over 50% of people failed a test last year, of which a high number may not have been ready. This was from the national statistics;


Year 2013/14

Pass rate – 47.1%

Tests passed with 0 faults – 11,984

Top ten reasons for failing

Junctions (observation)

Use of mirrors – (change direction)

Control (steering)

Junctions (turning right)

Response to signals (traffic lights)

Move off (safety)

Move off (control)

Positioning (normal driving)

Reverse park (control)

Response to signals (road markings)


Nerves play a large part on the day and this is hard to manage, however you have to think to yourself, can I drive without help from my instructor ? if the answer is yes then your ready and could get some remedies to help relax you which are not drug based. You can buy Rescue Remedy from the pharmacy which is a herbal remedy, speak to the pharmacist who can advise if it is for you and what ingredients it has. The idea of this remedy is it settles your nerves.


We have all heard the old tales that if you have your test on a Friday you will fail, the examiner has quotas to meet in pass and fail etc etc, these are all rubbish. The examiner when they arrive each day get sent a list of pupils they are examining and they get told which route, which reverse exercise, whether a emergency stop is required and what independent drive to take, so they don’t walk in on the day and decide where they are going. The only time this changes is due to an accident, road works or you go off route.


At the start of the test the examiner will ask to see your licence, photo card and paper licence or if you only have an old style paper licence will be asked to show your passport. Bring your theory certificate with you. The examiner will ask you to sign your assessment sheet saying the car is insured and you live in the UK. Once they are happy they will ask you if you would like to have your instructor with you, its YOUR choice not the instructors. They can sit in the back of the car, however they are not allowed to speak or help in any way. If you do have your instructor in the back remember the car will be heavier, which would mean a bit more acceleration.


Your test is between 35-45 minutes in duration and roads and speeds vary. The examiner does not want you to try and impress them or change your driving, they want you to show them what you have learnt, make them feel relaxed in the car and demonstrate a high quality drive which you will be doing for rest of your life. The examiners know if your trying to impress and mistakes will occur.


The examiners know you will make mistakes and as you see from the statistics 11984 people passed with no minors out of 1.6 million, you are allowed 15 minors with no serious or dangerous marks. Examiners may mark on the way round or at the end of the test, but it is important to note that they don’t mark every single minor mark or nobody would pass a test. They look for a pattern ie you miss a mirror, they will note it and if the fault happens again will give a minor.


The independent driving section is a good thing, and is something you will be doing once you have your licence, reading signs, road markings and dealing with situations without directional guidance. You may be lucky and do this with ease, but sometimes people get confused or miss a road sign, DON’T PANIC ask the examiner where to go, and it is their job to tell you. If you approach a roundabout for example and miss a sign but it is too late to ask where to go, know the lane your in and decide the correct direction from that lane. You do not fail a test or get a minor for going the wrong way so long as you went there using the correct safe procedure. Examiners are used to being taken all over the place, and they will bring you back on track.


The key is to listen to the examiner, then think about what they said to you, process that information and then do what you need to do. A typical mistake is for an examiner to say “At the end of the road I would like you to turn left”, you the pupil then react to that without thinking, checking mirrors and signalling straight away, but have you looked first, what if there is a junction before the end of the road, you are now giving a false signal to others. Another is when an examiner asks you to find a safe and convenient place to pull over, most will just swing the car over to the kerb without thinking and not notice other traffic so not signal or select a bad place to stop. The key is to listen, think, decide and do.


A driving examiner has a tough job, they give you good news or bad news, but their job is not to get to know you, with this in mind some examiners will give small talk and others wont talk, don’t think of this as them being rude, they are showing you the respect of letting you concentrate. Imagine an examiner gets into a full conversation with you and then you make a serious mistake, you would blame them for talking to you. Show examiners respect and they will do the same to you.


At the end of the test you will be given the result and a full brief on their reasons. If you fail you will feel unhappy, but remember they deserve respect, do not be nasty to them or have a go at them as they are only doing a job, and the mistakes were made by YOU not them. Examiners are protected by the law and will not tolerate abuse or violence and your details are on the system, so as much as you may not be happy, leave the centre and think about what was said. If your still unhappy or feel treated unfairly you can appeal through the magistrates court, but even if you win, you will only be given a retest, so this would a very costly test.


Below is a short video from the DVSA who run the driving tests on how the test works, take some time to look at this.



So after all this information DO YOU FEEL READY ?

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Do Driving Instructors Use too Many Words ?

It is a proven fact that less is sometimes more, and recently I conducted a study on use of words when instructing people. Why did I do this I hear you ask ? the reason is to help students react to short wordings whilst reacting to what they are seeing and thinking about what they are doing, to see if it improves concentration and reaction rates.

My wife is a professional scuba diving instructor, and I’m an advanced diver. How is this relevant ? well underwater you cannot have a conversation, however you use hand signals to give information. For example a thumbs up means “I’m going up” a fist states “I have only 50 bar of air left” so as you can see from one movement of the hand a sentence is made in the mind. This got me thinking.

In driving instruction we use a lot of words to get pupils to do what we require, however I have found of recent that some people just hear noise and not words, as they are concentrating so much on what they are doing, and then ask you to repeat what you have said.



“I would like you to take the next road on the left” or “At the roundabout I would like you to take the third exit to the right” this is a lot of words to translate as well as thinking about the Mirrors they need, the signal they need, the position they need, the gear and then the observations.


I started my study with a lady called Ann. I did not tell her what I was doing and started with the usual driving instruction comments, and found she was reacting late and seemed flustered, generally causing her to signal before mirrors, and then stop unnecessarily at open junctions or roundabouts when it was clear to go.

The second part of the lesson I used the same junctions but changed the wording. For example approaching a junction, I said “Take the Road on the LEFT” or “Roundabout 3rd exit to the RIGHT” or “At the END of the road LEFT” each short sentence with a pause half way.

Ann’s performance improved she was doing her mirrors at the correct time, she was then slowing and getting her gear and looking earlier without stopping unless necessary, at the end of the road remembering to go back into first gear where she had been staying in 2nd or 3rd and then stalling. I was quite amazed at the change.

We stopped by the kerbside to discuss, and I asked her if she had noticed any difference in her driving from first 20 minutes, to the second 20 minutes, and she said she felt more relaxed in the second half. We discussed if she had noticed any change in my instructions, and she said “I noticed you were saying less words and pausing half way through a sentence, and being more precise with certain words” She said she found by hearing less words and key words only, she was able to process easier and felt more flowing.


This inspired me to try this exercise on 10 other students throughout the week, who were at varying levels in their learning. I was amazed at the results; everyone drove better using less words, but accentuating Key words with a pause in the sentence.

From this short study, it does prove that less is more, and will continue to look at ways in using shorter terms and see the effects.

Our aim as instructors is to make the teaching of pupils as easy as possible and this seems to be the way forwards.