Unless you want to be the guy who is 25 and still on his L’s, eventually you’re going to have to take your P’s test. And, to save yourself from the shit your mates will put on you if you fail (and fail again, and again, and again) we’ve chucked together everything you need to know to pass. Obviously, there’s slight variations from state to state, but here’s some helpful tips to help you stress less about the whole thing and get your hands on that fresh, little provisional licence.
Booking your test
It sounds obvious, but the number one thing is to not book your test until you’re ready. The amount of people that book in their test as soon as they can, but can’t do anything but drive in a straight line, is huge.
If you’ve got your hours up but still struggle to do a three point turn or reverse parallel park, there’s no point booking in your test and hoping you’ll get a fluke pass. Same goes for booking in a manual test if you’ve spent the majority of your Ls in an auto. Driving isn’t especially hard, but it does take practice, especially when you’re preparing to be examined.
If you go too early, you’re going to fail and your confidence will take a hit, making it harder to pass next time. As much as we talk shit about our mates who are still on their Ls, there’s no shame in making sure you’re ready before you attempt the test.
Another thing when booking your test is to be aware of the time that you’re scheduled for. Early in the morning and you might get caught in school zones and have a lot of buses out on the road with you. Later in the arvo and you might hit peak traffic as everyone heads home from work and school. If you’re already majorly stressing, then going during these times could freak you out more. Aim for quiet periods, usually in the middle of day.
Also pay attention to where you’re booking your test. You want it to be in an area that you’re familiar with. While some people will tell you that certain examiners are bias, keep in mind that if you can drive safety and do everything they ask you to, they won’t have an excuse to fail you.
Before the test
Aside from the obvious stuff like having your log book all signed off and actually knowing how to drive, heading out with a qualified driving instructor in the area you’ve booked your test for will help massively.
Yeah, it’s going to cost you a bit of money (no one ever said getting your licene would be cheap) but it’s better than failing your test and having to pay to re-sit it. The driving instructor will know the area and help you get familiar with it so that there’s no surprises when you do the test. They’ll be able to point out things like school zones and where to give way that you might not notice if you’re super stressed on the day of your driving exam.
You’ll also want to get familiar with the car you’re taking to the test. Whether it’s your car, you’re borrowing your mum’s or using your driving instructors- make sure you know how to do everything, like flicking on your high beams and adjusting the steering wheel. You never know what the instructor will ask, and you don’t want to lose marks just because you couldn’t adjust your seat.
Just like an exam, make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before so you’re alert and focused. If nothing else, go to the bathroom before your test- just trust me on this one.
The day of the test
Some states require learner drivers to complete a Hazard Perception Test before they can give the actual driving test a go. Don’t let this freak you out- the Hazard Perception Test is pretty straight forward and you can get a feel for it by doing some practice ones here. While these practice tests are provided by the SA version of the RMS, the format is essentially the same.
Once you’ve knocked that out of the way, you’ll need to pass the actual driving test out on the road. Here’s a couple of tips:
Five second signals
You need to indicate for five seconds before you do anything. It might feel like forever but it’s necessary and you don’t want to lose easy marks.
Check ya blind spots
You need to make it very obvious when you’re checking your blind spots. Move you head slightly when looking at your mirrors and always glance over your shoulder before pulling away from the kerb or changing lanes. You don’t need to over exaggerate but the examiner needs to see you do it.
Pay attention to the test centre
You don’t want to get caught out with a stop sign as you’re leaving the carpark. Keep alert from the second you get in the car.
Drive like your grandma
You’re not in a rush during the test. Overtaking and changing lanes when you’re not asked to means extra head checks for you so it’s usually easier to just wait if you get stuck behind someone.
Don’t go under the limit
It’s a myth that you should sit 10km under the limit during your test. You need to do the speed limit and adjust to the conditions. If it’s raining and the road is wet, go ahead and knock a few kms off your speed, but don’t crawl along just for the sake of it.
Be a ‘low risk’ driver
This is what examiners are looking for. They want to see that you’re cautious on the roads which means doing things like checking the intersection is clear before going on a green light, scanning the road, checking your blind spots and maintaining three second a gap with the car in front.
There’s a couple of things that are classed as fail items (in NSW at least). These include not stopping at a red light, not stopping at a yellow light when it’s safe to do so, not stopping at a stop sign, disobeying lane markings or signs (like one way, no entry and keep clear), mounting or straddling a traffic dome or mounting the kerb or roundabout (you won’t fail if you touch the kerb with your wheels) or anything else that’s illegal like speeding. There’s a heap of other things, like causing a dangerous situation or failing to give way to an emergency vehicle that are also fail items.
If you do these things you’ll probably get to finish your test and get an assessment of your driving. But, if you do anything which is unsafe or dangerous and there is an obvious danger to the public or you refuse to cooperate with the testing officer then you’ll be immediately failed and not allowed to finish the test.
After the test
Congrats, you did it! You’ll either pass and get to walk away with a brand spanking new provisional licence, or you’ll fail. If you happen to fall into the latter category, don’t stress! Retaking the test is always an option and there’s tonnes of people who don’t pass first go. Figure out where you went wrong, work on it and give the test another go.