Dealing with test day nerves

Check out my NEW video with anxiety tips: Dealing with driving test nerves and anxiety


1. Herbal Medicines:

Such as 'Kalms' and 'Rescue Remedy', people often rely on these to deal with nerves on all sorts of test and stressful situations.

2. Remove the Pressure:

Often the fear of failure and wanting to pass to please everyone can build nerves, with lots of text’s and messages before your test saying “good luck” or “you will ace it”, although well meaning they can all add pressure. Naturally if people know you have your test they will also want to know the result and if you fail it is often a difficult conversation. One way to deal with this is to book you test and keep it a secret (well apart from your driving instructor!), when you pass then you can surprise everyone!

3. Positive Body Language:

Sitting at the test centre with your legs crossed and arms folded can build tension and nerves, try standing in a positive position, this video explains more: Positive Body Language!

4. Evil Examiners:

You may have heard stories of examiners who are unfair and unjust, however in my experience as an instructor this is completely untrue, the examiner will not intentionally try and fail you, however if you make a dangerous mistake then you not likely to pass. I believe the reason why there are stories of examiners that are 'evil' is because when people fail their test they blame the examiner for being 'harsh' rather that admitting they made a dangerous mistake. Saying that if you do make a mistake carry on driving, the final result is often only decided at the end of the test, as the examiner makes an overall assessment, so if you recover well from your mistake you may get away with it! In 2014 I had a girl on test who was turning right at traffic lights, the light was green but as she started to go a emergency vehicle came from the left, jumping the red light, the pupil failed to spot it until they where halfway across the junction, seeing the emergency vehicle late caused them to panic and they clipped the kerb as the turned and then the examiner asked them to pull up on the left to let the emergency vehicle pass. I was sat in the back and expected a serious fault to be given, however at the end of the test only a minor was given and the pupil passed! This is a great example of the examiner using their experience and discretion to give the pupil the benefit of the doubt.

5. Positive Thinking! 

Try to (think positive!, it is not 'try to'!) remove any negative throughts from you head, such as "I hope I don't get that roundabout" or "Please don't give me a parallel park", change them to a positive thought, so how you are going to deal with that tricky roundabout, or what are you going to do to get a successful parallel park, if you are being taken to test then you and your instructor should have agreed that you have all the required skills to pass the test, you just need to use them! The day before you test you could even write down a positive solution to deal with any situations you have negative thoughts about, use your instructor or research yourself to get any answers you need.

I have taken many advanced driving test with senior examiners and police officers, during these test I am not thinking negatively "what faults am I going to be given" or "what can go wrong", I think "This is an oppertunity to show the examiner how well I can drive!", This often results in me not feeling nervous at all about the test situation.


6. Conversation with the Examiner

You may feel more relaxed if you talk to the examiner, if you want to do this then as soon as you meet them you could try to start a conversation. You may even find the examiner will try to start a conversation while you are driving, a common conversation starter they use is “What would you be doing if you were not doing your driving test today?”, if you answer this positively and start and conversation the examiner will often keep chatting back, however if you don’t respond positively the examiner will see you don’t want to chat and will stay quiet so not to distract you. Some examiners may stay quiet regardless, this is not them being rude they just don’t want to distract you and want you to concentrate 100% on your driving.

7. Commentary Driving

Try talking yourself through what you are doing on test, out loud or in your head, by doing this you are likely to concentrate more and because you are concentrating harder you will not have time to be nervous! Some people think they will seem strange if they talk out aloud, but it is a good method to show the examiner what you are thinking and planning, so if you said about a hazard really far ahead the examiner may think “wow they are really looking far ahead and planning very well!”. This technique is also used by police officers when they must have high levels of concentration due to driving at high speeds. 

8. Know what to expect!

What is the examiner going to be like? How does the test work? Where will I go during the test? All these questions, and more, could be floating around in your head, and leaving them unanswered and often build nerves, so get them answered! Research about the test, what to expect, where you might go what it will be like. Just make sure the information you get it factual and not based on opinion, as said before if you ask a friend about there test and they get you some very negative feedback about the examiners, as they did not pass, then this is likely to effect you negatively. Check out the practical test section on my website for information on how the test works, ask your instructor what examiners work at the test centre and what they are like, do mock tests with your instructor and go through the driving test marking sheet so you know exactly what to expect!

9. Hypnotherapy

It may sound strange and at first I was sceptical, but a pupil of mine, who was very nervous, used this and they say it really helped them to pass first time, they recommend using Paul McKenna's Control Stress Book/DVD

10. Music 

It is perfectly acceptable to have music on during your test, for some this can be more relaxing and break the silence, however make sure it does not distract you and that it is not so loud you can’t hear the examiners instructions!

11. Breathing Techniques

Breathing exercises can really help reduce anxiety and nerves very quickly, this video shows a really good example of a breathing technique.