How To Master Acceleration

Last Updated: 10/04/2021

Accelerating while driving may seem like a simple task but doing so in a smooth and safe manner is important.

Mastering this as early as possible during your driving education is the best way of preparing for your test.

During your driving test, your examiner will be observing how you accelerate.

Doing so too quickly or in a way which suggests you are not fully in control will not reflect well so it’s important that you’re aware of how to do this properly.

It’s particularly pertinent in the case of driving a manual transmission vehicle, although elements remain important with automatic transmission.

Three key aspects to smooth acceleration are:


Are you in full control of the car as it accelerates?

Does the examiner you are taking your test with feel as though you are in control as well?

Smooth Gear Changes:

Are you smoothly changing gears and releasing the clutch when you accelerate?

Road Conditions:

Are you accelerating with consideration for the conditions of the road?

We will cover all of these points in this guide of how to master accelerating when learning to drive.

What You Will Learn

Accelerating is a fundamental part of driving and so knowing how to do so safely is vital.

In this guide, we will teach you how to do this and how you can be in total control when doing so.

We’ll explain how you can make it easier for yourself, the things you should look out for and a few tips to help you on your way.

Our guide on how to master accelerating will cover:

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

From the moment you first get behind the wheel, you will need to accelerate.

Whether you’re increasing your speed to pull out of a parking space or to join a fast-moving motorway, accelerating is something you simply must master.

Before we get in to the step-by-step process of accelerating from a stationery position, it’s worth us making you aware of other factors which can influence how you accelerate.

Road Surface:

If you’re driving on a bumpy, uneven or broken road surface, you may need to change how you accelerate.

A more measured, slowly acceleration will most likely be necessary.

Weather Conditions:

Accelerating in rain, ice and snow will each bring different challenges.

Be aware of them as you will also need to accelerate slower and possibly using a different method for these.

How To Master Accelerating From Stationery: Step-By-Step

  • Before looking to move off, check your mirrors and blind spots to ensure you’re clear to do so.
  • Signal (indicate) that you’re pulling off.
  • With the gear in neutral, push the clutch down with your left foot and select first gear.
  • Release the handbrake or foot break, if safe to do so (NOTE: If performing a hill start, refer to our separate guide).
  • Gently apply pressure to the accelerator pedal with right foot with the clutch pedal still pressed down.
  • Slowly begin to lift the clutch pedal as the revs build. You’re waiting to feel what is known as the ‘biting point’.
  • Checking again that it is safe to move off, begin to release the clutch in a control manner, keeping the accelerator pressed at the same level. This will lead to a controlled departure.
  • Now you’re moving, it’s time to shift through the gears as and when required. Use your speed and the rev counter to gauge this.
  • Each time you change gear, slowly and gradually release the accelerator and press the clutch. Shift the gear lever to the next gear.
  • Repeat steps 8 and 9 to continue in a controlled way through your gears. Retaining absolute control and providing a smooth ride is key.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

There are a few tell tale signs that your examiner is going to look for to judge as to whether you’re in control of your acceleration and whether you’ve truly mastered the technique of accelerating.

Smoothness Of Transmission:

As you move from one gear to the next, the ride should be almost seamless.

Hard acceleration either side of changing gears will jolt the car and probably push the rev counter incredibly high.

It’s noisy and uncomfortable.

It’s also obvious that you’re not yet able to confidently and expertly accelerate.

Wheel Spin:

If your wheels spin when you pull off in first gear, it’s likely that you’re accelerating too hard and too fast.

It’s a sure-fire way of alerting your examiner to this.

In addition to these, if you’re driving a modern car, then there is a fantastic clue as to when it’s time to change gears; your car will tell you.

Look on the dashboard for a small number that lights up as you go through the gears.

Many cars now indicate when your revs or speed warrants a higher or lower gear.

Useful Information

A key consideration when accelerating is always the weather.

If it’s wet, you’ll want to accelerate that little bit slower when starting out from stationery and moving in to second gear.

If you’re accelerating too hard, your wheels may spin as your car searches for traction.

This is only increased in icy or snowy conditions.

It’s well worth reading up about driving these conditions in more detail.

Some instructors will suggest moving off in second gear if possible in these scenarios so that the revs are lower and the wheels are less likely to struggle searching for grip.

Finally, when you’re joining a fast road, such as a motorway, smooth gear changes remain as important as ever.

You’ll want to move in to your highest gear as soon as possible so that you can comfortably cruise with the flow of the traffic.

Final Thoughts

Accelerating is one of the first skills you should take the time to master.

A great idea is to find a large, quiet car park perhaps in the early evening.

Here, you can practice pulling off from a standing start and going through your first couple of gears.

It’s perfect for making sure you have a smooth pull-off and that your gear changes are slick.

Further Resources