How To Overcome Driving Test Nerves & Fears

Last Updated: 10/05/2022

For most people, sitting a driving test will be the most stressful and nervous thing they do, especially if they have already failed a driving test previously.

There’s good reason for the nerves as well. In the UK, around 6,000 people take their driving test every single day, of which around 40% will fail.

Scary? Perhaps. But here’s something that should make it better.

The majority of those who fail their driving test do so due to not being ready to take it, not learning with the right instructor or because they’ve been taught by a friend or relative and so are not comprehensively prepared.

They may have even picked up bad habits.

All of that means that, in theory, if you select the right instructor, take the number of lessons which are sufficient for you and are honest with yourself, then your likelihood of passing increases significantly.

That’s not to say that it won’t still be stressful though.

In just about any pressure situation or exam in life, there will be an element of fear or nerves that people suffer.

Sadly though, if you want to become a fully qualified driver and head out on to the roads, then you’re going to need to overcome that fear and smash your driving test.

What You Will Learn

This guide is a little different to many on our website in that rather than telling you in black and white how to perform a manoeuvre, for example, we’re going to give you as much information as possible to help alleviate and manage those driving test nerves.

Our guide is built around experience and the best advice that we can offer and will hopefully leave you as well prepared as possible heading into the big day.

The guide has been split into our usual sections.

The step-by-step element will be a list of things that can help you reduce and manage those concerns going into your driving test.

The full guide is presented in the following sections:

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

Step-By-Step Guide

There is nothing quite like waking up on the morning of your driving test and having that rush of fear and nerves.

Let’s not kid ourselves; your driving test is a big deal. You’ve invested a lot of money, possibly as much as £1000 in lessons alone plus a significant amount of time and energy in getting to this point.

The reward that lies ahead is massive.

Therefore, let’s try and reduce those nerves by following these steps.

It’s Natural To Have Nerves & Fears:

First thing’s first, remember that we are all human and regardless how strong and confident you may be, there will come a time when you feel anxious on your driving test.

The key here is to remember this and embrace it.

Once you embrace the fact that nerves, fears and anxiety are all perfectly normal, they become much easier to manage and you will immediately start to feel better and relaxed about the whole thing.

If it helps, remind yourself that even the greatest Formula 1 and rally drivers had to pass their driving test at some stage in their life and you can guarantee that the pressure they also felt will have had them nervous at one point or another on the test.

Make Sure You’re Ready:

The biggest mistake a lot of people make is putting in for their test too early.

Ultimately, it’s your decision when you take your driving test, but a good driving instructor will recognise and advise when you’re ready to do so.

Make sure you have practised all of the manoeuvres, especially the ones you hate or find difficult and if possible, you have driven the test route before.

Tell Yourself You’re Ready:

Being ready and being confident that you’re ready are two different things.

There will always be nerves on the big day, but if your driving instructor thinks that you are ready to take the test and you have done all of the things outlined in step one, then it’s time to do it.

You need to convince yourself mentally that you’re ready. Deep down you know you are, so believe it.

Keep It A Secret:

The last thing you need is additional pressure being heaped upon you on test day.

If people know that you’re taking the test, you will feel more pressure. The simple way around this is to just not tell anyone.

It’s a nice surprise to tell them once you’ve passed!

Give Yourself Lots Of Time:

The day of your driving test should be kept free – if possible, do not book anything else in.

The last thing you need is to be rushing to the test centre or thinking about finishing the test to get to another appointment or back to work.

That’s all additional stress and hassle that you do not need in your head – it’s only going to harm your chances of successfully passing.

Eat Well, Avoid Caffeine:

When people get nervous, they tend to avoid meals.

Don’t do this, it’s only going to leave you hungry and leave your brain short of fuel.

As for the caffeine, take it easy.

Drinking too much will just make you agitated during your test and that certainly won’t help the nerves!

Take Your Time:

Once the test begins, take your time.

You’re not against the clock when performing manoeuvres, so don’t feel that you have to reverse around a corner quickly or perform the quickest three-point turn in history.

Do it at your own speed, the speed you have been used to during your lessons.

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

In addition to the above steps, there are some other small things you can do which have been said to reduce nerves.

So, if you’re really nervous on the big day, you may want to consider some of the following.

Eat Bananas:

Bananas are full of vitamin B which is known to help calm nerves.

So, have one on standby for the morning of your test, just in case you need a little extra help.

Distract Yourself:

In the lead-up to your test, particularly if it’s late in the day, you can end up making yourself even more worried or nervous by over-thinking things.

So, find something to distract yourself.

This could even mean taking a book to read in the test centre if you arrive earlier.

Feel free to as there is no rule against it.

Music is also good for calming nerves and providing a distraction before the test.

Useful Information

Failing a driving test can be so down heartening and a negative experience on your driving test can only add to the anguish, however, if your nerves get the better of you and you do fail, do not waste time in booking to do the test again as momentum is everything.

You need to give it ten days before sitting another test but that does not mean that you cannot book it immediately.

Get it booked and in the diary as soon as possible and book some more lessons so you can start working on whatever you failed on.

If you’re taking the test a second time, the nerves will be there again but you can manage them slightly better having known what it was like the first time and what you failed on.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re taking your driving test for the first time or fifth time, it’s always going to be nervous.

There’s a lot riding on it, so don’t beat yourself up.

Be confident, follow the steps above to ensure you’re in the best mindset possible and give it your best.

In the worst case scenario, you can always take it again.

Good luck!

Further Resources