If you want to pass the UK driving test, then you need to understand that it is your good or bad habits that you exhibit while in the car with the DSA examiner that will eventually determine whether you pass or fail the driving test.
I have mentioned this before many times in my blog, if you want to pass the driving test, you first need to know what is required of you by the DSA, attain that driving skill standard on a consistent basis (level 5 in the drivers record) without help from your instructor, then you can be confident that you are ready to book your driving test.
If you've learnt to drive or prepared for the dsa assessment without the help of a dsa approved driving instructor (ADI), then you are most likely to have picked up some bad driving habits which could fail you on the test. Over the years that I've taught learner drivers, I've seen many people who have followed this route, taken a driving test failed and then sought the help of an instructor before their next attempt. Typical bad driving habits exhibited include not taking effective observation before moving off, failure to use the handbrake when appropriate, with the car always rolling back slightly when moving off up hill. Other bad habits include putting the car into neutral gear just before the car stops when stopping either at junctions, traffic lights or even pedestrian crossings!
Many of these bad driving skills are done automatically because they haven't been corrected by the family or friends who supervised them, and because they haven't had any incidents in the run up to the driving test and they can successfully get from point A to B, they think they are ready to present themselves to the DSA examiner, but are surprised when the hear those dreaded words 'I'm sorry but you haven't passed".
Even if you are learning to drive with a driving instructor, you still need to put in the effort to build good driving habits and you must not do anything on a driving lesson that wouldn't be acceptable on the test. The number of times I've had to caution pupils for doing something on a lesson that they knew was wrong and they say "I won't do that on the test, but that car driver pressurised me into doing it"! If you don't develop a habit of dealing with situations the proper way during your lessons, you will not be able to 'put on a show' for the dsa driving examiner, especially with all those test nerves. This is one of the reasons why a lot of people fail the test, they have not had enough practice and developed those good driving skills that they can automatically apply under pressure!
The purpose of your driving lessons are two fold. You learn the required driving skill at the DSA standard, and then practice that skill until it becomes a habit! You must not take short cuts either because you want to save time on lessons or because you are finding the skill hard. If you can't automatically demonstrate a particular driving skill at the dsa standard over and over again without thinking too hard about it, you aren't ready for the test!
Remember the bad habits I mentioned at the beginning which a lot of learners especially foreign licence holders come to me with? When we start working on correcting these bad habits even with me prompting them, they still would automatically put the gear into neutral while stopping despite me saying 'keep your hands on the wheel until the car stops'. We could spend the whole lesson working on correcting this driving error, and if the instructor is not vigilant, the learner will go back to his/her old ways by the next lesson because it is a habit that has been formed over a period of months! You need to be that way with your good driving habits - always taking effective observations before moving off, using the handbrake when waiting at junctions, stopped at a traffic light or pedestrian crossings, be able to perform a reverse round the corner slowly under control while still taking effective observations and reacting properly to other road users (remembering that pedestrians are road users).
All these skills require time to become a habit, so because your instructor introduced it in the last driving lesson, and you were able to do it sucessfully without any errors doesn't mean you've mastered the skill and will be able to do always without problems, especially on the driving test. Many learner drivers think their driving instructor just wants to rip them off when her/she says you still need more practise before taking the DSA driving test, when what the ADI is trying to achieve is a level of consistency with your driving skills especially when you don't have the option of private practice with your own private car.
The current DSA driving test is of a high standard, and is going to be hard for you to pass if you don't put in the time, effort and money (yes I know that is one of the factors that makes us want to take the test sooner than later) to develop the good driving habits at the required DSA standard and there is a lot that is required of today's learner drivers by the driving examiner, so the better prepared you are, the more likely you are to be among the 40% pass rate. You will also find out that if your good driving skills are habits rather than concious efforts, test nerves will have less effect on you on the day.
Have a look at the following video which illustrates why you need to build up good driving habits during lessons.
Some people would say the DSA driving examiner was harsh if a test candidate was failed for not using that bus lane if the test was at 11am, but the information you needed was displayed, but you didn't notice it. Don't be a lazy learner driver, work on being an A class candidate and not just do the bare minimum hoping to pass!
Are you building good or bad driving habits for the test?
More Driving test advice
Nerves on test day.
Automatic on driving test.
Bad lesson day before driving test.
Failed pratical car test.
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