Most people are nervous before any test, interview, sports game etc. – It would be really unusual if this wasn’t the case. I have had drivers going to test and be unable to control their left foot for the first few minutes; some have been sweating profusely, unable to speak and many other symptoms.
Once the test gets under way many have said that these initial nerves subside very quickly and they get “into a good rhythm”. Unfortunately this is sometimes too late, they have already made one serious error and effectively failed the test. I am not a medical person but I guess there is an adrenalin rush as part of the old “fight or flight response” to perceived “danger” – we all want to pass so much. How can a driving instructor assist with this issue?

1. Make sure that the pupil is actually ready – there is a tendency to let learner drivers go to test when they could pass, but not actually ready. It is an expensive business and that extra half a dozen lesson is not what they want to hear. I believe that if they are ready, their confidence level is higher and therefore they don’t feel the anxiety so much.
2. Perform several mock tests where you behave exactly like an examiner i.e. courteous but fairly cold, quiet and completely unsupportive.
3. Repeatedly explain to the pupil that there is no rush in the test; it will last 38 to 40 minutes and they will travel for between 7 and 10 miles. Ask them “can you drive?”, “can you concentrate for 40 minutes?” Make it sound really easy, by now you should know that they are ready and should pass.

Next blog post we will discuss some of the characteristics of a couple of test centres which make the start of the test really important.