Learning to drive

How to pass your road test

The 3 main things to keep in mind while preparing for your road test are: safety, safety, and safety.

To prove to your examiner that you are safe behind the wheel, you must demonstrate that you know all the road rules, are skilled at operating your car, and have the right attitude towards pedestrians and other drivers.

How do you do all this? Take a look at these 6 tips.
  1. Take driving lessons - plenty of them

    Sure your mom is a great driver, and she stayed heroically calm in the passenger seat while you zipped and lurched through your neighbourhood as a learner. But a professional instructor will help you see the road from an examiner’s point of view.

    If you take a beginner driver education (BDE) course from a government-approved driving school, you may be eligible to take your test up to 4 months sooner, and could even get a discount on your insurance premiums.

    If you choose not to do the course, you must still put in the practice hours. Make a checklist of driving and parking manoeuvers and spend as much time as it takes to master them.

    Most people need a minimum of 20 hours driving with an instructor to learn the basics, plus 20 to 30 more hours of private practice time to feel confident.

    It’s best to practice in the same car that you will be driving during the test. This way you’ll be comfortable in your seat and know exactly how much brake and accelerator pressure to apply for a smooth ride.
  2. Know the rules

    When did you last read the official driver’s handbook? If your answer is “months ago, for the knowledge test” then you need to check it out again. Brush up on the road rules and be prepared for any scenario.

    The examiner will never try to trick you into doing something wrong, but you must be clear on road markings and traffic signs so you can carry out instructions calmly and precisely. You will automatically fail if you break any laws - for example, if you speed or cross over a solid white line.

  3. Get familiar with area around the DriveTest Centre

    Facing an unfamiliar route during your test is not a great start. Use your last couple of driving lessons to practice the roads you may be tested on - your driving instructor might even know from previous students which routes are most likely.

    Looking out for things like schools, parks, hills (if there are none, you won’t be parking on a hill, will you?), complicated traffic systems and the busyness of the roads will also let you know what kind of situations you may be up against during your test.

  4. Avoid these common mistakes

  5. Observation:

    • Not checking mirrors and blind spots
    • Lack of proper observation at intersections


    • Not reacting to what’s in your mirrors
    • Ignoring traffic signs - especially stop signs
    • Ignoring pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists
    • Hesitating at intersections when you have right of way


    • Signaling at the wrong time (too early or too late)
    • Failing to signal before turns, lane changes


    • Poor control of the steering wheel
    • Driving at an inappropriate or illegal speed
    • Stalling due to poor clutch control in a manual car
  6. Be prepared

    The day before the test, make sure that your car is in proper driving condition. Check the headlights, brake lights and blinkers. If there is a chance of rain, make sure your windshield wipers are working.

    Wipe down your windshield and check that there are no cracks in it. Clean out the interior of your car to make your examiner comfortable. Make sure you have your learner’s licence handy and your glasses if you need them for driving.

    If you are using a driving school’s car, confirm your appointment with them to make sure you reach the DriveTest Centre at the right time. You need to arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled test time.

    Get a good night’s sleep and eat a proper meal in the morning so that you are both alert and calm during the test. Don’t plan anything else for the day - you don’t want to have to rush or worry about something else you have to get done.

  7. Keep some perspective

    If you usually drive well during a lesson, why shouldn’t you drive well during your test? You know the area, you know the car, and you know what you’ll be tested on.

    The only problem is you: your nerves. And why are you nervous? If you’re prepared enough, you’ll pass. If you don’t pass, you weren’t ready. And hey - a driver with 40 years of road experience failed his test!

    Just remember not to give up after a mistake. You might think you’ve made the worst error ever, but calmly putting it right and carrying on shows you can deal with problems on the road. You never know, it might not have been as bad as you thought - so get over it.

    Good luck!


Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. She started learning to drive last year, at the age of 24.