10 Tips to Drive Well and Pass Your Driving Test

When one of my friends knew that I have passed my manual car driving test in one try, she mentioned that her brother might want to learn driving, and asked if there is any advice.

1. Believe that you can learn to drive

I used to think that driving is difficult. But I never thought that I wouldn’t be able to learn driving, once I decided to learn the skill. With my first lesson, I discovered that driving is not as difficult as I first thought it to be. I believe, with sufficient practice, I can do it.

2. Plan your driving lessons

From my learning experience, for anyone who wants to learn to drive a manual car, I would advise them to have the Stage 1 lessons closer to one another, as you’ll need some time to be familiar with the clutch control and shifting of gears. In my case, initially I didn’t plan and book my lessons in advance. Therefore, my beginning lessons were more spaced out and I needed to refresh my memory and re-learn my clutch control and gear shifting skills during each lesson in the earlier stages.

3. Start slow and steady

This does not contradict my earlier point about having the lessons closer to one another. Learning anything new takes time and it’ll be best not to be too anxious if you find yourself struggling in the initial stages. Learn the basics of clutch control and gear shifting well because once you master these, learning the other skills would be more of a breeze.

4. Be relaxed when driving

It’s natural that we will get nervous when we first go behind the wheels. This is because we are afraid that the car will go out of control and hit another car, or worst a person. Do not be too afraid, as you are in good hands. The instructor sitting beside you will help when you encounter any difficulties. Rest assured that the instructor will watch over you and will not allow you to endanger yourself, as if anything happen, the instructor would also be affected. Of course, my instructors did share of some accidents happening. But, there are accidents happening daily even for experienced drivers. Most importantly, we do our best to minimise the chances of accidents by being mentally alert when we are attending our lessons. Being relaxed will help us drive better and also let us absorb the learning faster.

5. Ask questions to clarify any doubts

If you have any questions, just ask. I took my lessons at the BBDC Driving Centre (Singapore) and the instructors are all skilful and helpful. Although some instructors were stern, they would still help you clear whatever doubts you have. So, do not be afraid to ask, even if it’s something that was taught many lessons earlier.

6. Take notes after each practical lesson

I liked to write my own notes after the practical lessons. This was because not all the points that the driving instructor said would be explained in the same way as in the practical handbook. The instructor would give advice specific to your driving, and writing down these points helped me refresh my memory later on. I find the notes especially useful when I wanted to recall the different sighting and turning points. Different instructors will teach in different ways. As I didn’t have a fix instructor and sometimes, it’s nervous to get a different instructor who has not taught me before, I discovered that different instructors gave me different perspectives about driving and their own techniques. So, I learned from many people and incorporated the most suitable techniques for myself. It was also a good thing as I became accustomed to different people sitting beside me since the tester will be a complete stranger.

7. Practice, practice and more practice

During the course, I reminded myself to have more lessons for practice if I need it. If I needed an extra lesson to brush up certain skills, so be it. Although I have likely taken more practical lessons as compared to others (I took more than 40 practical lessons to complete up to Stage 5), I told myself that my main objective was to learn the skills well so that everything would go smoothly later. At times when I thought I learned too slowly, one of my instructors would encouraged me and said that I was alright, and the number of lessons I took was about the average number.

8. Enjoy the learning journey

I must say I quite enjoy learning to drive. That was the reason why I was in no hurry to quickly finish all my lessons and go for the test. When you enjoy the learning, you will not find it to be a chore. Also, I had good relationships with my driving instructors and there were a few whom I had fun chatting with during practical lessons. I even had a cup of coffee with one of them after my practical lesson.

9. Stay calm on day of test, even if mistakes occur

At the beginning of the test, I made a few mistakes. At one point, I thought I might fail the test. Then, I decided to tell myself that if I fail, I’ll just do a re-test. It’s no big deal. At that instant when I let go and decided to treat the test like a normal practical lesson and show what I’ve learned and drive safely, everything went smoothly and I no longer made any mistakes.

10. Drive as what you have been taught and safely

When I was learning to drive, I heard that it has become more difficult to pass the driving tests because testers are more stringent due to more accidents happening on the road. I checked with my instructions, and they told me that passing rate is about the same and if we focus on driving like what we have been taught to do and also drive safely, passing shouldn’t be an issue. We were told safety is of utmost importance and the tester will look at your overall performance. Driving well comes from experience and the tester will not fault you for minor imperfections, like when your car is slightly slanted during vertical parking, as they understand you did not have that much experience in driving.

I hope for those who decided to learn driving, these tips would be useful for you. Some of these tips are applicable for learning any skills too.

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