Woman passing driving test
  Driving test tips, help & advice for learner drivers
What to expect on the driving test  

What a driving examiner looks for

Driving examiners are mostly looking for natural and safe driving. Don't listen to anyone saying that you should drive a certain speed under the speed limit, all that's going to achieve is to annoy the examiner and perhaps even fail the driving test. On the whole, keep up with other motorists provided they are keeping to the speed limit.

Situations where you can allow yourself a little more time than other drivers are all the various junctions which include roundabouts. Examiners expect this as you are a learner and may require a little more time. Manoeuvres in particular, keep nice and slow with plenty of observations.

Mirror checks are particularly important, but you don't need to exaggerate head movements as examiners are perfectly aware of your mirror observations.


How to impress the driving examiner

In short, you can't. Driving test examiners are actually technically advanced bots developed by the DSA, using a central processing unit based on Highway Code.

Joking aside, contrary to popular belief, many driving examiners are in fact human, and most of them are actually quite friendly too.

In terms of figuring out how to impress the driving examiner, that can be a little difficult - even if they are human. Often though, it's the little things that have an impact and can ultimately influence an outcome. Let's look at a few basics on how to impress your driving examiner.

First impressions

People form an impression about another person within the first few seconds they meet. We then usually judge that person based on that initial first impression.

Driving examiners are of course professionals and shouldn't judge people outside of their driving ability. We do however all form an initial opinion that may somewhat determine an outcome. So, arriving for your driving test in smart but casual clothing will tell the examiner that you are bothered.

Driving examiner test report
Driving examiner test report

Ensure you have all applicable documents at hand so as not to cause any immediate complications - see what to take to driving test, and if possible, greet the examiner with a friendly smile. It's all just a bit of basic psychology.

Will you be my friend?

Driving examiners tend to come in two forms - the bot type mentioned at the start, who appear devoid of emotion and simply emit instructions on what you need to do, and there's the more chatty types.

You'll be able to distinguish the type you have been assigned on the way to the car. The more friendly and chatty examiner type will initiate a conversation on the way to the car, essentially as a means to help put you at ease.

Use this to your advantage and during the driving test, strike up little conversations with the examiner. This could be about their job, the type of people they have had on the test, scary moments etc. A driving examiners job can become monotonous, so having a friendly chat and perhaps a laugh may break up any monotony. You may also find that having a chat helps to alleviate tension and stress and by making you more relaxed, helps you on the test.

This may all sound a little superficial, but the fact is that we all tend to be a little more lenient and forgiving to people we like, compared to those we feel impartial to. If however, talking and driving isn't your thing and you feel that is may increase your chances of making mistakes, you're probably better off keeping quiet.


Will you forgive me?

So mounting the pavement and taking a little old lady out isn't going to pass a driving test any time soon. But what you need to do is reassure the examiner you are safe. A clean test report at the end isn't too common, so the chances are, you will make mistakes.

Although driving examiners have predefined rules they must follow, they also have rather a lot of leeway in determining whether a particular fault is only a minor, serious or dangerous.

If you make a fault and are aware of it yourself, tell the examiner that you are aware of this. So for instance knocking into the kerb may or may not fail a driving test.

But by informing the examiner that you are aware of the mistake you made and that you'll ensure it doesn't happen again is far better than the examiner believing that you are completely oblivious to the error.

This could apply to many faults and errors to a certain degree and it will allow the examiner to test you further in this area to ensure it isn't a reoccurring error.

Perseverance is admirable

We all admire a person who perseveres and driving examiners are no exception. If you mess something up, ask if you can do it again. Take one of the driving test manoeuvres for example, if you make a terrible mistake, such as mounting a kerb or ending up in the middle of the road, ask if you can give it another try. You've nothing to lose and if there's enough time, the examiner may well let you have another go at it. There is of course some things that aren't recoverable, such as running a red light for example as that would be pretty much fatal, but there are plenty of things that may be a test failure, but turned into a minor.

Generally what we're saying is that examiners won't turn a blind eye to anything, but providing it's not dangerous, they will often be willing to let you give it another go to prove yourself.

Outside of this, then there's not much else you can do to impress the driving examiner and it really comes down to your driving ability and safety, of which there are plenty of tips within these pages.