How I Passed My Driving Test Whilst Being An Anxious Driver


On Thursday the 21st of September 2017 at 12:45, I finally passed my practical driving test. I woke up in the early hours of the morning because I couldn't get back to sleep due to being anxious about yet another driving test. Ironically, as I was scrolling through Twitter, trying to take my mind off it, I noticed that Rebecca (From Roses) had published a blog post titled 'What It's Really Like Being An Anxious Driver', so you can only guess how quickly I clicked on it. After reading it, my mind felt so much more at ease about having my driving test later in the day. I think it was mainly because it was nice to not feel alone, as being anxious and learning to drive in your 20's is something pretty unfamiliar in my nearest town. 

To give you a bit of background about my learning to drive experience, I took my first theory test whenever I was 18 and passed it first time. I then had some driving lessons during the Summer between leaving sixth form and starting my first year of university, took my first practical driving test and failed it. As I began university, I stupidly didn't keep up with my driving lessons and eventually my theory test expired (it lasts two years). Fast forward to the Summer between finishing my third year (placement) and starting my fourth year of university, I took my theory test again and passed it first time, went on to do some lesson and failed my test, again. You can begin to see a pattern emerging here. That brings us to 2017, my theory was still valid as I passed it in August 2016, so I knew I had to take one final shot at the practical driving test before I left it too late again. After I graduated, I texted my driving instructor and asked if she was available for a few lessons, she said yes and thus begun the third round of lessons. Again, I took my test and failed it, but I was so close this time. I knew I had to keep going, so I applied for the test again the next day and on the fourth time, I finally did it!

On the day of my practical driving test, I had a lesson beforehand, just to steady my nerves and as a final chance with my driving instructor to practice and ask any questions. Going into the test centre, my anxiety was still present, but less obvious to myself. I could actually write my signature without my hand shaking all over the place. Around 40 minutes later, I finally heard the sentence, "Congratulations, you've passed". Well, to say that was a relief is a major understatement. It was like a wave of calm had just washed over me - I conquered my biggest cause of anxiety. 

My theory test was never an issue, in fact I had no trouble at all with it, yet whenever it came to doing the practical part of the driving test, I crumbled with anxiety every time. I'm pretty sure it's because the theory test has structure and routine to it, in other words, my anxious brain could cope with it. Whereas with the practical test, you never know what's going to happen and that's when I start to overthink.

Here are a few things that I found helped me to get through the test:

• Do your research - Check the GOV.UK page to see what happens during your test, you'll feel more prepared if you know what's involved on the day. The practical driving test usually includes an eyesight check, 'show me, tell me' questions and about 40 minutes of driving which involves a section of independent driving. You'll also carry out an emergency stop and one reversing manoeuvre. 
• Be as prepared as possible on the day - Have your driving license (card and paper counterpart), theory test pass certificate and appointment later ready in a poly pocket or envelope the night before, eat breakfast if you can (I couldn't), bring a bottle of water with you and get to the test centre in plenty of time so you won't feel rushed or flustered.
• Take a lesson before your test, it'll get you familiar with the car and steady your nerves.
• You don't have to tell anyone when you're doing your test, the extra pressure of people knowing won't help you.
• There's no such thing as a silly question - In fact, a good driving instructor will want you to ask questions if your unsure about anything, whether it be about general driving or the 'show me, tell me' questions.
• Take your own time and don't be bullied by other road users - If you start to feel under pressure, you'll be more likely to make a mistake
• Concentrate on your driving, not the examiner, even if he/she is writing.
• If you do make a mistake, don't panic, it could only count as a minor. No driving test is ever perfect.
• Don't feel embarrassed about being older than all the 17 year olds at the test centre, everyone learns when they feel ready.
• Don't feel disheartened if you fail, pick yourself and try again while the information is fresh.
• If a family member or friend taught you how to drive, be sure you haven't picked up their bad habits.
• You have to pay as much attention to other road users as well as your own - It's often other peoples driving that can put us off what we're doing.
• Try to treat it as a normal task - My anxious brain wanted to overthink every little thing, but your driving instructor wouldn't let you do the test if they didn't think you were ready.

I'm over the moon that I managed to pass my driving test. This may not sound like a big deal to some people, but when you have an anxious mind, driving can be the most intimidating, terrifying thing in the world. Also, my Mum bought me this little Moomin keyring around two years ago to encourage me to keep driving, so I can't wait to finally get to use it!

How was your learning to drive experience? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Congratulations on passing, that's so good! I have really struggled with driving too, and I had to move to an automatic, as I just couldn't get my head around the clutch. This is really helpful, and again, congratulations!xx

    Hannah | luxuryblush

    1. Thank you Hannah! I hope moving to an automatic made it less stressful for you!

  2. Congratulations on passing! Loving the tips here too, they would have been so helpful for me on my test day!

    Anika xo |

    1. Thank you Anika! If they help at least one person, I'll be happy!

  3. Congrats on passing! I am also a super anxious driver but I feel like my worries pushed me to prepare well and do my research about the test. I passed, too!
    These tips are really great!
    Julia | Julia in Bluhm

    1. Thank you Julia! I felt exactly the same, the more I knew, the less anxious I was. I'm so glad to hear that, congratulations!

  4. Well done on passing your driving test. It took me a couple of years to pass mine. I’m a nervous driver but having a car can give you more independence. Have a good week! :-) xx

    Helen | Helen’s Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

    1. Thank you Helen! That's what I'm hoping for anyway. Same to you!

  5. I could relate with this post so much! CONGRATS!

    xx Lisa |

  6. Congratulations! I commiserate with you and had similar feelings going into my test but I managed to pass first time round!

  7. My story was kind of similar to yours, I started taking lessons, then stopped, then started again. I don't feel great when driving, it takes all of my energy! I failed the first driving test, but I passed the second one, you can't believe how happy I was! ;)
    But since I got my driving license, I drove only once. Not great, but well... driving isn't my thing!

  8. I definitely do get stressed out by other road users driving really close or trying to push me into speeding! I've actually never taken a driving test or really tried to learn with much conviction as I live in the city but I'd like to have the skill, I just don't think it's something I'm naturally good at!

    Jasmine xx

    Jasmine Talks Beauty

    1. It really is so frustrating! At least you live in the city, I probably would have never learnt how to drive if I lived in a city!

  9. Thanks for these great tips, I am going to be starting lessons (again) soon and 100% needed this little boost to know that I am not alone! Also CONGRATS!

    Holly from The Art of Being Holly xo

    1. Thank you Holly! I'm glad it helped, best of luck to you!