Whether you are taking a training course to gain an additional category on your licence for work and career purposes, or merely to further a hobby, of course, the aim is to pass your advanced driving exam the first time.
Tips To Pass Your Advanced Driving Exam First Time
When taking your advanced driving course, you are immediately at a huge advantage. As you would have previously passed your practical test to gain your licence, you will have an accurate insight into what to expect from examiners. One of the most common causes of exam nerves is the fear of the unexpected. You can never quite anticipate how examiners will act and how they will give instructions. However, when taking your advanced driving exam, this is most definitely lessened, only a few small additional factors will be added that you may not have experienced in the past.
During your test, the main focus will remain on your driving capabilities and ability to stay safe in all situations. Practical hands-on driving will be required, along with the general ‘show me, tell me’ questions. These questions will be slightly altered to suit the vehicle-type you opt to specialise in. For example, those taking a trailer training course may be asked: “show me how to hitch a trailer securely.” Unlike a standard practical test, you may also be taken on a motorway to assess your skills, and there is likely to be a heavier focus on country roads as for advanced licence holders, these often pose the most risks.
If you are considering booking an advanced driving course or you are preparing for your exam, take a look at these top tips to make the process a little less stressful.
Focus On Observations
Observation is vital no matter the vehicle you are operating, but even more so when you upgrade to a bigger, more hazardous vehicle. If, for example, you were taking a 7.5-tonne training course, one of the first things you will need to get to grips with is the increased number of blind spots. You cannot do the general 360 observation when driving a lorry as the mirror placement is entirely different. There will be no interior mirror or back windows to use for vision; you will instead have to rely on maximised side mirrors. Putting your sole reliance on side mirrors makes it incredibly difficult to see any vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians that may be travelling behind you. Often heavy load vehicles will have a vibrant notice on the rear warning other road users of your limited visibility, recommending for them to keep a considerable distance.
Many drivers maintain a strong focus on the road ahead, and while this is incredibly important, it is also vital to ensure that you are aware of all of your surroundings, paying particular notice to more vulnerable road users. More information regarding vulnerable road users can be found on Driving Test Tips.
With the above in mind, it is imperative to ensure that you utilise every moment of your training course improving your observation skills. Regardless of the road type you are driving on or the manoeuvre you are doing, you must always ensure that you are familiarised with your surroundings. The examiner during your first driving test would have kept a careful eye out for your observation skills when spotting minors; this is the same, if not more important when it comes to your advanced driving exam. Lack of observation remains one of the biggest culprits for incurring minors and worst case scenario, a fail so always keep this at the back of your mind.
Use Feedback To Your Advantage
Your instructor is there to give you as much honest feedback as possible, so use every piece of information they give you to your advantage. During training, if you are feeling somewhat vague on your progress, always ask your instructor to provide you with updates. While your standard driving lessons may have taken place over several months, your advanced driving course will be a matter of days. The maximum advanced course duration is only three days, so it is vitally important to use this to your advantage as much as possible. Keep asking for feedback throughout your training.
Constructive criticism is often one of the most beneficial learning curves, giving you a solid goal to work towards. Once you know your weaker areas, you will know precisely where you need to work on to prepare for your test. Practice makes perfect, and the more you go over things such as manoeuvres time after time again, it will stick. The concept of feedback works just as well in regards to praise; if you know your strengths, then you can track down the process in which you managed to make it click in your head and implement this into your weaker areas.
Asking questions comes hand in hand with feedback, the more information you can gain, the more you can utilise it to your advantage. Each driver learns in different ways, and your instructor will understand this. All advanced driving courses are taught on a one-to-one basis because it means that the sole focus can be on ensuring teaching is explicitly tailored to your requirements and preferred techniques. If a particular manoeuvre or skill seems unfamiliar or tricky to you, why not ask your instructor to demonstrate it? Or ask for useful advice that helped them to pass their exam?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you feel as if it is somewhat straightforward. Your instructor would have taught tonnes of pupils in the past and would have more than likely answered every question you have in mind at least once.
Practice Uncoupling and Re-coupling
Particularly if you are taking a trailer towing training course, you will need to be fully aware of the process of uncoupling and re-coupling as it will be required to pass your exam. You must be able to prove that you can maintain full control over your trailer and can follow a strict routine quickly and safely. Your instructor will walk you through this during your training then ask you to try out the process independently.
If you’re a little unsure about any step, your instructor will be more than happy to keep practising until you feel confident enough to carry out both uncoupling and re-coupling without any guidance. During your test, your examiner will not be able to give you any advice or hints, so you must ensure that memorise the process.
For a full explanation on uncoupling and re-coupling, take a look at this guide on how to uncouple and re-couple correctly.
Understand The Theory
For many advanced driving courses such as ambulance driver training, you must also take a theory and hazard perception test before you can sit your exam, the same as you would do so in a regular driving test. This, alone will give you the perfect opportunity to understand the basics of operating a new vehicle.
There are many different helpful books, including diagrams and explanations that will help you to pass your exam first time. We suggest taking a look at the following book, How to Be A Better Driver: Advanced Driving the Essential Guide. Any spare time you have, take a browse through some of the pages to get to know the essentials of driving your new vehicle and see whether you can incorporate any of their small tips and tips to your training.
If you know that you struggle with maintaining concentration during revision or are guilty of putting it off, we strongly recommend creating a revision schedule. Allocating specific days or times that you plan to revise will help you to stick to a routine and avoid wasting time. Revision can even be done in short bursts, such as 15 minutes during your lunch break or during your commute to work in the morning on the bus or train. Many different apps can be downloaded on your mobile phone that works as a planner, allowing you to add a schedule in advance and receive reminder notifications in advance. Tom’s Guide has a great article on the best calendar apps, ranging from free to paid options.
Similarly to when taking your initial theory test, the earlier that you begin preparing, the less you will have to cram in long revision sessions that may not prove to be as effective as you had hoped.
Nail Show Me, Tell Me Questions
The number of ‘show me, tell me’ questions you have to get right to pass will differ based on which advanced driving course you take. This will be explained by your instructor when your exam approaches and they will be able to answer any necessary questions you may have.
The earlier that you make yourself aware of the possible questions you may be asked, the more time you will have to revise. Many of the questions are basic knowledge that will immediately stick on your mind, but others are likely to need a little more work. Of course, everyone learns best in different ways, but one of the proven best ways to remember answers is to rope in a family member or friend to ask you the questions in a random order, while you see how many you can get right. Once you have a good idea on the questions that you are confident with, along with those that are proving a little more of a struggle, you can then know which topics require your focus during the last few weeks before your test.
Lastly, Be Confident and Use Your Own Initiative
Examiners love when you are able to prove that you can use your own initiative and react to situations calmly. Essentially, their role is to test whether you are a positive driver who they can trust will be safe on the road and respect other road users. Be confident and have faith in yourself!