10 Tips to Boost Your Driving Test Pass Rates!

Driving Test Pass Rate - boost-your-pass-rate“Hi, Ged & Claire.  Like most ADIs, I really enjoy all your articles and posts, so keep it up! I was, however, wondering if you could offer some advice on improving driving test pass rates…

I’m scratching my head at the moment: I qualified a little under a year ago and started very positively with my pass rate – 8 out of the first 10! However, of late, I have had several unsuccessful attempts in a row. I prepare all learners in exactly the same way, and always ensure they pass a mock test before booking a real one. I am slightly concerned for my reputation, both with learners and with examiners, and am working hard to arrest the slide. Is it my fault? The learner’s? Or are peaks and troughs like this normal? Any advice would be appreciated, as I’m sure I’m not the only one who stresses about their pass rate!”

Well, first, what an achievement. 8 out your first 10 tests passed – that’s great! My first ever learner to test failed, and it was an awful feeling. Yes, peaks and troughs are normal and I’m sure many excellent instructors have had their fair share of ‘bad runs’. No matter how good we are, expecting to have a 100%  test pass rate is unrealistic. We can, however, do everything we can to improve. It’s worth mentioning that this is no one’s fault or failure. You’re just learning from experience. After all, a FAIL is just the ‘First Attempt In Learning’ and if they do fail it’s not a matter of life and death. To put it into perspective, it’s just a test! And they can take it again until they do pass. 

How to Improve Driving Test Pass Rates

10 Top Tips which I hope you will find useful in improving your driving test pass rate.

Tip 1 – Monitor

magnifying-glassIf you want to know what you’re good at and what you could improve on, measure your results. Taking a photo of the driving test report or copying a test report onto a blank one will allow you to keep records of what your learners are picking up faults on. Is there a trend? When I did this, I found that I was getting quite a few driver faults on mirrors, including the odd serious one. I decided to remove my eye mirror, and the learners became aware of when I was watching them. This prepared them for being watched by the examiner, and also became a subliminal prompt. After that, my mirror faults decreased significantly!

Tip 2 – Shut up (in the nicest possible way!)

quietThis has always been a particular challenge for me.  Even on ‘mock’ tests, and certainly in the lessons on the run up to the test, it’s easy to overlook how much help you are actually giving your learners. Getting them used to total independence for set periods of time will not only prepare them for the test conditions, but also give you insight into how much you actually help them without thinking about it!

Tip 3 – Use records

A common question after around 8 lessons is, ‘When can I book my test?!’ If you use records, it’s much easier to show the learner what they need to be able to do BEFORE they book their test and what standard they need to reach for all the topics listed. ‘When you have covered all these topics and can do them without my help, shall we crack on and get that driving test passed?’

Tip 4 – Syllabus

Sounds simple, but do make sure your learner can deal with everything required for the test and much more! Allow your learners to experience a wide variety of areas, types of road and traffic situations – the more variety, the better. They will become better all-round drivers, and much more capable of dealing with situations on their test. That said, if there are any tricky bits or junctions where ‘local knowledge’ is needed on test routes, it’s best to make sure they can deal with them confidently, too.

To download a copy of the DVSA’s ‘Safe and Responsible Driving Syllabus’, click here.

noTip 5 – Say NO!

We have all had the learner who books a test when you know you have more chance of winning the lottery than getting a pass from them. Some learners deteriorate after booking the test, some come to us with a test already booked. If they’re not ready, say NO and stick to your guns. It’s your car, and your reputation. If they can’t meet the requirements for the test, don’t take them. Make sure your terms and conditions cover this.

Tip 6 – Pick the best time

Some people work best in the morning, some in the afternoon. Find out what works best for your learner and book a test to suit. I also used to avoid the rush hour test times and the school kicking-out times. The kids from the school round the corner from my local test centre used to play ‘chicken’ with learners: not great when your learner is already under a lot of stress!

Tip 7 – Does your learner feel ready?

Irrespective how how ready YOU think they are, confidence in their own ability will help your learners deal with test day nerves. If they don’t want to do their test just yet, let them decide when they do want to do it. What do they want to achieve before they take their test? Can you help them achieve that first? Having goals will help create a sense of confidence. ‘When I can do Manchester Street roundabout, I know I will be able to deal with anything on my test’.

woman-biting-wheel2Top 8 – Deal with test day ‘nerves’

Learners will naturally have some degree of nervousness on their test day. What helps them relax? Is there relaxing music that they can listen to before the test? Do they need a cigarette (assuming they smoke, of course!)? Accommodate their needs and make sure you allow sufficient time to do so. Some won’t want to drive beforehand. If that’s what works for them, then great. Learn some basic breathing techniques to help them relax. Make them laugh. Encourage them to have a brisk walk to the end of the street and back. Have some Rescue Remedy in the car, even if you don’t believe it works. If they think it will, then it will! Ask them to tell you again what passing the test will give them. Motivation is a powerful force!

Tip 9 – Eliminate negative language and self-talk

Be positive, and encourage your learners to do the same. This applies not only to the test day but also to the days leading up to it. Those who have trained with me will know that ‘if’ is banned in my car, as is ‘hopefully’. They are equal to swear words! ‘If I pass my test’ becomes ‘WHEN I pass my test’ and ‘Hopefully I’ll do it’ becomes ‘I WILL do it’.

Also, be aware of and eliminate any negative body language. Walk to the test centre with your learner proudly, smile and say ‘hello’ to your fellow colleagues and the examiners. Present a positive environment to your learner (even if you have to fake it!) 😉


Tip 10 – Be positive about all the examiners

Learners are influenced by what their mates tell them. ‘I hear one of the examiners never passes anyone there’. A simple reframe will quell any fears. ‘Really? I have an 80% test pass rate with him!’ People see what they expect to see. It’s much more useful for your learner to go in thinking that the examiners are all nice and looking to give out a pass than to believe they’re all evil and waiting for the chance to fail them – which, of course, they aren’t 😉

down arrowHave you any further advice that you would like to share?  What has helped you improve your driving test pass rate?

Please let us know in the comments below.

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