My UK Driving Practical Test Experience
My driving practical lessons started in October last year. It cost £31/hr. I had almost 20 lessons of 2 hrs each. I only just passed this month after 2 failed attempts in between.
The first time I knew I had failed. It was on a dual carriage way. I had been told the route to take but discovered late that I was to be on the right hand lane and I was almost approaching the roundabout. So I started indicating right to join the right lane. There was a van coming in full speed, not budging. I panicked that I was almost at the roundabout and thought if I started making way into the lane he would slow down for me. That was when my examiner did an emergency stop. The car would have crashed in on me, had he not stopped me. So I wasn't surprised to hear after the test, "unfortunately, you have not passed this time". I still cried though, being my lachrymose self.
The second one took me by surprise. I thought I was good. The examiner avoided the dual carriage way which made things easy. I went through the narrow country roads on national speed limit. I thought to myself, "this examiner is really taking it easy on me. We even had some small talk, asking about my work and if I had to go back to work that day. I thought I had done well, until I heard the bombshell. "Unfortunately... (At first I thought, why unfortunately? maybe she wants to scare me like in Who Wants To Be a Millionaire where they tell you, 'I'm sorry but that was the right answer' so as to get you to cringe initially). But this wasn't Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. "Unfortunately, you did not pass this time". I couldn't believe it. She took me round the easiest route. We even chatted. How could it be? What did I do wrong? Well, apparently, early on in the test, say 5 mins into my independent driving, I had run on 40 mph on a road with a limit of 30 mph. That was where my test ended. The rest was just to pass time. No wonder she took me through an easy route. And the small talk? Maybe she didn't want me to see her as wicked. This time I didn't cry. I was too shocked to cry. I was dumbfounded. It was very painful though. Maybe tears clouded my eyes, but I doubt they dropped.
As fate would have it, my instructor told me she could no longer take me. Reason being she was no longer going to be teaching Automatic but solely Manual. So she passed me on to someone else. At first, I felt rejected. I couldn't believe the excuse. I thought, maybe my failures were not good for her resume. But guess what? That change was exactly what I needed.
It wasn't easy. My first lesson with the new instructor was spent understanding the new car and getting used to the hypersensitive brakes. I had very short time to my next test. I was having to unlearn some methods and imbibing new methods. For example, when it came to roundabouts having 3 lanes on approach. My first instructor had taught me to always use the right hand lane when going to the 3rd exit. Which meant after the 2nd exit, I had to move into the middle lane in order to go into the 3rd exit and be on the left hand lane. My new instructor would rather I approached the roundabout in the middle lane and continue on that lane into the 3rd exit. I also had to learn new maneuver techniques and reference points. For forward bay parking, one used side mirrors for reference, the other used the inner door handle. After two lessons with the new guy, I was afraid I wouldn't pass again. I started thinking of swapping the date, except that it was too late.
The D-day came. The same lady examiner who failed me in my 2nd test was going to examine me. This time, I made sure to avoid any chitchat. I refused to smile too much. We are here for business, I thought. We passed through a route I had rehearsed with my instructor just that morning and another I did the night before. I failed my "Show me" question because although I knew how to wash my back windscreen in the previous car I used, I had no time to learn that with this new car. My bay parking maneuver wasn't perfect. At least I was in the bay, even though too much to the right. I had no clues to whether i had passsed. I could only hope I passed. Glad was I when I heard her say, "Congratulations. You've passed the test." Surprisingly, I wasn't so excited. My instructor was even happier than I was, saying, "we did it, Chidiogo". All I could do was smile and praise God in my heart. I just needed to pass this time.
My advice to you if you are just starting out learning to drive is this:
1. You need a teacher that will make you better and ensure you pass your test not the one that will make you feel good about yourself.
2. You need a teacher that will tell you the truth as it is, if it means telling you. "You are not ready for this test, you need at least 6 more hours". Not the one that will say, "I think you are okay. Just a couple more lessons you will be good".
3. You need a teacher that cannot overlook your flaws. One that stops you right there, points it out, corrects it and makes sure you get it right before proceeding to something else. Not the one that will simply say, "be careful next time".
I wish you luck as you learn. Please tell me your experiences in the comment section below. Ciao
Radiant ~ March 2019