Top tips to prepare for your driving test

You’ve learnt the skills, now it’s time to put them to the test – here’s how to pass the big one!

You’ve had the necessary lessons with your driving instructor and now you think you want to go for the driving test, so that you can have your motoring freedom – so here are our tips to help you get through and pass your driving test first time!


First of all, don’t try and go for your driving test after having had about four lessons. Actually, you won’t be allowed to – you need to have done at least 12 lessons and have had your learner permit for at least six months before you can schedule in a test, as part of the Essential Driver Training (EDT). But even 12 might not be enough – make sure you’re as polished as you can be as a new driver before applying for your test. One top tip is to schedule in a driving lesson for earlier in the day of your driving test, if that’s possible, so that you can ask your instructor for any final tips and guidance to get you through it. And prepare yourself as a person, too – make sure you have a good, solid night’s sleep the evening before the test and leave yourself plenty of time to get to your chosen test centre ahead of your scheduled start time, as rushing around will get you all wound up and flooded with adrenaline, which won’t help you drive well in the test itself. Make sure you take everything you need, in terms of paperwork and any other items (such as, if you need glasses to drive), with you to the test.


Seems like an odd one, this, as you might assume that you’ll just do your test at the nearest of the 49 national centres to your place of residence. But you can actually choose where you want to do your test – and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) publishes a list on its website each year of the pass rates of each and every centre in the country. In 2018, the national average pass rate was 52.49 per cent – so Clifden, way out in Galway’s Connemara region, looks like a good place to go, as it passed 72.32 per cent of its test subjects, while Raheny, a suburb of northern Dublin, gave approval to just 38.77 per cent. Why should this be so? Well, driving in busy, urban areas is more demanding and so novice drivers are more likely to get flustered and make mistakes, while driving in remote, rural regions will see less traffic and less chance of encountering an unusual situation behind the wheel. Of course, in choosing your test centre, you need to think whether you’re going to get much from trying to pass the test in an area that’s not at all representative of where you’ll be driving once you’re on your own in a car, and also of the logistics of getting to the centre in the first place – you have to provide your own car for the test, often your instructor’s vehicle, and it’s highly unlikely your teacher will want to drive all the way to Skibbereen if you live in Letterkenny. Check out the test centres’ 2018 pass rates here: You’ll also find that the city-based test centres have longer waiting times from booking to scheduling your test.


Linked to the above is the time of day and year you book your test for. If you’re a nervous driver, probably best not to book a driving test during rush hour in Dublin, and if you’re allotted such a time, maybe try and reschedule the test for a later date. If you know you’ve got other exams or work training coming up, don’t try and cram the driving test in during these periods of high stress. Try and book your test for spring or summer, or maybe even autumn; driving in atrocious conditions and/or the hours of darkness will only make what is already a challenging experience even tougher. Having said that, you must have lessons that take place in rain and dusk, so that you’re prepared for anything as a driver – don’t become a fair-weather motorist who’s only comfortable behind the wheel in dry, sunny conditions, because they are in relatively short supply…


Once you know where your test is going to be, if it’s local (and you’ve not decided to head off to pastures new for a place with a higher pass rate and shorter waiting list) then ask your driving instructor to do a few of the last of your lessons on roads around the test centre. That way, you’re more likely to be familiar with the route selected for you (at random) on the big day.


On the day of the test itself, keep calm. You are bound to make one or two mistakes during the test – even experienced drivers who have long since passed the exam still make errors in daily driving – but don’t let them dwell on your mind, or you’ll only make more slips further down the line… and these mistakes could potentially be bigger ones. Try and remember that your instructor won’t put you forward for the test until he/she thinks you’re ready, so you have the skills and the right to be at the driving test; be confident. If you don’t hear something the examiner tells you to do, ask them to repeat it – they’re not going to fail you for doing that. And don’t assume you’ve failed if you’ve made an error early in the test; keep driving to your best possible standard.