The Driving Test as a Pressure Test

The Driving Test as a Pressure Test


Seeing the driving test as a pressure test is yet another way of looking at things. Your pupil drives beautifully with you. In a week full of tests they are your banker. By now all this sounds so familiar I do not have to say what happens next. We have all been there. I used to think that they were in love with me and did not want to leave. That was till I caught sight of myself in a mirror. My wife normally keeps them covered in case I get upset. 


It can be said in “nervous veritas” which is latin for “in nerves the truth”. It’s even worse when they come back the examiner glares at you and storms off. Your pupil has more serious faults than a shark has teeth. So where did it all go wrong?


There can be many different reasons for this. But underlying all this is anxiety about the test itself. What the test is doing is seeing what your pupils’ working knowledge is like. Is it in the neural pathways of their brain. Has it become muscle memory. We know they go through eventually. And sometimes it takes a while to become ingrained. 


There are other ways of describing this. Has their driving become unconscious competence. Are they able to relax enough to think about where they are going rather than how they are driving. When most people describe unconscious competence, they use driving as the analogy. It is done without thinking. As driving instructors, writing can be the metaphor to use. If you are thinking about how to write rather than what you are writing, you are still learning to write. 


They will go through stages of readiness and your pupil is comfortable:

  • With you in an area they know
  • With you in an area they do not know
  • With a stranger in an area they do not know

And like it or not, on a driving test they will be with a stranger driving in areas that they will probably not know. Being successful doing that they will then be able to drive on any public road in the country in anything up to 3.5 Tonne. 


What to take away from this:

  • Sometimes it can be just nerves
  • More practice equals less nerves
  • Use some of the many fine stress busting techniques you have read about in this magazine