If you’re getting ready for your practical test, you’ve probably done a bit of research—looking at what happens on the day of your test and anything else you might need to know. If that’s the case, you might have found out that your driving instructor can accompany you on your driving test. This then begs the question as to whether it’s worth taking your instructor on your test or not. Ultimately, it’s all down to your own personal preferences. To help you make a decision, we’ve put together some pros and cons.
Reasons to take your instructor with you…
By the time you’re ready to take your practical test, you should be more than familiar with your driving instructor. You’ll have gone through the many ups and downs of learning to drive together—from your first car stall to driving successfully on your first roundabout to getting through the long driving test waiting times. Regardless of whether your journey was easy or not, you’ll have created a bond between yourself and your instructor. It’s because of this that you might find it reassuring to have your instructor with you on your test. Think of them as a kind of moral support—reminding you that you can do it.
② Muscle memory
How many times has your driving instructor had to remind you to do something? Whether it’s reminding you to do your last minute blind spot check or telling you not to come up on your clutch too quickly—we’ve all been there. Each time your instructor reminds you, however, it becomes muscle memory. While your instructor isn’t allowed to talk to you or give you signals during your test, their presence alone can act as a memory trigger. So, when you’re about to move off during your test, you might hear your instructor’s voice telling you—for the millionth time—to check your blind spot.
③ Good motivation
There seems to be an even divide among learner drivers and instructors regarding taking your instructor on your test. Some learners feel like their instructor serves as an additional stress factor during their test—something we’ll discuss in more detail further below. Other learners, however, use it as a way to push themselves. If you know your instructor is sat behind you watching your every move, you’ll want to do well so you don’t disappoint them. It’s also a chance to prove you’re a good driver and that they’re a good instructor.
④ Extra feedback
While we might not want to think about it, there’s always a possibility that you might fail your driving test—whether it’s due to too many minors or one particularly cringe-worthy major. As you can imagine, however, it can be difficult trying to listen to the examiner’s feedback whilst you’re reeling from the bad news. If your instructor is in the car, however, they can help you in two ways. Firstly, they can see exactly which road features tripped you up—they’ll probably have you return there in future lessons. Secondly, they can listen to the feedback of the examiner while you process the bad news.
⑤ Bonus: it helps others
While this point technically doesn’t help you, it does help other learner drivers. It can be worth taking your instructor on your test because they’ll be able to look at the types of routes and road features examiners take you on. If you trip up on a particular road feature or route, they’ll want to ensure their other students don’t make the same mistake. Essentially, if you make mistakes on your test, your instructor will use your experience to make sure their other students don’t do the same.
Reasons not to take your driving instructor…
① You might let them down
Only those who have failed their driving test know exactly how upsetting the entire process can be. You work long and hard to get to the point where both you and your instructor feel like you’re test-ready. And all it takes is one little mistake to force you to go back to the start. If that wasn’t enough to deal with, you have the added pressure of disappointing your instructor. It’s even worse if you end up messing up on something they’ve warned you against over and over again. Just remember that you don’t owe your instructor anything—and it’s not the end of the world if you fail.
② Another set of eyes
Many learners suffer from practical test day nerves. One of the reasons for nerves can be because you know that the examiner is watching your every move. It can be a lot of pressure for some people—more so if you know you’ve tripped up on something. This pressure can increase with the presence of an instructor. Why? It’s simple—it’s another set of eyes watching your every move and assessing your driving ability. That being said, you should be more than used to your instructor assessing you by the time you take your test.
③ Off-putting presence
With the examiner sitting to the left of you, your instructor has to sit on the backseat. Most learners won’t have ever driven with a passenger in the backseat, which is why it can seem a little bit strange at first. In fact, imagine how off-putting it might be to look into your rear view mirror on your test only to see your instructor watching you. It is worth mentioning however, that your instructor will try to be as minimal of a distraction as possible—they want you to pass just as much as you do.
④ Can act as a crutch
At the beginning of your driving journey, you probably waited for your instructor to tell you what to do almost 90% of the time—telling you when to accelerate and when to change gears. Nearing the end of your lessons, you’ll have gotten out of this habit. For some learners however, this confidence and skill seems to go out of the window on the day of their test. With your instructor sat in the back of the car, you might find yourself automatically looking to them for guidance. The important thing is to relax and treat your test like it’s one of your lessons.
It’s all down to you…
Ultimately, the decision rests entirely in your hands. It’s not up to your instructor or anyone else to decide. If you want your instructor to sit in with you on your test, that’s fine. If you feel like their presence might affect your driving performance negatively, then just say so—they won’t take it personally.
Just weigh up the pros and cons before you make your decision—we’ve provided a handy key list below. Make your decision well in advance of your practical test and let your instructor know.
Key pros and cons…
|Reassuring presence||You might let them down|
|Helps muscle memory||Another set of eyes|
|Helpful nudge||Off-putting in the backseat|
|Extra feedback afterwards||Can act as a crutch|
Already taken your practical? If you don’t feel your test was conducted fairly, you might have grounds to appeal your driving test.