This article is intended to offer help and guidance for individuals who maybe preparing for their practical driving test and whose first language is other than English. Having been a driving instructor for over a decade I can without reservation say that the number one reason why students are unsuccessful in their practical car test is down to a sheer lack of preparation.
Often unsuccessful candidates have demonstrated poor knowledge of what standard is actually required to successfully pass the practical driving test. This combined with the inevitable nervous disposition that over takes even the unshakable of candidates on the day of the exam sets the scene for a disappointing outcome.
On average about 47 hours of professional training combined with 20 hours of private practice is needed to meet the required standard. Some candidates do not get anywhere near as many hours before they elect to be in a test situation. The simple solution to this problem comes with the phrase "practice makes perfect". My advice accordingly is to get as much practice with both your instructor and with friends or family before sitting the actual test.
Sufficient practice will allow the candidate to be prepared for common eventualities when carrying out general driving or manoeuvres. Practice also increases ones confidence thus helping break down pre exam tension. A great way is to undertake as many mock or simulated tests with your driving instructor before the day of the actual exam.
Many instructors will repeatedly take candidates down known tests routes in a bid to familiarise them with one of a number possible routes chosen by the examiner on the day of the test. Although tests routes should be practiced, this should be left towards the end of a structured tuition programme. Since the introduction of independent driving from 4 October 2010 practical test candidates will be required to drive for about 10 minutes without step-by-step direction from the examiner. This makes it all the more important that candidates are confident in their ability to drive on routes that they have not repeatedly practiced.
It is important to also understand what's actually required of the candidate on the day of the exam and how the test is actually marked. Ask your instructor for a copy of the driving test report (DL25C). Alternatively you can easily download a copy from the web. The test report is self-explanatory but requires an indepth analysis to fully grasp what the examiner is testing and how it should be demonstrated.
Having worked with candidates from diverse backgrounds whose first language was not English I discovered that on average these candidates required between thirty to fifty percent more paid tuition then the average English speaker. This had absolutely nothing to do with their intellectual ability but more a case of an inability to communicate effectively with their instructors or vice versa.
Imagine if English was your first language and you were required to sit your driving test in Russian? Clearly this would pose a challenge to even the bravest of candidates. It is thus very important for people falling within this group to find an instructor whom they can communicate effectively with and feel comfortable in their presence. Your instructor should understand your individual needs and be prepared to tailor their tuition to meet your requirements.