How to prepare your learners for a driving test, and Mindfulness for driving instructors

Published on 1 June 2023 at 16:36

Rethinking Driving Test Preparation: Focusing on Safe Driving Behaviours



Preparing for a driving test is a crucial milestone for aspiring drivers. However, the approach to driving test preparation has often been focused on passing the test rather than developing safe driving skills for life. In a thought-provoking podcast conversation between Bob and Terry, they discuss the need for a shift in perspective and highlight the importance of preparing learners for real-world driving scenarios. This blog post explores their insights and emphasizes the significance of decision-making and behaviour in driving tests.


Understanding the Driving Test:

Bob and Terry shed light on the misconceptions surrounding driving tests. They challenge the notion that passing the test is solely about avoiding mistakes. Instead, they emphasize that the key focus should be on safe driving practices and not just on the examination itself. Learners need to understand that their readiness for the test is determined by their ability to drive safely and not solely by their test performance.


Mock Tests and Test Scenarios:

To better prepare learners for the driving test, Bob suggests a different approach to mock tests. Rather than relying solely on their driving instructor, he proposes involving another instructor and their pupil in a mock test scenario. This test would simulate real test conditions where a stranger acts as an examiner, providing route directions like a bingo caller. By exposing learners to these test scenarios, they can better understand the pressure and expectations they will face during the actual driving test.


The DVSA's Marking Criteria:

Bob highlights the importance of understanding how driving examiners mark tests. He explains that examiners have a set of expected outcomes for each situation they assess. The examiners evaluate whether the driver's behaviour deviates from the expected norm and to what extent. This evaluation includes assessing if any legal requirements are breached and determining the severity of the deviation, categorizing it as a driver fault, serious fault, or dangerous fault. The DVSA provides examples and guidelines for these marking criteria, offering valuable insights for conducting mock tests accurately.


Moving Away from Fault-Focused Training:

Bob and Terry emphasize the need to shift the focus from fault-focused training to decision-making and behaviour. Rather than teaching learners specific behaviours to replicate, instructors should engage in conversations to understand their thought processes. By asking learners how they make decisions at various driving scenarios, instructors can guide them to analyse their choices and consider factors such as space, time, and potential risks. This approach helps learners develop their decision-making skills, enabling them to navigate real-world driving situations effectively.


Encouraging Learner Independence and Self-discovery:

Instructors should empower learners to develop their own driving strategies and solutions. Bob shares an example of a learner named Danielle, whom he guided without giving specific instructions. Instead, he facilitated discussions and encouraged her to think critically about her driving choices. This approach allowed Danielle to internalize safe driving behaviours, making them a part of her driving instinct rather than something to remember consciously.



Preparing for a driving test goes beyond memorizing rules and manoeuvres. It requires a deeper focus on safe driving behaviours, decision-making, and understanding real-world scenarios. By shifting the training paradigm towards conversations and self-discovery, instructors can equip learners with the necessary skills to drive safely, both during the test and in their future driving endeavours. Ultimately, the goal should be to ensure that drivers are ready to share the road responsibly and confidently.


Helping Driving Instructors Overcome Anxiety in Standards Checks




The journey to becoming a driving instructor is a challenging yet rewarding one. After countless hours of training, teaching learners, and honing their skills, driving instructors face a crucial milestone in their career—the standards check. This evaluation can sometimes trigger anxiety and stress among even the most experienced instructors. In this blog, we'll delve into a podcast conversation between Terry and San, where they discuss strategies to help driving instructors overcome their anxiety and excel in standards checks.


Understanding the Standards Check:


The standards check is an assessment conducted by the governing body of driving instructors to ensure that they maintain high teaching standards. It evaluates the instructor's teaching ability across various criteria, such as lesson planning, risk management, and instructor-pupil relationship. While it is a necessary evaluation to ensure quality teaching, it can often induce anxiety in driving instructors.


Identifying Sources of Anxiety:


During the podcast conversation, Terry and San shed light on the underlying sources of anxiety among driving instructors. They acknowledged that fear of being judged, concern about making mistakes, and pressure to perform well are common triggers of anxiety in standards checks. Moreover, the anticipation of being observed and evaluated by an examiner adds to the stress.


Strategies to Overcome Anxiety:


Preparation is Key:

Both Terry and San emphasized the importance of thorough preparation. Developing a detailed lesson plan, focusing on the key competencies, and practicing various teaching techniques are essential steps in preparing for a standards check. By investing time in preparation, instructors can boost their confidence and reduce anxiety.


Mock Standards Checks:

To simulate the actual standards check experience, instructors can arrange mock assessments with their peers or mentors. This exercise helps identify areas of improvement and provides valuable feedback. Mock checks also help in acclimatizing instructors to the observation and evaluation process, making them more comfortable during the real assessment.


Deep Breathing and Relaxation Techniques:

Terry and San discussed the significance of managing anxiety through relaxation techniques. Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization techniques can help calm the mind and body. Incorporating these practices into the daily routine can assist instructors in maintaining a relaxed state during the standards check.


Positive Self-Talk and Mindset:

Developing a positive mindset plays a vital role in overcoming anxiety. Instructors should replace negative self-talk with positive affirmations and remind themselves of their accomplishments and capabilities. Engaging in positive self-talk helps build confidence, reduces anxiety, and fosters a positive attitude towards the standards check.


Seeking Support:

Both Terry and San emphasized the importance of seeking support from fellow driving instructors or mentors who have undergone standards checks themselves. Sharing experiences, concerns, and strategies for success can provide invaluable guidance and reassurance. Additionally, professional organizations and online forums offer platforms for instructors to connect, share knowledge, and seek support.


Continued Professional Development:

Engaging in continuous professional development helps instructors stay updated with the latest teaching methodologies and regulations. Attending workshops, training programs, and conferences not only enhances knowledge and skills but also boosts confidence and self-assurance. The more informed and prepared instructors are, the less anxiety they experience during the standards check.




The standards check is a significant evaluation that driving instructors face in their careers. While anxiety is natural, it should not hinder their ability to demonstrate their teaching prowess. By implementing strategies such as thorough preparation, mock assessments, relaxation techniques, positive self-talk, seeking support, and investing in professional development, driving instructors can overcome anxiety and excel in their standards checks.


Remember, the standards check is not just an evaluation but an opportunity for growth. With the right mindset, preparation, and support, driving instructors can embrace the challenge, showcase their teaching skills, and continue to make a positive impact on learner drivers. 

Here's the resources discussed on the show:

Add comment


There are no comments yet.