Surviving the Stress of a Driver’s License Exam

Driving instructor and woman student in examination car

A 2013 report from CBS News said that four out of 10 driver’s license examinees fail the exam for the first time. That number changed significantly in the past six years, but failing the driver’s license exam is still a problem for many. Anxiety in taking driver’s license exams is a very serious thing, and the fact that the DMV requires an 80% rate for examinees to pass the written and practical tests causes many to fail.

The U.S. places a high standard on their drivers, and they require almost zero mistakes when someone wants to apply to be a CDL truck driver in a job opening. The U.S. driver’s license exam is quite possibly one of the hardest driver’s license tests in the world. This adds to the problem of test anxiety, and many suffer from the stress and pressure of having to pass a licensing exam before they can sit behind the wheel of their vehicle. These feelings should not stop you from trying to take the exams even if you have failed the first, second, or third time.

Prepare and Study

You don’t have to enroll in a driving school to pass the commercial driver’s licensure exam. Some agencies erroneously claim that someone who wants to pass the driver’s test will have a better chance if he enrolls in a driving school or a review center. All you need is the DMV manual and a willing licensed driver who can teach you the basics of road signs and maneuvering. Ask someone to review you before you take the written and practical exam. Preparing for the test is your best defense against stress and anxiety. When you know that you have covered all the grounds, you will feel more relaxed and comfortable.

Duplicate the Test Environment

Learning new skills allows your brains to create associations and muscle memory. This makes it easier for you to function when doing that said skill. A driver’s test environment is unfamiliar to you, and that is the reason why you get anxious about taking the exam. Create a similar environment by driving the same car that you’re going to take the test in, take the same routes that the examiner will ask you to take during the exam, and never listen to music or anything that might distract you from your goal of passing the exam with flying colors.

Keep It a Secret

The reason why you feel anxious and pressured to do well might be because you announced on Facebook that you’re taking the driver’s licensure exam. Even the most chill person on the planet will feel the pressure of doing good after letting everyone know of his plans. Keep the information to yourself and only tell a few trusted family members and peers.

Arrive at the Test Center Earlier than Your Schedule

Arriving earlier than your test schedule will allow you to calm down and sate your fears before answering the written exam or driving a car beside a driving instructor. Not only are you going to bring the anxiety of taking an exam when you arrive late; you’re also feeling the pressure of simply arriving in time for the exam. A combination of those two feelings will fail to calm your nerves. Also, make sure to set the schedule of your exam on a day when you have nothing else stressful going on in your life. You cannot set a driver’s licensure exam in the morning and meaningful work or school presentation in the afternoon. That much stress is not going to benefit either situation.

Avoid Skipping Meals and Drinking Coffee

Woman passing her driver's test and getting her driver's license

Make sure to get a good night’s sleep the day before the exam. Nothing turns our brain into much more than drowsiness and general exhaustion. That being said, coffee is not the solution if you ever find yourself feeling sleepy the morning of the driver’s test. Coffee will fray our nerves more. Just grab a sandwich and a full glass of water or juice, and you’ll be fine. Skipping meals is a no-no, too, since you don’t want to feel cranky and hungry while driving around with the instructor.

The key to battling nerves during big exams is to bring positive energy with you. Surround yourself with people who will boost your confidence and help you prepare for the licensure test. Avoid negative feelings of failure and give yourself affirmation that you will be able to pass the exam.