Practical Driving Test tips
For aspiring Singaporean drivers
I took tons of private classes when I was 20 and passed my practical test at UBI(ComfortDelgro) just before I enlisted into the army. Long story short, I spent a total amount of $1300+- on tests alone. I passed it on my fourth test. ( It hurts to say it every time ).
Upon taking the test, I couldn’t find much advice online as most of the tips given were too general in my opinion or they are more applicable to overseas licenses. To put that $1300 to good use, here are some tips I’ve learned from my first 3 failures so that YOU the reader will avoid them when taking the dreaded practical test. I’ve added some useful tips inside as well and organized them into three phases for better clarity.
Learning Phase ( After BTT )
- Booked FTT Straight after passing BTT
- FTT usually requires a waiting time of 2 months in advance. Use this period to start on practical lessons!
- When you started driving, you can apply what you learned in practical lessons to FTT. Terms such as “Free-Wheeling” and “Neutral Gear” won’t seem alien to you will have a better understanding of how a car works.
2. Rush into booking the first test
I failed my first test as I rushed into booking my first test with the mindset that I’ll be more motivated if the test date is nearer. Give yourself ample time to learn and learn it at a comfortable pace. $315(cost of a test) is a big sum. Go for the test once you’re feeling confident and if your instructor says you’re ready.
3. Ensure the instructor goes through the test routes with you
Certain test routes are really tricky, especially with the lanes and bends. You may end up going into the KPE ( Instant failure ) or making unnecessary mistakes once you missed out on these details. Go through a trial test on these test routes with your instructor and note down the mistakes you made.
4. Treat the practice seriously as if you’re in a test.
Develop good habits from the start such as the checking of blind spots when switching lanes, parking, and approaching bends. In the circuit, get tips from your instructor on how to secure solid parallel parking or “change in direction” and constantly practice them. Once it becomes muscle memory, it will be easier for you to execute it in a tense situation such as the practical test.
5. Stick to a certain model of the car throughout
I’ve heard stories from my friends on having to drive a different car ( applicable to private students ) mid-way during their lessons with the instructor. The clutch pedal may be more sensitive in certain models compared to other model vehicles. Ensure you stick to the same model throughout to ensure you are familiar with how the car works. If you have to change tester midway due to whatever reasons, find a new tester with preferably a same/similar model.
6. Practice 1 time to 4 times a week.
The optimal time to practice a week will be once to 4 times(alternate days). Less than once a week will be insufficient as you may forget what you learned previously. On the other hand, practicing too much in a week is unproductive in my opinion as you’ll need time to absorb what you’ve learned and also give yourself some rest. It’s important to start off every lesson feeling fresh and motivated. To ensure this, make sure you plan your schedule well such that your other commitments won’t hinder your progress.
7. Start practicing circuit at least a month before your first test
Circuit training is really important as most demerit points are usually accumulated here. Ensure you have sufficient practice in it especially on the areas you’re weak in and pay attention to the details of each station.
DURING THE TEST
1. Check Blind Spots ( Be obvious )
There’s a term in the army to describe any form of bootlicking actions and intents. That’s right, “Wayang” goes a long way in practical examinations. Checking blind spots is always important but for the sake of the practical test, make sure you exaggerate your actions when checking your blind spots to prevent unnecessary point deductions. I got penalized heavily for not turning looking back when I was at the parallel parking segment. When doing right/left turns at traffic lights, pedestrian congested areas, and changing lanes, make sure you sell your actions like you mean it.
2. Be confident (image counts)
I still remember how nervous I was the first time I took my test. Despite numerous amount of practice, I accumulated a total of 26 points inside the circuit ( I struck the Kerb twice ). It is normal to experience that level of anxiety, especially for private students. To cater to this, try to imagine that you’re driving a loved one of yours or a long time friend. Not all testers/instructors are mean or fierce as you think they are.
3. Book at a time slot with less traffic
Avoid peak hours and bus lane timings (Written below) as you will find yourself in more stressful situations on top of the added pressure of the practical test.
Bus lane timings (Normal Bus Lanes) :
Mon — Fri 7.30am — 9.30am , 5pm- 8pm
4. Great control of the gear/clutch
For manual car trainees, ensure that you adopt the proper techniques of handling the clutch pedal and switching gears. Make sure the transition from gear is to gear is smooth and fast as it is compulsory to engage the 4th gear during the test. Make sure you switching to gear 4 along the test routes during lessons with your driving instructor.
In the circuit, I have a tendency to ride the clutch. I’ll tend to keep the clutch partially disengaged/half released and my brakes completely pressed so that the car is in a mode of vibration but it will still remain stationary as the brakes are being engaged. It soon became a habit and I was told by my tester that I have adopted the wrong method. To cater to this, make sure to brake and shift into neutral gear which eliminates any wear on the throw-out bearing when engaging the clutch pedal.
AFTER THE TEST
A big congratulations to you if you have passed the test on your first try but for those who didn't, don’t be disappointed and take it as an investment on a mock test for your next practical test.
If you’re feeling confident and you are clearly aware of your mistakes, you can opt to retake your test just after one refresher lesson.
I hope this post has assisted you in some way in the pursuit of that long-awaited license. Do comment below or drop me a message if there’s anything I left out. I wish you all the best!