Tips for passing your driving test in Singapore
Seat belt? Check. Mirrors in the right position? Check. Okay…now what? Taking a driving test couldn’t get more nerve wracking, and it’s not difficult to freak out when you see the examiner shake their head or scribble non-stop on your scoresheet.
Just to help ease the stress a little, we’ve got some unofficial tips you can use to score points with the tester - and we don’t mean demerit ones.
1. Take your test after booking out from camp
Boys serving National Service, you’re in luck. Getting your driving license settled during your 2 yearsin NS might be of help, especially if you happen to wear your uniform during your practical test. Some testers have been known to be more lenient to NSFs who take time off for driving lessons, whether because the uniform reminds them of their own kids, or because they're funding their license with the little allowance they're getting from NS.
2. Exaggerate actions when checking mirrors and blind spots
It’s definitely not something you’ll do when you’re driving IRL, but for the sake of clinching your passing slip, make your actions super obvious. Whether you’re checking the rear mirror or for blind spots, turn your head over like a parrot would so the tester can’t fault you for not turning enough. Shout “Check!” every time you do so for extra confirmation, so your entire checking process is made fully aware to the tester too.
You might feel silly doing this, but you’d want to minimise opportunities for the tester to call you out for any possible mistake.
3. Pick a strategic timing and location for your test
Empty roads at Woodlands in the mornings
Image credit: Google Maps
Most places like Ubi and Bukit Batok have highly congested roads that will keep the faint-hearted on edge for the entire test duration - especially during peak hours. Be strategic when booking your test date and timing - early morning test slots let you make use of bus lanes, so you don’t have to worry about avoiding them. And with less cars during off-peak hours, changing lanes will also be less of a hassle.
Or choose to take your driving test at non-mainstream centres like the Singapore Safety Driving Center (SSDC) in Woodlands. It’s near industrial parks so the traffic flow is usually low.
4. Jam the emergency brake super hard when they call for it
It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry, especially in the possibility of an accident. There’s always the small tap on the dashboard to signal the jam break test, and when that happens, make it obvious. Just in case the tester can’t tell the difference between that, and a “normal” brake.
5. Be IN the waiting room, not outside it
Making a good first impression with punctuality counts, and will pave a good start to your test. It definitely makes a difference to be in the waiting room early. Keyword: in. I’ve had friends wait outside and have the tester rage at them for not waiting inside. Yikes.
6. Switch off your handphone to avoid distractions
Image credit: Shape Soul
You already know that picking up your phone while driving is a no-go, but it would be best to keep it completely switched off during the duration of the test. You’ll never know when it might ring or create an uncomfortable series of vibrations - distracting both yourself and your examiner.
7. Keep away from taxis
Image credit: @evilcarebeary
Even with years of driving experience, the speed at which taxis race at and their unpredictability can be scary. Some taxi drivers tend to neglect signalling when picking up passengers, and from what a taxi driver himself told me, unfortunately many are “reckless and don’t care if you pass or fail".
8. Greet the tester and be polite throughout
This might seem like a no-brainer, but on the big day, many get anxious and forget to greet their examiner. Even though the test can be as short as half an hour, it’ll probably feel like the longest 30 minutes in your life. So make a good impression! Be polite, bubbly and most importantly, smile - it’s better to brighten the mood than to dampen it.
Choosing between auto vs manual, and driving school vs private instructor
If you want to get a license ASAP and aren’t particular about car transmissions, learning how to drive an automatic car is much easier. Especially since most cars are automated nowadays, you won’t need a manual license unless you’re planning to travel to Europe any time soon.
There are also more things to consider when taking driving lessons. If you’re a little more kiasu, opting for lessons with a school might be a better option as the passing rate is higher - because they need to meet a passing quota. But if you’re a fast learner and can get it settled with minimal lessons, being a private candidate will save you quite a bit of money.
Hacks for scoring better on your practical driving test
These tips aren’t foolproof, and passing the driving test is of course still based on what you’ve learnt, being safe and following traffic rules. Soon enough you’ll be on your way to collecting that long-awaited card in the mail and purchasing those neon triangle plates. Good luck!