Advantages The people at the test centre make you feel like a criminal (always wanted to know what that was like)
Disadvantages Being forced to fill out all the fields above even though they are utterly pointless
Miss Dutton-Taylor sat before me sporting her unusually large chin and attempting to intimidate me with disapproving looks. As she shook her head in disgust hypnotically swaying her Jimmy Hill/ Bruce Forsyth sized body part, I stifled a giggle that did not go unnoticed. It was at this point that I was advised not to return to Allerton Grange High to retake my A-levels and further to this, it was suggested that I take up a career in refuse collection (or something as intellectually challenging) and never darken the doors of another educational establishment.I really didn’t understand such sternness. Yes, I fell asleep during my Economics exam and was the only person in the hall, woken with a start by the enraged moderator with the paper stuck to my face. Yes, I decided to not read the questions in my English Literature exam and instead scribbled nonsensical quotes on the page from various sources that were more from episodes of ‘Blackadder’ than Shakespeare, but I thought this added to my value as a serious academic.
Admittedly, my attendance was poor (when I could be bothered to tear myself away from Richard and Judy), my behaviour during lessons was questionable and my contributions to the subject matter were normally the hilarious use of sexual innuendo and funny voices whilst reading Jane Eyre. I really didn’t see what all the fuss was about until my Dad informed me that if I didn’t pass second time around, I would be abodeless, not really a word, but he was exceptionally angry with me.Needless to say, my feelings about exams or tests of any kind fill me with an icy dread to rival naked hedgehog juggling, blindfolded. Taking my theory test, five years after my last exam seemed as futile as eating nothing but red meat to assist healthy bowel movements, but after paying sixteen bloody quid for the privilege I developed a new-found determination.
I paid (reluctantly) at my local driving school and received confirmation through the post from the DSA (or Driving Standards Agency) a couple of days later. I was advised to take all necessary documentation with me and arrive no less than fifteen minutes in advance. These instructions are essential and demonstrate not only good preparation but also good manners and so in my own inimitable fashion, I lost the letter and forgot all about it.And so the epic and utterly dull process of revision began. I had not read a thing prior to that and my only form of study was asking my driving instructor what a particular sign meant as I bounded and lurched past it (my feet are about as sensitive as a divers boot) at around ten miles per hour.
I purchased two books. The first, for the princely sum of £1.49 was the Highway Code and is as reader-friendly as the French translation of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. The second, and this is the real gem Is BSM’s own “Driving Theory Test Questions” costing the extortionate price of £4.99. I wasn’t pleased, my test had already cost £22.48 (roughly) and I hadn’t even sat the exam yet. Fuelled by my Yorkshire stinginess, my determination had mutated into anally retentive obsession.This wore off, of course and it was one week before my test, that I decided it would be wise to wipe the dust off my revision aids and actually read something. I could not believe my luck, the book not only contains 866 questions, of which 35 are asked during the test, but it also provides the reader with (and this part made me giddy) all the answers as well. Well, I couldn’t believe it; in fact I was so happy with my wise purchase that I gave myself another two days break from revision.
My advice for revision (advice that I ignored) is to read through EVERY question in the book, check your answers and any that you have answered incorrectly, highlight with a fluorescent marker and return to at a later date. This way you will know what you know, you will know what you don’t know and knowing this you will know what you need to know to know it all. Or something.So the day of the test arrived and I was as ever, ill prepared. I arrived to the test centre late (well five minutes early, but that’s ten minutes late, if you get me) with only my photo ID and no letter of confirmation or driving licence document. I entered the building nervously and took my seat in the bare, cold reception area.
Two eyes appeared from behind the bulletproof glass before me and a booming voice instructed me to remove all my clothes and prepare for the body cavity search. Okay, not really, but it was quite intimidating. I placed my possessions in the lockers provided, sat down jangling my key nervously and proceeded to read the laminated instructions left on the chair.The same booming voice beckoned me into the second reception area where I was given a thorough grilling for forgetting most of the necessary documents. Luckily, if you forget your driving document, you can sign a form to allow you to take the test, so my subconscious attempt to avoid the exam had been foiled, Scooby Doo fashion (pesky meddling kids).
The two people registering my details asked me a number of simple questions and despite my attempts to strike up an amusing conversation about Hanger 57 and secret FBI cover ups, I was ushered to another room for my test.So, here’s the serious bit. The test is in a multiple-choice format, asking question on every aspect of driving and road safety issues. The test is taken on a computer and utilises a very simple touch screen method. To pass, thirty questions of thirty-five must be correctly answered to pass and you have forty minutes to complete the test, however it is possible to go back over questions you aren’t happy with. I never do this; it is more confusing and can throw your concentration off-balance. You can have the opportunity to practice using the touch screen if you wish, an opportunity I didn’t take advantage of as I had already had a couple of practice sessions at the BSM shop.
Now, I am proud to present, my tips to exam success and following the disasters of my youth, you should probably skip right past this section.1) BE PREPARED- buy the books and if you are feeling extravagant, read them as well. Twenty minutes here and there will not kill you and will ensure that you can avoid that last-minute desperate cramming session, downing coffee and Pro Plus in a sweaty panic.
2) FOLLOW INSTUCTIONS- When it says arrive fifteen minutes early, do it, try not to misplace or dispose of confirmation letters or instructions, it’s just plain stupid. Ahem, I’ll get my coat.3) PRACTICE- Whenever you can, take advantage of friends and family and their foolish offers to test you, hearing someone else give you the answer is a great aid to memory, certainly better than reading it to yourself whilst listening to loud music to stop you from nodding off.
4) BE LOGICAL- multiple-choice exams almost always contain one stupid answer and this can help eliminate one of your options. For example;~Question 86~
See what I mean?. Most of the test questions are heavily reliant on common sense so do not despair if you don’t know the answer and use your logical brain.5) DRINK- Make sure you have consumed vast quantities of alcohol before you take your test. You may not pass, but hey, it’ll be a lot more fun than going sober.
6) READ THE QUESTION- Kind of obvious but invaluable advice. Don’t assume that the question you are reading is one that you know the answer to, read it again. Read it out loud (but quietly) if it helps, but make sure you have thoroughly understood what is required of you. Also, the questions may require more than one answer; make sure you have touched the required amount of choices before moving on, although I’m pretty sure that you will be alerted if you have not provided the appropriate number of answers.7) DON’T PANIC- Running from the test centre screaming because you didn’t know what the sign for a ring road looks like, is a little over-dramatic. Don’t worry, take a calming breath and look at the question again. I wouldn’t advise skipping a question to go back to it later, you might forget you’ve left it unanswered and those points are very valuable.
8) TAKE YOUR TIME- You have over a minute to answer each question and whilst that doesn’t appear to be a great deal at first glance, some of the questions you know, you will have read and answered within ten to fifteen seconds, easily.9) IGNORE STATEMENT FIVE- Just kidding, honest.
So I left my cubicle after submitting my answers and wiping my sweaty fingerprints from the screen and waited in the reception area for my results. The data was immediately sent to the computer and the printer next to it whirred into life. The previously stern looking moderator suddenly took on the voice and gestures of Mary Poppins and handed me my pass certificate, smiled warmly and ejected me from the building so that the poor fools about to take their test could not see her fluffy interior (ooo-err).I was so chuffed that I pinned up my certificate on the fridge and basked in the glory of my success for a couple of days. I now have two years to take and pass my driving test before my theory test becomes invalid. Thank God, I drive with all the skill and finesse of Mr Magoo in heavy fog. The certificate is not necessary to prove your success in your theory test, just a nice bit of paper to stick on your wall.
It’s a good bloody job; I lost the thing the day after.
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