When parking your car before your test, do not back it in. I’ve heard that testers tend to think that you do this because can’t back out of a space. If you do it to get the “backing into a parking space” part of the test out of the way, don’t bother. In my road test (state of Hawaii), my test concluded with parallel parking anyway.
Schedule your test for a low-traffic time of day (if there are multiple testing offices in your area, choose a low-traffic one of those too). Less traffic = less nervousness.
Don’t run red lights to make left turns. (My friend, nervous about his test, did this. He failed.)
Stay focused and know the rules! If your road test is known to include parallel parking and 3-point turns (K-turns, Broken U turn, whatever you call it) practice these a LOT. Don’t run any stop signs! Oh, here’s a tip actually: don’t take your road test in shoes you’ve never driven in before. There is great variance in feel between sneakers and Doc Martens, for example.
If you must err, err on the side of caution (safety) however it is possible to drive too slowly thereby making yourself a road hazard!
Growing up in NYC, I never got my license till I was 19. I messed up my parallel parking the first time, but the tester gave me a second chance. Actually it was pretty funny. I do my parallel parking thing, put the car in park. The tester looks at me.
“Are you finished?” he asks.
“errrm… yup.” I answer, feeling that this is perhaps the wrong answer. He opens his passenger door, showing me that I’m more than a foot from the curb.
“This is not so good.” he says.
“Errm. nope” I answer intelligently.
“hm,” he says and considers my aging Nissan Sentra. “Does this thing have power steering?”
“no!” I say, rather excited for the first time at the Sentra’s lack thereof.
“well, try again, then.” I didn’t waste my second chance! I did a good job and passed! Wooo-hooo!
In NYC nearly everyone I knew who failed, failed on parallel parking.
Well, road tests vary in the US from state to state (I think), but here are some tips:
No matter what, always remain calm. Panicking will cost you points. A good instructor won’t allow it, and that’s good - you should never panic in a car, anyway. Try to remain calm and focus on the job at hand.
Always be aware of your surroundings. The instructor will be watching to see if you check your mirrors before pulling out. Always be aware of other cars on all sides.
Do not make small talk. The instructor will consider this as distracting.
Don’t race the car, whether out of nervousness or not. It’s not a race to see who can finish the road test first.
Make sure that the car you have is built so that the passenger can reach over and touch the brake. I’m not sure if this is still a requirement, but when I got my license in 1988 I had to get a different car for this reason. The instructor must be able to stop the car if necessary.
I went for my road test 4 times before I passed. By the end, I was a giant mass of nerves.
Attempt #1: Hand Signals
I took driver’s ed in Fla, but my road test in Boston. They didnt emphasize hand signals in my driver’s ed. We get in the car, he asks me to roll down the window and show him my signals. I freeze. Thinking back to elementary school bike safety, I remember left and right. “What about the others?” For the life of me, I couldnt remember any more. He failed me before we even left the parking lot. (FTR, the other is slow down/stop. Ive never seen it used in everyday driving)
Attempt #2: Actual Driving
My turns were shaky, and he just didnt have great confidence in me. As a last chance to save myself, he asked me to parallel park. I cant to save my life. He was really nice about it though
Attempt #3: The Application
I’d called the RMV and asked them to send me the blue application, but it never got to me. I never got a chance to stop by and pick one up beforehand. My mom and I figured we’d just go early, and fill out an application while we waited. My appointment was at 8, the RMV apparently didnt open until 9. I got the same cop who’d failed me on hand signals. He also failed me for not having an application.
Attempt #4: Different RMV
I gave up on Brockton, and went to Taunton. I got a much nicer guy. I ran over the curb while making a right turn, he chaulked it up to nervousness and let me slide. I didnt have to parallel park, and I think I was in the car for a total of 5 minutes.
In the end I paid $113 to get my license. They tack on $20 each time you fail…the cashier was laughing at me.
Biggest tip, just relax. And, make sure you know your hand signals.
Practice there. Frankly, I took Driver’s ed on a 12 lane road (Queens Blvd.) where they killl a pedestrian a month (avg over a 8 yr period, really), and Midtown isn’t as bad. Traffic is slower, and you have traffic lights at virtually all intersections. Brooklyn, IMHO, with obstructed views, stop signs on some side streets and not on the main street, etc, is the toughest place I’ve ever driven. DC and Boston were cake.
Of course, if you’re out in the back of Douglaston or some such, should be a snap. Good luck.