A career on the open road as an HGV driver can be an incredible thing. It’s an opportunity to earn an amazing income, in a fulfilling landscape, with endless freedom. It’s also easier to access than most people realise, as there are no degrees or qualifications required to be an HGV driver.
However, before you sit behind the wheel of one of these hefty vehicles, you will need to pass a series of tests. The good news is that your HGV training instructor should provide you with all the guidance and skills you need to ace your exams. The bad news is you’re likely to still have some nerves when it comes to showcasing your knowledge in a practical situation.
Fortunately, we have some great tips to help.
What is the HGV Driving Test?
Passing your HGV test with flying colours starts with knowing what to expect. To hit the road as an HGV driver, you’ll need to pass 5 tests in total, split into four sections. The first two sections cover the theory part of your knowledge, and require some study. It’s worth dedicating plenty of time to reviewing the details in your handbooks, and taking practice exams.
The second half of the test is where you showcase your practical knowledge. In the third part of the Driver CPC, you’re tested on three things: practical road driving, vehicle safety, and off-road exercises. In the fourth part, you’ll need to demonstrate more of your abilities to reduce risks, assess emergency situations, and load/unload your vehicle in a practical demonstration.
During your official driving test, your examiner will be looking for evidence that you know how to do all of the following things correctly:
- Use your signals
- Look in your mirrors
- Control the vehicle
- Move away from the curb up or downhill
- Demonstrate awareness and anticipation
- Deal with hazards
- Make stops in a controlled manner
- Find safe places to stop
- Control your speed
- Reverse into a parking pay
- Upcouple/couple a trailer (if applicable)
How to Prepare for Your Practical Test
If you choose to work with a national HGV training provider to prepare for your test, you should gain all the skills and guidance you need to succeed. Your local trainer will work with you to ensure you can pass both your theory and practical exams with flying colours. However, it’s still worth having a plan for how you’re going to handle the day of your driving exam.
Before you go for your test:
- Double-check the details: You can book a CPC practical test with the DVSA, or with a private test provider. Your instructor will be able to help you choose the right option. To take your test, you’ll need to take your theory test certificate with you, and you may have to supply your own HGV if it’s not provided for you, so double check this before you go.
- Plan the day: Plan the big day in advance by figuring out your route to the test location, and making sure you know how long it’s going to take to get there. Ensure you have all of your documentation ready to take with you, and check the weather forecast. If possible, it’s worth planning to get there a little earlier than necessary, just in case something goes wrong.
- Get plenty of practice: For both your theory and practical exam, practice is key. You can take practice exams for your theory online, and even ask your instructor to test you in “mock test” situations when you’re on the road. Make sure you take as many lessons as you need to develop your skills and confidence before you dive in.
- Get enough rest: It can be hard to get a great night’s sleep on the evening before a test, particularly if you’re nervous. But a well-rested mind and body will help you to stay focused. Ensure you go to bed early, and avoid drinking too much caffeine on the way to your test location. Caffeine can often lead to nerves and jitter.
- Dress for success: Your driving test isn’t the time to show off your great sense of style. The clothes you wear need to be practical and comfortable. Avoid anything that restricts your movements, and make sure you’re going to be warm enough. Focus on finding the ideal shoes to give you plenty of traction on the pedals.
How to Improve Your Chances of Success During the Test
Preparing for your test is half the battle. Once you’ve properly planned and gotten ready for the day, all that’s left to do is show off your skills. It’s worth taking an extra lesson with your instructor the day before your test if you can, just to help build your confidence levels. Once you arrive for your exam, remember to do the following:
- Get rid of distractions: It should go without saying that you shouldn’t have your phone on you during your driving test, but it’s worth turning it off completely so it’s not buzzing and distracting you. It’s also a good idea to remove any other sources of distraction, like a bulky jacket, or extra coins and keys in your pockets.
- Be anticipatory: Your examiner will be looking for evidence that you can anticipate road conditions and react accordingly. Practice shifting between gears before your exam, and make sure you start slowing down to stop early, if you need to.
- Know your blind spots: Blind spots can be a big problem for HGV drivers, so it’s important to check them before you pull out from a parking position. Look over your shoulder to check for cyclist, and consider taking your seatbelt off (temporarily) if you need to check behind you when you’re reversing.
- Remember your mirrors: Not checking your mirrors enough can be a common problem in a driving test. Make it obvious to your instructor that you’re looking in all of your mirrors regularly, particularly when you’re performing manoeuvres. This will reduce your risk of being marked down for any major mistakes.
- Keep calm: You can make up to 15 minor errors in your test before you fail, but only 1 major mistake. With this in mind, don’t let the little mistakes get to you. If you do something wrong, brush it off and continue driving as normal. If you still fail your test, ask your examiner for guidance on what you can improve.
You’ve Got This
Passing your HGV driving test can seem like a major challenge at first. However, you should already have all the skills and knowledge you need to ace your exam before the big day, particularly if you’re getting support from the right training provider.
Improve your chances of passing your test the first time around by contacting the HGV Training team today. We’ll make sure you have everything you need to succeed.