According to a recent report, the average pass rate for restricted licences in New Zealand was 58%. Due to the low pass rate, sitting your restricted test can be daunting. Follow these tips to make sure you pass the first time.

1. Understand the layout of the test.

Prepare yourself by familiarising yourself with the different parts of the test. During the test, you will most likely be expected to do the following:

Stage 1:

  • Left and right turns at intersections and traffic lights.
  • Changing lanes on a multi-lane road.
  • Performing a reverse parallel park.

Stage 2:

  • Going straight through a roundabout. (indicate left as you are exiting the roundabout).
  • Turning right at a roundabout. (indicate right, then left as you exit the roundabout).
  • Turning left, right and going straight at intersections.
  • Driving at zones that reach up to 80km/h.
  • Changing lanes to perform a left/right turn. (indicate for three seconds, check your blind spots then change lanes).
  • Merging (be sure to indicate).


2. Take a defensive driving course.

According to AA, drivers who have taken a defensive driving course are 10 percent more likely to pass their restricted test. A defensive driving course will teach you the necessary skills to drive safely. Taking a defensive driving course will also allow you to sit your full licence 6 months earlier.


3. Check your blind spots.

When you change lanes, merge or emerge from a park, your instructor will expect you to check your blind spots. A blind spot is an area that you cannot see with the assistance of your car’s mirrors.

If you are turning right, look over your shoulder and out the back-right window. If you are turning left, look over your shoulder and out the back-left window.

There is a specific procedure you should follow when changing lanes:

  1. Indicate for three seconds. Use this three seconds to check your immediate surroundings and look out your back and side mirrors.
  2. Look over your shoulder and check your blind spot.
  3. Smoothly make the turn into the lane.


4. Ace your parallel park.

You will need to perform a reverse parallel park without hitting the kerb. There may be one car in front of you, but your instructor won’t make you park between two cars. Follow these steps to perform a perfect parallel park:

  1. Drive your car forward so that it is inline with the vehicle you will be parking behind.
  2. Indicate left for three seconds.
  3. Turn your wheel as far left as it goes and slowly start reversing. Be sure to check your mirrors and blind spots.
  4. When your left mirror is in line with the other car’s back window, slowly release the wheel so that you are reversing straight.
  5. As your car approaches the rear bumper of the other car, stop and turn your wheel hard right.
  6. Reverse into the park, keeping an eye on your left mirror. Use this mirror to gauge how close you are to the kerb.
  7. Once you are in the park, straighten your vehicle up by driving forward (if necessary).


5. Stay calm.

Taking a calm approach to your restricted driving test will not only help you, but it will also give your instructor confidence in your driving ability.

Remaining calm is definitely easier said than done, but if you have prepared yourself for the test, this calmness should come naturally.


6. Book a driving lesson.

Booking a few driving lessons will significantly increase your chances of passing. Your driving tutor will understand the requirements of the restricted licence test and be able to give you tips on what you need to improve on in order to pass.


7. If you fail, don’t be discouraged.

Failing your restricted test is nothing to be ashamed of. Almost half of the applicants fail their first time.

Your instructor will give you a form which details what you need to work on. Use this form to prepare yourself for next time.


Additional tips:

  • When performing a three-point turn, be sure to indicate.
  • If you have to drive around a cul-de-sac, you should also indicate right. This is considered a U-turn.
  • Stick to the speed limit at all times.
  • Look at your left and right mirrors regularly, not just your rear view mirrors.
  • Be polite to your instructor.