Category Archives: Driving Lessons

Clare,s advice DON’T give up!

Clare Devitt  To the nervous learner

As I am approaching the 12 month mark since I passed my test, I wanted to share my story especially for the nervous learner….

I started my lessons st age 39 and booking my first one thought, ‘I’ll have this passed in time for my 40th birthday!’
It wasn’t to be as I became nervous in a way I’ve never experienced before and struggled through many many lessons with 2 instructors and 6 (Yes, 6) tests and 4 years later I finally admitted defeat and thought I might as well go and get a life long mega rider. The problem was, you see, I couldn’t manage my nerves on test day and though the lessons would get easier and I knew I could drive I fell apart on the test. A few months went by and I pondered the fact I’d spent so much money perusing this crazy plan I ought to give it another try. I’d bumped into John my neighbour and I told him all about my struggles… he reckoned he could help me and get me through to passing my test. After all the time and money I’d spent I decided I’d take my time and not set unrealistic goals ie I’ll pass my birthday/christmas/summer etc .

I had lots of lessons with John, and his patience amd kindness was never ending. He taught me a lot about reading signs, road awareness, and reading the road ahead that others hadn’t really explained to me before. He made me feel more and more confident and eventually it began to sink in – I could do this and I had every right to be on the road, as much as anyone else!

My first test (which in real terms was no.7!) I failed but with only 4 minors…. so I booked no.8… and finally passed!

I try to reflect on this now and would say to anyone learning to drive that gets nervous,
1) find an instructor that fills you with confidence and helps you feel calm and tells you ‘You can’ when you say ‘I can’t’
2) take your time, don’t put a limit on it like 6 months or a year or Christmas etc
(Trust me you’ll find the money, I’m a single mum and went week to week getting it together)
3) think of all the time, money and mental effort and energy
you’ve invested and DON’T give up! If you need a break for a few months, okay, but go back to it!
4) Believe in yourself, you have as much right as anyone else to be on the roads, (we can all think of people who’ve passed their test or observe other drivers and we think ‘how did they pass?’)
5) remember on test day, the examiner WANTS you to pass the test! Yes they do! And they don’t have a quota they have to pass and fail, it’s a myth.
6) read books to learn the rules of the roads and use them, follow them, and it will you give you confidence in your ability.

I had a 6 year, 8 test journey and I can tell you, it really is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I could never go back to getting the bus, and neither will you.


How many driving lessons will i need to pass

As a driving instructor the number one question I am asked from new pupils and potential pupils enquiring about driving lessons, is “how many lessons will I need to pass the driving test”? It’s not a question a driving instructor is able to give you an honest answer to. Sure, some instructors will pluck a number out of the sky or say something like “my average is” or “why not book 10 hours with me and see how it goes”! This is because they want you to book driving lessons with them and not lose you as a potential customer but the honest answer is we just don’t know. According to Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) the average is 45 hours with 22 hours additional private practice, but don’t let this put you off learning to drive as everybody is different in the time it takes to learn to drive and pass the driving test. Some people take a lot less than the average time and some can take longer. If I was studying for an A-level in English and ask you how many hours of study I would need to put in in order to pass, I’m sure you would find that a difficult question to give an honest answer to. Check out my blog “how to pass your driving test quicker“.

As a learner driver what’s more important to you – passing your driving test, or being a safe driver? A driving instructor’s job is to help turn you into a safe driver.  If you’re a safe driver and you passed the driving test with ease, please remember that more than one in five new drivers have an accident within the first 12 months of passing their test.  It is important to be a safe and confident driver, before passing your driving test, to lessen the risk of you being involved in a accident.  If you’re lucky enough to be able to do private practice with a family member or friend please note your supervising driver must be over 21 and have held a full driving license, for the category of vehicle you are leaning to drive in, for more an 3 years.  You must also have insurance.  Some insurance companies offer short term learner insurance cover and you must display L plates on the front and rear of the vehicle.  it’s important to incorporate private practice with lessons from your driving instructor in order to develop your skills. Don’t start private practice until you are feeling reasonably safe and confident on the road.  Ask your driving instructor for advice on this.

Want to pass the driving test quicker

Do you want to become a safe driver and pass the driving test as soon as you can? Well if you are prepared to do some studying and research at home in between your driving lessons then you can. I always encourage my pupils to follow this advice and the ones that do, always pass their driving test quicker than average! So can you!

Learning to drive is basically two things – car control and knowledge.  The quicker you master these, the sooner you pass your diving test.  Don’t just leave this to your instructor, work with them and help yourself.

car control

car control is being able to operate the clutch, brakes, gears, and steering smoothly and efficiently and being in full control of the car. When you are in a car with someone who can drive they make it look incredibly easy.  When you first start to learn, this can feel totally alien and confusing  but don’t worry, this is normal and it takes time and practice. Obviously your instructor will be helping and teaching you how to operate the controls. It will help you to understand the car control more quickly by reading books such as Driving the essential skills and there are some great videos on u tube. For example if it is clutch control that you would like a better understanding of, type in “driving lesson clutch control”  The more time you spend researching about car control yourself, the quicker you will learn.


You may be studying for, or already have passed the theory test, so you should have a good understanding of the rules and regulations, road marking and signs but it’s more than that.  For example, knowing how to approach a roundabout and having the knowledge and understanding to be able to negotiate the roundabout correctly and safely.  The theory will not necessarily help you to fully understand this, so let’s say your next lesson is going to be roundabouts. Read up on this and/or check videos on u tube.  If you prepare for each lesson in this way, the sooner you will pass the driving test.


The Driving Test

The driving test is around 40 minutes long including the eyesight check and the show me tell me questions. You will be asked one question at the beginning of the test and one on the move.


The independent part of the driving test lasts around 40 minutes and you will be asked to follow directions from a sat nav. The examiner will set this up for you.  1 out of every 5 tests will be asked to follow direction signs and you are allowed to ask the examiner if you are not sure of where you are going when following the sat nav or signs and don’t worry if you go the wrong way providing it’s safe.

The manoeuvres consist of you being asked to carry out one of the following:-Bay parking which is reversing into a bay and driving out or driving in and reversing out, parallel park or pulling up on the right and reversing for two car lengths.  You may also be asked to carry out the emergency stop. Check out driving test videos for more details

Taking The Driving Test in Your Car

You can take the driving test in your own car, or a parents’, or a family member’s or a friend’s car if you prefer.  It does not need to be a driving school’s car, but the car must be roadworthy and meet the standard required.


Don’t forget to take your provisional driving licence.

The accompanying driver must be over 21 and have held a full licence in the relevant vehicle category for at least three years.

The car must display L plates on the front and rear (L or D plates if you are in Wales).

You will need a extra interior mirror for the examiner to use. The stick on type accessory shops sell these.

All lights must be working with no warning lights on.  The tyres must be the same size, legal and in good condition.  You can’t have a space saver wheel fitted.

The car will need to be mot’d if over 3 years old, taxed and insured.  Check with the insurance company that you are covered on the driving test.

Make sure that the car you use meets all the standards required or the Examiner will not carry out the test and you will lose your fee.  For more details go to this link

Also check you understand the show-me-tell-me questions and you feel fully prepared for the driving test.  Check out the link below





Automatic Driving Lessons

autoLooking for automatic driving lessons in Stockport or the surrounding area? Well maybe I can help.   I have had a lot of enquiries lately for automatic driving lessons, but I only teach in a manual car myself.  I know a really good automatic driving instructor, Phil Bray.  He has run his automatic driving school for many years and has a great reputation within the driving school industry.  So if learning to drive in a automatic car is for you, give me a ring and I will put you in touch with Phil.

John   A Star Driving School   0161 480 2210 or email me

Driving Lesson Videos

There are lots of great videos on You Tube that will help you on your driving lessons  – here are just a few to get you started. Let me know if there are any driving lesson videos you would like to watch and I will download the video to this page for you.








Driving test nerves


Driving test booked! You feel ready, and importantly – your Driving Instructor feels you’re ready! But now the thought of taking your driving  test is scaring the life out of you.  This is entirely normal, you’re only human.  Most people feel nervous and indeed being a little nervous will help you to stay focused on your test.  However, you do need to be realistic. If you are overly nervous this could affect the outcome.   ( Main reasons for failing )

If you are feeling very nervous at the thought of the driving test, talk to your instructor about how you feel and if your test is close it may be a good idea to put it back a bit.

You should have already done some mock tests with your instructor.  You could ask your instructor to arrange a mock test with another instructor.   Remember, the “driving test is just like a mock test” and this will help you to feel a lot more relaxed and confident on the big day.

Its also a good idea to have someone sit in the back of the car on a lesson or two  (a friend or one of your parents).  Normally you will probably only have had your instructor sat next to on your lessons, so by having someone in the car as well as yourself and your Instructor, this will help you to feel more at ease with a different pair of eyes watching you.  Occasionally during the driving tests there could be a supervising  examiner sitting in the back of the car.  There is no need to worry if this happening on your test as they take no part at all in your test and they’re only there to make sure the examiner is carrying out the test correctly.

Don’t worry about the driving examiner they may look official with their clip board and the high vis vests (which they have to wear for safety reasons only).  Ignore the stories you may have heard such as “the examiner did not like me” or they are only allowed to let so many pass a day/week etc.  This is just not true and probably used as an excuse by someone who had failed their test.  The examiner may not talk to you much apart for giving you directions.  This is only to allow you to concentrate on your driving.  They are there to assess you driving just like your instructor will do when you are doing a mock test.  Don’t change your driving, just drive as you would with your instructor and try not to think on it as a test.  Try to  imagine that you are with a friend who you are giving a lift to and you are following their directions and instructions to your destination. Or, you could imagine the examiners voice is a satnat voice giving instructions to get to your destination.  In my experience, the driving examiners want you to pass and they would sooner give you good news that you have passed the test.  So long as you are driving to the standard required, which you should already be doing if you are taking the driving test then you will pass

  • Booking a morning test means that you will not have as long to think about it.
  • Don’t tell too many of your friends when you going to take the test as this could but you under more pressure.
  • Breathing exercises can help to keep you calm  –  breathe slowly in through your nose and then breath out through your mouth.
  • Don’t eat a big meal before your test as this can make you tired and sluggish.
  • Eat a banana as apparently they can help to keep you calm as they contain tryptophan (whatever that is)! Its a protein that your body turns into serotonin which helps you to relax and feel happier!!
  • Get a few good nights sleeps on the run up to your test so as to feel at your best on test day.

if you have any suggestions that work for you or you think may help other people to keep calm then please help by e -mailing the suggestions from the home page and I will include them to this post. Thanks John A Star


Main reasons for failing the driving test

On the link below are listed the top reasons for failing the driving test as a guide from the DVSA

(Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) but the main reason for failing the driving test is not being fully prepared. If you are prepared, you are far less likely to make any of the mistakes on the list.  You have to be honest with yourself. Do you feel confident when you drive on roundabouts, or on busy roads and are you confident doing manoeuvres without any help from your instructor? if not, work on any the parts of your driving that you feel you are weak on.  Have a few mock tests with your instructor and that way you will feel more confident and far less nervous on test day.  Please remember there is no such thing as a perfect driver and that is why you are allowed to make up to 15 minor faults (driver errors) on the driving test. Do be guided by your instructor but above all, be honest with yourself and you will then know when you feel ready to take your driving test.


If you have any questions or need advice about the driving test or driving lessons give me a ring John 0161 480 2210  A Star Driving School



Mature Lessons

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Are you in your 30s, 40s, 50s, or even 60s and would like to learn to drive for the first time? ( Beginners lessons)  Already had some lessons and would like to restart?(Refresher lessons)  Failed your driving test? (Test rescue) or would like to brush up your driving skills?

Are you concerned you’re a little too old to learn?

You are never too old to learn.  As a Driving Instructor, I have helped lots of mature people to learn to drive and go on to pass the driving test –  many, the first time; the oldest to date was aged 63.  In my experience as an Approved Driving Instructor, teaching the more mature learner, being older can be a big advantage. You often have better road sense and judgment skills, recognise potential hazards and take road safety more seriously. You may have been a passenger for many years and picked up more then you think.  If you have any concerns or worries about learning to drive, at any age, then give me a ring.

0161 480 2210

John A Star Driving School

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