ICBC Road Test Diary – Experience from a New Driver
Road test experience. Submitted by an anonymous driver.
I’ve been reading this blog for a few weeks now and I think it’s time to give back to the community with my experience of doing my class 5 test.
Location: North Vancouver
I arrived about 10 minutes before my test and was registered at the counter by the lady who would be my examiner. Have your licence plate memorized to write it down. I was told to sit down then a few minutes later she picked me up and we officially started the test at 2pm.
As we were walking to the car she told me her expectations and that the first and last few minutes are the hardest. Once at the car, the examiner will ask you to roll down your window and check your lights then she will ask you to do the hand signals before you begin.
We exited the ICBC parking lot then turned right.The routes will always change, but we were mostly around mid to upper east side of lonsdale. We didn’t go to lower lonsdale once even though on my other tests I have gone there. After doing a ton of right and left turns around the community we made our way to towards the highway. My driving instructor mentioned that you should follow the 50km sign right before st.georges and after you pass st.georges speed up. Well the examiner wasn’t completely in agreement. She sternly said speed up, speed up, then started saying merge merge. Please remember that the examiner wants both of you to be safe, sternly talking to you does not mean you failed, it just means that you need to get this situation under control right now. So then we were off on the highway which was quite busy, so I didn’t have much of a chance to stay at 80. We went off the highway on Lynn Valley and then back to driving around random streets with lots of turns. Finally, we made it back to the ICBC parking lot and backed up into the stall. I thought I was pretty good at doing these, but of course on the test you go super slow and somehow manage to screw up haha. She was laughing at me and said that I can readjust and she made a comment about how painful watching us do this can be! Basically, she’s trying to say the backing up is not a big deal at all and you just need to get it done confidently, from my understanding you wont fail a test if you don’t do it perfectly and quickly. She didn’t seem to take marks off for re doing it a few times.
Once we were done she went over what I missed – which was a right shoulder check, the fact that I could have probably added an additional scan of the intersection at one spot and then I made a right turn a little bit too wide a few times. We finished everything at 2:30.
My observations and tips
She started talking to me about 10 minutes into the drive about general things, this is probably a good sign because it shows they are feeling comfortable with you driving. However, keep in mind that you still need to remember their instructions, I started chit chatting and almost missed a left turn she asked me to do. When I was doing my N test 7 years ago there was a rumor at my school that the more you talk to them the more likely they will pass you, this is not the case and I can’t believe that before I literally wouldn’t stop talking during my test!
At one point there was a pedestrian who came out of no where – he obviously came out of somewhere, but I didn’t see him! Luckily, I was inched over enough that he went behind me. Moments like this will come up when you think in your head “wow I might have just failed”, but don’t be down on yourself and just keep trekking.
I kind of learned from this experience that there isn’t such thing as one route they follow because I can tell she was just making it up as she went, I might be wrong, but don’t dwell too much on “the route”.
The examiner told me that if you can pass the test in North Vancouver you can pass it anywhere because we have a ton of 4 way stops, 2 way stops, pedestrians, the high way etc. In my opinion ultimately, if you live closest to North Vancouver then just do it in the area where you can practice most rather then going somewhere where it’s “easier to pass”.
You will be nervous FOR SURE and if not, then that’s great too, but how could you not be. The examiners know you are nervous and it doesn’t surprise them or freak them out at all. After we finished my instructor told me of a student before me whose hands were shaking as the test started, but he managed to pass in the end! To me the most nerve wracking part is waiting for them then walking to the car. Once you are in the car go slowly for the first little while, let your brain adjust and then drive like you do when practicing. I think once you are prepared enough the nerves don’t exist once you are in the car and if they do then sometimes that means you need just a bit more hours under your belt.
Again, if the examiner talks sternly to you or even yells do not think this is the end!! On my first test to get my N I had the examiner literally yell STOP STOP because she thought a truck was moving towards me. I stopped and explained that I don’t think it’s moving and we carried on and I passed that test.
I think its important to exaggerate your moves for safety and for the examiner to have a peace of mind. So when at a red light turning right for example, I literally would bend over my steering wheel after I inched forward to see if cars were coming. You can scan your eyes, but this shows to them that you are very cautious of it.
Once we were back in the parking lot and she told me I passed we chatted about the high way situation. Luckily my instructor was right there when we were back in the parking lot, so him and my examiner chatted about the rules and safety of it. Surprise! Instructors and examiners do not always agree on every single thing and it’s important that your instructor actually takes the time to chat with the examiners when possible and that they are open to learn new things to tell their students.
Getting an instructor:
I’ve had my N for 7 years, but I’ve only started driving consistently the past few months. I would consider myself quite a newbie. I knew I needed an instructor to give me the tips and tricks of passing. The first company I contacted is one of the most popular ones in North Vancouver and I did not enjoy the experience at all. The particular instructor wasn’t passionate about actually having you pass and sometimes I felt like their tips weren’t exactly right. For example I was told that if you inch over on a red light when turning right and a pedestrian walks behind you it’s an automatic fail – I don’t think so..
I later went on the ICBC website to find a new instructor and I chose the first one on the bottom of the list called Vanco. I highly highly recommend him. He knew all of the examiners by name and knew the areas they like to drive around. He also gave me some excellent pointers overall to pass my test. Once I did my test he surprised me at the end by showing up and congratulating me! Right before my exam I had some last minute fears so I texted him a few questions and he got back to me right away clarifying what I needed to know. Anyways, invest in a good teacher and you will know right away once the right one is teaching you. I practiced in the car that I would take on the test and I found that to be super useful.
Best of luck everyone! This is really a matter of practice, but practicing consistently the right things. If you are just driving around you might be missing a lot of key pointers and ultimately getting bad habits. If you are doing your class 5 get an instructor even just for one lesson to brush up on new rules, such as bike lanes etc.
Good luck guys!!!
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