A Road Test Experience and Tips From A Real Student Driver

Tips for all drivers going for their road test

There’s nothing like hearing from a real student driver’s road test experience and tips. It just might help you prepare for your own road test.

Preparing for your ICBC road test? Be sure to check out my epic article: ICBC Road Test Tips For Classes 5 & 7 [Instructor Gets Deep].

Student driver: Hello everyone! So I took my road test yesterday in Burnaby but unfortunately I didn’t make it. The main reason was that I missed a playground and I went 46 km in a 30 km zone.

Also, I didn’t do a full 360 check when I did my straight reverse exercise. For anyone taking their road test for the first time this summer, especially in Burnaby, here are some tips.

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Road Test Experience – School Zones

They are not in effect unless there is a sign underneath that says summer school in session. I drove around Moscrop Elementary school and that school zone is in effect.

If you have been driving around for quite some time now, you should be familiar with what school zones look like so the extra sign underneath is not hard to miss.

Also, make sure you also pay attention to where the zone ends! Just look for the back of the house-shaped sign on the left-hand side of the road and once you pass it, speed up accordingly :)

Playground Zones

Remember that playground zones are still in effect, every day of the year from dawn to dusk. Don’t worry about trying to figure out if what you see on the side of the road is actually a school or a playground.

Don’t worry if it is just a couple of swing sets or a sandbox; it is hard to tell sometimes if you’re just passing a patch of grass where kids might be playing.

As a driver it’s not your job to be psychic; it’s your job to read the road signs and pavement markings to figure out the actual legal limit. Always think for yourself on what is the appropriate speed based on the conditions.

School Zone Road Sign

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School Zone Summer School Tab

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Playground Zone Road Sign

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Road Test Experience – Buses

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MAKE SURE YOU YIELD TO BUSES! Holy crap, the 28 bus was all up in my face during 65% of my test. NEVER overtake/pass a bus. Never.

You never know when it’s gonna start moving again and if it’s only a one-lane road (which Smith Avenue is), then you stay behind that bus and you yield!

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If it’s not safe or legal to pass the bus then you’re right,  don’t do it. It looks like part of Smith has double solid yellow lines; was this any part of your decision to go around or not go around?

Yielding to Buses

Legally, you must yield to the bus if it’s about to pull out or drive away again and this should be obvious by the large round turn signal! 

Keep in mind, sometimes buses are ahead of schedule and will stop at a bus stop for an extended period (at least longer than you will want to wait).

I would like to say that most places where they do this are places where there’s enough room for a car to pass beside without breaking the law in terms of road lines or being dangerous or unsafe.

Think about it

I don’t think you necessarily want to believe that you must stop and wait behind every bus, especially when you can see there are 40 people waiting to enter the bus, and a sufficient amount of space to pass beside without being dangerous or illegal.

Stopping blindly for every single bus on every single road would be a good way to invite road rage, being rear-ended by the driver behind who does not anticipate you stopping when there is no good reason to, and of course, negatively impacting your road test.

Anticipation is your friend

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The trick is to anticipate the movements of the bus well before you are right beside the back of it. If you’re looking far ahead up the road, as is recommended, perhaps you’ll be able to see how many people are waiting at the bus stop.

If you can see there is only one person getting on the bus, then maybe that would make sense to be more prepared to yield.

Road Test Experience – Always Be Mindful of Everything

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Always be mindful of everything. I also went around Burnaby hospital and there was a car that was leaving the parking lot and he was on the driveway.

Right next to the driveway was the bus stop, where the bus was currently stopped letting passengers on/off.

I’m not gonna overtake the bus anyway. So I let him go. Mind you, I WASN’T mindful of everything because I missed that stupid playground… -___-

That’s nice to hear you are being courteous and realizing it may be good to let another go in the case where you have to stop anyway.

Road Test Experience and Tips – Pedestrians

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I never had problems with jaywalking pedestrians except for one. Again at Burnaby hospital. It was a little old granny and I saw her trying to cross the street.

No crosswalk or anything but she was starting to edge slowly onto the road. LET HER CROSS. I just stopped (left her room and didn’t creep the road as she crossed as if telling her to MOVE YOUR BUTT WOMAN!).

Made eye contact and gestured with my hands so that she can go. I mean, you shouldn’t encourage jaywalking but assess the situation.

Pedestrians Jaywalking

Dealing with jaywalking can be tricky. Some jaywalkers really want you to stop for them. Others want you to keep going.

It will become easier to anticipate this with more experience. Sure, you do not want to encourage them to go if they are clearly waiting for a gap in the traffic.

But if they’re already on the road, or it looks like they’re in a panic, then it may be better to stop or slow down or help them in some way.

If granny is clearly determined to cross the road, it may be the best thing to let her go. Just be aware of other traffic coming in other directions who may not be expecting a pedestrian in the middle of a block.

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Assess whether you think it would be SAFE for you to stop and encourage them, regardless of the legality.

If they’re on a curve on a road where the cars are speeding, that’s a lot different from a straight and flat road where you can see there are clearly no oncoming cars for miles (umm kilometers… Canadian, Eh?).

More on pedestrians…

Be compassionate. She’s coming from a hospital, so she may not be thinking clearly. To you, it may look like some old granny that’s holding you up and making you wait.

But keep in mind that she is probably someone’s mom, someone’s wife, someone’s grandmother, or someone’s best friend…

Avoid Waving to Other Road Users

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About the indicating/waving to tell someone to go. Think twice before doing this, as you may be held partially liable in the case of a collision.

There are other ways to indicate that you are yielding to a pedestrian or a car, and you do this by your ‘vehicle language,’ stopping with ample distance and stopping completely without rolling forward, along with eye contact

(I am happy you mentioned that) are a few ways to make it obvious to others that you are waiting for them.

Road Test Experience – Parking The Car

Those of you concerned about your parking… LOLOLLL DON’T BE.

One of the first things that I did was a parallel park. I’m very confident in my parallel parking skills but I guess my nerves just got to me and I hit the curb TWICE and I went over the sidewalk OMG

When my Examiner was telling me why I failed at the end of the test, he didn’t say anything about my parking. Yeah, I got points off but it wasn’t an automatic fail. SO DON’T WORRY!!

Fixing and Correcting Your Parking

And if you think you can’t fix it, do your best! I was getting really nervous because my boyfriend usually helps me fix my parallel parking if I screw up.


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I agree parking should be one of the last things to worry about. It is important to know how to park the car to some degree.

When you get where you’re going, it’s nice if you don’t have to turn around and drive back home again because you have no idea what to do or how to park the car.

It takes a long time to get really good at parking; longer than the one year a lot of new drivers spend driving before their N test.

Examiners know this, and just want to see that you are being safe and observing the situation before backing the vehicle.

It sounds not smart, but in reality, a lot of people including children walk behind vehicles that are reversing.

Just do your best, and try to fix anything that looks completely ridiculous. You don’t have to be perfect, as none of us are anyway; not driving instructors either.

Road Test Experience – Shoulder & Mirror Checks

EXAGGERATE YOUR SHOULDER/MIRROR CHECKS. Especially while parking/reversing/pulling out/pulling in parking spaces.

I’m not sure you have to exaggerate it; if you do too much it could look like an improper technique.

But you are right, the examiner has to be able to tell that you are in fact doing the correct checks at the correct times. 

Turning Right on a Red Light

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NEVER turn right at reds without a full stop first. Never. Ever. You’re just asking to fail.

I agree. Red means stop. And yes, you will automatically fail the entire road test, even if everything else was perfect if you do not stop first, as you just broke the law.

If your light is red, it means someone else’s is green, and it’s your job to figure out who that is, where they’re coming from, or about to be coming from, and to yield politely.

Seat Belt Tips

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Put your seat belt on BEFORE you start the engine.

Yield Sign Tips

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Yield signs are NOT stopping signs. Do not treat them the same way. Only stop at yield signs if you have to.

I agree! Yield means stop and yield IF there is someone there to yield to. Otherwise, slow down if necessary to get visibility and then continue when safe.

Sometimes, yield signs come with zero visibility. In that case, you may need to actually stop and inch forward to ensure it’s safe first.

Road Test Experience – Speed Limits

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The speed limit was 50 at all times outside school (if noted) and playground zones.

However, there are a lot of hills in the area I took my test. Be mindful of your speed going down the hill between Moscrop and Price on Smith Avenue.

There is a traffic light at the bottom of that hill. Be prepared to stop if the light changes.

It does feel strange on hills when you are new. The car will speed up without your permission going down hills (if you let it, I mean). You really have to check your speed and control your car.

You can gear down your car (2nd gear) to help with this. Especially on rainy days, this is a good option because it allows you to slow down potentially without the brakes.

The only thing about brakes is they can, at times, initiate poor control when it’s slippery.

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Road Test Experience – Conclusion

That’s all, really. It’s all about being safe, guys. I saw my best friend yesterday and she told me the reason she failed was that her examiner could tell she was nervous and it showed.

It affected her driving. I know it’s normal to be nervous. But if you’re a nervous wreck behind the wheel, no one is gonna want to get in that car with you.

If you want to conquer your fear of driving, then do what my boyfriend made me do when he was teaching me how to drive.

Don’t just drive everywhere. Drive the busy roads that make you sh*t your pants during rush hour.

My boyfriend made me get on Kingsway, Boundary (trucks everywhere!!), Willingdon… he even made me drive to Surrey and we took Patullo at 2pm on a Saturday.

And then again at 11pm from Surrey all the way to Commercial. In the rain.

He made me drive to Richmond too, through the Knight Street bridge on a busy Saturday afternoon. No.3 road is ridiculous by the way.

Damn. Conquer your fears. The road test is nothing to be afraid of if you’re prepared and confident driving.

The more confident you are, the more likely you will pass because you know what to look out for and what to do.

Your boyfriend is very wise. As long as you’re ready, and can confidently handle controlling the vehicle, then it is smart to challenge yourself.

It’s true, if you can handle roads like Knight Street bride, Patullo, Kingsway, etc., then the road test will be a piece of cake.

That is what it’s all about anyway. You are not trying to pass the road test so that you can drive around the road test route for the rest of your life, right? 

As soon as you have your independence, you’ll for sure be thrown into “real life” traffic situations whether you like it or not.

You don’t want to be caught unprepared because you were driving in circles (squares, technically, ha ha ha) around Smith Street.

Good luck!! :)

Good Skills, Practice, & Experience.

Thanks Isabel for the tips and comments.

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Read More: Stories From The Road Test: Part 2


Road Test Fail
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A truly insightful analysis of several different learners ’ ICBC road test FAILS. In this guide, we really get into the nitty-gritty to find out exactly what fails a road test, and what you need to succeed. Hopefully, it can help anyone preparing for a road test anywhere.

Road Test FAIL Tales

Carmen Cohoe

Carmen became a driving instructor in beautiful North Vancouver at the age of 22 due to some crazy people who agreed to hire her. After that, there was never a dull moment teaching many different folks from many different places how to drive using automatic and standard vehicles and a minivan.

6 thoughts on “A Road Test Experience and Tips From A Real Student Driver

  • Naomi

    Thanks for the tips (both of you)! I’m taking my class 7 road test tomorrow in the afternoon at the ICBC in Victoria on McKenzie and I feel this post gives that little something to prepare me even more for tomorrow. Much thanks!

    • Richel

      Hi, I am about to take my road test here in Victoria. I am just sender,so l am not quite familiar with places yes. Is there any chance or way that I could get or find the route for the test so I could check where playgrounds and school zones are?

      This post seems a bit old but I am hoping that someone could see this and help me. Thank you in advance.

      • Hey I am not familiar with that area at all, but a skilled driver can drive into any unfamiliar area and still be driving safely and properly… it just takes practice and more practice and more practice. It helps to practice in new areas so that you can learn to drive on the fly rather than trying to memorize some playground zone!!! All the best :)

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