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Old 11.01.2012, 23:39
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I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

I just passed my conversion (driving) test on Monday !

I would like to thank to those members in this forum who shared some successful (or failure) experience during the test. (It did take me quite sometime to dig out these useful information from the 50+ pages thread lasting for 6 years --- "Driving licence --the conversion question" thread)

As a return of favor, here're my 5 cents worth experience sharing

1. examiner -- at the beginning, I thought i was going to have a bad luck day as my examiner was the most unfriendly person (to some degree, a bit rude). While all examiners greeted the students with smile, shake hands and led them to the office to check all documents, my examiner came out to call my name and got back to his office immediately. Since my seat is at a little distance from his office, when I got up from seat (expecting he already came out from his office), I lost track of where he was because there're crowds of students, their teachers and examiners all around me! He looked unhappy when he had to come out again to get me!. when we got into the car, he started to talk before I even sat down & close the door. I politely interrupted him and try to ask if he could speak slowly because my french isn't that good. He told me off -- he told me in french "i was in the middle of talking !". So I got quiet and put forth my request politely about speaking slowly after he finished his conversation. He told me in french again " i don't speak English and I speak very slow already", blah blah blah (a long sentence of french..) then "you understand"? This is a completely stressful start !

Well the truth is, unfriendly /cold/ rude examiner doesn't mean he's gonna be tough and fail you. Despite what he answered me above, when he told me the turn, he spoke twice and sometimes he asked me "do u see that sign?" or "direction crissier.....a droit..." (even pointing his finger to help me). His facial expression during the whole process is very consistent though ---cold and no smile at all, no chatting with me (just one word --'good weather today !")

My learning is : don't let the reaction/attitude of the examiner stress you out. Don't take for granted that you run into a nice examiner. Nice not equal to easier to pass and vice verser.

2. At first 10 mins, i made a minor mistake --when i turned left in a "right of way" road, I 'undershoot" i.e. drove over on the opposite lane a bit. The examiner told me to move back to the right side. I didn't defend as its obvious a mistake, but I want to let him know that I take this serious. I told him "qui, desole, je suis stressant" (yes, i'm sorry, i am very nervous). I'm sure they put up with some minor mistake due to stress level

3. I was driving at 70km/h at a 80km/h road. there's a truck behind me, probably at a hurry, was getting very close to me, trying to force me to speed up, and at last horned at me. I didn't get panic, maintain my speed (but not lower to irritate the truck driver). The examiner didn't ask me to do anything or show disapproval on my driving speed. The key is don't panic when get horn at. Driving on an exam day is same as driving on normal day, everything could happen! Don't let other drivers stress you up --they are not the one who approve your driving !

4. There's a part of highway with tunnel -- i turned on headlight when going in & turning it off when coming out. The examiner seems to be very satisfied with it ---he feels relax as if I also remember these details in such a stressful day.

5. Final practice before the exam, I sure a lot of us will do a final round practice a day or 2 before the exam. Try to pay visit again for roads with heavy road work as there might be unpredictable changes being done last minute. 2 days before the exam, I found out a drastic change on the road marking which unfortunately is badly done (orange line broken partly and there're very fade but newly added white dotted line there, plus an outdated instruction sign to direct the traffic" I saw a few cars ended up driving in the opposite lane. Imagine this is what happens in your exam day, I don't think the examiner will accept the argument of poor road work but you....

6. Last but not least, I think initial impression means a lot. If you start nervous and make mistakes so early, the examiner will continue to pay (more) attention to anything gets wrong again... Make sure you minimize your mistake at first 5-10 mins, make the examiner feels that you know what you're doing, have good level of anticipation of driving. To do this, I actually did a 5-10 mins drive from EVERY exit (many times -- enough to remember the important sign or tricky sign/junction/lights around) from the Service Automobile center to ensure I know what is going on.

That's all and hope this helps a bit for those who are going to take the conversion test and Good luck.

Last edited by muffin; 12.01.2012 at 00:13.
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Old 17.01.2012, 21:57
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

Hi, great to hear you passed, well done. How did you find the theory, did you do it in French or English.?
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Old 17.01.2012, 22:13
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

Congratulations, may i know from which canton you took the test? Im in canton aargau but wont make it because of the deadline of 1 year stay before converting. I was hoping they somehow changed the rules regarding the maximum duration of stay here because i know someone who´s been here more than 2 years but is just processing conversion of her drivers license now. The only difference between us is shes in Luzern and married to a Swiss while im married to a German.
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Old 17.01.2012, 23:36
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

Congratulations!...and to pass it in French!

Obviously, the benefit of your driving exam is not only a technical one, and that's why I like your post.
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Old 18.01.2012, 15:19
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

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Hi, great to hear you passed, well done. How did you find the theory, did you do it in French or English.?
mine is 'conversion' test i.e. someone with a license issued in other country already. However, I know that if you take the English exam, you need to do it in Bern....
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Old 18.01.2012, 15:27
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

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Congratulations, may i know from which canton you took the test? Im in canton aargau but wont make it because of the deadline of 1 year stay before converting. I was hoping they somehow changed the rules regarding the maximum duration of stay here because i know someone who´s been here more than 2 years but is just processing conversion of her drivers license now. The only difference between us is shes in Luzern and married to a Swiss while im married to a German.
i'm in Canton Vaud. Actually I had been in SW for almost 5 years when i took the conversion test. My understanding (as told by my insurance broker) is that on paper, it was said 1 year but the fact is there is a longer period of tolerance as the philosophy of the authority is 'they would rather you take the test instead of risk to drive with a non-sw license. If you stay here more than 5 years, it's an absolute 'no' answer --you need to do the whole process...
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Old 18.01.2012, 15:52
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

Thanks, so it means i still have a chance to convert my license, i was so disappointed with myself because i plan to do abit more practice before taking the practical test coz i didnt drive for so many years even though i have my license (im non EU). So many things came up including deciding that i dont need to drive then i changed my mind and it was too late.

You also mentioned to take it in Bern if i want it in English. Can i also do that or is it strictly by canton of residence?
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Old 18.01.2012, 15:54
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

CONGRATS!!!

I am sure you are aware of the new rules in place since a few years with the trial period and that you need to be careful during the first 3 years of having your license.
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Old 18.01.2012, 16:08
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

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Thanks, so it means i still have a chance to convert my license, i was so disappointed with myself because i plan to do abit more practice before taking the practical test coz i didnt drive for so many years even though i have my license (im non EU). So many things came up including deciding that i dont need to drive then i changed my mind and it was too late.

You also mentioned to take it in Bern if i want it in English. Can i also do that or is it strictly by canton of residence?
As far as i know, Bern is the only place for english exam regardless of Canton. actually I'm in similar situation as yours. I had my license like 15 years ago but i didn't drive much since then. Therefore, i actually took rather intensive lessons as the cost is really high for failure....
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Old 18.01.2012, 16:10
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

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CONGRATS!!!

I am sure you are aware of the new rules in place since a few years with the trial period and that you need to be careful during the first 3 years of having your license.
that applies only for new license ---those started from scratch but not people taking conversion test. i'm pretty sure about it as the letter accompanied with my new driving stated that there's no probation period for my license. that's why i was super stressed to take this conversion exam.
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Old 18.01.2012, 16:17
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

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i'm in Canton Vaud. Actually I had been in SW for almost 5 years when i took the conversion test. My understanding (as told by my insurance broker) is that on paper, it was said 1 year but the fact is there is a longer period of tolerance as the philosophy of the authority is 'they would rather you take the test instead of risk to drive with a non-sw license. If you stay here more than 5 years, it's an absolute 'no' answer --you need to do the whole process...
I don't understand how living in Sweden (SW) is relevant to taking your test in Canton Vaud, CH. Good job you didn't tell you instructor that, otherwise you might have failed

Congrats anyway.
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Old 18.01.2012, 16:22
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

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I told him "qui, desole, je suis stressant" (yes, i'm sorry, i am very nervous).
Did you find him smiling and nodding his head in agreement when you said this?

What you actually manage to say in French was "I'm stressful" (eg, you're causing him stress). I think what you meant was "je suis stressé!" (I'm stressed!)

In any case, congratulations on passing your test!
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Old 18.01.2012, 16:28
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

I didnt notice the SW, i was too excited to know that they would allow me to convert even after 1 year. OP, how long have you been living in Switzerland? My friend is converting her license in Luzern but shes been living here more than 2 years and another friend living here much longer told me i still might be able to. I just cant wait til our next visit to ask the authorities about this.
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Old 18.01.2012, 20:24
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

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I don't understand how living in Sweden (SW) is relevant to taking your test in Canton Vaud, CH. Good job you didn't tell you instructor that, otherwise you might have failed

Congrats anyway.
sorry i get used to use SW =switzerland (so are some people around me) , not quite to using CH yet
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Old 18.01.2012, 20:31
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

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I didnt notice the SW, i was too excited to know that they would allow me to convert even after 1 year. OP, how long have you been living in Switzerland? My friend is converting her license in Luzern but shes been living here more than 2 years and another friend living here much longer told me i still might be able to. I just cant wait til our next visit to ask the authorities about this.
SW=switzerland. I've been here for almost 5 years. I'm not the one going to the authority but just little advice to you : i am told that the authority has the power to make your life difficult for not doing the conversion test within a year (i don't know what 'difficult' mean) but if you're going there on your own, make sure you be nice and ready to give a reason for not doing it. My broker has been handling this thing for many of his customers and he knows the people in the office and the procedure very well ....good luck.
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Old 18.01.2012, 20:36
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

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Did you find him smiling and nodding his head in agreement when you said this?

What you actually manage to say in French was "I'm stressful" (eg, you're causing him stress). I think what you meant was "je suis stressé!" (I'm stressed!)

In any case, congratulations on passing your test!
i guess the 2 phrases don't sound too different given my very funny french accent. anyway, he didn't smile AT ALL during the whole process but like what i mentioned, he is very helpful by pointing to the direction after telling me where to go, which is not quite usual in an exam as i heard. I would rather this way than having a super cheerful examiner who try to pick big & small mistake in order to fail you...
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Old 18.01.2012, 20:57
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

BRAVO !

In the 1970 I passed 3 driving test, car and motorbike in CH, then car again in London (no French option!). The London test was passed with a TR4 and L plates made by by mil, a piece of card with lipstick and pink ribbons- you should have seen the look on the examiner's face (a huge fat guy who just about fitted in the car and had to be pulled out by passer-bys at the end) those were the days, lol.
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Old 19.01.2012, 09:45
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

Out of my own experience and of my friends' who passed successfully:
It is always better if you pretend you cannot speak any of the languages the examiner can speak. Say upfront that unfortunately you cannot speak (french, german etc.) but only english although you will soon start a language course to be a bit nice. Tell the examiner however you know left-right etc in the language he speaks. This is one golden rule to avoid unnecessary theoric questions which you are not there for. Ideally you do not speak with him at all!
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Old 19.01.2012, 10:02
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

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3. I was driving at 70km/h at a 80km/h road. there's a truck behind me, probably at a hurry, was getting very close to me, trying to force me to speed up, and at last horned at me. I didn't get panic, maintain my speed (but not lower to irritate the truck driver). The examiner didn't ask me to do anything or show disapproval on my driving speed. The key is don't panic when get horn at. Driving on an exam day is same as driving on normal day, everything could happen! Don't let other drivers stress you up --they are not the one who approve your driving !
Congratulations on passing... But I am not sure it's a good idea to drive 10km/h below the speed limit, I remember being marked down for something similar in the UK, it was, however, a motorcycle test and I was riding at 25 miles/h in a 30mile/h zone, it wasn't the reason I failed that test but it was one of the minor faults, as according to the examiner it could slow down traffic and that I should try and keep up with the flow of traffic and drive right at the speed limit or even slightly above is ok, he also made a note about the acceleration to the speed limit which shouldn't be too aggressive but also not too slow to get to the speed limit. I agree that you shouldn't react to people behind you as long as you are keeping to your right, they can always overtake.
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Old 19.01.2012, 10:30
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Re: I passed my driving exam on Monday (tips to share)

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Congratulations on passing... But I am not sure it's a good idea to drive 10km/h below the speed limit, I remember being marked down for something similar in the UK, it was, however, a motorcycle test and I was riding at 25 miles/h in a 30mile/h zone, it wasn't the reason I failed that test but it was one of the minor faults, as according to the examiner it could slow down traffic and that I should try and keep up with the flow of traffic and drive right at the speed limit or even slightly above is ok, he also made a note about the acceleration to the speed limit which shouldn't be too aggressive but also not too slow to get to the speed limit. I agree that you shouldn't react to people behind you as long as you are keeping to your right, they can always overtake.
The philosophy you mentioned is right (not slow down traffic and keep up with the flow of traffic).

I am not sure if "slightly above speed limit" is really OK especially in an exam but 10km/h down is certainly acceptable. My teacher has 30 years+ teaching experience in all kind of driving related stuff --theory, classroom and practical. According to what he says, speed limit is the maximum limit and not supposed to be over at anytime. There's (as most people know) no minimum speed as such. If there's no traffic at all in the road or even with normal traffic, a 10km/h down is acceptable in a 60km/h road (i asked him this exact question when i was driving on a 60km/h road!).

I will be very careful about the " keeping up with traffic flow". I still remember I drove for almost 2km in a pretty normal road which composes of both country side & forest. It was a 40km/h though. I was driving at 30-35km/h as there are quite a bit of turns and at one point (when we reach a wider & straight road), there're 3-4 cars behind me and gradually overtook me in a rough way (as if i was driving too slow), which makes me believe that I drove too slow & might be reading the speed sign wrongly/overlook change of speed sign, until i saw the 'end of 40km/h' sign.
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