To give yourself the best chance of passing the theory test first time you can work on your crystallised intelligence (stuff you know) and your fluid intelligence (stuff you figure out). It’s best to have everything in crystallised intelligence, but if that fails, fluid intelligence will help you figure out which answer is most likely correct.
It helps to think of your brain like a muscle: if you don’t use it, it’ll gradually get worse and worse. Let’s look at ways you can improve your memory and intelligence while studying for your theory test.
The right fuel
You wouldn’t put sugar in your petrol tank, and it also doesn’t do that much good for your body either. Cut back on the sugar and you’ll feel more mentally alert. Make sure you’re getting enough water, too, because dehydration makes it difficult to concentrate.
The right rest
Lack of sleep makes it difficult to learn and going to sleep helps you learn. Therefore cramming the whole night before a test isn’t the best way. Sleepiness slows down how fast your brain can think and it impairs your judgement. When you’re really tired it affects your memory and concentration.
Creative learning and teaching
Without a doubt, the best way to start learning the Highway Code is to use the free mock theory tests on our website. But it’s not the only way to learn. If you’re struggling to retain it all, pick some of the questions you find difficult and draw them, make them in clay, make up a rhyme, or invent a story. Whichever plays to your strengths can be used to help activate different muscles and different parts of your brain to help you learn.
When you think you’ve learned it you can explain it to someone else – there’s nothing like having to explain something clearly to someone to highlight how well you really know it.
Make it difficult for yourself
When you’re doing the quizzes on our website, rather than reading the question first and then reading the answers, read the question and don’t look at the answers, but try to think about what the answer is first. This engages your brain much more.
Do your study differently
When you’re learning the Highway Code you can do lots of different things to help cement that knowledge:
- Take a drive with your instructor or supervisor and talk through what signs you see and what they mean. Make it like a commentary for what you are doing. This engages a different part of your brain than reading. If you don’t know what a sign means you can ask your instructor or supervisor to explain it.
- Try riding a bike around your neighbourhood and using your new Highway Code knowledge.
- To improve your memory, take note of each sign as you pass it and see how many you can remember. To make it harder, remember the street they are on, too. This works best at lower speed, e.g. walking or biking, rather than driving, unless you are driving in an area where there are not many signs.
- Stay at home and sketch local junctions and put in all the right lines and signs. Check them against the junction next time you see it, or compare it on Google Maps (you’ll see the lines).
- Go in the car with someone else driving (i.e someone that has a license already) and direct them using the Highway Code rules. Pretend you are the teacher (but bear in mind you are not allowed to be an actual teach – to do that you’ll need to qualify as an ADI).
Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.