My First Attempt
Some of the details below are for South African drivers only, but the article may still be useful, so read on.
It all started when I was eighteen; I wanted a car. I was sick and tired of walking, bicycling or skateboarding everywhere. I wanted to play my music while I enjoyed the open road. My parents and I talked, and they agreed (not I) that I should wait until I finished school.
At nineteen, the talk came again, as I brought it up at the dinner table. The thing is, I said that I wanted a car. All they did was shrug. "You need a licence." They chorused.
"Then I want to get a licence," I replied.
Then I was on the right path. I was on my dad's good side, because I wanted to become responsible and obtain a licence first before getting a car. That year, they got me a learner's licence CD for Christmas... wow, how thoughtful. I started to go through it nonchalantly at first but gradually began to get stuck in the following year.
I was getting older by this point, having turned twenty already, and I thought that I needed a car, and fast. I didn't want to be left behind while the others had lives. I got my dad to take me to a parking lot up in a nearby shopping village so I could practice driving and parking on a quiet Saturday or Sunday afternoon. All the shops packed up at three o'clock, and the place was all mine.
Going to Apply
I had to go to the traffic department and apply for a learner's licence. When I got there, I was redirected to the Driver's Licence Testing Centre, which was a kilometre away. I waited for two hours (and that's considered lucky) to get my appointment receipt and get out. My dad thought that I had gotten my licence, but I reassured him that I was a long way off.
I had to report to the same place three months later, and write the test, which I knew nothing about. I had studied, but I was not prepared for the layout of the exam. It was one of the most nerve-wracking exams I had ever sat through, not least because I had a limited amount of time to figure out the rules, and the traffic officer up front was shy and did not possess a voice that carried all the way to the back, where I happened to be.
It turned out that I had less time than I originally thought, and the pass mark was tight, and the pass rate was low.
I knew from the moment I looked at the test that my chances were slim. I was not prepared enough. My heart sank as the official took my exam paper and put it to one side, as well as the documents that I had filled in three months earlier, and handed me back my black and white photograph with the staple covering my eyes; the utter shame that I felt.
My dad drove me home, and I drove to drink. I was so hoping to pass, and I had told my mom not to worry. I knew that I wouldn't get in for another exam until the next year. I sat watching TV for hours until my parents got back home.
My Second Attempt
My dad drove me up to another traffic department, where they have the testing facilities on the same property instead of separate ones. I got in again, and it was less than two months away.
This time, apart from the arrogant, power-abusing traffic cops, I felt more confident and ready than before. They tried to make us all feel nervous and scared, but I knew what was coming. I had seen the exam, and I had studied harder than before. Many failed that day, or so I thought, seeing as so many were arguing with the guy up front that it wasn't fair (fail).
I passed just like I knew I would, and all the guy up front had to say was, "You people need to start paying more money, this isn't enough." "Yeah, well from the stories I've heard, some of your brethren in blue get plenty of ‘coffee money' to ensure a pass; a bunch of money-grubbing gits, the lot of you." I thought to myself.
Tips for Preparing and Passing Your Exam
- Take it seriously. Some people are of the opinion that it is easy and that all it takes is a quick flick through of some book. There is no magical book to get all the answers from. And if it were easy, the pass rate wouldn't be so low. Approximately one million people a year fail their exam in South Africa.
- Read, remember, and revise. Just like in school, you should seriously prepare properly for the day. You can find practice questions at many sites online.
- In the exam, you have a book, a chart with signs on it, and a booklet with diagrams. Remember which is which when the question in the big book asks you to refer to one of them.
- Plan your questions. You only have one hour, and you need to get through as quickly as possible, through about 54 questions. Mark the questions that you've left open with a pencil prick above the number to save time when going back.
- Make sure you circle the correct number. You answer across the page, not down. And after you circle you answer in pencil, when the time is up, you have to re-circle it in pen so the examiner can see the marking with his trace pad memorandum.
As for applying for the exam, you need to present your ID book, some money (take quite a bit, I paid R60 both times), some black and white photos, and bring a pen to fill in the forms they'll give you. You also need to pass an eye test (I passed with flying colours all three times I've had my eyes tested, it's not hard).
When you pass your learner licence exam like I said above, you need to give them more money and then they make you sign a form and put a thumbprint down on it, and that's your learner's licence sorted.
Just remember to take your pen with you when you go, otherwise, the pen-stealing pariahs tend to take it and add it to their collection.
"Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do."
— Jason Love
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2008 Anti-Valentine