Sponsored feature, words by Russ Thorne

There are a few potential stumbling blocks between your first lesson and that glorious moment when you sling the L-plates in the bin and head out as independent driver. Clutch control. Hill starts. An astonishing gift for clipping the kerb when parallel parking. For many learners the theory test is another one: 25% of you fail on the first attempt. So here are some tips to help you handle it...

1 - Know your Highway Code

Sure, the Highway Code isn't a ripsnorting adventure yarn that makes the Fast and the Furious look like a dodgem track during a power cut; but it's still a handy tool for getting past your theory test.

Make yourself read through it a few times, over a few sittings, and pay attention to all the signs, warnings and guidance on how to behave on the road. It's not just about where you can and can't go: knowing what to look out for and how to behave around other road users will make you a better, safer driver.

Plus, it's full of tips and techniques that you might not know about, like how to park on a hill properly. If you've ever seen an unmanned car roll away out of control, you'll know why this is handy. (Oh, the horror.)

2 - Get some practice

The Highway Code is great for telling you what the rules are and offering some tips, but applying that knowledge during the various stages of the theory test can be tricky. Exam conditions are tough at the best of times.

Happily, you can practice for free using sites like Top Tests , which offer sets of questions very similar to the ones used in the real test. It's a great way to check your knowledge and uncover any weak spots, with a lot of users saying it made all the difference between passing and failing.

3 - Connect with other learners

It may not feel like it all the time, but driving on the roads in the UK is actually a collaborative process: we all choose (hopefully) to stick to the rules of the road to keep things safe, to give one another enough space (watch for cyclists!) and to not simply park up in the middle of a dual carriageway if we get bored. If we didn't work together it would be like Fury Road out there.

Learning to drive can be collaborative too. Talking to other learners on our forums can boost your confidence or provide some advice on an area you're struggling with, for example, as well as helping you find the right driving instructor or offering some consolation if things don't go well during your test.

4 - Apply your theory while driving

If you're able to go driving between lessons, perhaps with a parent or other older driver, use it as an opportunity to put all that theoretical stuff into practice in the real world. You could explain the meanings of signs and road markings as you pass them, for example; or make a mental note of anything you're not sure of (not an actual note – hands on the wheel, eyes front!).

Whether you're driving or in the passenger seat, it can also be helpful to 'narrate' what you're seeing as you go along. This can help you focus on unfolding situations and potential risks, improving your observation and anticipation skills and helping you prepare for the hazard perception test.

You can also run through the 'show me, tell me' elements from the safety and calm of your own driveway, between lessons and before a test. Top Tests has a mock version of the questions - bring them up on your phone and make sure you're up to speed.

5 - Don't assume you can just guess the answers

There's a commonly held belief that you can simply click the answers at random in the theory test and you'll be fine. You won't be. It'll be a wasted test – and even if you luck out, you might be missing a vital bit of info that will lead to you getting a speeding ticket, or – worse – having an accident. Why risk compromising all the great things driving can offer?

Instead, get some free practice, test yourself when you're out driving, keep up to date with the Highway Code and you'll be on the road in no time. Oh, and fasten your seatbelt. We worry.

A word from TopTests.co.uk founder and CEO, Andrei Zakhareusk:

"The Highway Code Manual is dry and boring; often it’s simply not enough to give learner drivers the confidence they need to pass their theory test. At TopTests.co.uk we provide that 'missing piece': an opportunity to practise after you have read the Highway Code, and to review and quiz yourself in a fun and interactive way.

Since 2011, TopTests.co.uk has issued over 5 million mock theory tests and receives nearly 1/2 million visitors to the site monthly. We like to believe we have helped contribute to the 17% drop in traffic accidents since 2009 and largely reduced the number of road fatalities in the U.K. from 2,222 in 2009 to 1,754 in 2012."