Show me, Tell me – How to cheat on your driving test (sort of) : I’ve been wracking my brains this morning, trying to remember something. Considering the content of this article, it’s ironic that I can’t remember which film taught me a fabulous way to cheat in any exam and never get caught. The secret is really simple; study the material and secretly store all the answers in your head. In this article, I’ll be showing you how to store the Show Me, Tell Me answers in your head.
You may be pleased to know that I’m actually going to go one better. I’ll show you how to secretly store all the answers in your head without doing very much study. It’s not going to be entirely effort free on your part, but it’s really pretty simple and the payoff is huge – perfect recall with little to no effort.
Follow the advice in this article and I guarantee you’ll never get caught cheating.
Memory aids (A.K.A. Mnemonic Devices)
I’m going to be showing you a technique that employs a thing called a memory aid, which will show you how to store the information more easily. But first, you need to know what a memory aids actually is.
If you’re familiar with concepts such as the Memory Palace, the Major System, peg systems and linking systems (to name a few), and if you’ve played with these even a little bit, then this is going to be really easy for you. You can skip ahead to the meat and potatoes section. (Or tofu and granola if you prefer a plant-based diet)
However, if you’re not familiar with these concepts, or you just want to brush up a little, watch the video below to get you up to speed.
Really. Do it now and the rest of the article will make a lot more sense.
OK, so to recap: We humans are really good at storing images. If we encode what we want to learn into memorable images, then all we need to remember are the images, remembering how to decode them takes very little effort.
Making sense? Good. Let’s continue.
The Meat and Potatoes Section – How to Memorise the Show Me, Tell Me answers.
You may have already figured out, that all the Tell Me questions and answers are actually pretty simple to convert into pictures.
I’ll give you examples here, but I really want you to personalise these, because something that stands out as an obvious connection to me, may not make sense to you. Maybe I use a cultural reference you don’t understand, or a connection you find distasteful. Change and adjust these so that they work for you.
Also, be sure to add details; make them strange, funny, emotional or sensory in ways that speak to you. The more emotion you can put into them, the more smells, tastes, sounds, the more action, the better. All these things will make them more memorable for you.
Take a minute to really imagine each picture as you get to it. At the end there’s a link to a page where you can easily test yourself. See how many you can remember from a single read-through of this exercise.
If you are any kind of artist and would like to draw your images, this will help. By all means, link to these in the comments and help others out too.
So here goes…
‘Tell Me’ Questions
Question 1: Tell me how you’d check that the brakes are working before starting a journey.
Answer 1: Brakes should not feel spongy or slack. Brakes should be tested as you set off. Vehicle should not pull to one side.
Image 1: A brake pedal with a wet sponge and a tiny pair of trousers (a.k.a. slacks) underneath it. A foot gently applies the accelerator, and clowns foot jumps in and hits the brake. Water squirts from the sponge into the driver’s face and the car swerves to one side.
Question 2: Tell me where you’d find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how tyre pressures should be checked.
Answer 2: Manufacturer’s guide, use a reliable pressure gauge, check and adjust pressures when tyres are cold, don’t forget spare tyre, remember to refit valve caps.
Image 2: A Girl Guide is sitting next to a rear tyre holding the car manual in one hand. In the other she is holding a pressure gauge that is dressed in a very smart business suit, looking very reliable. The tyres are covered in ice and the gauge is pompously commenting that this is the right temperature at which to check and adjust the pressures.
Suddenly the boot flips open and the spare tyre starts throwing valve caps to get the Girl Guide’s attention, shouting “hey, don’t forget about us!”
Question 3: Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.
Answer 3: The head restraint should be adjusted so the rigid part of the head restraint is at least as high as the eye or top of the ears, and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable. Note: Some restraints might not be adjustable.
Image 3: The driver is adjusting the headrest. It’s got eyes, ears and a rigid part, but they’re all over the place like a Picasso painting. The driver adjusts them so they all line up, the rigid part, being lined up with the eyes and the top of the ears. The driver then sits back to check comfort, but it needs to come closer to the head. The driver moves it too fast and it bangs the driver on the head. A big cartoon bump appears. The driver pushes the bump back down and is now comfortable.
The driver looks over at the passenger, who adjusting their own headrest but is struggling to move the eyes, ears and rigid part at all. This one is not adjustable.
Question 4: Tell me how you’d check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road.
Answer 4: No cuts and bulges, 1.6mm of tread depth across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre, and around the entire outer circumference of the tyre.
Question 5: Tell me how you’d check that the headlights and tail lights are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.
Answer 5: Explain you’d operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary), then walk round vehicle (as this is a ‘tell me’ question, you don’t need to physically check the lights).
Question 6: Tell me how you’d know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system.
Answer 6: Warning light should illuminate if there is a fault with the anti-lock braking system.
Image 6: Familiarise yourself with the anti-locking warning light. A tiny workman is attempting to attach a padlock to the brake pedal. He’s finding it difficult. Eventually, he manages it and immediately the anti-locking brake warning light illuminates really brightly on the dashboard.
Question 7: Tell me how you’d check the direction indicators are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.
Answer 7: Explain you’d operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary), and then walk round vehicle (as this is a ‘tell me’ question, you don’t need to physically check the lights).
Image 7: Imagine a giant compass, with orange indicator lights at each point (Nort, South, East and West) and in the centre is a steering wheel, complete with indicator sticks* and an ignition. You flick the indicators on and nothing happens, so you start the ignition and then they work. You walk around the compass to check they are all working and they are so bright you have to shield your eyes.
*that’s a technical term used by the pro’s.
Question 8: Tell me how you’d check the brake lights are working on this car.
Answer 8: Explain you’d operate the brake pedal, make use of reflections in windows or doors, or ask someone to help.
Image 8: You’re parked in a hall of mirrors in a theme park. There are some red lights in the ceiling, very much looking like brake lights, but with a chequered pattern drawn onto them. You press the brake lever and can see that all the red lights get brighter, but you’d like a second opinion. You look around and find your favourite musician, actor or another influential person, you call them over and in a very strange and animated way, they confirm that the brake lights are working.
Question 9: Tell me how you’d check the power-assisted steering is working before starting a journey.
Answer 9: If the steering becomes heavy, the system may not be working properly. Before starting a journey, 2 simple checks can be made.
Gentle pressure on the steering wheel, maintained while the engine is started, should result in a slight but noticeable movement as the system begins to operate. Alternatively turning the steering wheel just after moving off will give an immediate indication that the power assistance is functioning.
Image 9: You’re sat parked and you notice a lurid chequer pattern on the steering wheel. You start applying pressure to turn the wheel clockwise but it’s heavy, so you switch the ignition on. It’s noticeably better, in fact, it works so well you get flung from the car.
You get back in the car and start to pull off, checking again sends you snaking off up the road. A crowd appears and starts to cheer at your fabulous stunt driving skills.
Question 10: Tell me how you’d switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you’d use it/them. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.
Answer 10: Operate switch (turn on dipped headlights and ignition if necessary). Check warning light is on. You MUST use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet). You may also use front or rear fog lights but you MUST switch them off when visibility improves
Image 10: Familiarise yourself with where the fog light switches are in your car, and what the fog warning light looks like.
You’re parked by the side of the road, surrounded by a thin pink fog that smells of strawberries. All sorts of strange creatures can be seen along the roadside around you; a dragon, a unicorn, a vermicious knid, whatever you like.
You can see psychedelic lights every few meters along the roadside, and every so often there are signs that read “100 M” in bright blue.
You check the fog warning light and it’s on, so you operate the fog light switch, but the ignition is off. You switch the ignition on and they still don’t work. You switched the dipped headlights on, now they work, but you decide visibility is still fair so you switch the lights off again and pull away slowly.
The fog worsens so you can’t see the 100m signs any more, so you switch the dipped headlights on. As the fog worsens still you start to have trouble making out the psychedelic lights so you switch on the fog lights.
As you drive slowly along you come across a witch casting a spell to get rid of the fog, and as it clears you can see the lights and signs again, so you switch off the lights.
Question 11: Tell me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you’d know the main beam is on.
Answer 11: Operate switch (with ignition or engine on if necessary), check with main beam warning light.
Image 11: Familiarise yourself with the location of the lights switch, the dipped/main beam mechanism and the main beam warning light.
Imagine yourself sat parked with the ignition off and you go to switch the lights on but they don’t work, you just get squirted in the face with water and the car makes a sarcastic “wah, wah” sound. You switch the ignition on and start the engine. Now when you operate the switch for the lights they work perfectly. You check the dashboard for the main beam warning light, it’s not on so you operate the dipped/main beam switch. The main beam comes on as does the warning light comes on, but it’s bright pink and the car plays a fanfare for you.
Question 12: Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient oil.
Answer 12: Identify dipstick/oil level indicator, describe check of oil level against the minimum and maximum markers.
Image 12: Familiarise yourself with where you check the oil level.
Imagine opening the bonnet, moving round to the engine and pulling out the dipstick but finding you actually pull out a miniature Rodney Trotter*. Rodney is wearing a white tee shirt with ‘Min’ and ‘Max’ marks printed on it, but the oil is all the way from his head to his knees. He’s angrily shouting “Get me out of here, Del!” while you try to explain how the markers tell you the oil is not at the correct level.
*If you’re under 30 you may not get this cultural reference. Imagine another familiar person you might insult by calling them a dipstick, such as Karl Pilkington or Joey Essex.
Question 13: Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient engine coolant.
Answer 13: Identify high and low level markings on header tank where fitted or radiator filler cap, and describe how to top up to correct level.
Image 13: Familiarise yourself with where you check the coolant level and practice imagining this part covered in ice so you will always remember this is for coolant. Now imagine opening the bonnet, moving round to the engine and finding that this part is covered in ice as it should be. You look closely, and you can see that inside you once again find Rodney Trotter, shivering and looking annoyed. He is conveniently pushed up against the side of the coolant reservoir and you can see that he is in his white tee shirt with max/min marks.
Rodney is shouting “I’m not even supposed to be here Del!”. You notice the coolant is only up to his ankles, so you try to explain over the shouting, how Rodney needs to unscrew the cap and pour in coolant until it comes up to the Max mark.
Question 14: Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.
Answer 14: Identify reservoir, check level against high and low markings.
Image 14: Familiarise yourself with where the brake fluid reservoir is and practice imagining this part made of the same kind of plastic as the lens over a brake light so you will always remember this is for brake fluid. Now imagine going to check the fluid level and finding, once again, little Rodney Trotter is in the reservoir, really annoyed and saying, “awww, not again Del!”. Again you find that the level is only up to his ankles, and you know it should be between the high and low markings.
Note: If you’re asked question 12, 13 or 14 you need to physically open the bonnet and tell the examiner how you’d do the check, so remember, if you see Rodney Trotter you will need to get out of the car!
Show Me Tasks
The Show Me section is far more straightforward. You should know the basics by the time you have booked your test (or you need to have a serious word with your driving instructor!). However, there are still details you can memorise should you forget them during a test.
For instance, maybe the front and rear demister buttons are next to each other and use a similar symbol, but you can never remember which one is which. By this point, I hope you will be familiar with the idea of adding bizarre details to make something memorable. In my previous car, the front window demister has a quite curvy symbol, and the rear one is very similar but not quite as curvy. I have no idea what they were supposed to represent and there didn’t seem to be any logic to their placement. It was really a terrible bit of design.
My system for remembering was that the symbol for the rear demister looked a bit like a bottom. It was a stretch of the imagination, but just about worked for me and once I had it memorised it was easy.
I recently lost the key to my current car and my spare doesn’t have the blipper electronic thing. While waiting for the new key I wanted to remember that turning left locked it and turning right unlocked it, so I made up the phrase “Left if the car is left behind, and right when I come right back”. It’s silly but it worked.
Go through each of the Show Me tasks and if you find any details like these that might trip you up, make up your own mnemonic and practice thinking it every time you do the action, so by the time you’re under pressure to perform, the mnemonic is well ingrained.
Now Test Yourself
If you’ve genuinely spent a minute or two going through these images, adding your own details and sensory information, and making them your own, you should now pretty much have them memorised.
If any are proving tricky, revisit the mnemonic image. Which details are proving tricky? How can you personalise or exaggerate these details? How can you make it even stranger or more sensory? Maybe simply revisiting it will be enough.
This article has sought to show you a relatively simple method for memorising all the tricky details when it comes to the Show Me, Tell Me part of your driving test. I hope it has been helpful to you, please let me know either way.
The skills used for learning this material are entirely transferable, so you can apply the same approach to learning almost anything easily. I encourage you to take these ideas forward and get proficient with them. They are genuinely a life skill that will give you an advantage over most other people. I use these techniques in one form or another every single day.
Please comment below about your success, or if you have had any issues, and especially if you can see ways this could be improved. And please feel free to share your mnemonic images and help other people out.
In my day job I’m primarily a hypnotherapist in Sudbury, but this work involves all sorts of interesting tangents, such as teaching mnemonic memory systems and helping nervous learners to conquer their test nerves. Please get in touch if you want help with either of these things.
Notice: Questions and answers here have been taken directly from the government website, with a couple of exceptions where I have added extracts from the highway code. These are public domain works and no copyrights have been infringed.