The Secret to Passing License Conversion Test

While I’m still not the most veteran person around to give you advice, you have to trust me—someone who passed on the 6th attempt in Japan (3 in Aichi, 3 in Kanagawa).

First and foremost, the people in Aichi told me Aichi’s test is the most difficult in the whole of Japan. I took it for the truth as Aichi has one of the highest accident rates in Japan. When I moved to Kanagawa, the people at Kanagawa told me the test at Kanagawa is the most difficult in Japan. And I stopped believing anyone who tries to tell me which is the most difficult. But making a simple comparison, I could arrive at the conclusion that the test at Kanagawa is in fact more difficult than the one at Aichi. Reason being that at Aichi, when you are doing the test, only your vehicle is running in the circuit, while in Kanagawa, many vehicles are having their tests at the same time as you are. This means, the conversion test is pretty much like the real on-road test. Also, the circuit at Kanagawa is much larger than the one in Aichi.

Why I had to take the test so many times was, barring a few immediate failures for very silly reasons, because of my turning. Based on my experiences, close to 90% of foreigners fail the conversion test each time (in the 6 times I took the test, there was a total of around 40-45 people and only around 5-7 passed). And after having spoken with the tester following my passing (there’s a long story behind why I was speaking to him), I learnt that apart from those given immediate failures, almost 100% of foreigners fail for the same reason. Turning.

I used to drive my dad’s lorry back in Singapore, so I had the bad habit of making huge turns but I thought I had improved it following the multiple tests, until one very fine day, one of the testers got me to sit in the rear during a Japanese student’s test.

* Side note: In Kanagawa, there must always be a rear passenger onboard during tests and it is usually the next person in line for the test. As for the last person, they usually just get anyone they can grab to sit in. This is not the same in Aichi.

I was really fortunate he picked me out of the many people present there, because the Japanese guy obviously went through the proper school lessons and it was at that moment that I finally understood what they meant by a small turn.

Pardon the poor drawing but trust me, once you master this, you have increased your chances of passing very significantly. Most people tend to turn as below:

This is typically correct in most countries. But in Japan, you have to turn like this:

And very exaggeratingly close to the side road (at least from a Singapore driver’s point of view). You have to be so close, there is absolutely no room for a bicycle or motorcycle to pass from your left (if you’re making a left turn) and right (if you’re making a right turn). But not so close such that you are about to mount the curb. This is because, according to the tester I spoke with, most of Japan’s traffic accidents occur due to such incidents where bicycles/motorcycles pass from the side a car is turning to and collide during the car’s turn.

Good luck for your test if you’re taking it.

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