How to prepare for your IAM Roadsmart advanced motorcycle test

By The Training Team

Very few people will be totally relaxed before a test. However, with proper preparation and practice, your IAM Advanced road test will be a positive and rewarding experience.

Here we explain what you may expect before, during and after your test and offer our suggestions for how to prepare.


Pre-Test Rides

You will have already been out on a number of rides with your observer. Once he or she feels that you have reached the required standard, you will have the opportunity of a pre-test ride with a member of the Training Team. This will provide additional verification that you are consistently riding to an advanced standard as well as giving you a ‘dry run’ before applying for your test.

Practice, practice and more practice

Observed rides are great but you will benefit from time on your bike practicing the skills and techniques you have learnt. Examiners report that they can clearly see when a test candidate has put in the time required to become comfortable with all aspects of the advanced riding system.

Try a commentary to yourself as you are riding to checking that you are observing all around. Talk yourself through the system as each hazard is identified. Imagine explaining your plan to someone.

Read the books

Your examiner may ask questions to check your knowledge of the IAM Roadsmart advanced rider booklet and the Highway Code. This may be done in a conversational way, rather than through formal question and answer session. It is a great confidence boost to be able to readily supply answers to questions such as “what is the sequence of traffic lights” or “when are you allowed to cross a solid white line?” Your observer will be able to work with you to develop and test your knowledge.

The Test

A clean bike

First impressions count. Arriving for the test on a clean and well maintained motorcycle, equipped in appropriate clothing, will get you off to a good start. If the candidate hasn’t bothered to prepare their machine, the examiner may well question how much preparation has gone into other areas.

Be on time

Many candidates will take the time for a short practice ride before the test. Arrive at the agreed rendezvous point in time to re-hydrate, re-fuel, attend to a call of nature and give your visor a final clean. Park your bike facing forward towards the exit.

The examiners

The IAM Roadsmart examiners are highly trained, professional riders. However, they are friendly and want you to do well! They will not ask trick questions or try to catch you out. Your examiner may well chat for a few moments, explaining what is going to happen during the test and put you at your ease. He or she may ask one or two questions at this point and you should take the opportunity to clarify anything that you are unsure of.

The examiners recognise that, during the course of your observed rides and with practice, you will have developed the skills needed to ride to an advanced standard with consistency. They also know that this will have been confirmed by a pre-test ride. The examiners are looking for you to demonstrate your ability to apply the system in any situation.

Occasionally, a rider may be unable demonstrate his or her skills with sufficient consistency during the course of the test. Even so, the examiner will not consider that the rider has failed.

The weather

Sadly IAM and Northumbria Advanced Motorcyclists have no control over the weather. The test will go ahead as long as it is safe to do so. The decision rests with the examiner. If inclement weather is expected, you should dress accordingly. Wear, or at least have with you, waterproof clothing and gloves. You will not ride to your best if you are cold or wet.

Clean your visor with a rain repellant and perhaps an anti-mist on the inside. It is very distracting if you can’t see clearly.


The IAM Roadsmart test will normally take around 45 minutes. This will be followed by a comprehensive debrief of the ride. You will be surprised at the amount of information the examiner is able to recall. The debrief is a most important part of the process. Where necessary, this will include detailed advice about areas that a candidate may you need additional practice to perfect their riding.

Test routes

There are no fixed test routes! The examiners will select a route based upon a start location that has been mutually agreed. The examiners need to be able to adjust the route during test, perhaps re-introducing certain features, in order to give the candidate every opportunity to demonstrate his or her ability to deal with a given situations. For example, if a candidate appeared tense and did ride too well in a town setting, the route may be adjusted to include more town riding.

Pre-ride checks

The examiner may not ask you to demonstrate your pre-ride checks. However, you should be prepared to do so and always offer. Consider using POWDDERSS and IAMSAFE, to ensure that you cover all important checks, and practice. Your observer will be able to help. Don’t forget a rolling brake test as you start off your test ride.

Do not cross over empty parking bays or take short-cuts as you exit the car park. This is a good opportunity to demonstrate your machine control.


Whilst you may have used bluetooth communication during observed rides, the test will be conducted without radio communication. Some candidates have expressed concern that they may not know the roads in the area that has been selected for the test. However, normal rear observations will be sufficient to see the examiners indications. The examiners will make every effort to give you early and clear signals when they wish you to turn. If the examiner doesn’t indicate you should continue straight ahead. If there is no signal given on the approach to a roundabout or junction then, continue on the same road as you leave the roundabout.


Mini-roundabouts must be treated in the same way as any other roundabout. Riding over a mini roundabout is potentially dangerous and is illegal. This should never be necessary on a motorcycle.

Speed limits

All speed limits must be adhered to. Do not plan or start a manoeuvre which will require you to exceed the speed limit. For example, any overtake should be planned so that it is completed safely within the prevailing limit.

Get up to the speed limit as quickly as is reasonable given the conditions. This shows confidence and awareness.


Examiners will look for smooth and progressive braking. Consider that, whilst engine braking has its place, brake lights give information.


If you make a mistake, consider what is the correct and safe option to rectify the situation. Don’t panic or dwell on mistakes. These are opportunities to demonstrate that you are a thinking rider! Relax and drop your arms. Not only does this look better, it will help with steering.

On behalf of the training team, we wish you good luck and success!


Do you have any test preparation tips to pass on to other Associates? We’d love to read them! Please send your comments to email or Twitter.

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