Practical Driving Test

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING YOUR DRIVING TEST

ON THE DAY OF YOUR DRIVING TEST

If you are with a driving instructor, they will usually pick you up around one hour before the test. This will give you a little time to warm up and get your driving skills up to scratch. If you are not with an instructor, take a drive around the test roads for 30 to 40 minutes to get your self accustomed to the conditions.

Ensure you take with you your provisional driving licence photocard. Without this, the examiner will terminate the driving test. Ideally, also take the test booking details. If they were emailed to you, print them out and also your theory test pass certificate.

The driving examiner will not ask to look at either of these, only your provisional driving licence, but it’s a good idea to take them just in case there are any problems.

AT THE TEST CENTRE 

You have found yourself the best parking position to exit the test centre, familiarized yourself with the exit strategy, so it’s off to the waiting room. Try to chat with your instructor or the person that is accompanying you to calm your nerves.

When the examiner enters the room, they will call your name out and ask to see your provisional driving licence. They will ask you if the address details on it are correct. If they are not, they will ask you to fill out the correct details on the back and sign it. They will then ask you to read and sign a declaration that confirms you are fully insured for the vehicle you will be driving.

Finally, the examiner will ask if you wish your instructor to accompany you on the test, this is entirely up to you. Your instructor or the person accompanying you cannot talk to you or guide your driving in anyway during the test. If they do, the examiner may terminate the test. If by accompanying you, it makes you feel more at ease, then take them along. They must sit behind the driver side of the car.

If you happen to be late for your test, the examiner will wait around 5 minutes for you in the waiting room. Any longer than this then the test will be cancelled and you will lose the test fee. Once all this is complete, the examiner will ask you to lead the way to the car.

THE DRIVING TEST EYESIGHT TEST

Whilst leading the way to your car, the examiner will ask you to read a number plate off of a car of the examiners choice. This eyesight test will require you reading a new-style number plate from a distance of 20 metres or an old style plate at 20.5 metres.

These number plates are likely to be further than 20 metres, so if you fail to read the first plate correctly, the examiner will ask you to read a second plate. If you fail to read this one correctly, the examiner will ask you to move forward to an appropriate distance (approximately 20 or 20.5 metres). If you fail this time, the examiner will choose a third number plates and measure the exact distance needed for that style of number plate. If at this point you fail to read the number plate correctly, the examiner will terminate the driving test and it will be marked as a fail.

If you wear glasses or contact lenses for the eyesight test, law requires that you must wear them for the actual driving test. The examiner will require you to sign a form stating that you failed to meet the minimum standards of the eyesight test and your licence will be revoked. 

DRIVING TEST QUESTIONS

Now that we have made it to your car, the examiner will require you to answer 2 driving test questions, commonly known as the ‘Show Me Tell Me’ questions and answers. There are 19 of these questions in total with around a combination of 12 questions they may ask, they are related to car maintenance and car safety.

It is obviously a good idea to read up on these and to fully understand the questions and possible answers. Don’t worry about what the combinations are, just know the answers to all 19 questions. Some of the questions are general and can relate to any car such as the legal tyre tread depth, but some are more specific to the particular car you are taking on your driving test. 

PRACTICAL DRIVING TEST BEGINS

Now the driving part of the test will begin. The type of roads taken during your test largely depend on where the test centre is situated. The examiner will require that you show an excellent knowledge, regard to others and safety at such road systems as:

Roundabouts – These may include large, multi-lane roundabouts and mini roundabouts.

Junctions – From small, difficult to manoeuvre junctions, to major junctions leading onto high speed roads.

Crossroads – Assessing your ability for making left and right turns.

If one-way-systems are present on the test routes then these may be implemented.

If the test centre is located in such an area, then rural country roads could be implemented in the test and also dual carriageway roads. Just because all these road types may be present close to your test centre, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will drive on them all. It is a good idea to get plenty of practice on all the road types just in case.

DRIVING TEST MANOEUVRES

During the test, the examiner will require that you demonstrate at least one manoeuvre, time permitting the examiner may ask you to demonstrate an additional manoeuvre. The possible manoeuvres are:

  • Turn in the road
  • Reverse round a corner
  • Reverse parallel parking
  • Bay parking

INDEPENDENT DRIVING

An independent driving test map used by the DVSA examiners during the practical

The driving test now incorporates the independent driving element. This will involve the examiner asking you to park on the left. They will then inform you that the independent part of the test is about to begin. This part of the test lasts around 10 minutes. The examiner will show you a basic diagram or map that they would like you to follow.

The independent part of the test isn’t to test your ability at navigation, it is about you following road signs safely. If you forget where you are supposed to go, simply ask the examiner to repeat the instructions, which they will. If you take a wrong turn, it doesn’t matter providing you do it safely. If you get really muddled and confused as to where you are going, the examiner will simply give you directions to put you back on course.

EMERGENCY STOP

There is around a 1-in-3 possibility of the examiner asking you to demonstrate the emergency stop procedure. The examiner will ask you to park up and will then explain that he wants you to perform the procedure. They will explain clearly what the command is for you to stop. The examiner will ensure that it is safe for you to perform this procedure. For further information, see the tutorial of:

AT THE END OF THE DRIVING TEST

Once you have stopped, secured the car and turned the engine off at the test centre, the examiner will inform you if you have passed or failed the driving test. They will produce a test report and call your instructor over if they didn’t go with you on the test. The examiner will describe to you and your instructor any errors you made and if applicable, why you failed.

If you passed, the examiner will provide you with a test pass certificate that will entitle you to drive immediately. They will also ask if you would like to have them send you your new licence. If so, they will require that you hand them your provisional licence as it is no longer valid. If you attended the test with a driving instructor, the instructor will usually drive you back home. The driving test will last for around 40 minutes.

WHAT THE EXAMINER IS LOOKING FOR

Listed below are some tips and advice about what exactly the test examiner is expecting from you. It is expected that you make mistakes, after all, you are still a learner.

MAKING MISTAKES

Many learner drivers make mistakes on the driving test. The examiner is expecting this and it is quite normal. What many learners do however, is focus on this mistake thinking all is lost. This puts their mind elsewhere, concentration goes and all is lost. The examiner is looking for general good control of the car, for example not driving on pavements and a good deal of safety, such as not pulling out in front of an oncoming vehicle. If you make a mistake, unless it’s an obvious fail like going through a red light, then chances are it’s just a minor. Let it go and concentrate on the rest of the test.

DRIVING TEST MANOEUVRES

Essentially, the examiner is looking for you to do them safely. If you are required to demonstrate the turn in the road for example and you feel you can’t make it in 3 turns, turn it into a 5 point turn. Or the parallel park manoeuvre, if you feel you may hit the kerb whilst reversing, pull forward to correct yourself. Just inform the examiner what you are doing and you may receive a minor in some cases for over-correcting, but providing you do it all safely, there shouldn’t be any problems. This applies to all four manoeuvres.

SPEED

Although it may be tempting to drive very slow, this is in fact dangerous as it can make vehicles behind you impatient and try to over-take. Again, it’s all about safety from the examiners point of view. Generally, keep up with the traffic in front of you unless of course they are speeding.

However, as a learner you aren’t going to be as experienced. So when approaching difficult and hazardous systems such as roundabouts, junctions and crossroads, approach them a little slower than everyone else. This will give you a little extra time to look out for other traffic, pedestrians, road markings and traffic lights. It’s better to get 1 or 2 minors for being too hesitant than a serious for being unsafe.

MIRRORS

Having good all-round observation will give you confidence on the driving test. Many learners when they drive, feel like they are in their ‘little bubble’. This is because they are not confident with their surroundings and how they are interacting with it. Having frequent looks in your mirrors will give you the confidence to drive better as you will feel safer and more confident with your surroundings. The examiner is of course expecting you to make frequent checks in your mirrors.

Generally speaking, anytime your car changes direction or speed, there should be mirrors involved. Don’t worry if you miss one here and there in your test, they don’t expect perfection, although it’s nice. Just as long as it isn’t frequent and at a particular time when it is essential, then all should be good.

TAKING A WRONG TURN

The driving test isn’t about your skills as a navigator. If you are unsure where you are supposed to be going at any point, even during the independent part of the test, ask the examiner. They are more than happy to repeat. The amount of times a learner gets to a junction or roundabout for example and panics because they don’t know where they are going. Even if you don’t ask and realize you have taken the wrong turn or exit, it doesn’t matter. Providing you ‘get lost’ safely, then that is all the examiner is looking for.