The Practical Driving Test
What to expect on the Day
This page has been updated for the Driving Test from 4th December 2017
The Driving Test was first
started on British roads on 1st June 1935, which means the test is over 75 years old.
More about the History of The Driving Test.
The driving test itself is a fairly simple one, lasting about 40 minutes.
The aims, myths and Legends surrounding the practical driving test:-
The aim of the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) is to produce a test format that can be applied consistently throughout the U.K. However it can not be exactly the same everywhere.
London traffic conditions cannot be reproduced in the heart of Scotland,
and while it's easy to be able to find a hill for hill starts in Wales,
this cannot be done in the Fens. So Examiners have to take the areas as
they find it, but the same standards are applied nationally, with the content
of the test varying from area to area.
Ways to Book the Practical Test
The video below is the Official DVSA guide to what happens during the driving test and what it takes to pass it - including the eyesight test, 'show me, tell me' questions, reversing exercises, and independent driving parts of the test.
On the day of your test
Documents you must take for the Practical Driving Test.
You must bring the following documents with you for the driving test.
If you do not bring the right documents, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) may refuse to carry out the test and you may lose your fee.
For all types of tests
You must bring:
your theory test pass certificate (or confirmation) if you are not exempt
Your photo card licence
For motorcycle tests
You must also bring your:
compulsory basic training certificate (CBT) to both modules
motorcycle module one test pass certificate to your module two test
For lorry and bus tests
You must also bring both your multiple choice and hazard perception pass letters or your overall theory test pass certificate letter.
If you have an old-style paper licence
You must take your signed driving licence and you must also bring one of these with you:
a valid passport
an identity card for European Economic Area and Swiss nationals who live in the UK
No other form of photographic identification will be accepted.
If you have lost your provisional driving licenceIf you misplace your driving licence, you must apply for a replacement from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), which could take up to 15 days.
If this happens, you may have to rearrange your test.
Arrive at the Test Centre
in good time.
Each examiner works to a tight schedule, with up to seven tests to conduct each day.
Lateness can mean that the test cannot be carried out and you will lose your fee.
Why not ask your instructor to sit with you on your driving test.
On the time of your test,
the Examiner will call your name and ask you to sign an Insurance declaration.
This gives the Examiner a chance to check your signature against your provisional driving licence. The Examiner will then ask you for your Photo identity. If you are excused from wearing a seat belt on medical grounds, you should show your exemption certificate.
You could be asked whether you suffer from any physical disability that has not been declared on your application form. This is done to get an information update, since the form may have been filled in some months earlier.
Since April 2010 driving examiners have asked you, if they would like your instructor (or another observer - preferably the person who taught you to drive) to sit in on your test and listen to the feedback at the end.
Find out about the benefits of taking someone with you on your driving testMore
When the formalities are over,
the Examiner will ask you to lead the way to your car, and identify it to the Examiner. On the way to the parking area the Examiner should introduce himself and ask you what name he should refer you as - Joe, Fred, Di, Babs that sort of thing.
At the Parking area and the Examiner knows that he is not asking you to read your own number plate the Examiner will select a vehicle at random and ask you to read the number plate out to him. Get the number plate reading wrong twice, and the Examiner will measure out the statutory distance (20.5 metres or 67 feet, If a new style number plate is read the distance is 20 metres or 66 feet) using an official tape. Get the reading wrong now and you fail the whole test. You can, wear glasses when taking the eyesight test. If you do, then you must wear the same glasses throughout the rest of the test.
Since 4th December 2017
you will now be asked one ‘tell me’ question (where you explain how you’d carry out a safety task) at the start of your test, before you start driving
and then while your driving during the test, the driving examiner will ask you one
‘show me’ question (where you show how you’d carry out a safety task) for example, showing how to wash the windscreen using the car controls and wipers.
List of all the new questions:-
Tell Me - Questions asked at the start the Car Driving Test
Show Me - Questions asked during the Car Driving Test
If you answer one or both of the questions incorrectly this counts as a single driving fault. More than a total of 15 driving faults and you fail.
The Examiner will walk around your car. He will take details of the make and model on his driving test report sheet. The Examiner will also check to see if the vehicle is roadworthy. He will check for no broken lights, the windscreen wipers are in place, the tyres comply with the legal requirements. Make sure you don't have a dirty windscreen, and the 'L' plates are properly displayed. If the Examiner is happy he will join you in the car.
The Examiner will tell you that he wishes you to follow the road ahead unless traffic signs direct otherwise, or unless he asks you to turn. You will be expected to know and act on all traffic signs and signals, as well as signals given by other drivers. Failure to do so and the section Take prompt and appropriate action on all traffic signs/road markings/traffic lights/signals given by traffic controllers/other road users is marking against you
Then he will ask you to drive away when you are ready.
Take proper precautions before starting the engine this means, making sure that the handbrake is on and the gear lever or selector ( If driving an automatic) is in neutral - you are then off, for a busy 35 minutes.
The Examiner will be marking your performance on his sheet. You have to avoid failure points if you are to pass your test. Throughout the test the Examiner will be looking for reasonably smooth use of the controls. So you are expected to Make proper use of /accelerator/clutch/gears/foot brake/handbrake/steering.
During the whole test the Examiner will be building up a picture of your ability and common sense as a driver. The Examiner will expect you to suit your speed to the road and traffic conditions. This is marked in the Make progress by/driving at a speed appropriate to the road and traffic conditions/avoiding undue hesitancy. You have to choose a proper speed for general driving and when coming to corners, bends, junction, roundabouts etc. This will be marked in the Exercise proper care in the use of speed section.
Mirrors and signals have to be used correctly. The faults recorded in this section come under the heading Make effective use of the mirrors well before signalling/changing direction/slowing down or stopping.
The Examiner will be checking that signals are given in good time and that the correct signals are given. If not they will be marked in the Give signals where necessary/correctly/in good time
The Examiner will also be watching to see how you deal with other road users. Show awareness and anticipation of the actions of pedestrians/cyclists/drivers. And you need to know how to Overtake/meet/cross the path of/other vehicles safely
At junctions the Examiner will be watching to see that you apply the M.S.M routine. You have to know how to deal with different junctions- Act properly at road junctions. Dealing with other road users means you must Allow adequate clearance to stationary vehicles
Every test route includes a pedestrian crossing, so you have to Take appropriate action at pedestrian crossing.
The Examiner will ask you
to stop at various places during the driving test.
Whenever you stop, you should do so in a safe place. The Examiner will not trap you by asking you to stop in a illegal place, but you have to Select a safe position for normal stops. It will be after one of these "stops" when the Examiner will ask you to do one of the many special exercises. In one in three tests you will be required to Stop the vehicle in emergency/promptly/under control/making proper use of brakes.
The Examiner will explain to you that you have to stop the vehicle in an emergency.
He will show you what he intends to do in order for you to stop quickly at his request. You need to stop the vehicle 'under control' Which means you should apply a constant firm pressure to the brake pedal, holding it just short of the point at which the wheels lock. Don't leave putting the clutch down too long, or you'll stall the engine. When stopped apply the handbrake, and put the gear lever into neutral. Move off again when told.
Don't forget the M.S.M. routine.
More about The Emergency Stop
Since December 2017 You'll be asked to do ONE of 3 possible reversing manoeuvres:
- Parallel park at the side of the road. How to do:- Parallel Parking
- Park in a bay - either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do) How to do:- Bay Parking
- Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for 2 car lengths and rejoin the traffic. How to do:- Pull up on the right and reverse
The Reverse around the corner and The Turn in the Road is no longer carried out on the Driving Test but hopefully your instructor should still teach it.
During the test you will be asked to do an exercise called Independent driving.
Since December 2017, Independent driving lasts approx 20 minutes and takes up half of the test.
During this part of the test, you have to drive without turn-by-turn directions from the driving examiner but will be asked to follow directions from a sat nav.
Oddly, One in 5 driving tests won't use a sat nav. You'll need to follow traffic signs instead.
The examiner will provide the sat nav and set it up. You have to use the one supplied by the examiner so you can't use your own.
You won’t need to set the route - the examiner will do this for you.
Right that's all over its
back to the test Centre.
The moment of truth. The Examiner faces you and tells you that the test is over . Then "I'm pleased to tell you that you have passed" or "I'm sorry you haven't passed". Either way, you will receive a certificate.
The PASS certificate (DSA10) has to be signed and sent to the DVLA in Swansea, together with your provisional licence which is surrendered when a "Full" licence is issued. If the have an ADLI licence (issued after 1st March 2004), they just need to keep the certificate, and the examiner will keep both parts of your licence and it will be sent it off to the DVLA for you.
Less welcome is the alternative 'Statement of Failure' form, (DL25C)on which the Examiner will have marked with a '\' in the columns.
You will also be given another application form to apply for your next test!
Data Protection Act
At this point the Examiner will ask you if you would like an explanation of any faults that you have occurred.
If you say. "Yes". A debriefing will follow when the Examiner has asked you if you want your Instructor to hear the debriefing with you.
If you allow your Instructor to listen to a debriefing then it should be made clear to you, by the Examiner, that the information is privileged to you under the Data Protection Act and you have the right to exclude your Instructor from the privileged information passed from the Examiner to you. If you agree to your Instructor listening to the Examiners' debriefing you waive your protective rights under the Data Protection Act. The Examiner will make this clear to you.
Even if your Instructor accompanies you on your Driving Test you retain the right to exclude your Instructor from the debriefing that the Examiner gives at the end of your Test. In other words, you may ask your Instructor to leave the car before the debriefing begins.
If you decide to listen to the Examiner's debriefing without your Instructor present then you may run the risk of not fully understanding the Examiners wording.
Even if you haven't passed, you will have learnt a great deal. You can build on these skills in order to pass next time. Decide on what steps you can take to improve your technique and ask your instructor for advice.
There is no magic formula for passing your driving test - but here's some advice that will certainly be helpful.
Get a good night's sleep before the test.
Make sure you eat a good breakfast. Even though you may be nervous and have lost your appetite eating breakfast is very important. Research has shown that your brain needs food to concentrate, so give yourself some food for thought!
Dress comfortably - make yourself feel good.
Have confidence in your ability.
Arrive in plenty of time You should be present in the test centre at least ten minutes before the appointed time of your test. If you are late the test will be cancelled, and the fee will be forfeited.
Listen carefully to the examiner's instructions, act on them in good time, and ask for them to be repeated if necessary.
Give the examiner a beautifully smooooth drive, one that both of you can enjoy.
The examiner just wants to see what you would normally do - nothing that you do not already know.
If you make a decision that you think could be misjudged by the examiner, explain your reasons while you drive.
If you come across a new situation, hold back and assess it carefully before you decide to proceed - and be prepared to change your decision if necessary.
Show the examiner that you deserve to have those L plates removed.