How to talk to your driving examiner

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is very customer-focused these days. Although we don’t owe anyone a pass or a fail, we do owe candidates a fair test, and we provide a debrief at the end to help explain the result.


I remember the days when examiners were far more restricted in what they could say and how they could interact with candidates. They weren’t allowed to make any conversation during the test; I think the average library must have been a chattier place to work! To be fair and consistent with all candidates, they followed a set script that covered every aspect of the test.

If the candidate attempted to chat, the examiner had to give ‘standard’ responses. For example, if the candidate said ‘The roads are busy today’, the examiner had to reply with ‘About normal for the time of day’, even if the opposite were the case!

At the end of the test, examiners weren’t allowed to give a debrief or an explanation of how the candidate had performed. They’d just hand over a copy of the test report and a copy of a booklet that was supposed to help explain why they’d failed.

It was all a bit robotic and didn’t do much to put the candidates at their ease or help them to develop as drivers.

Let’s talk about it

Nowadays, we’re allowed to make some conversation with you during your test. And we can say things in our own words, so long as the timing and content are appropriate, of course.

Talking to the examiner during your test can be useful in a couple of ways: firstly, it can help to put you at ease, and secondly, it’s unlikely that you’re never going to talk to your passengers once you’ve passed your test. Having a chat makes the test more like a real driving situation – but don’t get carried away! Focus on your driving above all else.

And now, at the end of the test we always offer a debrief – pass or fail. If you’ve failed, the debrief will be important to help you prepare for your next test. If you’ve passed, you’ll have the emotions of relief, joy and achievement welling up, but try to keep these in check and listen to the examiner’s words; they may help to improve some aspect of your driving that wasn’t as good as it might have been. You’ll pay good, hard-earned money for your driving test, so why throw away the opportunity to hear good advice that may help you?

So, just remember:

  • Talk with your examiner if it’ll help with your nerves, but don’t let it distract you. The examiner will gently let you know if you need to pipe down and focus more on the test.
  • If you want to be quiet and just concentrate on your driving, that’s fine too. The examiner will understand and won’t think you’re rude.
  • Listen carefully to the debrief at the end of the test.
  • If you don’t pass on this occasion, the examiner will explain why. Rather than seeing a failed test as some kind of disaster, try to see it as a stepping stone along the way to your ultimate pass, where you, your instructor and your examiner are trying to raise your driving standard to the required level.
  • If you do pass, then hooray for you! However, none of us is perfect, so listen to what the examiner has to say; it could make you an even better driver the next time you get behind the wheel.


It truly helps

I remember back on my driving test many moons ago, the driving examiner could see my nerves and made some small talk, which helped turn the beast of an examiner into a normal person and calm me down. I managed 1 minor throughout the test and at the very end he pointed out I had the same surname as my examiner, forgot to mention to him he was my dad!

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