Taking your practical driving test

Taking your practical driving test

The practical test makes sure you can drive confidently and safely in different road and traffic conditions, and that you know The Highway Code (and can show this by the way you drive). It lasts about 40 minutes.

You can find out more about the practical test at GOV.UK, such as what documents you’ll need to bring to the test, what happens during the test and what sort of car you can use for your test.

Before you begin the driving part of the test, the examiner will do an eyesight check and will ask you a question about safety checks on your car. DVSA’s ‘Show Me, Tell Me’ videos give some more information about these questions.

You'll be asked a second 'show me' question (for example, showing how to wash the windscreen using the car controls) later, while you're driving.

For about 20 minutes of the test you’ll drive independently: your examiner will ask you to follow directions or signs to reach a destination. This is so you can show you’ll be able to drive safely on your own after you’ve passed your test.

Most candidates will be asked to follow directions from a sat-nav provided by the examiner. One in five driving tests won't use a sat-nav; you'll be asked to follow traffic signs instead.

You’re allowed to take your instructor with you on your test, or anyone who’s over 16.

It’s useful to have your instructor or the person who trained you to drive with you: they can help you work on any problems the examiner notices, either to help you pass next time or if you want to keep learning after you pass your test. Having someone you know with you can also help you to stay calm during the test.

Almost everyone gets nervous about their driving test: you’ve done months of preparation and you really want to pass.  Here are some tips to help you:

  • It might sound obvious, but don’t take your driving test until you’re ready. Lots of people fail the driving test just because they haven’t taken enough lessons to pass. There’s no point in taking the driving test until your driving instructor says you’re ready. You’re likely to waste your time and money if you take it too soon. Don’t worry if you think you should be making faster progress. On average it takes people 45 hours of driving lessons and 22 hours of practice with relatives or friends to learn to drive.
  • You can find out the top 10 reasons that people fail the driving test (and how to avoid them) over on BuzzFeed. If you’re regularly making these kinds of mistakes on your driving lessons, you’ll need more practice before you’re ready to pass your test.
  • Almost everyone gets nervous about their driving test. Who wouldn’t? The driving examiner knows you’ll be nervous and will do their best to put you at your ease. Remember, your examiner wants to make sure you’re safe on the road. They’re not trying to catch you out. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, just ask.

To pass your test, you'll need to keep your nerves under control. Try these things to help: 

  • Don’t book your test at a time when you know other stressful things are happening, such as school exams
  • Make sure you get a few good nights’ sleep before your test - you’ll feel more stressed if you’re tired
  • Avoid too much caffeine before your test: it might make you feel jittery and nervous
  • Arrive at the test centre about 15 minutes before your test is due so you’re not hurried but you’re also not waiting too long.
  • Talk to the examiner during the test if you want to – but remember that they might not say much because they don’t want to distract you from your driving
  • Be positive: focus on passing your test rather than worrying about failing it.

You might feel more relaxed if you know exactly how the test works. Take a look at this video or read about what happens during the test.

Imagine you’ve been preparing for months, the big day has finally arrived and you get to the driving test centre…. only to realise you’ve left your driving licence at home.

Over 4,500 driving tests didn’t go ahead between April 2015 and March 2015 because people either didn’t take the right documents with them or took an unsuitable car.

Not only will your dreams of being able to drive later that day be dashed, but you’ll also have to have again for another test.

Make sure you’ve checked the list of what to take with you and that you’ve got everything with you on the day.

If your examiner sees more than 15 driving faults during your test or one serious or dangerous fault, you’ll fail your test.

If you fail, you’ll be given a driving test report showing the faults you made, and your examiner will also explain to you why you haven’t passed. Although you’ll probably feel disappointed, listen carefully to the feedback because it will help you get things right next time.

You can’t retake your test for at least 10 days, so make the most of this time: talk to your instructor about what you need to work on and get as much practice as you can.

Read about the Top 10 reasons people fail the British driving test on our blog: www.safedrivingforlife.info/blog/top-10-reasons-people-fail-british-driving-test

Full driving licence Well done! You can now get your provisional licence changed to a full licence. Your examiner will usually send your details to the DVLA so an upgraded licence can be sent to you by post. For more details about how to claim your driving test pass, see GOV.UK.

Your examiner will give you feedback on your test. Remember to listen carefully to this: just because you passed your test, it doesn’t mean you drove perfectly!