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 normally 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.
The examiner will ask you a second 'show me' question (for example, show them how to wash the windscreen or sound the horn using the car controls) later, while your car is moving.
For about 20 minutes of the test, you’ll be asked to drive independently and follow directions from a sat nav provided by the examiner. One in 5 driving tests will not use a sat nav; you’ll be asked to follow traffic signs instead.
Do not worry if you go the wrong way. It’s not a geography test. Just get back on track as best you can, and you won’t necessarily get any faults. It’s just so you can show the examiner that you’ll be able to drive safely on your own after you’ve passed your test.
Instructor on test
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 do not take your driving test until you’re ready. Lots of people fail the driving test just because they've not 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. Do not worry if you think you should be making faster progress. On average, it takes people 45 hours of driving lessons with 22 hours of practice with relatives or friends to learn to drive.
- The driving examiner knows you’ll be nervous and will do their best to put you at 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. The examiner is not there to tell you how to drive but they can repeat instructions or directions if you’re uncertain.
To pass your test, you'll need to keep your nerves under control. Try these things to help
- Do not 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 of 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 5 or 10 minutes before your test is due so you’re not hurried but you’re also not waiting too long.
- Some test centres do not have toilet facilities – check before you attend.
- Talk to the examiner during the test if you want to – but remember that they might not say much because they do not want to distract you from your driving.
- Be positive: focus on passing your test rather than worrying about failing it. Stay in the moment and concentrate, avoid thinking back to what has just happened.
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 (GOV.UK).
Take the right things to your driving 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.
On average, over 4,500 driving tests a year do not go ahead because people either did not have 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 apply again for another test.
Make sure you’ve checked the list of what to take with you (GOV.UK) and that you’ve got everything with you on the day.
If you fail
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 emailed a driving test report showing the faults you made, and your examiner will also explain to you why you’ve not passed. Although it’s natural to feel disappointed, try to listen carefully to the feedback to help you understand what happened and improve for next time. Your driving instructor can listen to the feedback as well.
You cannot retake your test for at least 10 days, and it may be much longer depending on the waiting list, 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. It’s much better to do extra training before you take the test for the first time.
If you pass
Well done! You can now get your provisional licence changed to a full licence. Your examiner will usually send your details to 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 does not mean you drove perfectly!