Practical test: on the day

The practical test makes sure you:

  • can drive confidently and safely in different road and traffic conditions
  • know The Highway Code (and can show this by the way you drive).

Take the right things to your driving test

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.

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.

Before your test

Before you begin the driving part of the test, the examiner will check your eyesight and will ask you a question about safety checks on your car.

The examiner will ask you a second 'show me' question (for example, show them how to wash the windscreen or sound the horn) later, while your car is moving.

During the test

The test normally last around 40 minutes and includes an independent driving component.

Independent driving

For about 20 minutes of the test you'll be asked to drive independently. On most tests you'll be asked to follow directions from a sat-nav provided by the examiner. If you're not asked to follow directions from a sat-nav the examiner will ask you to follow traffic signs instead.

Do not worry if you go the wrong way. It’s not a geography test and you won’t necessarily get any faults if you do go the wrong way. 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.

How to manage your nerves

Almost everyone gets nervous about their driving test:. Here are some tips to help you.

  • 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).

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!

If you fail

If your examiner records 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 failed. 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.

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