Tips from driving examiners: talking can help on test day

Cabin view over shoulder of learner and instructor waiting at roundabout.

Published 9 April 2021
Last updated 2 February 2022

We show you how talking with your examiner can help you relax. Includes advice on listening to your examiner before and after the driving test.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is very customer focused these days. Although we do not 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 were not 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 were not 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 did not 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: first, it can help to put you at ease, and second, 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 do not 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 was not 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 do not 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 will not think you’re rude.
  • Listen carefully to the debrief at the end of the test.
  • If you do not 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.

Back to top