An examiner's tale: time is (not) on our side!

If you were asked what the most challenging thing about being a driving examiner is, what would you say?

  • Nervous candidates?
  • Confrontational behaviour?
  • Or maybe dangerous driving?

Well, while it’s true that we occasionally face these issues, the one thing we are always up against is time.

Each test is only 57 minutes apart, so every minute counts.  During each test period we have to:

  • greet a candidate
  • provide a legal test
  • follow it all up with a debrief to the candidate and a written report.

As well as taking all this into consideration, traffic flow, particularly in urban areas, is so unpredictable that we sometimes have to reroute to manage our time.

Candidates and approved driving instructors (ADIs) can help us out here.  To make sure your test is as stress-free as possible, it would really be helpful if you could:

  • be in the waiting room in good time and ready to go
  • have all necessary documents ready and with the correct address
  • make sure you have your glasses or contact lenses with you if you need them, so you can read a number plate from the minimum required distance
  • only practise the bay parking exercise in the test-centre car park in agreement with test-centre staff.  They’ll be able to advise you when would be a good time to do this so you don’t get in the way of anyone taking their test
  • ask your ADI to accompany you on your test so they are there for the debrief and can help you to understand how you performed.  If you decide not to take your ADI out with you, ask them to be ready for the debrief when you return to the test centre.

During the working day we occasionally run late because of these issues and, when we do, it can snowball to the point that other candidates’ tests may be affected. 

Of course, the traffic sometimes gets so bad that we run late, whatever route we take, and we have no control over incidents in the area.  This can cause you and your ADI to be late too.  We are sympathetic in these cases, but there’s not much time between test slots, so we can only allow so much leeway. 

Examiners make every effort not to lose tests and this is less likely to happen if all customers are ready when their appointment time arrives.  If you have any doubts or questions then feel free to speak to the staff at your nearest test centre.

Thanks and maybe we’ll see you soon ... on time and ready of course!

For more information about preparing for your practical test, see The Official DVSA Guide to Learning to Drive.