Practical Driving Test

Passing the Practical

Practical Test Guide

Guide to the practical driving test

This is it! You’ve got your provisional licence, and you’ve aced the theory test. Now the final step before getting your full licence - the practical driving test.

It can be a little daunting. But your driving instructor believes you can do it. We believe you can do it. So here’s everything you need to know about taking your practical driving test.

How do I book my driving test?

The driving test is set by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in England, Wales and Scotland; and the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland. You can book your driving test on the GOV.UK website, or book here if you live in Northern Ireland. You’ll need your provisional licence, and a debit or credit card to pay. You also need a valid email address.

If you don’t have an email address, you need to book over the phone. You can call 0300 200 1122 Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm; or - if you live in Northern Ireland - call 0345 600 6700 Monday to Friday, 8am to 12pm.

However, there may be Covid-19 restrictions to be aware of.

How is coronavirus affecting driving tests?

It depends where you live in the UK:

● If you live in England, you can book a new test if you’re a critical worker, or you can rebook if you had a previous test cancelled. At present, you can’t book a new test.

● If you live in Wales, driving tests resume on 17 August 2020.

● If you live in Scotland, driving tests are still suspended.

● There is a phased approach to restarting driving tests in Northern Ireland.

If you are able to take your test, you may have to take additional precautions to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Please note that guidelines are subject to change. For the latest information, you can read up-to-date driving test guidance on the DVSA website.

When can I take my practical driving test?

You can book your practical test after you’ve passed the driving theory test . You receive a pass certificate number. This expires after two years, so be sure to pass the practical test during this time. There’s no time like the present, so why not book it now?

Is there a minimum amount of lessons I can take?

There is no minimum amount of lessons you should take, or hours of practice you should have under your belt. The rule of thumb is to take your test when you’re ready. Your driving instructor is best placed to decide this.

What do I need to bring to the practical driving test?

On the day, you need to take your photocard driving licence. Take the paper counterpart too if you’re taking your test in Northern Ireland.

You’ll also need your theory test pass certificate. And don’t forget your glasses if you need them to drive.

Can I take the driving test in my own car?

Provided it meets rules set by the DVSA, you can take the practical test in your own vehicle. Most people use their instructor’s car, which will already be test-ready.

Can I bring someone else along to the driving test?

You’re allowed to be accompanied on the driving test by your instructor, or by a friend or relative. They need to be over 16, and will sit in the back. They can also accompany you when you get your result and feedback.

As the driving test needs to be taken in English or Welsh, you can’t take someone for the purpose of interpretation.

What’s in the practical driving test?

The driving test is divided into five sections:

1. Eyesight check

2. Safety questions; aka ‘show me, tell me’

3. General driving ability

4. Reversing the vehicle

5. Independent driving

It lasts around 40 minutes, and is the same whether you’re driving an automatic or manual. If you’ve been previously disqualified, you have to take an extended test, which lasts around 60-70 minutes.

What’s the eyesight check?

This is to ensure your eyesight’s up to driving standard. The examiner will ask you to read a number plate 20 metres away, or slightly further away if it’s an old-style number plate.

If you can’t read the number plate, then your eyesight isn’t good enough to drive. This is an instant fail.

What are the ‘show me, tell me’ safety questions?

The examiner will ask you two safety questions. These are called ‘show me, tell me’ because one question will require a demonstration of a basic safety check, and the other requires an explanation.

● ‘Tell me’: There are 14 possible questions, and the examiner will ask you to explain a safety feature. For example, you might be asked to describe how you’d check the headlights and taillights are working.

● ‘Show me’: There are seven possible questions, and you’ll be asked to carry out a specific activity. For example, you might be asked to demist the rear window.

The GOV.UK website has a full list of current ‘show me, tell me’ questions.

How will I be tested on general driving ability?

After ‘show me, tell me’, it’s time to get on the road. Much like in your driving lessons, your examiner will instruct you where to go, and what to do. You may be asked to perform certain manoeuvres, such as pulling over at the side of the road; pulling away from behind another vehicle; and performing a hill start.

You may also have to perform an emergency stop in this part of the test. The examiner will give you warning beforehand, and will only ask you to perform this when it’s safe to do so.

One thing you won’t be expected to do in this part of the test is drive on the motorway.

How am I tested on reversing?

The examiner will test your reversing ability in one of three ways.

Firstly, you may be asked to reverse into a parking bay, or alternatively drive into one forwards and reverse out.

Secondly, you might be asked to pull up next to a parked vehicle and parallel park behind it.

The other option is reversing for about two car lengths at the right-hand side of the road. Once you’re done, you’ll be asked to rejoin the traffic.

What is independent driving?

This part of the test involves following directions from a sat nav - which the examiner will set up for you - or from traffic signs. Or both. The purpose of this is to demonstrate you can follow directions without the examiner instructing you. You’re allowed to ask questions of them, though.

Taking a wrong turn won’t necessarily be marked down here, so don’t beat yourself up if you go a little off-route. If this happens, the examiner may give you directions just to get you back on track.

What score do I need to get in my driving test?

As the examiner is tallying up mistakes or ‘faults’, the closer you get to zero, the better. For the most part, the examiner won’t tell you when you’ve made a fault - you’re usually told at the end of the test when you get your result.

There are three types of fault:

● A driving fault, or minor: Although not necessarily dangerous, these are scorable errors. Although one or two won’t cause you to fail, making the same mistake a few times could constitute a serious fault. This would cause you to fail. You will also fail if you get more than 15 minor faults across the board.

● A serious fault, or major: These are potentially dangerous errors. One serious fault will cause you to fail, although you’ll continue with the driving test.

● A dangerous fault: You really don’t want to do this. A dangerous fault is one which puts you, the examiner, property and/or members of the public in actual danger. As keeping everybody safe is the examiner’s main priority, this is an instant fail, and the test will be stopped.

How does the driving test end?

With any luck, your test won’t end prematurely, and your examiner will guide you back to the test centre. After you’ve parked, the examiner will tell you whether you’ve passed or failed, and give you your result. A pass is 15 minors or fewer, and no serious or dangerous faults. You’ll also be given feedback on your performance.

What happens if I’ve passed?

Many congratulations - you’re a qualified driver! You’ll be presented with a pass certificate. You’ll also be asked if you’d like to be sent your licence automatically.

If you choose not to, you need to apply for your full licence within two years. Although we recommend getting it sent automatically.

What happens if I’ve failed?

If you fail, don’t be too down about it. Most people do. In fact, according to the DVSA, the pass rate was just 45.8% in 2018/19.

And you can rebook your test and have another chance. It’s a really good idea to take the examiner’s feedback on board, as this will usually give you an insight into what to do better next time. Good luck - we’re all rooting for you!

Practical Test FAQs

How do I change my practical test booking?

You can change your booking online here or by calling 0300 200 1122 Monday to Friday 8am-4pm.

How do I cancel my practical test booking?

You can cancel your booking online here or by calling 0300 200 1122 Monday to Friday 8am-4pm.

Where is my nearest theory test centre?

You can find your nearest theory test centre by using the following government website here