How To Pass The Practical Driving Test

Last Updated: 10/05/2022

The practical driving test is the culmination of everything you’ve experienced as a learner driver and after passing you’ll receive your full driving licence, so even if you are ready and well rehearsed, it’s natural to feel a little nervous.

You’re free to take the test once you’ve passed your theory and hazard perception exams, but it’s likely you’ll need plenty of extra, real-world preparation before booking your practical.

You’ll be let loose on the road without your instructor for the first time and instead an examiner will be watching your every move.

You may have learnt to drive on the roads near the test centre though and your instructor won’t let you apply for the practical exam unless you’re ready, so the challenges you’ll face on the road shouldn’t be any more challenging than a driving lesson or mock test.

What You Will Learn

To help get you prepared for this test, we have put together this useful guide which will give you the advice you will need so you can pass the test with confidence.

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

The practical driving test can be daunting. People worry about their driving tests more than most other occasions or events in life, so if you’re feeling apprehensive, then you’re not alone.

Here’s our guide to how it works and how you should prepare for it.

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 lasts about 40 minutes.

It is important that you keep your nerves under control when you take your test.

The following steps may help:

  • Arrive at the test centre at least fifteen minutes before your test is due to start. This will ensure that you have time to calm your nerves.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before your test as tiredness can make stress worse and your performance may suffer.
  • Don’t worry if the examiner does not say much during the test. This is because they want you to concentrate fully on what you are asked to do.
  • Make sure you check that you have taken all the documents required for you to take the test, particularly your provisional driving licence.
  • Also checkout our guide for helping to deal with nerves on your driving test.

The Day Of The Driving Test:

If you have been learning to drive with a driving instructor, they will usually advise that you have a warm-up lesson immediately before the test.

If not, it would be wise to drive around the test roads for half an hour before the test to get your confidence up.

You must have your provisional driving licence photo-card with you.

If you don’t, the examiner will terminate the test.

You should also print out and take with you your theory test pass certificate and although the examiner will not ask to see this, it is worthwhile taking along in case there are any issues.

Aim to arrive at the test centre at least ten minutes before your test so that you can park up and wait in the waiting room.

It is worth looking at the layout of the test centre, particularly the exit route, pedestrian footpaths and any other possible obstructions.

This is because some drivers make significant mistakes and fail before they even leave the test centre grounds.

The examiner will ask you to read and sign a declaration that confirms you are fully insured for the vehicle you will be driving.

He/She will ask you if you would like to have your instructor accompany you on the test.

This is entirely your choice, however, anyone accompanying you on the test are not allowed to communicate with you in any way at all. If they do, the examiner may terminate the test.

If you arrive any later than five minutes for your test appointment, the examiner will cancel the test and you will lose the test fee.

As soon as you are ready, the examiner will ask you to lead the way to your vehicle.

As you walk towards your vehicle, the examiner will ask you to read a number plate of a parked car. This is to test your eyesight.

If the vehicle selected has a new style number plate, you will be asked to read the number plate from a distance of 20 metres.

If the vehicle has an old style plate then the distance will be slightly further at 20.5 metres.

If you are unable to read the selected number plates after three tries, on different vehicles, the examiner will terminate the test and you will be marked as failed.

Glasses or contact lenses must be worn for the actual driving test.

If not, the examiner will ask you to sign a form stating that you were unable to achieve basic standards of the eyesight test and your licence will be cancelled.

This means that you will have to make a new application for a provisional driving licence.

Driving Test Questions

As soon as you are settled in your car, the examiner will ask you to answer two driving test questions, often called “Show Me Tell Me” questions and answers.

In all, there are 19 such questions and a combination of any two will be selected.

These questions are essentially about the safety and maintenance of your vehicle.

Familiarising yourself with these questions and possible answers is a good move to make prior to the test.

Effectively, you must be able to correctly answer every one of the 19 questions so you will be ready to answer any two selected by the examiner.

Soon you will begin the driving part of the test.

You will be required to demonstrate that you have excellent knowledge regarding other road users and the safety systems that are in place.

For example, you will need to know the following:

Roundabouts:

These may include large, multi-lane roundabouts and mini roundabouts.

Junctions:

From small, difficult to manoeuvre junctions, to major junctions leading onto high speed roads.

Crossroads:

How you make left and right turns.

If one-way-systems are present on the test routes then these may be implemented.

Driving Test Manoeuvres

As you proceed with your test, the examiner will select one manoeuvre for you to demonstrate.

He/she may possibly select two manoeuvres. These could include any of the following:

Click any of the links above to find out more about that particular manoeuvre.

Independent Driving 

The practical driving test also includes the independent driving part which will test your ability to read and use road signs to get to your destination.

This part of the practical test last approximately ten minutes

This part of the test begins when the examiner asks you to park on the left.

You will then be shown a basic diagram that they would like you to follow.

The examiner will point out the different directions on the diagram that he would like you to follow and will ask you if you understand what is expected of you.

You can ask the examiner to repeat the directions if necessary.

If you do get confused as to what direction you should be going in, the examiner will direct you back on course.

Emergency Stop

It is possible, though not certain, that the examiner will ask you to demonstrate the procedure to stop your vehicle in an emergency.

When The Driving Test Concludes

When you have arrived back at the test centre, secured your vehicle and turned the engine off, the examiner will tell you if you have been successful and passed your test, or if you have failed.

You will be given a ‘Test Report’ and this will be discussed with you and your instructor.

The examiner will describe what mistakes you made and why you failed the test, if applicable.

Alternatively, if you passed, you will receive a test pass certificate that will allow you to drive immediately.

You will then be required to hand your provisional licence to the examiner as it has now ceased to be valid.

Finally, the instructor will drive you back home.

All in all, the practical driving test will last for about 40 minutes.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

It is natural to be nervous when taking your practical driving test.

After months and months of practice, the time is finally here!

Here are some tips that might help.

  • Only take your driving test when you feel ready to do so.
  • Many people fail their test simply because they have gained enough experience to pass.
  • Take the advice of your driving instructor and only apply when they tell you that you are likely to pass the test.
  • You may be feeling impatient, but try to resist applying to do the test until your instructor gives you the go ahead.
  • People on average take 45 hours of driving lessons and 22 hours of practice with friends or relatives to learn to drive.

Useful Information

When your instructor confirms that you are ready to take the practical driving test, you should go ahead and book it.

You can find out more about what the practical test involves by visiting the gov.uk site (see bottom of page for link)

Here you can also find out what documents you will need to bring with you to the test, what sort of car you can use for your test and what happens during the test.

Driving examiners also need testing.

Be prepared for an unexpected passenger to be accompanying you on your driving test.

This is because examiners also need to complete training and pass certain tests before they can become a certified DVSA examiner.

So, if you decide to take your instructor with you for the actual test, you might find yourself sitting with a car load of passengers.

Your examiner will explain that you cannot object to the examiner’s examiner being in the car but you will be assured that they are only testing the abilities of the examiner and not you.

You must try to ignore the examiner whilst you complete your test but the chances of you being in a car with an examiner’s examiner is pretty remote.

Final Thoughts

You will fail if your examiner sees more than 15 driving faults during your test or one serious or dangerous fault.

You may feel very disappointed if you fail but you should regard this as an opportunity to get things right the next time around.

You will have to wait at least 10 days before you can retake your test so ask your instructor to advise on areas to concentrate on and practice, practice, practice!!

If you pass, you will also receive feedback from your examiner.

Discuss this report with your instructor as this will be useful feedback, especially on areas that you need more practice.

Further Resources