You'll find information on the driving test just below, so you'll know what to expect when you turn up.
No matter who your instructor is or which driving school you're learning to drive with, I wish you well with your lessons and hope that these articles and tutorials help you through your test.
As always, if there's anything you want to ask me please feel free to use the contact form.
What Happens On Your Driving Test
When you arrive at the test centre you'll usually see other learners with their instructors. It's normal for 2, 3 or more tests to be going on at the same time. Often you'll see other people there waiting for other tests, such as motor bikes or taxi drivers.
You'll usually wait a few minutes (yes, there's always a toilet!) and then the examiners will come out. One of them will call your name, and that's it, your on your way.
The examiner will lead you out to your car and tell you every step of the way what you need to do
Your driving test will be structured as 5 main parts.
- An eyesight check to make sure you can safely drive. If you wear glasses you may of course wear them for the eyesight check. The examiner will often make use of a car parked on the car park and just get you to read out the number plate. It's normal for them to ask you which car is yours first for obvious reasons.
- The 'Show Me, Tell Me' questions
- A test of your general driving ability. This is section of your test in which the examiner gives route directions and you simply drive to the best of your ability. The examiner will watch you closely to make sure you use the Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre routine for all hazards and that your driving is safe.
- A test of your ability to reverse (see below)
- An independent driving section The examiner wants to see you take responsibility for driving directions and the route taken (see below)
The entire test usually lasts around 40 to 45 minutes. Despite what many people believe, the examiner will not be at all swayed by published pass rates and will not decide the outcome of your test based on other tests they've conducted that week or month. If you drive well, stay safe, apply MSM for all hazards and stay away from serious or dangerous faults, you will pass your driving test. It's as simple as that.
The eyesight test takes place before you get into the vehicle and you'll have to read a number plate from a distance of 20 meters (20.5 meters for an old style plate). You must pass the eyesight test and your instructor should advise you of this. If you don't pass the eyesight test the rest of your driving test will not take place and you will be deemed to have failed.
The examiner will ask you the relevant 'Tell Me' questions before you leave the test centre and before the car gets moving. Once you are under way and you've started your drive, at some point the examiner will ask you the 'Show Me' questions. You'll need to be able to answer these whilst you're driving.
During the drive you'll be expected to deal with busy situations on various types of roads. You may be taken on dual carriageways but you will not be asked to enter a motorway.
What Manoeuvres Will I Be Asked To Do?
There are various exercises you'll be asked to do on your test. No need to worry about any of them, your instructor should make sure that you get practice at all of them.
There are some set exercises that are always necessary. The examiner will at some point ask you to do any one of the following:
- A parallel park behind a parked car at the roadside
- Park the car in a parking bay, either drive in or reverse in (they'll tell you which)
- Pull up on the right-hand side and reverse the car back safely for about two car lengths.
In addition to these, you may also be asked to do an emergency stop, but this doesn't happen on every test.
It's common to hear learners (even parents) ask why anyone should have to do these exercises. The reason for them is because these are by far the most common scenarios for drivers to be involved in collisions or knock over pedestrians or cyclists. I've mentioned on the pages about Advanced Driving that collisions tend to fall into certain 'themes' and for new drivers these exercises concentrate on the common themes to make sure that you're a safe driver.
I've sat in on many driving tests, both for learners and for driving instructors I've trained, and in almost all of them the examiner also asked for one or more of the following:
- Pull up at the side of the road, as if parking on the left, then moving off again. This isn't usually regarded as a driving test manoeuvre, but it's seriously important to get right. You're instructor should make sure you are very good at this. I've sat in on driving test where this has been done 4 or 5 times. I've seen it even more on driving instructor tests. Don't underestimate how important this is.
- Stopping on the left behind a parked car then moving off to re-join the traffic.
- A hill start if the examiner can find an appropriate hill
For all the set exercises, including the hill start, it's a great idea to learn how the clutch works so you can control the car at low speeds. Also, it's critically important that you learn what to do if you stall the car at any point. Stalling happens, don't be afraid of it, but please learn what to do to get your test back on track.
During the independent driving section you'll be asked to drive the car for about 20 minutes whilst you follow directions from either a sat nav or by reading the road signs. The examiner will direct you on this. If you are required to follow a sat nav the examiner will provide one and make sure it is working for you. You are not allowed to follow directions from your own sat nav during the test. There's no need to worry at all if you take a wrong turn, simply stay calm, drive safely and carry on.
Throughout your driving the examiner will mark on the test sheet any driving faults that they see. You'll pass your driving test if you make up to 15 minor driving faults and no more and you don't make any serious or dangerous faults.
A single serious or dangerous fault will mean that the test is deemed a fail.
There's no reason at all for you to make any serious or dangerous errors. Make sure you get great quality driving lessons and that you're well prepared.
Far too many people take the driving test when they simply aren't ready, it just leads to disappointment and a waste of lot's of money. If you're unsure of anything, make sure you go through it with your instructor.
There's no reason at all for you not to pass.
Can Someone Come Out On Test With Me?
Your instructor, a friend, anyone, can sit in on the test with you if you like, although you need to be fully aware that your instructor cannot say or do anything to interfere.
It's normal for the examiner to ask you if you'd like your instructor or anyone else to accompany you on test. Remember, it's your decision, no one else's. You've paid for the test so the time is entirely yours and you can decide if you want someone to go with you.
One important point to be aware of though:
Many learners seem to believe that their instructor can determine the outcome of the test. This is absolutely not the case, the examiners decision is final.
Your instructor cannot overrule an examiner and cannot alter the outcome of the test.
Some people who are very nervous do like to have the instructor present with them.
Another advantage to this is that your instructor can see first-hand if anything went wrong and what needs to be improved upon if you don't get through at this attempt.