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What to expect in your practical driving test

Cailyn Bendall profile

Cailyn Bendall

April 5, 2017

Driving test 11 min read

Are you coming to the end of your driving lessons or private practice, and are thinking about taking your practical driving test? Great! Now here’s a question- do you know what’s involved and how it works? Don’t worry if not- we’ve got everything you need to know here. So whether you’re getting ready to tackle the test, or you’re just curious as to what is in the driving test – we’ve got you covered!


What do I need to do first?

Before getting excited about your driving test – you need to make sure that you’re 100% ready to give it a go! If you’re looking for tips and signs to see when you’re ready, check out our blog!

If you’re ready and raring to go – then here’s what you’ve got to do.

Booking your driving test:

orange_line_icon_computer  How do I book my driving test?

You can book easily online at the Government website.

orange_line_icon_pound_sign  How much does the driving test cost?

The driving test for cars in the UK is currently £62 on a weekday and £75 for evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

orange_line_icon_map  Where can I take my driving test?

You can take your driving test at any test centre you like across the UK, however the majority of learners choose the test centre closest to them – meaning they’ll be tested on roads they’re familiar with from when they were practising. Your test will start at your local test centre- you can find the nearest test centre to you by entering your postcode on the website.

Preparing for your driving test:

orange_line_icon_driving_licence  What to bring

You will need to bring your:

  • Provisional licence
  • Theory test pass certificate
  • Car (pretty important!)
  • Glasses (if you need them for driving)
  • Insurance certificate if you’re using your own car

orange_line_icon_car  Which car to use

Most people will use their driving instructor’s car but you can use your own car if you wish. As long as your car is fully insured, taxed and has L plates (D in Wales) and meet these government rules and regulations, you’re all set to use it!

orange_icon_driving_instructor_icon  Who to bring

Your examiner may ask if you’d like to bring someone along for the test. Most often this is a driving instructor but can also be friends or family. If you do choose to have someone in the car with you, they’re not able to intervene with your driving test in any way. They can sit in the back of the car or meet you at the end of the test to find out your results. It is optional and you don’t have to have someone if you don’t want to.


The driving test itself…

There are 5 parts to the practical driving test. There is an eyesight check and ‘show me tell me’ questions at the beginning of your test. You will then be tested on your general driving ability, reversing your car and independent driving. The test should take around 40 minutes or 70 minutes if you are taking an extended driving test.

orange_line_icon_glasses  Eyesight check

An eyesight check is done at the start to make sure you can read a vehicles number plate from a distance of 20 metres – as it’s the law.

Failure to read the number plate will mean you fail your test and it will be over before it’s even started – so don’t forget your glasses if you need them.

orange_line_icon_speach_bubble  Show me, Tell me

You will be asked 2 vehicle safety questions. These questions require you to demonstrate something, such as operate the horn, and explain something, for example, how to check the brakes are working before starting a journey. It’s a good idea to swat up on the show me, tell me questions before your test. Your instructor will likely give you a list of all the questions and answers a few weeks prior to your test so you can swat up! You can also check out the show me questions here, with a handy video – and you can see a full list of the current tell me questions here.

Failure to complete these questions will result in a mark down – so make sure you’ve revised pre-test!

orange_line_icon_steering_wheel  Your General Driving Ability

Your examiner will pick a test route you will drive on, and you will finish back at the test centre. It’s a good idea to get to know the roads and routes before your test day. Your instructor will most likely knows a few routes you may face in which case, so you might spend a couple of lessons practising them. You will be driving on various roads in a mixture of traffic conditions. You will not be asked to drive on motorways.


Pulling over at the side of the road

Your examiner will ask you to pull over and pull away during your test. This includes:

  • Normal stops at the side of the road
  • Pulling out from behind a parked car
  • A hill start

You may also be asked to perform an emergency stop.

line_icon_orange_reversing_beams  Reversing your vehicle

Your examiner will ask you to perform one of these manoeuvres:

  • Parallel park at the side of the road
  • Park in a parking bay- driving in and reversing out or reversing in and driving out (your examiner will tell you which one you have to do)
  • Pull up on the right-hand side of the road and reverse around 2 car lengths, then re-join the traffic

orange_line_icon_road  Independent driving

You will be asked to drive around for 20 minutes with directions from a sat-nav (TomTom start 52) or following traffic signs.

There is a higher chance the examiner will use a sat-nav when you take your test (4 in 5 people). The sat-nav will give you directions which the examiner will set up for you. You are not allowed your own sat-nav.

If you are not using a sat-nav, the examiner will ask you to follow it. If you can’t see a traffic sign, the examiner will direct you at each sign until you see the next one.

If you miss a turning or take the wrong turning, you won’t be marked down for this. Keep your cool, and they will direct you back onto the route.

So, how do I pass my driving test?

To pass, you need 15 or less minor faults and no serious or dangerous faults (majors).

  • A driving fault (minor) are faults that are not potentially dangerous. These can be things like hesitation, hand position on the steering wheel – if they’re a one off, you won’t fail your driving test – but if you keep making the same mistake, it can lead to a serious fault.
  • A serious fault (major) is something potentially dangerous
  • A dangerous fault (another major) is something that causes danger to you, the examiner, the public or property.

If you get a serious or dangerous fault (majors), it means you have failed the test. You won’t find out the result until the end of the test.

What happens next?

If you have passed: Congratulations! As well as this time being really exciting, it may be a little daunting – so check out our driving tips for nervous new drivers to find great tips about driving and keeping calm now you’re a solo driver!

If you’ve failed: Try not to worry – it happens to the best of us. First time taking your test? Don’t be too disappointed if you don’t pass, just under 47% of folk do* – the majority or drivers pass with 2 or more attempts.  so we’ve written an article with tips if you’ve failed your test. You can also gain extra experience by using Marmalade’s Learner Driver Insurance so you can practice in your friend’s or family’s car before tackling your test again!

Learner Driver Insurance→

Get short term cover on a friend or parent's car as a learner, to help you get that magic pass!

*Based on DVSA data on first time passes 2017- 2018

Cailyn Bendall profile

By Cailyn Bendall

'Learning to drive is an exciting journey! My name is Cailyn and I am a new learner myself. I have been driving for a few months as of May 2019 and I want to share my experiences with you. My aim is to pass my test before I go to university in 2020.'  See more posts by Cailyn

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