What to expect in your practical driving test
Getting all geared up for your driving test? Our online driving school is here to help by giving you advice on what the practical driving test involves, and tips to help it go as smoothly as possible.
What to expect in your practical driving test
Facing your driving test is a lot less nerve-wracking when you know what to expect so here’s a run through of a typical driving test - before, during and after.
Before the test...
Booking your driving test
How do I book it?
You can book easily online at the government website.
How much is it?
The driving test for cars in the UK is currently £62 on a weekday and £75 for evenings, weekends and bank holidays
Where will I take my test?
Your test will start off at your local test centre - you can find the nearest test centre to you by entering your postcode on the gov.uk website. Your examiner will pick a test route and you’ll finish off at the test centre. It’s a good idea to get to know the roads around the test centre ahead of test day. Your instructor might know about the most likely test routes you’ll face, in which case you might spend your last couple of lessons practising these.
Preparing for your driving test
What to bring
You’ll need to bring a few things with you:
- Your provisional licence
- Your theory test pass certificate
- Glasses (if you need them for driving)
- A car (pretty important!)
- Your insurance certificate if you're using your own car
Which car to use
Most people sit their test using their driving instructor’s car, but you can use your own car if you like. So long as it’s fully insured and taxed, has L plates on display (D plates in Wales) and meets these government rules, you’re all set.
Who to bring
Your examiner will ask if you’d like to bring someone along for the test. They can sit in the back of the car, or they can meet you at the end of the test to discuss how it went, and find out your results. Most often this’ll be your driving instructor, but it could be a friend or relative too. It can be nice to have some moral support along for the ride.
The driving test itself...
It may feel like forever at the time, but tests usually take around 40 minutes. Don’t worry. Everything you come across during your driving test will be something you’ve already carried out dozens of times during the course of your lessons. Here's what you can expect on the day:
There are 5 parts to the driving test:
- Eyesight check
- ‘Show me, tell me’ - vehicle safety questions
- General driving ability
- Reversing your vehicle
- Independent driving
The first thing you’ll be asked to do is read a normal number plate from a distance of around 20 metres - to check your eyesight before you start driving (it's the law!).
Failure to complete the task satisfactorily will mean that you’ve failed the test and the test is over - so don't forget your glasses if you need them!
‘Show me, tell me’ - vehicle safety questions
You’ll then be asked two vehicle safety questions. These questions will require you to demonstrate something, like checking the oil level, and then to explain something – such as when to use your hazard lights.
If you can’t answer these questions it counts as a minor, so make sure that you’ve revised these pre-test.
General driving ability
Before you start the examiner will check over the car. Use this time to adjust your seat and mirrors, and get youself comfortable for the test ahead. They'll explain the very straighforward rules of the test, and you'll be set to go. You’ll be asked to pull over and pull away during your test, including:
- Normal stops at the side of the road
- Pulling out from behind a parked vehicle
- A hill start
- You might also be asked to carry out an emergency stop
Reversing your vehicle
You’ll be required to successfully perform 2 of these 3 standard manoeuvres:
- Turn in the road (i.e. a three point turn)
- Reverse into a limited opening on the left/right (i.e. reversing around a corner)
- Reverse park either in a car park into a parking bay or on the road behind a parked vehicle
You’ll have to drive for about 10 minutes by following either:
- Traffic signs
- Verbal directions
- A combination of both
After the test...
Once the test’s over, your examiner will ask you to switch off the engine and will let you know if you’ve passed or failed. Either way, they’ll also ask if you want your driving faults to be explained - this is a great idea, even if you’ve passed, as you’ll always pick up useful advice.
The three types of fault:
Minor: Not potentially dangerous, but if you make the same fault throughout your test it could become a serious fault. You can notch up 15 minors and still pass, but more than this means automatic failure.
Serious: Something that could potentially be dangerous, which means a definite test failure.
Dangerous: Something that puts yourself, the examiner, another person or property into a dangerous position. Unsurprisingly, if you rack up one of these, you’ll fail your test.
If you've passed :) Whoop! Exciting times, and maybe a little daunting at the same time. Check out our Driving tips where you'll find some great advice for new drivers.
If you've failed :( Try not to worry - it happens to the best of us - around 50% of drivers fail first time. So we've written an aricle with some hints and tips if you've failed your test.