The Practical Driving Test Explained

The test starts in the waiting room where the examiner will meet you. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time, examiners work on a very tight schedule and normally allow no more than 5 minutes for candidates who are late.

You will need your provisional driving license and your theory test pass certificate, if you have an old style paper license you must provide a valid passport.

Failure to provide the above documentation will result in the cancellation of your test (and loss of your fee), so don’t leave the checklist to the last day.

The examiner will than ask you if you like to be accompanied by your instructor, this is your decision and if you want to go alone your instructor will wait you at the test centre. you can also decide whether you want your instructor to be present at the end of the test for the debrief.

Sometimes another examiner may be present in the car, this is to ensure uniformity and that the test is conducted properly.

On the way to your car the examiner will check your eyesight by asking you to read a car number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres.
After that you will be asked one vehicle safety check question, also known as show me-tell me. Before the drive you will be asked a “tell me” question, the “show me” question will be asked during the drive.

Then before you are asked to drive the examiner will briefly explain the test procedure, something like:

“The test will last between 38 and 40 minutes, it will include 20 minutes of independent driving and various road and traffic conditions. During the test follow the road ahead unless road signs and markings indicate otherwise or unless I ask you to turn left or right and I will do it in plenty of time. If a direction is not clear please ask me and I will repeat it.
I will ask you to carry out a manoeuvre and possibly an emergency stop”.

Directions will be given in a formal but polite language, for example:

“Please pull up in a convenient place”
“At the traffic light turn right,please”

Then all you have to do is to drive normally! The driving test itself is fairly simple one and all that is looked for is a competent driver.
Experience is not expected, and considerable latitude is shown by examiners towards test candidates.
If you follow all the relevant rules and your drive meets the standard you will pass, just keep calm and concentrated.

During the test the examiner will ask you several times to pull up at the side of the road.
This is normal and all they want to see is that you can stop in a safe and convenient place and move off safely and under control.

From December 2017  you will be required to complete only 1 manoeuvre from the following:

  • Parallel park at the side of the road.
  • Park in a bay – either driving in and rversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell them which).
  • Pull up on the right end side of the road, reverse for two car lenghts and rejoin the traffic.

The independent driving section will last for approximately 20 minutes. During this part most candidates will be asked to follow directions from a sat nav.

They will be able to ask the examiner for confirmation of where they are going if they are not sure. It will not matter if they go the wrong way unless they make a fault while doing it.

One in five driving tests won’t use a sat nav and you will need to follow traffic signs instead.

Some examiners might engage you in a short conversation to put you at ease (something like “how will you spend the rest of your day”), although they are not strictly required to do so and they will never do that if it can cause any distraction for you.

In assessing your driving, the examiner will be marking something down on the driving test report. This is nothing to worry about as they are required to mark down any driving fault you make. There are three different types of driving faults:

  • Minor fault
  • Serious fault
  • Dangerous fault

A maximum of 15 driving faults can be made but do not constitute a failure. One serious or dangerous fault or more than 15 driving faults will result in a failure. After a few mock tests you will have a good idea about how the seriousness of a fault is determined.

Back at the test centre the examiner will inform you of the result of your test (hopefully something like “this is the end of your test and I am pleased to tell you that you have passed!”) and ask you if you want your instructor to come and listen to the debrief.

On a final note: examiners will try to be as helpful as possible and they will not try to trick you or catch you out. If you are not sure about anything just ask, however don’t ask questions about how you should drive as they will answer “do what you think is correct to do”.

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