Your driving test will start with an eyesight check and some vehicle safety questions. You will then start your practical driving test which will include some specific manoeuvres.
The driving part of your test will last about 40 minutes. Throughout the test your examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving, including when you are carrying out the set exercises.
The car practical driving test
The driving test is straightforward and has been designed to see if you:
- can drive safely
- know The Highway Code and can demonstrate this through your driving
Vehicles you can't use at the practical test
If you plan to use your own vehicle at the practical driving test, there are some vehicles that can't be used for safety reasons.
You'll need to check that a recall or safety notice does not affect the vehicle.
Taking someone with you on your driving test
The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) encourages you to take someone with you on your driving test. This will usually be the person who has taught you to drive, but it could be a relative or a friend. They must be over 16 years old and cannot take any part in the test.
The person who goes with you will be able to see how you perform during the test. To get the most benefit from this, it would be sensible to ask your instructor to go with you. They can then give you advice on how to improve your driving, whether you pass or fail.
The test will include an eyesight check. If you fail this, your test will not continue. The eyesight test requires you to read a number plate that is a certain distance away.
Vehicle safety questions
You will be asked two vehicle safety check questions. These are basic safety checks that a driver should carry out to ensure the vehicle is safe for use. Although some checks may involve the candidate in opening the bonnet to identify where fluid levels would be checked, pupils will not be asked to touch a hot engine or physically check fluid levels.
As vehicle technology advances, more and more vehicles are being equipped with electronic diagnostic systems, which inform the driver of the state of the engine fluid levels and tyre pressures. It will be acceptable for a candidate to refer to the vehicle information system (if fitted) when answering questions on fluid levels or tyre pressures.
You can find source material in the DSA publication 'The official guide to Driving - the essential skills' and 'The official DSA guide to learning to drive'. Advice and information on how to carry out vehicle safety checks can also be found in the manufacturer's handbook.
Candidates will be asked two questions, one 'show me' and one 'tell me'. One or both questions answered incorrectly will result in one driving fault being recorded.
You will then be examined on your general driving and on two reversing exercises. The reversing exercises will be chosen from:
- reversing around a corner
- turning in the road
- reverse parking
You may also be asked to carry out an emergency stop exercise.
During the driving test the examiner will give you directions which you should follow. Test routes are designed to be as uniform as possible and will include a range of typical road and traffic conditions.
Throughout the test you should drive in the way your instructor has taught you. If you make a mistake, don't worry about it as it might be a less serious driving fault and may not affect your result. The examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving.
You can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test. 16 or more faults results in failure. If you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test. If at any time your examiner considers you to be a danger to other road users your test will be stopped.
After the practical test
When the driving test has ended, you can call your instructor over if they didn't go with you on your test. This is so they can listen to the result and feedback with you. The examiner will tell you whether you passed or failed and will explain how you did during the test.
If you pass...
If you pass and have a photocard driving licence issued after 1 March 2004 the examiner will ask you if you want your full driving licence issued to you automatically.
If you want to use this service, the examiner will take your old licence off you, scan the details and send them electronically to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). You will then be given a pass certificate to prove you passed your test. DVLA will then send you your new full licence by post within four weeks of you passing your practical test.
If you pass your test but do not want to use this automatic service, or have a licence issued before 1 March 2004, you will be given a pass certificate by the examiner. On the back of the pass certificate it tells you what you need to do next. This involves sending your licence and appropriate fee to DVLA who will then check your application and issue you with a new full licence.
If you fail...
If you fail the test the examiner will give you some feedback to help prepare yourself for your next test. Your driving report form will also show you where you made any mistakes. You can take another practical test 10 working days after your car or motorcycle test.
Driving test standards
All examiners are trained to carry out the test to the same standard, they do not have pass or fail quotas. So as long as you demonstrate the standard required you will pass your driving test.
Driving tests in bad weather
The DSA do not conduct tests in bad light or in adverse weather conditions for the safety of the candidate and the examiner. We will arrange another appointment at no further cost, but compensation is not payable. You should call the telephone number quoted on the appointment letter to check whether your test will go ahead.
If the driving test is not completed for reasons attributable to you or your vehicle, you will have to take another test at your own cost.