When attending for your practical test you must produce certain documents and have an appropriately insured and licensed vehicle suitable for the test. Make sure you have these documents available when the examiner calls your name.
You must bring the following items with you. If you do not, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) may refuse to carry out the test and you may lose your fee.
If you misplace your licence, you must apply for a replacement from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), which could take up to 15 days. If this happens, you may have to rearrange your test.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Independent driving will become part of the practical driving test in Great Britain in October 2010.
It’s tasking the candidate to drive for about 10 minutes, either following a series of directions, following traffic signs, or a combination of both.
To help the candidate be clear about where they’re going, the examiner can show them a diagram too.
It doesn’t matter if candidates don’t remember every direction, or if they go the wrong way – that can happen to the most experienced drivers.
The claim in some newspapers that independent driving would lead to a fall in the driving test pass rate is based on early research where conditions did not reflect the eventual design of the new element of the test.
Subsequent trials with a larger number of participants and more closely reflecting the conditions in the planned new test showed no significant fall in the pass rate.
DSA has published a short video on its YouTube channel explaining more about independent driving.