The Practical Driving Test


Your driving test will start with an eyesight check. For more information on the eyesight requirements please click here

The test:

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. You can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test (16 or more results in failure). However, if you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test.

The practical driving test (car)

The Driving Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is now able to offer tests outside the normal test times at a number of test centres. This provides customers a wider range of appointments over an extended working day. Practical tests are generally available at all permanent test centres. Saturday and weekday evening tests, subject to resources being available, are offered at a premium rate. Non premium rate tests are available at various times between 7.30 am and 3.27 pm Monday to Friday.

The driving test is straight forward and has been designed to see if you:

  • Can drive safely
  • Know The Highway Code and can demonstrate this through your driving

What will the test include?

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. For more information about the eyesight check please use the 'Driving eyesight requirements' link below. After the eyesight test you will be asked two vehicle safety check questions. From December 5th 2017, the Show me Tell me questions will be broken down in to two sections, 1 stationary, and 1 whilst driving. You will then be examined on your general driving and Parking exercise. The reversing exercise will be chosen from:

  • Pulling up on the right, then reverse
  • Reverse (Parallel) Parking
  • Forward Parking / Bay Park

You may also be asked to carry out an emergency stop exercise.

Vehicle safety questions

From December 5th 2017, the Show me, tell me questions have changed, and are separated into two sections. The examiner will ask you one: ‘tell me’ question (where you explain how you’d carry out a safety task) at the start of your test, before you start driving ‘show me’ question (where you show how you’d carry out a safety task) while you’re driving. These are basic safety checks that a driver should carry out to ensure the vehicle is safe for use. For more information on the show me tell me questions please click here.

What happens during the test?

The test has two sections also. Where the examiner will give you directions to follow and Independent driving, both lasting approximately 20 minutes each. The independent driving section will either be following road signs, or directions from a Sat Nav. During the section where you will be given directions, the examiner will give you directions which you should follow. In what order and where you will be taken will depend on the test route. Test routes are designed to be as uniform as possible and will include a range of typical road and traffic conditions. During the test, the examiner will ask you to carry out set exercises. Throughout the test you should drive in the way I will teach you. If you make a mistake, don't worry about it, 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 results in failure). However, 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. You are allowed to take someone with you on the test, this person must be over 16 years old and cannot take any part in the test.

After the practical test

When the driving test is over, the examiner will tell you whether you passed or failed. You can request feedback on your test from the examiner, who will then go through your performance during the test.

If you pass...

If you pass and have a photo card 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. The DVLA will then send you your new full licence by post within three 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 you should ask the examiner for 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.

Weather conditions/ mechanical problems etc

The DVSA do not conduct tests in bad light or in adverse weather conditions for the safety of the candidate and the examiner. They will arrange another appointment at no further cost, but compensation is not payable. Candidates should call the telephone number quoted on the appointment letter to check whether their 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.

Pass Plus

The DVSA recommends that new car drivers who have just passed their practical test consider taking Pass Plus. Pass Plus is a course of six extra modules taken with a driving instructor after passing your test. For more information about Pass Plus please click here.