The driving test is the only barrier to your journey on the open road. Delve into our tutorial on what lies ahead, complete with FAQs and top tips to increase your chances of success.
- How do I book a driving test?
- What does the driving theory test consist of?
- When will I be ready to take my practical driving test?
- Can I take my driving test in my own car?
- What should I take with me to my driving test?
- How long is a driving test?
- What happens during a driving test?
- What are the most common reasons for failing a driving test?
- Will making a mistake mean I fail my driving test?
- Tips to help you pass your driving test
- How will I know if I’ve passed my driving test?
- I’ve passed my driving test – what happens now?
- What about car insurance?
- Frequently asked questions
How do I book a driving test?
Booking a driving test is a straightforward process, and the UK government has made it convenient for applicants to do so online.
Here’s a detailed guide to help you navigate the booking process for both the theory and practical components of the driving test via the official GOV.UK website.
It’s crucial to understand the requirements and the necessary documents you need to have on hand before you proceed.
Theory Test Booking
Before diving into the steps for booking the practical driving test, you must have already passed your driving theory test. To book your theory test, make sure you have the following details ready:
- UK driving licence number: This number is essential for identification and verification purposes.
- Email address: All communication regarding test dates, confirmations, and reminders will be sent to this address.
- Credit/debit card details: You’ll be required to make an online payment, so have your card details handy.
Practical Test Booking
Once you’ve successfully passed your theory test, you can move on to book the practical driving test. For this, you’ll need:
- All the aforementioned details for the theory test (UK driving licence number, email address, credit/debit card details).
- Theory test pass certificate: This is proof that you’ve cleared the theory portion and are eligible to appear for the practical test.
- A suitable car: While many opt to use their driving instructor’s car, you can use your own, provided it adheres to the test centre’s regulations and standards.
- Driving instructor’s personal reference number: This will allow you to ensure that your instructor is available on your chosen test day. Coordinating with your instructor beforehand is a good idea to avoid scheduling conflicts.
- Lastly, consider having a pre-test lesson: Many find it beneficial to have a lesson right before the test to refresh their skills and boost confidence. It’s like a final rehearsal before the main event!
By following this comprehensive guide and ensuring you have all the required information and documents, booking your driving test should be a breeze.
What does the driving theory test consist of?
Understanding the structure and content of the driving theory test is essential for preparation. Administered by the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) at their dedicated Theory Test Centres, the test evaluates your theoretical knowledge and understanding of driving.
The entire assessment is segmented into two distinct parts, and both segments are conducted consecutively on the same day.
The first segment involves a series of 50 multiple-choice questions, aiming to test your knowledge of road signs, driving regulations, and safe driving practices.
You are given 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete this section. Thoroughly understanding the Highway Code, driver’s manual and other recommended materials can be immensely beneficial for this segment.
Hazard Perception Test
Immediately following the multiple-choice questions, the hazard perception test begins. In this section, you’ll be shown 14 video clips, each depicting typical road scenarios with at least one ‘developing hazard’.
These hazards are situations that would necessitate a driver to take prompt action – like braking, changing lanes, or altering speed.
Notably, one clip will present you with two developing hazards. Your goal is to identify these hazards promptly.
To get your theory pass certificate, you must achieve a pass in both sections. Should you underperform in either segment, you will unfortunately have to retake the entire test at a later date.
Your theory test pass certificate is valid for two years.
Safeguard this certificate! Should you not complete and pass your practical driving test within these two years, you will need to retake your theory test.
In the event of not passing, the test centre provides a detailed letter outlining the areas where you faltered.
This feedback is instrumental for targeted revision, ensuring you’re better equipped for your next attempt.
However, a cooling-off period of a minimum of three working days is mandatory before booking another test.
For those keen on bolstering their preparation, online platforms offer mock theory tests so you can practice regularly.
Engaging in these simulations can provide invaluable practice, boosting confidence and competence for the real test.
When will I be ready to take my practical driving test?
Typically, the best gauge of your readiness for the practical driving test will come from your driving instructor, as they’re trained to assess your skills and confidence behind the wheel.
Remember, each individual progresses at their unique pace, so there’s no fixed timeline. However, data from the DVSA suggests that on average, learners tend to need about 45 hours of driving lessons, supplemented with approximately 22 hours of extra private practice.
This could be with a parent, guardian, or a trusted friend who meets the supervisory criteria from the DVSA.
Practising with family or friends
You can practise driving with family or friends. Anyone you practise your driving with (without paying them) must:
- be over 21
- be qualified to drive the type of vehicle you want to learn in, for example they must have a manual car licence if they’re supervising you in a manual car
- have had their full driving licence for 3 years (from the UK, the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein)
You can be fined up to £1,000 and get up to 6 penalty points on your provisional licence if you drive without the right supervision.
It’s illegal for
- your friend or family member to use a mobile phone while supervising you
- you to drive on the motorway when practising with family or friends
You need your own insurance as a learner driver if you’re practising in a car you own. Your family member or friend will usually be covered on this.
If you’re practising in someone else’s car, you need to either:
- make sure you’re covered by the car owner’s insurance policy as a learner driver
- take out your own insurance policy that covers you driving in the car as a learner driver
Some insurance companies require the person supervising you to be over 25 years old.
Gaining extensive on-road experience is invaluable. It not only familiarises you with various driving conditions but also enriches your understanding of road signs and enhances your ability to spot potential hazards swiftly.
Such knowledge is not just crucial for acing the theory test but is an integral part of ensuring you are well-prepared and confident for the practical test.
The more time you invest in practice, the better equipped you’ll be to handle real-world driving scenarios post-certification.
Can I take my driving test in my own car?
Yes, you can use your own car for the driving test, but it’s important that the car complies with the specified standards.
Your car needs to be roadworthy, insured, and equipped with the necessary safety features to be deemed suitable for the test environment.
Our comprehensive guide on taking your driving test in your own car provides a detailed checklist and further insights on this topic.
It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with these requirements in advance to ensure a smooth testing experience.
Using your own car for your test
You can take your driving test in your own car rather than your driving instructor’s if it meets certain rules.
Your test will be cancelled and you’ll have to pay again if your car does not meet the rules.
Rules about the car
Your car must:
- have no warning lights showing, for example, the airbag warning light
- have no tyre damage and meet the legal tread depth (at least 1.6mm) on each tyre – you must not have a space-saver spare tyre
- be roadworthy
- be fitted with an extra interior rear-view mirror for the examiner
- be fitted with a passenger seatbelt and a passenger head restraint for the examiner (slip-on types are not allowed)
- be able to reach at least 62mph and have a mph speedometer
- be fitted with L-plates (‘L’ or ‘D’ plates in Wales) on the front and rear
- have 4 wheels and meet the maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500 kg
The MAM is the limit on how much the car can weigh when it’s loaded. It’ll be in the car’s handbook.
Tax and insurance
Your car must:
- be taxed
- have a current MOT (if it’s over 3 years old)
- be insured for a driving test (check with your insurance company)
Cleaning your car
You should tidy your car before your test. This includes removing any rubbish or unnecessary items from the dashboard, footwells, door pockets, cup holders and seats.
Your car must be smoke-free – this means you cannot smoke in it just before or during the test.
Dashcams and other cameras
You can use a camera fitted for insurance purposes, as long as it:
- faces outside of the car and does not film the inside
- does not record audio from inside the car
You can use a car with:
- an electronic parking brake
- hill-start assist
Manual and automatic cars
You can take the test in a:
- Manual car – these have 3 pedals
- automatic or semi-automatic car – these have 2 pedals
If you take your test in a semi-automatic car you’ll only be able to drive automatic and semi-automatic cars once you’ve passed your test.
You can take your test in a hire car if it’s fitted with dual controls and meets all the other rules.
Cars you cannot use
Some cars cannot be used in the test because they do not give the examiner all-round vision.
You cannot use any of the following:
- BMW Mini convertible
- Ford KA convertible
- Smart Fortwo (2-door)
- Toyota iQ
- VW Beetle convertible
There might be other cars that you cannot use. This is because not every model has been used in a test before, and some may not give the examiner all-round vision.
Check if your car can be used before booking a test
You can check if your car can be used by contacting the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
Always check if you want to use a:
- convertible car
- panel van
- coupe (a car with a fixed roof, two doors and a sloping rear)
What should I take with me to my driving test?
Ensuring you have all the necessary documentation and items for your driving test is crucial. Arriving unprepared could lead to the cancellation of your test without any refund. Here’s what you need to remember to bring:
UK driving licence: If you have the older version without a photo card, ensure you have a valid passport alongside your paper licence. For those from Northern Ireland, both the Northern Ireland photocard and its paper counterpart are essential.
Theory test pass certificate: In the event that you’ve misplaced this certificate, don’t panic. Reach out to the DVSA, providing them with your name and driving licence number. They’ll send you an official letter that will act as a replacement for your lost pass certificate. This letter is acceptable to present on the day of your practical test.
Glasses or contact lenses: If you require corrective lenses for driving, it’s mandatory to bring and wear them during the test.
It’s also crucial to stay updated with health guidelines. If you’re exhibiting symptoms or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, it’s your responsibility to cancel the driving test.
Fortunately, you can easily reschedule the test at no additional charge through GOV.UK. Always prioritise your health and the health of others.
How long is a driving test?
The practical driving test typically lasts approximately 40 minutes.
This includes a range of tasks, such as general driving, manoeuvres, and possibly following directions from a sat nav or traffic signs.
If you’ve previously faced a driving ban and have been mandated by the court to undergo an extended driving test, the duration will be more extended.
In such cases, the test is designed to be more thorough and will last closer to 70 minutes. This extended assessment ensures that individuals who have faced bans are adequately prepared and safe to return to the roads.
What happens during a driving test?
The practical driving test is a comprehensive assessment designed to evaluate a learner’s ability and understanding of the road.
Regardless of whether you’re taking the test in a manual or automatic vehicle, it encompasses five distinct sections:
An eyesight check: Before you even start the engine, your eyesight will be tested. You’ll be required to read a number plate from a specified distance to ensure you can see clearly. It’s crucial for ensuring the safety of all road users.
‘Show me, tell me’ safety questions: These questions assess your knowledge of the vehicle and basic maintenance tasks. For example, you might be asked to demonstrate how you’d check the oil level or explain how to ascertain if the brakes are working correctly.
General driving ability: This section evaluates your core driving skills. It involves a mix of different road conditions and scenarios, from urban streets to potentially more challenging terrains or situations. It’s designed to determine how well you handle the car and adapt to various road conditions and scenarios.
Reversing your vehicle: Mastery over your car is crucial, and this section tests just that. You might be asked to perform tasks such as parallel parking, bay parking, or pulling up on the right-hand side of the road, reversing for two car lengths, and then re-joining the traffic.
Independent driving: For around 20 minutes, you’ll be asked to drive without step-by-step instructions from the examiner. You might be asked to follow directions from a sat nav or follow road signs. This part of the test gauges how well you drive independently and make safe decisions on your own.
Remember, the objective of the driving test is not just to test your technical proficiency but also to assess your awareness, judgment, and overall safety as a driver.
1. The eyesight check
Before the test begins, your eyesight will be checked. You’ll be tasked with reading a vehicle number plate from a specific distance: 20 metres for new-style plates (which have a format like AB55 CTM), and 20.5 metres for old-style plates. This distinction is crucial.
It’s paramount to ensure you can read the plate clearly. Should you falter on this eyesight test, you will fail your driving test instantly, resulting in a failure.
If you typically wear glasses or contact lenses, remember to bring them along to the test to assist with this task.
2. ‘Show me, tell me’ safety questions
This segment gauges your vehicular knowledge. The examiner will pose two distinct queries, often referred to as ‘show me, tell me’ questions.
For a ‘show me’ inquiry, you’d be directed to demonstrate a specific function, like “show me how you’d activate the windscreen washer and wipers”.
Alternatively, a ‘tell me’ query obliges you to articulate a process, such as, “tell me how you’d verify that the brake lights on this vehicle are operational”. The latter is posed before you even start driving.
Mastering these checks is about safety, not just rote learning. Should you answer incorrectly to one or both questions, you’ll be marked with one driving fault, or a ‘minor’.
It’s worth noting that there’s a pool of 14 potential ‘tell me’ questions and seven ‘show me’ questions from which the examiner might choose.
Familiarise yourself with the latest set of questions available on the GOV.UK website, but be aware that they might evolve occasionally.
3. General driving ability
This section primarily examines your competence in managing various driving situations. The examiner will guide you through various tasks and routes; however, they will exclude motorway driving during this test.
You’ll be directed to perform specific tasks like pulling away from behind a parked vehicle and stopping beside the road. The examiner might also challenge you with a hill start.
4. Reversing your vehicle
Precision and control are key here. The examiner will request one of several manoeuvres:
- Reversing into a parking bay and then driving out, or driving into a bay and then reversing out. The choice will be specified by the examiner.
- Conducting a parallel park behind another stationary car.
- Stopping on the right side of the road, reversing for approximately two car lengths, and then moving back into the flow of traffic.
Though you won’t be asked to reverse around a corner during the test, it’s advisable to have this skill in your repertoire.
5. Independent driving
Demonstrating your capability to navigate and make safe decisions is crucial. During this segment, you’ll either follow directions provided by a satnav, heed traffic signs, or potentially a combination of both.
Should the examiner opt for a satnav, they’ll handle the setup. There’s no requirement to furnish your own or utilise a personal device.
The examiner will largely remain silent during this phase, offering guidance only if there’s a clear need, like an obscured sign.
If you’re uncertain about any aspect, feel free to seek clarification. Making a navigational error, like missing a turn, won’t automatically result in a fault.
It’s the way you handle such situations and the decisions you make that the examiner evaluates. So, maintain your composure and focus on safe driving.
What are the most common reasons for failing a driving test?
The driving test is a comprehensive assessment that gauges a learner’s proficiency and safety on the road.
Recent statistics from January to March 2022 show that 47.1% of participants successfully passed their driving test.
The DVSA, which conducts these tests, has identified common pitfalls that often lead to unsuccessful attempts. Here are the primary reasons:
Observation at Junctions: Many learners don’t display enough vigilance at junctions, potentially endangering themselves and other road users.
Roundabout Awareness: A common error is entering a roundabout when there’s a vehicle already coming from the right, signalling a misjudgement of the right of way.
Inadequate Observations: Some test-takers do not make meaningful observations at all, leading to potential hazards.
Joining Dual Carriageways: Failing to observe correctly when joining a dual carriageway from a slip road is another typical reason for failure.
Crossroads Misjudgement: Mistakes such as going straight ahead from a crossroads, instead of following the correct route, can lead to test failure.
Delayed Lookouts: Looking too late before making a manoeuvre can prove dangerous, especially in busy traffic.
Turning Left: A recurrent mistake is not checking to the left adequately when intending to turn in that direction.
Mirror Use: Properly utilising mirrors when changing direction is crucial. Failure to do so can lead to accidents.
Steering Errors: Issues like not steering enough or making late steering adjustments during turns can lead to potential mishaps.
Mounting the Pavement: Consistently pulling up onto the pavement when intending to stop on the left indicates a lack of control over the vehicle.
However, it’s crucial to remember that while these statistics might sound daunting, failing the driving test is quite common.
In fact, approximately 50% of learners do not pass on their test on the first attempt. If you’re among them, take it as an opportunity to learn and improve.
Will making a mistake mean I fail my driving test?
The short answer is, it depends on the type and severity of the mistake. During the driving test, errors are classified into three distinct categories:
Dangerous Faults: These are grave errors that pose an immediate threat. If your actions endanger yourself, the examiner, the general public, or any property, it’s deemed a dangerous fault. A single occurrence of such a fault during your test is enough to result in a failure.
Serious Faults: While these might not cause immediate harm, they have the potential to do so under certain circumstances. Any mistake that falls under this category can be viewed as a major fault, and, just like with dangerous faults, one instance will lead to a failed test.
Driving/Minor Faults: Everyone can slip up now and then, and that’s what minor faults represent. These errors are not immediately hazardous but show areas where your driving can improve. While one or two minor faults are forgivable, they can accumulate. If you repetitively make the same minor mistake, it might be deemed a serious fault. Moreover, even if they’re all unique, having more than 15 minor faults in one test will also result in a failure.
It’s natural to feel a pang of worry if you think you’ve erred during the test. However, it’s vital to stay composed.
Some mistakes might be less critical than you perceive them to be. Moreover, becoming overly anxious or distraught can further hamper your driving abilities and concentration.
Stay focused, maintain your calm, and continue to drive with care and attention. Remember, everyone is prone to making mistakes; the key is to handle them with grace and learn from them.
Tips to help you pass your driving test
Passing your driving test can feel like a monumental task, but with the right preparation and mindset, you can confidently conquer the challenge.
Apart from having numerous driving lessons in varied driving environments and traffic situations, the following enhanced and detailed tips can further boost your chances of passing with flying colours:
Familiarize Yourself with the Route to Your Test Centre
By knowing the roads and landmarks leading to your test centre, you’ll reduce the chances of getting lost, ensuring a smooth and stress-free journey. A recognisable route can set a comfortable tone for the rest of your test.
Conduct a Mock Driving Test
Pick one of the frequently used routes and perform a simulated test. This mock experience can acclimatise you to the real test conditions, making the actual test feel less daunting.
Warm-Up Before Your Test
A brief driving session with your instructor right before the test can be invaluable. It not only helps you tune into the driving mindset but also allows you to address any last-minute queries or concerns.
Allocate Ample Time for Arrival
Rushing is the last thing you’d want on your test day. Ensure you leave early, taking into account potential traffic delays, to arrive with a clear mind.
Prioritise Restful Sleep
It’s essential to be both mentally and physically alert during your test. A restorative night’s sleep can make a significant difference in your performance and decision-making.
Steer clear of alcohol the night prior. On the test day, moderate your caffeine intake, especially if you’re prone to feeling jittery or overly stimulated.
Opt for a Morning Test Slot
If you tend to get nervous or anxious, booking your test for the morning can be a smart move. This way, you won’t spend the entire day in anticipation, and you can get it done while you’re fresh.
Practice Deep Breathing Techniques
Deep breaths can be a game-changer in maintaining calmness. Make it a habit to take deep, steady breaths when you start to feel overwhelmed or nervous.
Emphasize Your Mirror Checks
It’s crucial that the examiner recognises your attentiveness to safety. When checking mirrors, subtly turn your head to ensure they notice your precautionary measures.
By incorporating these enhanced tips into your preparation routine, you’re not just setting yourself up for success in the driving test, but also building habits that will make you a safer and more confident driver in the long run.
How will I know if I’ve passed my driving test?
The culmination of your driving test is filled with anticipation. Thankfully, the process to find out the results is straightforward, and you won’t be left in suspense for long.
Immediate Feedback from the Examiner
Right after you’ve completed your test, your examiner will inform you of the outcome—whether you’ve passed or not. This feedback is prompt and provides clarity on your performance.
Listening to Constructive Feedback
Everyone wants to pass their driving test on the first attempt. However, if you happen to fall short, it’s imperative not to let disappointment overshadow the valuable feedback your examiner provides.
Their insights are instrumental in identifying areas that need refinement, ensuring you’re better equipped for your subsequent attempt.
Receiving the Pass Certificate
For those who successfully pass the test, the examiner will hand over your pass certificate. This document confirms your achievement and brings you one step closer to getting your full driving licence.
Opting for an Automatic Full Driving Licence
Upon passing, the examiner will inquire if you’d prefer your new full driving licence to be sent to you without any additional steps on your end.
This convenient option can save you from the hassle of applying manually. However, if you choose to decline this service, remember to initiate the application process yourself.
It’s crucial to do this within a two-year window from the day you pass, or else your pass status will expire, necessitating another test.
The process is transparent, and you’ll be promptly informed of your results. Whether you pass or need another try, always remember that each step is a learning opportunity, propelling you towards becoming a competent driver.
I’ve passed my driving test – what happens now?
Congratulations on achieving this milestone! But remember, the journey of becoming a proficient driver has only just begun.
Passing your test is the first step; continuous learning on the road is what will make you truly adept.
Continued Learning on the Road
While the pass certificate is a testament to your basic driving skills, real-life experiences on the road will teach you nuances that aren’t always covered in driving lessons.
From managing unexpected situations to understanding different driving conditions, real-world driving will always have lessons to offer.
Advanced Driving Courses
If you’re looking to further sharpen your skills and bolster your confidence, enrolling in an advanced driving course is a commendable idea.
Not only will it elevate your driving expertise, but it can also pave the way for potential savings. Many car insurance companies value the extra training and might offer reduced premiums, recognising that you’ve taken steps to become a safer and more informed driver.
The Option of P Plates
While not mandatory, P plates (or ‘probationary’ plates) are worth considering post your test. Displaying them on your vehicle sends a clear message to fellow drivers about your novice status.
This often leads to more patience and understanding from others on the road, allowing you a less pressured environment to refine your skills.
Passing your driving test is an exciting achievement, but it’s just the beginning. Whether it’s through advanced courses, using P plates, or simply clocking more hours behind the wheel, continuous learning will enhance your abilities and make your driving experiences more enjoyable and secure.
What about car insurance?
Navigating the realm of car insurance can seem daunting, especially for new drivers. Typically, being a novice behind the wheel means that you might face steeper insurance premiums until you’ve established a track record of safe driving.
The crux of the matter is the ‘no claims discount.’ This system rewards drivers based on the duration they’ve been on the roads without having to lodge an insurance claim.
In simple terms, the longer you drive without any incidents, the more potential savings you can accrue on your insurance premiums.
Comparing Car Insurance
To ensure that you’re not overpaying and are getting the best possible coverage for your needs, it’s important to shop around.
By comparing car insurance quotes from an array of providers, you can pinpoint the most cost-effective and comprehensive options available.
How We Can Help
We simplify the complex task of insurance comparison for you. Provide us with some basic information about yourself, your vehicle, and the kind of coverage you’re seeking.
Once we have that, we’ll present a curated list of insurance policies tailored to your needs. Whether you’re prioritising cost, specific add-ons, or flexible payment options, our platform will guide you to the best deals.
Frequently asked questions
For regular candidates:
- Theory Test: This will set you back by £23.
- Practical Driving Test: The cost for this is £62, but if you’re planning on taking the test during weekends, evenings, or on bank holidays, it’s priced at £75. Do note, if you’re using your driving instructor’s vehicle for the test, there will be an additional fee to compensate for their time.
For those retaking the test after disqualification:
- Theory Test: The fee remains consistent at £23.
- Extended Practical Driving Test: The price for this specialised test is £124. However, for slots on weekends, evenings, and bank holidays, the cost rises to £150.
If the driving test date you’ve been provided isn’t compatible with your schedule, there’s no need to fret! You have the flexibility to reschedule.
Rescheduling Your Test: Head over to gov.uk to change your driving test date and time to one that better aligns with your availability.
Notice and Fees: Bear in mind, if you’re adjusting the date with less than 3 working days to spare, you will incur a new test fee.
Navigating Waiting Periods: At times, the subsequent available slot might be several weeks out. While it’s advantageous to secure this spot to ensure you have a test lined up, don’t forget to monitor for any cancellations. A last-minute vacancy might just pop up, allowing you to take your test sooner than anticipated.
Should unforeseen circumstances arise—such as an unwell examiner or perilous weather conditions—leading to the cancellation of your driving test, the DVSA will take charge of the situation.
Automatic Rescheduling: The DVSA will proactively reschedule your test and pencil you in for the earliest suitable slot. Expect to receive detailed information about this new date within a week.
Compensation for Inconveniences: If the DVSA aborts the test on short notice, you’re entitled to claim reimbursement for any associated expenses. However, this doesn’t apply when the test is cancelled due to inclement weather.
Life can be unpredictable. If you find yourself under the weather on your test day or face unexpected issues like a malfunctioning car, you’ll need to reschedule.
However, be prepared to cover the fee for a new test appointment.
Yes. Typically, your driving instructor or even a friend or family member can join you by sitting in the rear seat during the test, provided they are 16 or older.
When the moment arrives to receive your results and the associated feedback, the examiner will inquire if you’d like your companion present.
Please note that the test must be conducted in English or Welsh. Consequently, bringing someone to serve as a translator is not an option.
When you’re taking lessons under the guidance of a driving instructor using their car, insurance is generally handled by them.
The associated cost is often integrated into your lesson fees. However, if you’re practising in your personal car or one belonging to a family member, it’s essential to arrange for learner driver insurance on your own.