Driving Test Success

Learn to Drive and Pass Your Driving Test

Our aim is to help you learn to drive - to give you the information needed to pass your driving test as quickly, and as cheaply, as possible. Our online driving lessons are designed to work alongside professional tuition that is given by a qualified instructor. Below you will find a detailed assessment on the UK practical driving test - its purpose, how to pass the practical test, why people fail and lots more.

The UK Driving Test

Learning to drive and passing the driving test exists primarily as a road safety measure. It is designed to assess all new drivers, to make sure they can drive safely and unaccompanied. Passing the practical test and gaining a full UK licence can be a difficult and drawn-out affair. However:

So be warned. The more driving lessons you have (through schools, family or friends) the better. Learning to drive isn't easy. Being able to drive well is a skill that must be learnt. Yes, different people have different aptitudes for it but all learner drivers will benefit from professional driving lessons provided by competent instructors and schools.

Driving variety should be the main objective of all learner drivers. The better the preparation, the higher the chance of passing the driving exams and gaining your full UK driving licence.

Taking The Practical Driving Test

The practical test is about making sure that those who pass are competent and safe in the basic skills of driving. Before you take the test, indeed before you book it, you must have passed the theory and hazard perception tests.

Always seek the advice of your driving instructor before booking the practical test. They should give you an honest appraisal of your driving abilities, and the chances you have of passing the test.

The practical test will start at one of the many driving test centres dotted around the UK. When booking the test, you can choose which centre you want to use.

You MUST take to the driving test centre:

If you have kept your practical test confirmation letter, then take this also, just in case a problems arise with the computers at the centre.

If you are using your own car, not your driving instructor's, you will need to fulfil further requirements. You can read all about these here taking the driving test is your own car.

If you can't find any of the documents you need you must phone the DVSA as soon as possible. If you arrive without the required documentation your driving test will be cancelled and you won't receive a refund.

Glasses - if you need to wear glasses to drive, don't forget them, as you can't legally drive without them.

Practical Test Preparation

Traditionally, you will have a driving lesson with your instructor an hour or two before taking your practical test. This is always a good idea, as it gives you a chance to settle into the car and run through any points you are concerned about.

Like when taking any exam, arrive at the test center in plenty of time, at least ten minutes before your appointment time. You may have to wait to park and you may need to use the toilet. You may also need time to relax and mentally prepare yourself for the exam ahead. A calm attitude is much more likely to get a positive result than a rushed one.

Don't Be Late For Your Test

If you are, and by late I mean by as little as five minutes, the test examiner will cancel your test and you will lose the test fee you have already paid. It will then be up to you to book another test, and wait for another test date to become available.

The Start of the Test

At the start of the practical test, the examiner will come out and call your name. You will then be asked to read and sign the insurance and residency declarations while the examiner inspects your documentation. If all is in order, you will then be asked to walk to your car.

You are now able to have your driving instructor accompany you on your practical test. This decision is entirely your own to make. The instructor is not permitted to help you or assist you in any way while the test is being conducted.

Eyesight Test

Before getting to your car, the examiner will ask you to stop and read a new style number plate at a 20m or an old-style number plate at a distance of 20.5m. If you fail to do this, the exam will go no further, you will fail.

Show Me and Tell Me Questions

At the car, the examiner will ask you two questions from the show and tell question bank. To see all the show me, tell me questions and answers. Fail to answer either question correctly and you will score one minor fault.

The Driving Part of the Practical Test

The examiner will now ask you to get into the car and prepare yourself for the driving part of the practical test. Get in and perform a brief cockpit drill. As you have used the car to drive to the test centre, the examiner won't expect you to alter anything but they will expect you to make a visual check to make sure everything is as it should be. Don't forget to put your seatbelt on.

The examiner will then give you the following instructions:

'During the test I would like you to follow the road ahead at all times, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise, or I ask you to make a turn, which I will do in good time. When you are ready, move off.'

You should now start the engine and move off. To be successful and to pass, you must drive safely and demonstrate through your driving that you have a sound knowledge of the Highway Code. Don't worry if you make a mistake, keep calm and continue driving. Unless you make a serious or dangerous fault, or make a less serious mistake a number of times, you won't fail the practical test. To learn how the driving test examiner expects you to drive on the test click here.

The duration of the test will be up to 40 minutes and will cover a variety of roads and traffic situation. You will have to deal with roundabouts, crossroads, pedestrian crossings and where possible dual carriageways, rural and residential roads. Test centre's do have specific routes that they follow, but these routes are designed to include the widest range of driving possible in that area, and to give a consistent standard of testing across the whole country.

You will have to perform one of the following driving manoeuvres and show that you can control the car safely and correctly: bay park, parallel park, turn in the road, reversing round a corner.

You may also have to perform an emergency stop.

If you come to a junction or roundabout and the examiner gives you no instruction, you must follow the road ahead, for example go straight ahead at a roundabout.

If the examiner gives you an instruction which you are unsure about, ask them to repeat it.

Independent Driving

The practical test now includes a section called independent driving. Its aim is to assess a candidates ability to make their own decisions whilst driving. For a detailed description see our independent driving page.

In Order To Pass The Practical Test, You Must Drive:

Dangerous Driving Faults - a fault that results in actual danger. Commit such a fault and you will fail the practical test.

Serious Driving Faults - is when a potentially dangerous incident occurs, when the candidate reveals a recurring driving fault or fails to perform a reversing manoeuvre correctly. Receive a serious fault and you fail the practical test.

Minor Driving Faults - less serious faults, such as hesitating too long at a junction, faults that don't provide any immediate danger. Receive 16 or more minor driving faults and you will fail the practical test.

Pass rates - the following table shows the practical test pass rates broken down into age and gender.

Age 16-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69
Male 53.6% 45.4% 42.1% 40.5% 41.6% 19.7%
Female 47.2% 42.1% 39.2% 29.7% 28.1% 17.9%

How To Pass The Driving Test

Learn to drive correctly! This may sound flippant, but it is true. There are no real shortcuts, or magical tips that will improve your chances of passing the test. Hours of practice is what it takes.

Top Ten Reason For Failing The Practical Test

Practical Test Routes

The centre where you take your test will use a set of standard routes for tests conducted from it. Although these routes are not officially made public, you can buy them off the internet. Some learner drivers think that knowing the routes will give them an advantage, but I think this is dubious. If you have the ability to pass the driving test, and if you do not then you should not be taking your test, knowing the route your test will take will provide little or no advantage, as you should be able to deal with all road traffic situations and obstacles regardless of how well you know the route. It should also be remembered that these routes are never fixed and the examiner, due to road works and traffic conditions, can deviate from them while on your test.

However, if there is a particularly large roundabout, or other such feature that fills you with trepidation, on a road close to your test centre, then, of course, practice using it with your driving instructor.

Provisional Driving Licence

To Book The Practical Test

Times you can take the practical driving test: 08:10 - 09:07 - 10.14 - 11:11 - 13.35 - 14:35.

You can book the practical test:

Online with the DVSA. To book a practical test you will need a valid UK driving licence number, theory test pass certificate number and a valid debit/credit card.

By Phone - using your credit/debit card. The person who books the test must be the cardholder. You will be given the date and time of your test immediately. Call 0300 2001122 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday. Welsh speakers telephone 0300 200 1133. Northern Ireland: booking and enquiries 0845 6006700. When you phone you will need:

You will be given a booking number and sent an appointment card with details of the time and date of your test.

By Post - Apply for the practical driving test by filling out form DL26 (postal application for a practical appointment) obtained from: theory and practical centre's, an Approved Driving Instructor, The National booking line on 0870 010 1372, or downloaded from the DVSA link above.

The Practical Driving Test Costs

£62.00 if you take the test on a weekday or £75.00, if you take the test over the weekend. You will not get a refund if you fail.

To Cancel Your Practical Test

To cancel you must give at least 3 working days notice, not counting the day the DVSA received your request and the day of your driving test. Check the cancellation date on your appointment card. If you don't give enough notice you will lose your fee.

How Many Driving Lessons Are Needed To Pass The Practical Driving Test?

Analysis show that the average number of lessons a learner will need to reach exam standard, is your age multiplied by 1.5. So, on average a 20-year-old learner driver will need 30 hours tuition.

How Often Should You have Driving Lessons

To a large extent, this will depend on your budget and time commitments, and the availability of your instructor. Ideally, however, you should try and have two or three hours of lessons weekly, with private practice and theory test revision in between.

If you are in a hurry to pass, you may benefit from taking an intensive course with a pre-booked practical test. Depending on your driving experience, such a course can last from a few days to a few weeks. The more intensive the course, the more stressful and tiring they tend to be, a one week course will require you to be learning/driving for up to five hours a day, so intensive courses aren't for everyone, but if you can take the intensive learning, they can be an effective get your licence quickly.

Of course, you must have passed your theory test before you can take such a course.

Author Richard Jenkins

This website contains Crown Copyright material which has been reproduced by permission of the Driving Standards Agency which does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the reproduction. Disclaimer - the owner of this website accepts no responsibility for any injury, loss or inconvenience sustained by anyone using this website. Copyright © Richard Jenkins. All rights reserved worldwide