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:
- Every year 1,000 people die in road traffic accidents involving a young driver, hence why cheap young drivers car insurance is a rarely realised promise.
- Analysis shows it takes 2 years from passing the practical driving test before a new driver's accident liability falls by less than 50%.
- Under the New Drivers Act 1997 newly qualified drivers who receive 6 or more penalty points on their licence within 2 years of passing their test will have their licence revoked.
- To get their licence back they'll first have to reapply for their provisional driving license, pay for even more driving lessons and then re-take the theory and practical driving test.
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.
- Assess you driving ability and get in as much driving practice as possible.
- Experience as many on-road situations as you can.
- Drive at night, in the country, in town, on dual carriageways and in all weather conditions.
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:
- your valid provisional driving licence, including the paper counterpart if you have a photo-card licence
- your theory test pass certificate.
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.
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 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.
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:
- Without committing any serious or dangerous faults
- Without committing more than 15 driving errors of a less serious nature.
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.