Driving Test Success

DVSA Driving Test Syllabus

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA), the people responsible for setting of the driving test, have produced a syllabus, which covers all aspects of learning to drive a car.

This syllabus is the course you must learn in order to pass the practical driving test. It is recommended that you make sure your driving instructor teaches the full syllabus.

As you learn the syllabus should should progress through five skill levels. Once you have consistently reached level five you should be ready to take, and pass, your driving test. The five skill levels are:

  1. the skill is introduced
  2. the skill can be carried out under full instruction
  3. the skill can be carried out correctly when prompted
  4. the skill seldom needs to be prompted
  5. the pupil can carry the skill out consistently and without any prompting.

The current DSA is as follows:

Highway Code

Have a sound knowledge of the Highway Code is essential. You should start learning it before you even start your driving lessons.

Cockpit Drill

These are the checks you should make inside the car before staring the engine.

cockpit drill explained

Vehicle Safety Checks

Also known as the Show Me, Tell Questions. The checks are designed to test your knowledge and understanding of basic car maintenance.

At the start of the practical driving test you will be asked one show me and one tell me question. Failure to answer one or both of the questions correctly will result in your scoring one minor fault.

show me, tell me questions and answers

Controls and Instruments

You will need to understand the function of all controls and switches in the car, especially those that relate to road safety.

You will also need to show appropriate use of indicators, lights, windscreen wipers, demisters and heaters.

Using these controls needs to be second nature. You should never need to look at a control before or whilst using it, as this means you will be looking away from the road ahead.

You will also need to the function and meaning of your car's hazard warning lights.

hazard lights - steering a car - clutch control - changing gear - using car mirrors

Moving Away and Stopping

You will need to know the correct procedures for moving away and stopping. You will need to demonstrate that you can perform these manoeuvres safely and under control whilst on the level and on a hill.

As with all manoeuvres you will need to use the MSM and PSL routines.

Mirror - Signal - Manoeuvre (MSM)

Position - Speed - Look (PSM)

MSM/PSL routine - moving off - stopping - uphill start - downhill start

Safe Road Positioning

You must be able to drive in the correct position for the road on which you are driving.

You must be able to respond to the positions of other road users. You will need to understand how other vehicles i.e. buses and motorcycles, need to position themselves and how their presence will effect where you position your vehicle.

You must be able to follow the rules and principles of lane discipline.

road positioning

Use of Mirrors

Mirrors should be used regularly and you must be aware of the presence of others in blind spots. Early use of mirrors must be made before signalling, changing direction and/or speed, and as part of the mirror-signal-manoeuvre routine.

You should know the differences between the different car mirrors and know when and how to use them.

You should understand blind spots and how to deal with them.

using car mirrors

Signalling

You will need the knowledge and understanding to give clear, well-timed signals to other road users and have the ability to respond correctly to signals given by other road users.

signalling

Anticipation and Planning

You will need to be able to identify emerging hazards and respond to them safely. Constant observation is key to this.

You will need to:

anticipation and planning - hazard awareness test

Use of Speed

Safe and reasonable progress should be made according to the road, weather and traffic conditions, the road signs and speed limits.

You will need to know:

UK speed limits and stopping distances

Other Traffic

You will need to be able to deal safely and confidently with meeting, crossing and overtaking other vehicles.

Meeting traffic - give way to oncoming traffic when obstacles such as parked cars block your side of the road. On narrow roads you should be prepared to use passing places.

Crossing traffic - when turning right you must position you car correctly, as close to the centre of the road as it is safe to do so, give way to oncoming traffic, make the turn without cutting the corner or taking the turn too widely.

Overtaking - know when it is legal and safe to overtake. Check and assess the speed and position of vehicles behind you, in front and coming towards you.

All the above require appropriate use of the MSM/PSL routines.

meeting traffic - overtaking - right turn - left turn - vulnerable road users

Junctions

You will need to recognize and identity the different types of road junction and be able to negotiate them safely and without holding up other road users unnecessarily.

road junctions

Roundabouts

You will need to have a full understanding of the rules which apply to approaching and negotiating roundabouts. You will need to demonstrate that you can use them safely and confidently.

You will need to know the different procedures needed to negotiate standard and mini roundabouts.

When dealing with any roundabout you must:

roundabouts

Pedestrian Crossings

You will need to know the rules which apply to all pedestrian crossings and you will need to understand the differences between each type of crossing.

You will need to be able to safely negotiate all types of crossings and show:

pedestrian crossings

Dual Carriageways

You must be able to drive safely and with confidence all all types of dual carriageway.

You must demonstrate you understand the rules and procedures of joining, using and leaving a dual carriageway.

dual carriageways

The Manoeuvres

You must be able to perform all the manoeuvres safely and under control. They include:

Good clutch control is a key component of perform these manoeuvres correctly.

bay parking - corner reverse - parallel parking - turn in the road - clutch control

Emergency Stop

You must be able to perform an emergency stop safely and under control.

To safely stop your car as quickly as possible while keeping for control you need to know

You will need to demonstrate that you:

emergency stop - skidding

Weather Conditions

You will need to understand how some weather conditions will affect driving conditions. The primary affects will be on your:

You will need to know

driving in snow and ice - driving in rain - prevent skidding

Author Richard Jenkins

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