Practical Driving Test Advice

The Driving test has two parts that need to be passed in order to obtain a full driving licence. First the theory test and then, within 2 years of passing this, the practical test.

Theory test

The car theory test is made up of two parts,

The theory test Multiple-choice part of the test is performed on a computer system. The test has 50 multiple choice questions and the candidate must answer at least 43 of them correctly to pass.

The hazard perception test was introduced in November 2002.

The hazard perception part of the test is the second part of the theory test and is taken immediately after the multiple-choice questions.

Candidates  watch fourteen one-minute clips filmed from the perspective of a car driver or motorcyclist and have to indicate a preceived hazard, usually by clicking a mouse button.

Both parts must be passed in order to obtain a theory test pass certificate.

This enables the candidate to book a DVSA practical driving test. Candidates have two years from the date that they passed the first part of their theory test to take their practical test, or they will have to pass the theory test once again before they can book a practical driving test.

Practical driving test

Candidates have to passed both components of the theory test before taking the practical driving test.

Passing the practical test in a manual car entitles one to hold a full UK driving licence.

The test candidate must produce both parts of their provisional licence for the examiner before the test starts. Both photo-card and paper counterpart is required.

The practical car test can be taken in either an automatic or manual car, if the test is passed in an automatic car, then the full licence will be restricted to automatic or cars.


Driving Test Report

The practical car test is taken on the road, with a  DVSA examiner directing the candidate around a pre-determined test route. The examiner marks the candidate for driving faults, serious faults, and dangerous faults. 

A candidate will fail the test for any serious or dangerous faults or more than fifteen driving faults(commonly know as minor faults).

If a candidate accumulates several driving faults in the same category, the examiner may consider the fault habitual and mark a serious fault in that category. The test officially runs for 37 minutes but usually can last upto 45 minutes in a standard test.

Eyesight test

Before getting to the car, the examiner will ask the candidate to read a car’s number plate at a distance. The distance required is 20.5 metres for an old-style plate and 20 metres for a new style plate. If the candidate needs glasses to do this then these must be the ones worn to complete the rest of the test. If the candidate fails to read the first number plate correctly, then the examiner asks the candidate to read a second number plate. If the candidate cannot correctly read it, then the examiner will measure the correct distance between the candidate and a third number plate. If the candidate cannot read the third number plate, then the test will be terminated and the candidate will lose the test fee.


During the practical driving test, the DVSA examiner will ask the candidate for one of four manoeuvres.

  • Bay parking in a marked bay in an car park only  if the test centre has this facility is avaiable.
  • Turn in the road, also known as a “3 point turn“, although more than 3 moves can be necessary if it is a narrow road.
  • Reverse around a corner.
  • Reverse park into a parking space parallel to the kerb, usually done with one car, with the manoeuvre to be done within two car lengths, so you connot fit another car infront.

Manoeuvres are randomly selected by the examiner depending on the test route chosen and conditions on the route.

General driving standard on test

The candidate must demonstrate an ability to drive in various road and traffic conditions and respond appropriately to actual risk situations. The conditions typically encountered on test include driving in urban areas as well as higher speed limit roads where possible; this includes dual carriageways but not motorways as motorways in Britain can only be used by full licence holders. The object of the test is to

ensure that the candidate has the basic principles of safe driving, and is sufficiently experienced in them to be able to show, at the time of the test.

The practical driving test is designed to see if you:

  • can drive safely in different road and traffic conditions
  • know the Highway Code and can show this through your driving ability

As long as you show the standard required, you’ll pass your driving test.

There’s no minimum number of lessons you must have or hours you must practise driving before you take your test. There are no pass or fail quotas.

 Documents to bring to your test

You must bring:

a dual control car suitable and insured for purpose of driving test.

your theory test pass certificate (or confirmation) if you’re not exempt from taking the theory testboth parts of your driving licence – the photocard and the paper counterpart

You must bring your signed driving licence and a valid passport if you have an old-style paper licence.

Your test will be cancelled and you’ll lose your fee if you don’t bring the right documents.

Lost driving licence

You’ll need to apply for a replacement driving licence if you lose yours. This could take up to 15 days. You may have to rearrange your test if this happens.

Lost theory test certificate

Contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) with your name and driving licence number as soon as possible. DVSA doesn’t issue replacement certificates, but will send you a letter containing your certificate number.

What happens during the test

Before you start the driving ability part of your test, you’ll have an eyesight check and be asked 2 vehicle safety questions.

Eyesight check

You’ll have to read a number plate from a distance of:

  • 20 metres for vehicles with a new-style number plate
  • 20.5 metres for vehicles with an old-style number plate

You can write down what you see if you can’t speak English or have difficulty reading.


Vehicle safety questions: ‘show me, tell me’

You’ll be asked 2 vehicle safety questions. These are also known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions.

The examiner will ask you one ‘show me’ question, where you’ll have to show them how you’d carry out a vehicle safety check.

You’ll also be asked one ‘tell me’ question, where you’ll have to explain to the examiner how you’d carry out the check.

The driving ability part

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.

If you’re taking an extended test pass because of a driving disqualification, the test will last 70 minutes.

Your general driving ability

During your test the examiner will give you directions that you should follow. You’ll drive in various road and traffic conditions. You should drive in the way your instructor has trained you.

It should include:

  • normal stops
  • an angle start (pulling out from behind a parked vehicle)
  • a hill start

You may also be asked to carry out an emergency stop. (1 in 3 chance)

Reversing your vehicle safely

You’ll have to show how well you can reverse your vehicle. The examiner will ask you to do one of the following exercises:

  • reversing around a corner
  • turning in the road
  • reverse parking – either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road

Independent driving section

Your driving test will include around 10 minutes of independent driving. It’s designed to assess your ability to drive safely while making decisions on your own.

If you make mistakes

Carry on if you make a mistake, because if it’s not a serious mistake it might not affect your result.

Your examiner will stop your test if they think your driving is a danger to other road users.

Taking someone with you

Your examiner will ask if you want your instructor, or another person, to:

  • sit in the back of your car during your driving test
  • be with you after the test for the result and feedback

This person will usually be your driving instructor, but it could also be a relative or friend.

They must be over 16 and can’t take any part in the test.


Independent driving section of the test

Your practical driving test will include around 10 minutes of independent driving. It’s not a test of your orientation and navigation skills.

How the test works

During your test you’ll have to drive independently by either following:

  • traffic signs
  • a series of directions
  • a combination of both

To help you understand where you’re going when following verbal directions, the examiner can show you a diagram.

You can’t use sat nav because the independent driving section tests how you make your own decisions.

Forgetting the directions

It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember every direction, or if you go the wrong way.

Driving independently means making your own decisions – this includes deciding when it’s safe and appropriate to ask for confirmation about where you’re going.

The examiner will confirm the directions to you if you ask for a reminder of them.

Going off the independent driving route

Your test result won’t be affected if you go off the independent driving route, unless you make a driving fault.

The examiner will help you get back on the route if you go off it or take a wrong turning. You can then continue with the independent driving.

Poor traffic signs

The examiner will give you directions until you can see the next traffic sign if there are poor or obscured traffic signs. You won’t need to have a detailed knowledge of the area.


Your driving test result

You’ll pass your test if you make:

  • 15 or fewer driving faults
  • no serious or dangerous faults

When the driving test has ended, you can call your instructor over if they didn’t go with you on your test. This is so they can listen to the result and help you with any feedback afterwards.

The examiner will:

  • tell you if you passed or not
  • explain how you did during the test

The different types of faults

There are 3 types of faults that can be marked:

  • a dangerous fault – involves actual danger to you, the examiner, the public or property
  • a serious fault – could potentially be dangerous
  • a driving fault – not potentially dangerous, but if you make the same fault throughout your test it could become a serious fault

If you pass your test

The examiner will give you a pass certificate if you pass the test. They will also ask you if you want your full licence to be sent to you automatically.

Once you have passed your test you can start driving straight away – you don’t need to wait for your full licence to arrive.

If you don’t pass

You have to wait another 10 working days before you can take another test if you don’t pass.

Feedback on how eco-efficient your driving is

The examiner will also give you feedback about how eco-efficient your driving is.