The Practical Driving Test Overview

Just for clarification purposes, there are no targets or limits on the number of people allowed to pass each day or month. If you are good, you get a licence, if not, you don’t; simples!!!

Once you’ve passed theory test you are allowed to take a practical driving test. Applying for the test at your local test centre can be done online, but keep in mind that the date you would like to book can vary based on how busy the centre is, some centres may be booked up to 3 months in advance. When booking you will need your license number, theory test pass number and my Instructor number.

The fee of taking the test cost £62 on weekdays & £75 from 4:30pm onwards, weekends and bank holidays, with an additional fee we will charge for use of the vehicle for the hour. I would strongly advise that you take a lesson before your practical test to ensure that you are fully confident and prepared for the test.

The test lasts approximately 40 minutes and all they’re looking for is:

  • A nice safe drive.
  • Reasonable car control.
  • You to abide by any road signs of road markings.
  • Your ability to anticipate dangers and do something about them.

That’s it! Drive nicely for about 35 - 40 minutes, don’t do anything dangerous or potentially dangerous and you’ll get a driving licence at the end of it. Just pretend that the examiner is your granny with a cup of coco in her hand; take her for a drive and you want her to return safely not having got flustered or spilled her coco.

As you walk to the car, you will be asked 2 questions out of 19 on basic car maintenance – all the answers of which you will know before the test so don’t worry click here for the Show Me Tell Me Questions

We will go through all of them before the test and I’ll make sure you can understand and do everything; it’s all quite simple and basically common sense. For each question you get wrong, you will be given a minor mark.

Once you have completed the “show me tell me” questions, you go for a drive and show your driving skills off.

Your examiner will give you directions which you should follow. For 10 minutes of the test you will also be asked to drive independently; an example could be ‘follow signs for Reading’. You’ll be also asked to perform 1 manoeuvre and a hill start and maybe perform an emergency stop (1 in 3 tests get an emergency stop on average).

The manoeuvres you need to be able to perform and so could be asked to perform are:

  • Reverse from main road into side road with the kerb to the left of the car (commonly known as a left reverse)
  • Reverse from main road into side road with the kerb to the right of the car (commonly known as a right reverse)
  • Turn In the Road (commonly, but incorrectly, known as the 3 point turn)
  • Parallel park behind a car, parallel to the kerb
  • Reverse park into a parking space with the space on your left or right (commonly known as a bay park)

There is a marking sheet that the examiner marks your drive against. If you make a mistake you get a mark in a box. At the end of the test you must have no more than 15 minor faults on your sheet to get a licence.

The Test Marking System

There are 3 columns that the examiner can mark: Faults(minors), Serious or Dangerous. You can be given Minor, Serious or Dangerous for the same fault so it’s best not to do the fault in the first place.

The difference between a Serious and a Dangerous mark is that the examiner can call an end to the test if you are driving dangerously and the pair of you have to WALK back to the test centre. Get just one Serious or Dangerous and you have failed your test. Also bear in mind that the examiner can decide to turn a group of Minors into a Serious if they feel that you have an inherent problem with your driving. (i.e. getting 5 Minors for not checking your mirrors could be turned into a Serious, but getting the odd Minor here and there for different things wouldn’t be converted.)

Let’s say that the only fault you are making is to not checking your left mirror when turning left.

  1. If there was no one else around at the time, you would get a Minor mark.
  2. If there was a cyclist on the road that you had recently passed on the approach to the left turn; you would be expected to be looking out for them and so you would get a Serious mark (it is quite a serious problem if you know there are vulnerable road users around and don’t look out for them).
  3. If that cyclist was so close that they had to take evasive action to avoid being hit, you would get a Dangerous mark.

So as you can see, it isn’t necessarily what you do, but more the outcome of what you do that decides how you are marked. You must be at the required standard before going for the test; you need to be able to deal with whatever the public throw at you so that in light or heavy traffic, pedestrians or not, you are able to cope with them all. If you don’t make a mistake then you can’t be marked down for it!

This also means that a substandard driver can pass their driving test if they are fortunate to be in light traffic. However, in normal traffic, that substandard driving will be exposed and they will fail.

It is quite common for people to book a driving test and ‘just wing it’; as yet I haven’t seen anyone pass the test when they do this. I also should point out that local knowledge of the area is a great advantage, booking a test in a town you don’t know very rarely pays off. Of course, if you are to the correct standard it shouldn’t matter where your test is taken, but knowing how a road is laid out before you get there sure does help – You have been warned!!

If you would like to learn more or if you would like to book your test, please click here.