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 driving licence number, credit or debit card, driving instructors personal reference number (you can leave it blank or put 447654 in the field if you want).

The fee for the test can be found on the government website. If using my car for the test, I usually do a normal 2hr lesson with the driving test in the 2nd hour; you should therefore factor in the cost of a usual 2hr lesson as well as the cost of the test itself. If you have your own car, you can of course use that instead (subject to some constraints which can be found in the government website).

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.

Before your drive you will be asked 1 ‘Tell me’ question out of 14 predetermined questions, then on the drive, whilst moving, you will need to be able to perform 1 ‘Show me’ question out of 7 predetermined questions. All the questions and answers 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. If you get your ‘Tell me’ question wrong you will get a fault marked against you. If you can’t do your ‘Show me’ question safely, you could fail your test.

Your examiner will give you directions which you should follow.

There are two types of test you could be asked to perform, satnav or non-satnav. 80% are satnav tests, 20% are non-satnav tests.

A driving test consists of:

  • A minimum of 28 minutes of driving (normally between 30 and 35 minutes subject to traffic)
  • Following signs and directions from either, signs, satnav or the examiner
  • 1 manoeuvre randomly picked on the day from the 4 you’ll have practiced. These could be: Parallel Park on the left, Forward park into a parking space then reverse out, Reverse into a parking space or finally, Park on the right facing traffic, reverse 2 cars lengths then re-join traffic safely
  • Possibly 1 emergency stop (on average only 1 in 3 tests get an emergency stop; it’s randomly checked)
  • Hill start
  • You may go onto a dual carriageway but it’s not guaranteed

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.

satnav test

Satnav Test 80% of the time

20 minutes of following a satnav and

10 minutes of following what the examiner says.

Don’t forget, if a satnav tells you to turn at a junction, you still do what any road signs tell you; don’t just blindly follow a satnav!

non satnav test

Non-satnav 20% of the time

10 minutes of following road signs and

20 minutes of following what the examiner says.

So as you can see, in all instance you will be following road signs, it’s just that sometimes the examiner will give you instructions and others the satnav will.

The Test Marking System

There are 3 columns that the examiner can mark: Driver Faults (aka 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.

Your driving future awaits you; all you need to do to get started is to contact me today.