Practical Test Help
- How do I know I am ready for my Driving Test?
- How do I book my practical driving test?
- How much are the current driving tests?
- What happens on the test?
- What documents do I need to take with me on the day of my test?
- What are the Tell me/Show me questions?
- Can anyone accompany me on the test?
- Does the standard of the test vary?
- What is eco-safe driving?
- Should you give signals regardless, for pulling out round parked cars?
- How should you deal with other vehicles that come up whilst you are doing a manoeuvre?
- Should you keep out of the centre painted area of road, called Chevrons, if bordered by a broken line, when turning right into a side road?
- Does the way a candidate dresses or behaves affect the outcome of a test?
- Am I allowed to do the manoeuvres without using the accelerator?
- How do you know if a candidate is using the mirrors?
- Sometimes it is difficult to sort out who has the right of way at mini roundabouts. Is there a way of doing this?
- Should a signal always be given when moving off from the side of the road?
- Is it permissable to allow the wheel to spin back after turning?
- Should you cross your hands whilst steering?
- Should you change down the gears whilst slowing down in traffic or to stop at the side of the road?
- Can you use your own car for the test, and what do you have to do?
- Do examiners have a quota of passes?
How do I know I am ready for my Driving Test?
You will be ready for your practical test when you show that you have reached Level 5 in all the Key Skills listed on your progress card. Learner drivers who pass 1st time do so because they have had plenty of professional instruction & practice. Only 43% of those taking their practical test actually pass so make sure you are one of them. If you are not sure whether you are ready have a chat with your instructor, and maybe request a mock test. This will give you an indication on whether you are ready. If not, your instructor will help you to understand the areas that need more practice.
How do I book my practical driving test?
You can book your driving test online @ www.dsa.gov.uk/drivingtest or by telephone on 0300 200 1122. You will need the following with you when booking: your theory certificate; your driving licence; your driving school code number which you can get from your instructor; and a valid credit/debit card. Make sure you check the date with your instructor before booking!
How much are the current driving tests?
What happens on the test?
The examiner will call your name, and then he/she will check your documentation. He/she will then ask you to read a number plate. You will then be asked 2 questions about the car: one tell me and one show me. The examiner will check the car before entering it to see that it is roadworthy, and displaying L Plates. Once seated in the car he/she will offer an explanation of the test. Always listen to this carefully, and ask any questions you wish to. Once on the drive the examiner will give you clear directions in plenty of time. If there is anything you don’t understand ask him/her to repeat the instruction. During the test the examiner will ask you to drive on various road types; to carry out 2 of 4 manoeuvres and possibly execute an emergency stop. You will also be asked to stop on various road types, to show that you can stop/move off safely with due regard to other road users. You will pass if you can show your examiner that you can drive safely, and demonstrate through your driving that you have a thorough knowledge of The Official Highway Code and the theory of driving safely. Remember, the examiner prefers to pass you as he has less paper work to do afterwards!
What documents do I need to take with me on the day of my test?
You will need to take your theory pass certificate, both parts of your driving licence (or if you have a paper version of the licence then photo evidence as well such as a valid passport) and your test appointment letter.
What are the Tell me/Show me questions?
These are safety checks that should always carried out on your vehicle on a regular basis. The examiner will ask you them at the beginning of the test. They can be found on the sub-navigation menu at the top of this page.
Can anyone accompany me on the test?
Yes! Your driving instructor or supervisor can accompany you if you so wish. This can be a good idea if you are particularly nervous, and if you do fail your instructor will be there to see where you need more training.
Does the standard of the test vary?
No, all examiners are trained to assess tests to the same standard. The test routes are designed to include a range of typical road and traffic conditions and the examiners are closely supervised to make sure they follow the national standard. A senior examiner sits in on some tests to make sure the examiner is assessing the standard of your driving properly. If this happens on your test, don’t worry, as they wont be looking at you, so just carry on as if they weren’t there.
What is eco-safe driving?
From 10 September 2008, if you're sitting a driving test, you’ll also be assessed on your ability to drive or ride in a way that shows eco-safe driving techniques. This assessment is not part of the existing assessment criteria for the practical test and you will not fail your test because you don’t demonstrate eco-safe driving techniques. The driving examiner will assess control and planning, and at the end of the test will give you feedback, as guidance, on how efficiently you’re driving. Always try to use the vehicle controls as smoothly as possible, with particular attention to: starting and moving away; accelerating; using gears; driving at an appropriate speed. This reduces wear and tear on your vehicle and will help in reducing CO2.
Reduce harmful emissions by anticipating road traffic conditions and acting in good time, rather than reacting to them at the last moment, especially: showing hazard awareness and planning; making use of engine braking; stopping the engine when appropriate.
Follow these tips as a guide to safe driving or riding for economy: check your tyres regularly and keep at recommended pressure; don’t carry unnecessary weight; remove roof-rack or luggage boxes when not needed to reduce air resistance; don’t exceed speed limits, accelerate gently; consider using cruise control where it would be appropriate; turn off your engine if you’re likely to have a prolonged wait; use air conditioning only when you need to; plan your route to avoid known congestion points; try to travel during off-peak times.
Should you give signals regardless, for pulling out round parked cars?
You do not need to signal before going round parked vehicles as a general rule, and certainly not if there is nothing behind you, unless you think another road user might benefit from the signal, such as a pedestrian about to cross, and it can be misleading sometimes. If you are looking well ahead, as you should be, you will see the obstruction in good time, and should immediately check mirrors to see what is behind you. A following vehicle expects you to go round it so a signal is un-necessary. You should, of course, start pulling out in good time, making it a gentle smooth manoeuvre, not suddenly in and out at the last moment. You would fail your test for that, and the correct marking would be under steering. If parked vehicles are close enough, you should stay out and not, again, go in and out all the time.
For the rare occasions that a signal is necessary, you will know without having to be told. These will be if you think a following vehicle is unable to see the obstruction for some reason, or if the obstruction is in a particularly dangerous place, like on double yellow lines or a clearway, and perhaps on a bend, or at any time you think a following vehicle might not expect you to be pulling out. If a following car seems to be preparing to overtake you, but has not actually committed itself yet, then a signal is necessary because the other driver is obviously not concentrating and needs to be alerted to the danger ahead. If the following car is committed to an overtake, then it is better to yield by slowing sufficiently to let it by without yourself having to actually stop for the obstruction. This is very rare though, and you musn't do this except when really necessary, like to avoid an accident due to the other driver's foolishness. Some candidates do it all the time, for anything following, and they would fail for lack of progress.
Bear in mind too, in all this, that if safe you should be doing the legal limit or very close to it, and technically therefore no-one should be trying to pass you. Yes, I know, don't laugh!! Hardly anyone keeps to the limits these days, but it means the extra speed of an overtaking vehicle is illegal, and they have therefore themselves created a situation that is not without danger. Just make sure you do the right thing, as above, and let the others look after themselves.
How should you deal with other vehicles that come up whilst you are doing a manoeuvre?
1). Turn in the road. Most cars will wait. If they stop, just continue with the manoeuvre in an unhurried manner, keeping an eye on them just in case. You should not beckon them on, as this is not a hand signal in the highway code, and you could be putting the other vehicle into danger!
2). Reverse park. It is an unwritten rule to wait for cars trying to reverse park. If a car comes up, either direction, cease the manoeuvre long enough to see if this is their intention. Again, you should not beckon them on. They should be able to see if it is clear to go, if they want to, and if there is room. They might try to squeeze through at any time during the manoeuvre, so keep an eye on them.
3). Corner reverse. This is different. If commencing in a busy road, it is not practicable to wait until nothing is coming from behind as you would be there all day. Proceed in short bits to the side road, or if extremely busy, do it continuously, but very slowly. It helps if you are able to do this manoeuvre quite briskly, but safely of course, then you can perhaps get this first part done in between traffic. Do not do the turn into the side road if anything is going to be inconvenienced by your front swinging out wide. If the main road is busy, you have just got to wait at this point.
Rules change while you are turning, or once you have turned. If a car comes up behind, don't wave them by, and in any case you are bound in law to give way to it. Sometimes the car will stop well short. It has then given up its right of way and you should proceed, keeping an eye on it in case it moves forward or comes round you as you progress. If it comes right up to you to start with or at any time, you must pull forward to the starting position, and begin again. This would require putting the seat belt on again if you had removed it.
Musn't give signals to other road users? Quite right in most circumstances, especially pedestrians. The Turn in the Road is supposed to be different though. However, some Senior examiners do not see it this way and may penalise this, and require their examiners to do the same. It should be the same at all Centres, but I am sorry to say this happens. Be guided by your instructor in this, he knows the Test Centre.
Should you keep out of the centre painted area of road, called Chevrons, if bordered by a broken line, when turning right into a side road?
No, so long as it is safe to drive over them. That is what they are there for, to protect a vehicle turning right, from other traffic. Also, often it is almost impossible to get positioned properly in the centre, if you do keep out of them.
Does the way a candidate dresses or behaves affect the outcome of a test?
Dress will not have the slightest affect on a driving test, but behaviour can affect a test and how you drive!
This will usually show in a candidates attitude to other road users. You need to be calm behind the wheel at all times, as a person who is agitated or angry is much more likely to have or cause an accident.
Am I allowed to do the manoeuvres without using the accelerator?
This is perfectly okay provided there is no loss of control, but you will require a modern vehicle with an Engine Management Unit (EMU) that controls the tick-over for you. Without an EMU it is difficult.
How do you know if a candidate is using the mirrors?
In a very few cases it can be difficult, especially if the candidate wears glasses. However, close observation by the examiner will usually show the checks being done. If the mirrors are not being used, a "driving fault" may be marked each time. Remember, mirrors should be checked before any change in direction, speed and well before signalling.
Sometimes it is difficult to sort out who has the right of way at mini roundabouts. Is there a way of doing this?
The simple rule, of course, is to give way to the right. The difficulties sometimes experienced at mini roundabouts come from not realising or knowing exactly what "giving way" means, so far as the Road Traffic Act is concerned. It means you must not cause the other vehicle to "swerve or reduce speed". A common mistake is to move into the roundabout at the same time as another vehicle coming from the road on your right. A little thought will show that even if you enter the roundabout simultaneously, the vehicle on your right immediately has priority. A vehicle coming up fast towards the roundabout in such a road, and that has nothing to give way to, will go straight through. If you start to move off even before the other vehicle has reached the roundabout, you will find yourself blocking it almost immediately, and committing an offence, so wait for such a vehicle. If both yourself and an oncoming vehicle enter the roundabout simultaneously, and "simultaneous" is important, to turn right it should be okay for both to proceed. There should be no obstruction as you both go behind each other.
Should a signal always be given when moving off from the side of the road?
The rule about signals in any circumstances is that they should be given "to help other road users". If there is not the slightest chance of any-one being affected by you moving off, including oncoming traffic and pedestrians, there is no point in signalling. But if there is any sign of life anywhere near you, why risk it?
Is it permissable to allow the wheel to spin back after turning?
This is allowing the car to take control instead of the driver. In many circumstances it can cause the car to not follow the desired course, or even veer off out of control. So why risk it during your driving test? If the front wheels hit a bump or hole or slippery patch whilst you are doing this, the car can swerve violently. I guarantee you won't want it to happen again!
Should you cross your hands whilst steering?
This is not good practice. It is also possible to overdo the "feeding the wheel through the hands" technique so that too becomes cumbersome, and therefore also bad practice. Something in between will produce the best control. Crossing the hands will not cause failure in the driving test unless it is taken to extremes and the steering control is lost. Do not confuse the crossing of hands of Formula 1 drivers with ordinary driving. Their steering is so direct and highly geared (full lock with very little steering wheel movement) that it is the best technique - for them.
Should you change down the gears whilst slowing down in traffic or to stop at the side of the road?
No. Put simply, the gears are for going - the brakes are for slowing. Brake down to the speed you require, then go into a gear suitable for that speed. If you have stopped at the side of the road, the gear will be neutral, if in traffic with the prospect of moving almost immediately, it will be 1st.
Can you use your own car for the test, and what do you have to do?
Yes you can, and this is the official DSA response to this query:-
"I can confirm that you can present your own vehicle for the test however you must ensure that it is mechanically sound. All equipment by law must be fitted and working correctly. The controls, seating, equipment or any other articles in the vehicle must be arranged so that they don't interfere with the conduct of the test. The vehicle will be deemed unsuitable for testing if the vehicle has no clear view to the rear - other than by use of the exterior mirrors, the vehicle is fitted with only a driver's seat and it must not be loaded or partly loaded. You may wish to contact your insurance company to verify that you are covered to take the test in your vehicle as this will be asked on the day of your test. This means that your insurance company will need to send you a letter confirming you are covered to take a driving test. You will need to fit an extra rear view mirror for use by the examiner which is available from most car accessory stores. "L" plates must also be displayed on both the front and rear of the vehicle. Also, the car must have a seatbelt and headrest fitted as standard to the front passenger seat. When driving to the test centre you must have someone accompanying you, who has held their British licence in the category you are learning for more than 3 years and is also over the age of 21. If you wish for that person to accompany you on the test you must advise the examiner at the time of the test."
Do examiners have a quota of passes?