The practical driving test is designed to show that you can drive confidently and safely under different traffic and road conditions. It also requires that you show that you know The Highway Code (by the way you  drive). It lasts about 40 minutes.

Visit GOV.UK which tells you what documents you’ll need to bring to the test, what happens during the test and what sort of car you can use for your test.

Before you begin the driving part of the test, the examiner will do an eyesight check and will ask you a question about safety checks on your car.DVSA’s ‘Show Me, Tell Me’ videos give some more information about these questions.

You'll be asked a second "show me" question (for example, showing how to wash the windscreen using the car controls) later, while you're driving.

Independent driving

At some point during your test you’ll be asked by the examiner to start Independent Driving. This will last approximately 20 minutes. The examiner will ask you to follow directions from a satnav or give you directions or signs to reach a destination. This is so you can show you’ll be able to drive safely on your own after you’ve passed your test.

4 out of 5 tests will use satnav, whilst 1 out of 5 will involve the examiner giving you directions or asking you to follow signs.

Instructor on test

You’re allowed to take your instructor with you on your test, or any other person who’s over 16. They are not allowed to speak or take any pat in the test. They are just present as an observer.

It’s useful to have your instructor or the person who trained you to drive with you: they can help you work on any problems the examiner notices, either to help you pass next time or if you want to keep learning after you pass your test. Having someone you know with you can also help you to stay calm during the test.

Test nerves?

Just about everyone gets nervous as their test approaches, it’s only natural. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Obvious one, but don’t take your driving test until you’re ready. Lots of people don’t pass their driving test simply because they haven’t had enough lessons to pass. 
    There is little point in taking the driving test until your driving instructor says that you are ready. You’re likely to waste your time and money if you take it too soon. Don’t worry if you think you should be making faster progress. On average it takes people 45 hours of driving lessons and 22 hours of practice with relatives or friends to learn to drive.
  • You can find out the top 10 reasons that people fail the driving test (and how to avoid them) over on BuzzFeed. If you’re regularly making these kinds of mistakes on your driving lessons, you’ll need more practice before you’re ready to pass your test.
  • Almost everyone gets nervous about their driving test. Your Examiner is very experienced, and knows you’ll be nervous and will do their best to put you at your ease. Remember, your examiner wants to make sure you’re safe on the road.
    They’re not trying to catch you out. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, just ask.

To pass your test, you'll need to keep your nerves under control. Try these things to help:

  • Arrive in good time for your test, allowing for parking, maybe a visit to the loo, and finding the waiting room. Don’t arrive too early, no more than 10 minutes, as there is likely to be a number of people returning from the previous test. You need to leave space for them to park.
  • Don’t book your test at a time when you know other stressful things are happening, such as school exams
  • Make sure you get a few good nights’ sleep before your test - you’ll feel more stressed if you’re tired.
  • Avoid too much caffeine before your test: it might make you feel jittery and nervous.
  • Talk to the examiner during the test if you want to – but remember that they might not say much because they don’t want to distract you from your driving. They want you to concentrate on your driving.
  • Be positive: focus on passing your test rather than worrying about failing it. Many people fail after a small mistake because they worry about that, and not their driving.

You might feel more relaxed if you know exactly how the test works. Take a look at this video or read about what happens during the test.

Bring the right things with you

It may seem silly, but people do turn up on the day, only to realise they forgot to bring their provisional licence with them.

Over 4,500 driving tests didn’t go ahead between April 2016 and March 2017 because people either didn’t take the right documents with them or took an unsuitable car.

Make sure you’ve checked the list of what to take with you and that you’ve got everything with you on the day.

If you don’t pass

If your examiner records more than 15 driving faults during your test or one serious or dangerous fault, you wont pass your test.

If you fail, you’ll be given a driving test report showing the faults you made, and your examiner will also explain to you why you haven’t passed. Although you’ll probably feel disappointed, listen carefully to the feedback because it will help you correct any mistakes.

You can’t retake your test for at least working 10 days, so make the most of this time. Your instructor can produce a plan to iron out the problems, and if you have the opportunity for private practice, get as much practice as you can.

Read about the Top 10 reasons people fail the British driving test on our blog: www.safedrivingforlife.info/blog/top-10-reasons-people-fail-british-driving-test

If you do pass

Well done! You can now exchange your provisional licence changed to a full licence. Your examiner will ask if you want him to keep your provisional and arrange for a full licence to be sent to you. This is the best, and quickest way to proceed. However, if your address is not the same as the one on your licence, you will have to organise it yourself.For more details about how to claim your driving test pass, see GOV.UK.

Your examiner will give you feedback on your test. Listen to what they say carefully.

You have reached the minimum standard required to be allowed to drive on the roads on your own. They do not mean that you are officially the best driver in the world!!