The car practical driving test explained.

Your 1-2-1 driving Instructor will pick you up approximately one hour before your practical driving test.  This will give you time to settle down and calm your nerves! We will also check that you have remembered to bring your driving licence along with you.

The driving test for a car is designed for you to show you understand and can demonstrate your knowledge of the Highway Code and the theory of driving safely. Throughout the test your examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving, including when you are carrying out the set exercises.

The driving test is straightforward and has been designed to see if you:

  • can drive safely in different road and traffic conditions
  • know The Highway Code and can demonstrate this through your driving

After meeting your examiner, the next two stages are:


You can find source material in the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) publication 'The official guide to Driving - the essential skills' and 'The official DVSA guide to learning to drive'. Advice and information on how to carry out vehicle safety checks can also be found in the manufacturer's handbook. Candidates will be asked two questions, one 'show me' and one 'tell me'. One or both questions answered incorrectly will result in one driving fault being recorded.

Driving ability

The driving part of your test will last about 40 minutes during which you will be examined on your general driving and ability to reverse your vehicle safely. 

You will only be asked to complete one reverse exercise.

  • rreversing around a corner
  • turning in the road
  • reverse parking

You may also be asked to carry out an emergency stop exercise.

Throughout the test you should drive in the way your instructor has taught you. If you make a mistake, don't worry about it as it might be a less serious driving fault and may not affect your result. However, if at any time your examiner considers your driving to be a danger to other road users your test will be stopped.

Your practical driving test will include approximately ten minutes of independent driving. This is designed to assess your ability to drive safely while making decisions independently.

Vehicles you can't use at the practical test

If you plan to use your own vehicle at the practical driving test, there are some vehicles that can't be used for safety reasons. You'll need to check that a recall or safety notice does not affect the vehicle.

Taking someone with you on your driving test

The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) encourages you to take someone with you on your driving test. This will usually be the person who has taught you to drive, but it could be a relative or a friend. They must be over 16 years old and cannot take any part in the test.

The person who goes with you will be able to see how you perform during the test. To get the most benefit from this, it would be sensible to ask your instructor to go with you. They can then give you advice on how to improve your driving, whether you pass or fail.

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 feedback with you. The examiner will tell you whether you passed or failed and will explain how you did during the test.

You can take another practical test ten working days after your failed car or motorcycle test.

Driving test standards

All examiners are trained to carry out the test to the same standard, they do not have pass or fail quotas. So as long as you demonstrate the standard required you will pass your driving test. Test routes are designed to be as uniform as possible and will include a range of typical road and traffic conditions.

Driving tests in bad weather

The DVSA does not conduct tests in bad light or in adverse weather conditions for the safety of the candidate and the examiner. The DVSA will arrange another appointment at no further cost, but compensation is not payable. You should call the telephone number quoted on the appointment letter to check whether your test will go ahead.

Vehicle problems

If the driving test is not completed for reasons attributable to you or your vehicle, you will have to take another test at your own cost.

More useful links

Provided by the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency

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