The Practical Test

Booking the Practical Test

Once you have passed the theory and hazard perception test you can apply for the practical driving test. Your instructor will advise and discuss with you when he thinks you are ready to book your driving test. Bear in mind there is often a six to eight week waiting list.

If you can drive confidently and control your car safely and smoothly, have full awareness of other road users and consideration for the road, weather and traffic conditions, can competently perform all the manoeuvres and follow direction signs unaided for a short while, then you are ready to take your driving test. Your Instructor will advise you if he considers you are approaching the standard required to pass the Practical Driving Test.

Consult with your instructor before the booking to be certain that he and the car will be available. When booking the test you are allowed to temporarily reserve your preferred date and time for 15 minutes, giving you time to liaise with your instructor after which you can go ahead and confirm the booking.

To book the test you will need:

  • Your provisional licence
  • Your theory test certificate number
  • A credit/debit card
  • An idea of preferred dates and times
  • Details of any special requirements (disabilities, etc.)

The Practical Driving Test

On the day of your test.

You will need:

  • Your test appointment letter.
  • Both parts of your provisional licence – photocard and counter part.
  • Your theory test certificate.
  • Get a good nights sleep the night before the test.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
  • Remember to have something to eat before the test… it help with concentration!
  • On the test, drive the same as you would with your instructor… don’t try to impress or do anything different!

Allow at least 2.5 hours on the test day for the practice lesson/instructor brief, the journey time to the test centre, the test/examiner debrief, and the journey time home.

At the beginning of the test the examiner will ask for your documents (both parts of the Provisional License, Theory Test Certificate, Appointment letter) and if you would like your instructor to accompany you on the driving test, acting only as an observer. You will also be asked if you would like your instructor to be present for the debrief at the end of the test. You can choose which you feel most comfortable with. It is advisable to have your RoadSkills Instructor accompany you and to be present at the debriefing, so if you do fail your instructor will be able to tell you where you went wrong, and to assist you to focus on those areas before re-taking the test.

The practical test lasts around 45 minutes and is conducted by a DVSA examiner.

As well as general driving the driving test will consist of:

  • Reading a number plate at 20 metres (remember glasses/contacts if needed).
  • Some safety check questions before the test – see Show Me/Tell Me Q&A below.
  • The actual driving part of the test will be approximately 40 minutes. You must demonstrate that you have required the skills, knowledge and aptitude to drive safely and unaccompanied. The test route will take you through a variety of road and traffic situations. The examiner will provide instructions clearly and in good time, but if you are unsure about anything you should always ask them to repeat the instruction. You will be asked to perform at least one of the following reverse manoeuvres:
    • Left reverse around corner.
    • Reverse parking behind car.
    • Turn-in-the-road.
    • Reverse bay parking.


The test will also include:


  • A ten minute period of independent driving – see Independent Driving.
  • You may also be asked to perform an emergency stop.

How is the test assessed?

The examiner will assess any errors you make on their degree of seriousness. Less serious errors are assessed as Driving Faults. Accumulating more than 15 of these results in a test failure.

Serious Faults are recorded when a potentially dangerous incident has occurred or a habitual driving fault indicates a serious weakness in a candidates driving.

Dangerous Faults are recorded when a fault is assessed as having caused actual danger during the test.

A Serious or Dangerous Fault will result in a test failure.

At the end of the test (the debriefing) you will be told whether you have passed or failed and be offered some general guidance to explain your Driving Test Report.

When you pass your driving test the examiner will give you a Pass Certificate and ask you to hand over your provisional licence so he/she can arrange for it to be exchanged for a full licence, which you will receive in the post.

Independent Driving

Your practical driving test will now include a section of ‘independent driving’. In this section of your test you will drive for about 10 minutes without further directions from your examiner.

The examiner will ask you to drive by either following a series of directions, following traffic signs, or a combination of both.

To help you understand where you are going, the examiner may show you a diagram. It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember every direction.

Driving independently means making your own decisions – this includes deciding when it is safe and appropriate to ask the examiner for confirmation about where you are going. If you ask for a reminder of the directions, the examiner will confirm them to you.

If you go off the independent driving route it won’t affect the result of your test unless you commit a driving fault. If you go off the route or take a wrong turning, the examiner will help you to get back on the route and continue with the independent driving. You won’t need to have detailed knowledge of the area.

Independent driving will test how you make your own decisions, and allow you to demonstrate your ability to drive safely in realistic driving situations

Show Me – Tell Me, Q & A.

At the beginning of your driving test you will be asked two questions relating to safety checks upon your vehicle. Any two could be selected from the following example list of questions.

1. Q: Open the bonnet, show me where to check the engine oil level and tell me how you would check that the engine has sufficient oil.
A: Identify the dipstick/oil level indicator, describe check of oil level against the minimum/maximum markers.

2. Q: Show me/explain how you would check that the power assisted steering is working before starting a journey.
A: If the steering becomes heavy the system may not be working properly. Before starting a journey two simple checks can be made. Gentle pressure on the steering wheel, while the engine is started, should result in a slight movement as the system begins to operate. Alternatively turning the steering wheel just after moving off will give an indication that the power assistance is functioning.

3. Q: Open the bonnet, show me where to check the engine coolant and tell me how you would check the engine has the correct level.
A: Identify the high/low level markings on the header tank where fitted or radiator filler cap, and describe how to top up to the correct level.

4. Q: Show me how you would check the parking brake for excessive wear.
A: Demonstrate by applying the parking brake and that when it is fully applied it secures itself,and is not at the end of the working travel.

5. Q: Identify where the windscreen washer reservoir is and tell me how you would check the windscreen washer level.
A: Identify the reservoir and explain how to check the level.

6. Q: Show me how you would check that the horn is working.
A: Check is carried out by using the horn control.

7. Q: Open the bonnet, identify where the brake fluid reservoir is located and tell me how you would check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.
A: Identify the reservoir, check the level against the high/low markings.

8. Q: Show me how you would check that the direction indicators are working.
A: Applying the indicators or hazard warning switch and check functioning of all indicators.

9. Q: Tell me how you would check that the brake lights are working on the car.
A: Operate the brake pedal, make use of reflections in windows, garage doors, etc, or ask someone to help.

10. Q: Tell me how you would check that the brakes are working before starting a journey.
A: The brakes should not feel spongy or slack. The brakes should be tested as you set off. The vehicle should not pull to one side.

11. Q: Show me how you would check that the headlights and tail lights are working.
A: Operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary) and walk around the vehicle.

12. Q: Tell me where you would find the information for the recommended tyre pressures and how the tyre pressures should be checked.
A: In the manufacturers guide, use a reliable pressure gauge to check and adjust pressures when the tyres are cold, don’t forget spare tyre, remember to refit valve caps.

13. Q: Tell me how you would check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe.
A: the tyre should have no cuts or bulges. 1.6mm of tread depth across the central 3/4 of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire outer circumference.

14. Q: Tell me how you would make sure that your head restraint is correctly adjusted so that it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.
A: The head restraint should be adjusted so that the rigid part of the head restraint is at least as high as the eye or top of the ears, and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable.

15. Q: Show me how you would clean the windscreen using the windscreen washer and wipers.
A: Operate the control to wash and wipe the windscreen.

16. Q: Show me how you would se the de-mister controls to clear all the windows effectively. This should include both front and rear screens.
A: Set all relevant controls including, fan, temperature, air direction/source and heated screen to clear windscreen and windows.

17. Q: Show me how you would switch on the rear fog lights and explain when you would use them.
A: Operate the switch (turn on dipped headlights and ignition if necessary). Check that the warning light is on. Explain use.

18. Q: Tell me how you would know that there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system.
A: A warning light should illuminate if there is a problem with the anti-lock braking system.

19. Q: Show me how you would switch your headlights from dipped to main beam and explain how you would know that the main beam is on.
A: Operate the switch, check with the main beam warning light.