Learning to drive and passing the driving test exists primarily as a road safety measure. It is designed to assess all new drivers, to make sure they can drive safely and unaccompanied. This process can be difficult and costly. However,
So be warned. The more driving lessons you have, whether private or professional, the better. Learning to drive isn't easy. Being able to drive well is a skill that must be learned.
Driving variety should be your main objective. The better the preparation, the higher the chance of passing the test.
Before you take the test, indeed before you book it, you must have passed the theory and hazard perception tests.
Always seek the advice of your driving instructor before booking the test. They should give you an honest appraisal of your driving abilities, and the chances you have of passing.
The practical test will start at one of the many driving test centres dotted around the UK. When booking the test, you can choose which centre you want to use.
If you are using your own car, you will need to fulfill further requirements. You can read all about these here.
If you can't find any of the documents you need you must phone the DVSA as soon as possible. If you arrive without the required documentation your driving test will be cancelled and you won't receive a refund.
Glasses - if you need to wear glasses to drive, don't forget them, as you can't legally drive without them.
Traditionally, you will have a driving lesson with your instructor an hour or two before taking your practical test. This is always a good idea, as it gives you a chance to settle into the car and run through any points you are concerned about.
Like when taking any exam, arrive at the test center in plenty of time, at least ten minutes before your appointment time. You may have to wait to park, and you may need to use the toilet. You may also need time to relax and mentally prepare yourself for the exam ahead. A calm attitude is much more likely to get a positive result than a rushed one.
If you are late, as little as five minutes, the test examiner will cancel your test, and you will lose the test fee you have already paid. It will then be up to you to book another test and wait for another test date to become available.
At the start of the test, the examiner will come out and call your name. You will then be asked to read and sign the insurance and residency declarations while the examiner inspects your documentation. If all is in order, you will then be asked to walk to your car.
You can have your driving instructor accompany you on your practical test. This decision is entirely your own to make. The instructor is not permitted to help you or assist you in any way while the test is being conducted.
Before getting to your car, the examiner will ask you to stop and read a new-style number plate from 20 metres or an old-style number plate from 20.5 metres. If you fail to do this, the exam will go no further you will fail.
At the car, the examiner will ask you two questions from the show and tell question bank. To see all the show me, tell me questions and answers. Fail to answer either question correctly, and you will score one minor fault.
The examiner will now ask you to get into the car and prepare yourself for the driving part of the practical test. Get in and perform a brief cockpit drill. As you have used the car to drive to the test centre, the examiner won't expect you to alter anything, but they will expect you to make a visual check to make sure everything is as it should be. Don't forget to put your seatbelt on.
The examiner will then give you the following instructions:
'During the test I would like you to follow the road ahead at all times, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise, or I ask you to make a turn, which I will do in good time. When you are ready, move off.'
You should now start the engine and move off. To be successful and to pass, you must drive safely and demonstrate through your driving that you have a sound knowledge of the Highway Code. Don't worry if you make a mistake. Keep calm and continue driving. Unless you make a serious or dangerous fault or make a less serious mistake a number of times, you won't fail the practical test. To learn how the driving test examiner expects you to drive on the test click here.
The duration of the test will be up to 40 minutes and will cover a variety of roads and traffic situations. You will have to deal with roundabouts, crossroads, pedestrian crossings, and where possible dual carriageways, and rural and residential roads. Test centre's do have specific routes that they follow, but these routes are designed to include the widest range of driving possible in that area and to give a consistent standard of testing across the whole country.
You will have to perform one of the following driving manoeuvres and show that you can control the car safely and correctly: bay park, parallel park, turn in the road, reversing round a corner. You may also have to perform an emergency stop.
If you come to a junction or roundabout and the examiner gives you no instruction, you must follow the road ahead, for example, go straight ahead at a roundabout.
If the examiner gives you an instruction that you are unsure about, ask them to repeat it.
The practical test now includes a section called independent driving. Its aim is to assess a candidates ability to make their own decisions whilst driving. For a detailed description see our independent driving page.
Dangerous Driving Faults - a fault that results in actual danger. Commit such a fault, and you will fail the practical test.
Serious Driving Faults - is when a potentially dangerous incident occurs, when the candidate reveals a recurring driving fault or fails to perform a reversing manoeuvre correctly. Receive a serious fault, and you will fail the practical test.
Minor Driving Faults - less serious faults, such as hesitating too long at a junction, faults that don't provide any immediate danger. Receive 16 or more minor driving faults, and you will fail the practical test.
Times you can take the practical driving test: 08:10 - 09:07 - 10.14 - 11:11 - 13.35 - 14:35.
You can book the practical test:
Online with the DVSA. To book a practical test you will need a valid UK driving licence number, theory test pass certificate number and a valid debit/credit card.
By Phone - using your credit/debit card. The person who books the test must be the cardholder. You will be given the date and time of your test immediately. Call 0300 200 1122 between 8am and 4pm Monday to Friday. When you phone you will need:
You will be given a booking number and sent an appointment card with details of the time and date of your test.
£62 if you take the test on a weekday or £75, if you take the test over the weekend. You will not get a refund if you fail.
To cancel you must give at least 3 working days notice, not counting the day the DVSA received your request and the day of your driving test. Check the cancellation date on your appointment card. If you don't give enough notice you will lose your fee.
Analysis shows that the average number of lessons a learner will need to reach exam standard is your age multiplied by 1.5. So, on average, a 20-year-old learner driver will need 30 hours of tuition.
To a large extent, this will depend on your budget, time commitments, and the availability of your instructor. Ideally, try to have two or three hours of lessons weekly, with private practice and theory test revision in between.
If you are in a hurry to pass, you may benefit from taking an intensive course with a pre-booked practical test. Depending on your driving experience, such a course can last from a few days to a few weeks. The more intensive the course, the more stressful and tiring they tend to be. A one-week course will require you to be learning/driving for up to five hours a day, so intensive courses aren't for everyone, but if you can take the intensive learning, they can be effective get your licence quickly.
Of course, you must have passed your theory test before you can take such a course.