The car practical driving test
The practical driving test is designed to see if you:
- can drive safely in different road and traffic conditions
- know the Highway Code and can show this through your driving ability
As long as you show the standard required, you’ll pass your driving test. There are no pass or fail quotas.
You’ll need to have passed your driving theory test before taking your practical test.
What happens during the test
Before you start the driving ability part of your test, you’ll have an eyesight check and be asked 2 vehicle safety questions.
You’ll have to read a number plate from a distance of:
- 20 metres for vehicles with a new-style number plate
- 20.5 metres for vehicles with an old-style number plate
You can write down what you see if you can’t speak English or have difficulty reading.
New-style number plates start with 2 letters followed by 2 numbers, eg AB51 ABC.
You’ll fail your driving test and the test won’t continue if you can’t pass the eyesight test.
Vehicle safety questions: ‘show me, tell me’
You’ll be asked 2 vehicle safety questions. These are also known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions.
The examiner will ask you one ‘show me’ question, where you’ll have to show them how you’d carry out a vehicle safety check.
You’ll also be asked one ‘tell me’ question, where you’ll have to explain to the examiner how you’d carry out the check.
The driving ability part
The driving part of your test will last about 40 minutes. Throughout the test your examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving.
Your general driving ability
During your test the examiner will give you directions that you should follow. You’ll drive in various road and traffic conditions. You should drive in the way your instructor has trained you.
It should include:
- normal stops
- an angle start (pulling out from behind a parked vehicle)
- a hill start
You might also be asked to carry out an emergency stop.
Reversing your vehicle safely
You’ll have to show how well you can reverse your vehicle. The examiner will ask you to do one of the following exercises:
- reversing around a corner
- turning in the road
- reverse parking - either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road
Independent driving section
Your driving test will include around 10 minutes of independent driving. It’s designed to assess your ability to drive safely while making decisions on your own.
If you make mistakes
Carry on if you make a mistake, because if it’s not a serious mistake it might not affect your result.
Your examiner will stop your test if they think your driving is a danger to other road users.
Taking someone with you
Your examiner will ask if you want your instructor, or another person, to:
- sit in the back of your car during your driving test
- be with you after the test for the result and feedback
This person will usually be your driving instructor, but it could also be a relative or friend.
They must be over 16 and can’t take any part in the test.
The examiner’s supervisor
The examiner’s supervisor may come along as well. They will be watching the examiner’s performance, not yours. The supervisor won’t have any say in how you’re tested or in your result.
Your test might be cancelled and you could lose your fee if you don’t let the examiner’s supervisor go with you.
Your driving test result
You’ll pass your test if you make:
- 15 or fewer driving faults
- no serious or dangerous faults
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 help you with any feedback afterwards.
The examiner will:
- tell you if you passed or not
- explain how you did during the test
The different types of faults
There are 3 types of faults that can be marked:
- a dangerous fault - involves actual danger to you, the examiner, the public or property
- a serious fault - could potentially be dangerous
- a driving fault - not potentially dangerous, but if you make the same fault throughout your test it could become a serious fault
If you pass your test
The examiner will give you a pass certificate if you pass the test. They will also ask you if you want your full licence to be sent to you automatically.
Once you have passed your test you can start driving straight away - you don’t need to wait for your full licence to arrive.
If you don’t pass
You have to wait another 10 working days before you can take another test if you don’t pass. Working days don’t include Sundays and public holidays.
Feedback on how eco-efficient your driving is
The examiner will also give you feedback about how eco-efficient your driving is.