Although taking your driving test can be a nerve-racking experience, all driving tests follow a standard format. Your instructor will help you become familiar with what you’ll be expected to do during your test. Everything you encounter during your driving test will be something you’ve already performed dozens of times during the course of your lessons.
First things first
Your instructor will pick you up from wherever you like at least one hour before the test. This will give you time to settle in and practice all your manoeuvres before you arrive at the test centre 5-10 minutes before the appointed time. Once you arrive, your instructor will accompany you into the waiting room.
Before You Get in the Car
At the appointed time for your test, your examiner will come into the waiting room, call your name and introduce him or herself to you. You will then have to hand your provisional licence to the examiner and have to sign a form on the examiner’s iPad confirming that the car you are using is insured for use in a driving test (which of course it is), and a few other things.
At this juncture, we should perhaps mention that another examiner may accompany you in the back of the car as well. He/she is NOT there to test you but is checking that your actual examiner is marking your test correctly. This doesn’t happen very often and if it does, you cannot refuse. Do not let this second examiner put you off and be aware that he/she will mean you have extra weight in the car.
Before leaving the waiting room, the examiner will ask you if you would like your instructor to accompany you on the test. Your instructor will have to sit in the back of the car, and is not allowed under any circumstances to speak or make any movement that might be classed as a signal to you to do something (known as ‘silent instruction). If this does happen, the test will be terminated there and then. Agree with your instructor before you enter the waiting room whether you want him/her to come with you; most people are happy to go out on their own.
The examiner will then ask you to get in and make yourself comfortable whilst he/she performs a quick visual inspection of the car to ensure it is road legal (ie tyre treads etc)
He/she will get in the car with you, and briefly explain the rules of the test. These are actually very simple - you will be expected to follow the road ahead unless he/she wants you to turn off, in which case they will tell you in plenty of time. Don't be afraid to ask them to repeat an instruction if you don’t quite catch it first time.
During the driving test
Your driving test will take about 35-40 minutes and will assess your driving in a variety of road conditions. These are the normal everyday roads and streets. Dual carriageways up to national speed limit (70mph) may be used as well as country roads up to national speed limit (60mph). There are 4 standard manoeuvres that are part of the driving test. However, you will only be expected to perform one of them during your driving test.
Reverse into a parking bay
Driving into a parking bay and reversing out
Pulling up on the right hand side of the road, reversing approximately two car lengths and then driving on, rejoining the left side of the road.
The emergency stop (or ‘controlled stop’) is also carried out on 1 out of 3 driving tests. This is NOT classed as a manoeuvre as it does not involve any reversing.
If your examiner wants you to perform a manoeuvre or an emergency stop, they will ask you to stop on the left first and explain what is about to happen – they will NOT just do it unexpectedly!
Another part of your test will be a number of occasions where you are simply asked to pull up safely on the left and drive away again. Sometimes, these stop/starts are performed in places that provide a minor test – such as on a hill or behind a stationary vehicle or other obstruction.
You will also be asked a “Show Me’ question whilst you are on the move - again, see this section.
Remember – the examiner will not try to trick you or catch you out; in fact he/she will be as helpful as possible, stopping short of telling you how to do something of course!
After the driving test
At the end of the driving test when you return to the test centre, the examiner will ask you to switch off the engine and will then inform you of the result of your test. All faults committed during the test will be recorded (not necessarily at the time you make the mistake so please don’t try to look what the examiner is marking on the iPad) and these will have been graded as detailed earlier in this section.
Regardless of pass or fail, the examiner will ask you if you wish the driving faults to be explained. This is always a good idea, especially if you have not passed, but even if you pass this may still be some useful advice. An email will then be sent to you, pass or fail, detailing any faults you might have made.
If you Pass
Give your driving licence over to the examiner so they can make the necessary arrangements to get your full licence issued. Most people are more than happy to take this option as it allows the paperwork to be on your behalf meaning that you will receive your full UK driving licence as soon as possible in the post. Most people receive this within 10 working days.
The second option, if you prefer, is to send the pass certificate and your provisional licence to the DVLA yourself. If you do want to do this, you must do so within 2 years of passing your test. If you don’t do this you WILL have to retake the driving test.
If you Fail
You will then have to prove that your eyesight is up to scratch to take the test. You’ll be shown a normal car registration plate approximately 20.5 metres away. If you can’t read this, the examiner will check that you’re stood the right distance from the plate by using a tape measure and then ask you to try again. If you still cannot read the number on this occasion, you will have failed the test before even getting in the car.
Finally, before getting in the car, you will be asked one of what is known as a 'Tell Me' question by the examiner (please see separate page). Answering this incorrectly will add 1 minor fault to the test before you start the engine so be sure to have checked these with your instructor.
If you've passed, the examiner will ask you for your provisional driving licence and give you a certificate, confirming that you have passed your driving test with flying colours (well, you did learn from the best!).
You’ve then got two choices:
If you fail, then it is vitally important that you keep up lessons with your instructor until your next test. You’ve failed for a reason and it needs to be corrected. Please note that if you don’t, and by the time of your next test your instructor feels you’re not up to standard again, the your instructor can withhold the use of his/her car.
What to expect on driving test day
At some point, you will be asked to drive ‘independently’, either by following instructions from a satellite navigation device or by instructions given by the examiner previously.