The Driving Test

What happens during the driving test

There are 5 sections to the driving test:

  • an eyesight check
  • ‘show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions
  • general driving ability
  • reversing your vehicle
  • independent driving

The driving test is the same for both manual and automatic vehicles.

How long the test lasts

You will be driving for approximately 40 minutes..

This will be a longer test, notably around 70-80 minutes if you’re taking an extended driving test because you’ve been banned from driving.

Eyesight check

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

New-style number plates start with 2 letters followed by 2 numbers, such as DB51 FBH.

You’ll fail your driving test if you fail the eyesight check. The test will end.

‘Show me, tell me’ questions

You’ll be asked 2 vehicle safety questions known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions. These test that you know how to carry out basic safety checks.

Your general driving ability

You’ll drive in various road and traffic conditions, but not on motorways.

The examiner will give you directions that you should follow. Driving test routes aren’t published, so you can’t check them before your test.

Pulling over at the side of the road

You’ll be asked to pull over and pull away during your test, including:

  • normal stops at the side of the road
  • pulling out from behind a parked vehicle
  • a hill start

You might also be asked to carry out an emergency stop.

Reversing your vehicle

The examiner will ask you to do one of the following exercises:

  • reverse around a corner
  • turn in the road
  • reverse park – either into a parking bay or parallel park at the side of the road

Independent driving

You’ll have to drive for about 10 minutes by following either:

  • traffic signs
  • a series of verbal directions
  • a combination of both

The examiner can show you a simple diagram to help you understand where you’re going when following verbal directions.

You can’t use a satnav.

If you can’t see traffic signs

If you can’t see a traffic sign (for example, because it’s covered by trees), the examiner will give you directions until you can see the next one.

Forgetting the directions

You can ask the examiner to confirm the directions if you forget them. It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember every direction.

Going off the route

Your test result won’t be affected if you go off the route, unless you make a fault while doing it.

The examiner will help you get back on the route if you take a wrong turning.

If you make mistakes during your test

You can carry on if you make a mistake. It might not affect your result if it’s not serious.

The examiner will only stop your test if they think your driving is a danger to other road users.

Driving test faults and your result

There are 3 types of faults you can make:

  • a dangerous fault – this involves actual danger to you, the examiner, the public or property
  • a serious fault – something potentially dangerous
  • a driving fault – this isn’t potentially dangerous, but if you keep making the same fault, it could become a serious fault

Pass mark

You will pass your driving test if you make:

  • no more than 15 driving faults (sometimes called ‘minors’)
  • no serious or dangerous faults (sometimes called ‘majors’)

If you pass your test

The examiner will:

  • tell you what faults you made, if any
  • give you a pass certificate
  • ask you if you want your full licence to be sent to you automatically – give the examiner your provisional licence if you want to do this

Apply for your full driving licence within 2 years of passing your test if you don’t want to get your licence automatically.

When you can start driving

You can start driving straight away when you’ve passed your test. You don’t need to wait for your full licence to arrive.

Contact DVLA if your full licence hasn’t arrived 3 weeks after you applied for it.

If you don’t pass

The examiner will tell you what faults you made.

You have to book another test and pay again. You have to choose a date at least 10 working days away.