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Taking Your Driving Test

By: Kevin Dowling BA (IMC) - Updated: 13 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Driving Test Instructor Examiner Car

Taking your driving test might be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of your life, but it doesn’t have to be. With some forward planning and a good understanding of what you’ll need to do on the day you should be able to stay calm and relaxed.

When Are You Ready To Take Your Test?

Before you are ready to take your test, you should have reached a suitable standard of safe and competent driving. The test itself is not so much a test that you can revise for, but more like a series of tasks designed to ensure that you demonstrate safe and competent driving skills at all times.

In order to make sure that you can pass these tasks, you will need to be confident and consistent with your driving ability, and be able to deal with a variety of different road and traffic conditions. The most important point to remember about taking your driving test is that once you have passed you will be legally allowed to drive on your own, with no further help from your driving instructor.

Many people who fail their driving test have blamed ‘bad luck’ whereby a set of circumstances outside of their normal driving experience have confused them or caused them to react badly. This misses the point of a driving test, which is trying to make sure that you are capable on the day of adapting to whatever conditions you find yourself in.

What Should You Expect on the Day of your Test?

The practical driving test has been designed to be fairly standard, so regardless of whichever test centre you use, or whether you use your driving instructor’s car or your own vehicle, the driving test will be conducted in the same way.

First you will be asked for your documents, including your provisional driving licence (either the photocard or paper version) and also your theory test pass certificate. You will then be asked to sign a declaration form that formally states that the vehicle you have provided for the test is insured and fit for use.

Reading the Number Plate

Once the examiner is happy with the documentation, he or she will ask you to lead the way to your car. Before you get into your vehicle, the examiner will point you to a car registration plate in the distance. This number plate will be roughly 20.5 metres (or 67 feet) away, and you will be expected to read the number plate without hesitation.

If you cannot read the plate, the examiner will measure out the official distance and ask you to read the plate a second time. If you cannot read the number plate correctly you will have failed your test. Therefore, if you require glasses or contact lenses to drive, whatever you do make sure that you bring them with you on the day!

“Show Me – Tell Me”

Once the examiner has established that your eyesight is satisfactory, they can then ask you a couple of questions relating to the car itself. These “show me, tell me” questions are used to test your basic working knowledge of vehicles and shouldn’t be too difficult. Examples of the questions you could be asked include the following:

  • Show me how you would check the oil level in your vehicle (open the bonnet and identify where the dipstick is located)
  • Tell me where to find the optimum tyre pressure for your vehicle (in the owner’s manual)
  • Show me how you would adjust your head restraint
  • Tell me how you would check that the headlights and taillights are working (operate the switch to start the vehicle – without switching on the engine – and walk around the vehicle to check the lights are on)

Getting Prepared

After the examiner is happy with your answers they will ask you to make sure that you are comfortable in the car and ready to move on. While you do this, they will inspect the car for road worthiness and note the registration number.

When you are comfortable they will explain the rules of the test to you, and tell you the instructions they will give you for specific tasks such as turning into a side road or performing a manoeuvre. Make sure that you listen carefully to the instructor and if you are unclear as to what they ask you to do, politely ask them to repeat the instruction. The examiner will be happy to repeat themselves, although try not to ask them to repeat every instruction, as they might consider this as a way for you to gain extra ‘thinking’ time and could mark you down for hesitating.

The Length of the Test

The driving test itself should last for roughly 40 minutes, but may be longer depending on traffic. During the course of the test the examiner will direct you on a course that will include urban roads and backroads, as well as main roads with a higher speed limit than 30 miles per hour. You can also expect to be guided onto a dual carriageway with a speed limit of 70 miles per hour.

You will also be expected to perform two manoeuvres, such as a turn in the road (known as a three point turn), reversing the car around a corner or parallel parking (also known as reverse parking). Emergency stops are not conducted on every practical driving test, but appear on one out of every four tests, so be prepared for one.

During the course of the test you will also be asked simply to park your car in a safe place. Once you have done this, the examiner will ask you to pull away again. To make this more challenging they may ask you to do this on a hill or behind an obstruction.

The End of the Test

Towards the end of your 40-minute test the examiner will start guiding you back towards the test centre. The end of the test takes place when they ask you to park and turn off your engine. At this point they will tell you whether you have achieved a pass or a fail, and explain the driving faults that were spotted during the course of the test. They may also offer some advice on how you can correct these.

What Happens if you Pass?

If you have achieved a pass, congratulations! You will be taken into the test centre and issued with a driving test pass certificate. You will need to send this along with your provisional driving licence to the DVLA. They will be able to issue you with a full UK driving licence within a few days.

It is currently free of charge to switch from a provisional licence to a full version. You can drive before your full licence is returned to you, but it is recommended to always take a photocopy of your pass certificate with you.

What Happens if you Fail?

Failing your driving test is more common than you might think, so don’t be too disappointed. Hopefully the examiner will have explained to you the reasons why you did not pass, and these can be worked on with your driving instructor.

You will be required to wait at least ten working days before you can take another driving test, but you can take the test as many times as you need until you pass. You should note though that the driving theory test you passed will expire two years after you completed it.

Making a Complaint

Some people feel that they were treated unfairly by their driving examiner. If this is the case you may consider appealing the decision. If you do appeal bear in mind that the test result will not be overturned, but you may be awarded a free re-test.

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The UK driving test now includes one manoeuvre plus 10 minutes of independent driving
JAPADI - 13-Sep-12 @ 7:16 AM
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