What is Actually in a Driving Test?
Learning to drive can take a long time, and has lots of information you need to get to grips with. But do you know what’s actually in a driving test?
The driving test is the final hurdle a learner driver has to tackle before getting that all-important pink licence. The test format is the same whether you do it in an automatic or manual car.
The test typically lasts around 40 minutes (or 70 minutes for those who have previously been banned from driving). It consists of 5 parts which are:
- An eyesight check
- ‘Show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions
- General driving ability
- Reversing your vehicle
- Independent driving
At the beginning of the test, the driver will have to read a number plate from 20 metres away to ensure their eyesight is acceptable for driving. If you fail the eyesight check, you won’t be able to continue with the test.
‘Show me, tell me’ vehicle safety question
During the test, the driver will be asked 2 questions on vehicle safety – these are called ‘show me, tell me’. This is because one question will be answered by demonstrating something to the examiner, and one will be answered by simply explaining your answer to the examiner.
An example of a show me question is “When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the front windscreen?”. An example of a tell me question is “Tell me how you’d know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system”; the answer to which would be “a warning light should illuminate if there is a fault with the anti-lock braking system”. For more info on what ‘show me, tell me’ questions could come up, click here.
General driving ability
In this part of the test, the examiner will give you instructions on where to drive. The routes used for the tests are not published, so you won’t be able to check them before your test. You will be asked to pull over and pull away from the side of the road. These will consist of normal stops at the side of the road, pulling out from behind a parked vehicle, and a hill start.
You may also be asked to perform an emergency stop within this section of the rest.
Reversing your vehicle
Here you will be asked to perform one of three exercises:
- Parallel park at the side of the road
- Park in a parking bay – either by driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do)
- Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for 2 car lengths, and re-join the traffic
You’ll also have to drive for around 20 minutes (half of the test) following either a sat nav or traffic signs; the examiner will tell you which one of the two to follow. If you use a sat nav, the examiner will set it up for you – you cannot use your own.
If you can’t see a traffic sign because of an obstruction, the examiner will give you directions until you can see the next one.
If you make a wrong turning the examiner won’t give you a fault – they’ll help you to get back onto the intended route.
Making a mistake
If you make a mistake it’s not the end of the world. It might affect your overall score slightly, but you will still carry on with the test. The examiner will only stop the test if they think your driving is dangerous to other road users.
You are allowed no more than 15 minor driving faults and no serious faults. These are sometimes known as ‘minors’ and ‘majors’.
If you pass your test, the examiner will tell you how many faults you made, give you your certificate, and ask if you want your full licence to be sent to you automatically. If you want this, give the examiner your provisional licence and your full licence will be posted to you.
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