Driving Test - Practical

The driving test exists primarily as a road safety measure. It is not designed to find our if you are a good driver just a safe one. It is designed to assess all new drivers, to make sure they can drive safely and unaccompanied. The more driving lessons you have the better. Learning to drive isn't easy but having patient instructors such as Tricia and Julie will make the whole process much easier and even fun. Driving variety should be the main objective of all learner drivers. The better the preparation, the higher the chance of passing the driving exams and gaining your full UK driving licence.

The practical test is about making sure that those who pass are competent and safe in the basic skills of driving. Before you take it, indeed before you book it, you will have to take and pass the theory and hazard perception.


At the start of the practical test, the examiner will come out and call your name. You will then be asked to read and sign the insurance and residency declarations while the examiner inspects your documentation. If all is in order, you will then be asked to walk to your car.

Before getting to your car, the examiner will ask you to stop and read a new style number plate at a 20m or an old-style number plate at a distance of 20.5m. If you fail to do this, the exam will go no further.

At the car, the examiner will ask you two questions from the show and tell question bank. To see all the show me, tell me questions and answers CLICK HERE (Acrobat Reader or similar required). Fail to answer either question correctly and you will score one minor fault.

The examiner will now ask you to get into the car and prepare yourself for the driving part of the practical test. Get in and perform a brief cockpit drill. As you have used the car to drive to the test centre, the examiner won't expect you to alter anything but they will expect you to make a visual check to make sure everything is as it should be. Don't forget to put your seatbelt on.

The examiner will then give you the following instructions:

'During the test I would like you to follow the road ahead at all times, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise, or I ask you to make a turn, which I will do in good time. When you are ready, move off.'

You should now start the engine and move off. To be successful and to pass, you must drive safely and demonstrate through your driving that you have a sound knowledge of the Highway Code. Don't worry if you make a mistake, keep calm and continue driving. Unless you make a serious or dangerous fault, or make a less serious mistake a number of times, you won't fail the practical test.

The duration of the test will be up to 40 minutes and will cover a variety of roads and traffic situation. You will have to deal with roundabouts, crossroads, pedestrian crossings and where possible dual carriageways, rural and residential roads. Test centre's do have specific routes that they follow, but these routes are designed to include the widest range of driving possible in that area, and to give a consistent standard of testing across the whole country.

You will have to perform one manoeuvre: bay park, parallel park, turn in the road, reversing round a corner.

You may also have to perform an emergency stop.

If you come to a junction or roundabout and the examiner gives you no instruction, you must follow the road ahead, for example go straight ahead at a roundabout.

If the examiner gives you an instruction which you are unsure about, ask them to repeat it.

The practical now includes a section called independent driving. Its aim is to assess a candidates ability to make their own decisions whilst driving. It requires the test candidate to drive by either following a series of directions, following traffic signs, or a combination of both, for about ten minutes.

To help the candidate understand where they are going the examiner may show them a diagram - to see an example of a diagram CLICK HERE. It doesn't matter if the candidate doesn't remember every direction, or if they go the wrong way - that can happen to the most experienced drivers. Independent driving is not a test of the candidates orientation and navigation skills, it is about being capable of making their own decisions whilst driving, about their route and how to safely navigate that route without prompts - this includes deciding when it's safe and appropriate to ask for confirmation about where they are going.

When taking the independent driving test:

    • If you need to ask the examiner for a reminder of the directions then do so. Once asked the examiner will confirm the route.
    • If you go off-route your overall driving test result will not be affected, unless you commit a driving fault. The examiner will also help you get back on the route so you can continue with independent driving.
    • If there are poor or obscured traffic signs, the examiner will give directions until the next visible traffic sign.
    • A detailed knowledge of the test route is not necessary.
    • You cannot use a Sat-Nav.


Online with the DSA. To book a practical test you will need a valid UK driving licence number, theory test pass certificate number and a valid debit/credit card.

By Phone - using your credit/debit card. The person who books the test must be the cardholder. You will be given the date and time of your test immediately. Call 0300 2001122 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday. When you phone you will need:

  • Theory test pass certificate number
  • Driver number shown on your licence
  • Personal details (name, address, telephone numbers)
  • ADI code number (used so your instructor is not double booked)
  • Preferred date
  • Unacceptable days or periods
  • If you can accept a test at short notice
  • Disability or any special circumstances

You will be given a booking number and sent an appointment card with details of the time and date of your test.

By Post - Apply for the practical driving test by filling out form DL26 (postal application for a practical appointment) obtained from: theory and practical centre's, an Approved Driving Instructor, The National booking line on 0870 010 1372, or downloaded from the DSA link above.

Times you can take the practical driving test: 8:10, 8:20, 9:07, 9:17, 10:14, 10:24, 11:11, 11:21, 13:35, 12:48, 2:32, 2:42.


  • It's advised not to apply for the practical driving test until Tricia or Julie tells you that you are ready.
  • You cannot apply for the practical test unless you have taken and passed the theory test.
  • The waiting time for a practical test can range from two to 12 weeks.
  • Saturday & weekday evening driving tests are available at some driving test centre's. Evening exams are available during the summer months only.


your valid provisional driving licence, including the paper counterpart if you have a photo-card licence
your theory test pass certificate.

If you have kept your practical test confirmation letter, then take this also, just in case a problems arise with the computers at the centre. If you are using your own car, not your driving instructor's, you will need to fulfil further requirements. Just ask Tricia or Julie.

If you can't find any of the documents you need you must phone the DSA as soon as possible. If you arrive without the required documentation your driving test will be cancelled and you won't receive a refund.

Glasses - if you need to wear glasses to drive, don't forget them, as you can't legally drive without them.