Practical Driving Test Explained

The practical driving test is designed to test your ability to drive on a number of different road conditions. While the test can not be the same everywhere it’s the aim of the Drive and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) to produce a test that can be applied consistently across the UK. Traffic in London, for example, can not be replicated in more rural areas but the same standards are applied across the country though the content of the test may be different in different areas.

The current cost of the driving test is £62, when booking your test you should ensure that you use the government website which you can find here.

What to bring to your test

When taking your practical driving test you are required to bring the following items with you:

  • Both parts of your driving licence – the photo card and the paper counterpart.
  • Your theory test pass certificate.
  • A copy of your appointment letter.
  • A vehicle which is insured, licensed, is displaying L-Plates and is suitable for the test. If you are taking your driving test with Drive-On then an appropriate vehicle will be provided for you.
  • If you have an old style paper driving licence then you will need to bring that along with a valid passport. No other photo identification will be accepted other than a passport.

If you do not have these items on the day of the test the examiner may refuse to conduct the test and you will lose your test fee.

The Eyesight Test

Before you begin the practical driving test you will have your eyesight checked. This is done by the examiner getting you to read a number plate of a vehicle. The minimum distance you must be able to read the number plate is 20.5 metres for an old style licence plate or 20 metres on the new style licence plate. If you are unable to read the number plate from the required distance you will fail the test. You can wear glasses or contact lenses but if you do then you must wear them for the duration of the test.

Show Me, Tell Me Questions

After completing the eyesight check you’ll then be asked two questions on vehicle checks. These questions were introduced in September 2003. If you answer one or both of these questions wrong you’ll receive a minor fault. You can see the questions on our Show Me, Tell Me page.

The Driving Test

The practical driving test will last for around 40 minutes and will cover a variety of road conditions and situations. The examiner will be watching you to see how you deal with these road situations and other road users. You can have your instructor on the test with you though they will be unable to offer any advice or help during the test.

On the test you will also be asked to carry out one reverse manoeuvre from the following:

  • Turn in the road
  • Reverse round a corner
  • Parallel park
  • Bay park

You may also be asked during the driving test to perform an emergency stop. Your test will also involve a 10 minute independent drive.

Independent Driving

On the driving test your examiner will be giving you instructions apart from a 10 minute period where you will be asked to drive independently. During the independent drive you will be expected to drive by following traffic signs, a series of directions or a combination of both. If you are given a series of directions the examiner will also offer to show you a diagram.

At the end of the test

After completing the practical driving test and arriving back at the test centre you will be given your result. The examiner will then give you a debrief on your test. If you did not take your instructor on the test you will have the opportunity to allow them to listen to the debrief.

Practical driving test standards

All examiners who carry out a practical driving test have been trained to the same standard and they do not have quotas to reach each week for the number of passes and fails that they give. If you demonstrate the required standard on the driving test then you will pass.