Your instructor will discuss your readiness for the Practical Test. When
ready, the Practical test can be booked online with your instructor present, to avoid clashes of dates.
(If you are booking a test online, please note that when you are asked for your instructor’s ADI number you should click past that section, as it is not necessary at that stage. This is because the DVSA has set up a system to prevent the double-booking of tests, but it does not take into account whether your instructor is unavailable on a particular date for other reasons, so we do not use it).
It is usual nowadays for the candidate to use their instructor’s car, which will be right-hand-drive, fitted with dual controls, insured for test, fitted with an extra interior mirror and displaying ‘L’-plates to the front and rear of the car (preferably on the driver’s side).
It is legal for you to take your test in a non-driving school car, providing it meets the minimum requirements. The car can be a convertible, but not all are suitable. Panel vans or vehicles otherwise deemed by the government to be unsuitable for test may not be used.
An instructor reserves the right to refuse to allow use of a driving school car if, in the instructor’s professional opinion, the learner's driving standard is not high enough to pass the test.
If a learner is not ready, sitting a test to “have a go and see what happens” is not encouraged, as this approach can result in a demoralising failure and unnecessary upset. Your instructor may offer you a mock test, performed under realistic test conditions, and you will get a good idea of the test format this way.
First-time pass rates vary around the country, but the national average first-time pass rate is around 45%. Despite this low figure, a well prepared, professionally-taught learner can expect a much greater chance to pass first time. Nine out of ten candidates who pass the Practical Test first time received professional tuition (source: DVSA) Good preparation and self-confidence are vital to increase chances of a pass.
At the time of the test, you will meet the examiner in the waiting room. The test begins with an identity check, signing an insurance declaration and an eyesight check. You will then walk to the car followed by the examiner who will go on to ask you the first of two 'show me/tell me vehicle safety questions'. The second question is asked later in the test when the vehicle is in motion.
Since 2010 the DVSA has encouraged instructors to sit in on the test. This has been shown to be very useful, particularly in the event of a fail, as the instructor knows exactly where problems occurred. The whole test process takes approximately 40 minutes, and time is allowed in addition for a debriefing at the end, and the provision of a Pass Certificate if successful. The Examiner will assess your driving skills in various road and traffic situations.
During the test you will be asked to perform one reversing manoeuvre, a 20-minute independent drive. The independent drive will involve following directions given by sat-nav device in four out of five driving tests. If your test is the one that does not require the use of the sat-nav, you will be expected to follow signs, road markings, directions or all.
You may be asked to perform a controlled, or emergency stop. You are allowed a maximum of 15 Driving Faults. None can be Serious (a fault which is potentially dangerous, but not actually causing danger) or Dangerous. This will be explained in more details by your instructor during lessons. Accumulating a number of the same type of Driving Fault (e.g. missing important observations) is likely to cause a Serious fault to be recorded, resulting in an overall fail.