Practical Driving Test
Find out what happens during your practical test, including the 'show me, tell me' questions, reverse exercise and independent driving.
Practical test for cars explained
The driving test is designed for you to show your practical skills and understanding of the Highway Code and the theory of driving safely. Throughout the test your examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving. Find out about the different parts of your driving test.
The car practical driving test
The driving test is straightforward and has been designed to see if you:
- can drive safely in different road and traffic conditions
- know The Highway Code and can show this through your driving ability
So long as you show the standard required, you'll pass your driving test. There are no pass or fail quotas.
What you need to take to your driving test
When you go for your practical driving test you must take certain documents with you.
- theory test pass certificate
- both parts of your driving licence - the photocard and the paper counterpart
If you do not bring the right documents:
Before you start the driving ability part of your test
Before you start the driving ability part of your test, you'll have an eyesight check and be asked two vehicle safety questions.
The eyesight check
The examiner will ask you to read the number plate on a parked vehicle to test your eyesight. If you fail the check, your driving test won't continue.
Vehicle safety questions: 'show me, tell me'
You'll be asked two vehicle safety questions. These are also known as the 'show me, tell me' questions.
The examiner will ask you one 'show me' question, where you'll have to show them how you'd carry out a vehicle safety check. You'll also be asked one 'tell me' question, where you'll have to explain to the examiner how you'd carry out the check.
For example, the examiner might ask you to identify where the windscreen washer reservoir is and tell them how you'd check the windscreen washer level.
If you give the wrong answer for one or both questions, you'll be marked with one driving fault.
Watch videos about 'show me, tell me
The driving ability part of your driving test
The driving part of your test will last about 40 minutes. Throughout the test your examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving.
Your general driving ability
During your test the examiner will give you directions which you should follow. You'll drive in various road and traffic conditions. You should drive in the way your instructor has trained you.
You might also be asked to carry out an emergency stop.
Your ability to reverse your vehicle safely
You'll be asked to complete an exercise to show how well you can reverse your vehicle. The examiner will choose one exercise from:
- reversing around a corner
- turning in the road
- reverse parking - either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road
Independent driving section of the driving test
Your driving test will include around ten minutes of independent driving. This is designed to assess your ability to drive safely while making decisions independently.
During your test you'll have to drive independently by either following:
To help you understand where you are going when following verbal directions, the examiner will show you a diagram.
If you make a mistake during your test
If you make a mistake, don't worry about it as it might be a less serious driving fault and might not affect your result. However, if at any time your examiner considers your driving to be a danger to other road users they will stop your test.Book Your Official DSA Practical Driving Test Online
Book your official DSA practical driving test online
The quickest and easiest way to book your official Driving Standards Agency (DSA) practical driving test is online. When you book using this official service, you only pay the cost of the test – there is no extra booking fee.Start Booking
Watch a video about the practical driving test
Your driving test result
When the driving test has ended, you can call your instructor over if they didn't go with you on your test. This is so they can listen to the result and feedback with you.
The examiner will:
The different types of faults that can be marked
There are three types of faults that can be marked:
- a dangerous fault - involves actual danger to you, the examiner, the public or property
- a serious fault - could potentially be dangerous
- a driving fault - not potentially dangerous, but if you make the same fault throughout your test it could become a serious fault
The pass mark for the driving test
You can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test. If you make 16 or more driving faults, you won't pass your test.
If you make one serious or dangerous fault, you won't pass your test.
If you pass your test
If you pass your test the examiner will give you a pass certificate. They will also ask you if you want your full licence to be sent to you automatically.
The DVLA will send your full licence to you within four weeks of you passing your practical test.
Once you have passed you test you can start driving straight away - you don't need to wait for your full licence to arrive.
Taking another test if you don't pass
If you don't pass your test, you can take another after ten working days. Working days include Saturdays.
The New Drivers Act
If you have just passed your first driving test, the New Drivers Act means you’re ‘on probation’ for two years. If you reach six or more penalty points in that time, you’ll lose your licence. Then, you’ll have to apply and pay for a new provisional licence. This means you’ll be a learner driver again.
How you get penalty points
You get penalty points for all sorts of driving-related offences, like speeding or driving dangerously. The penalties for traffic offences are set out in the Highway Code.More
Pass Plus scheme for car drivers
Pass Plus is an established training course aimed at new drivers. It was designed by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) with the help of insurers and the driving instruction industry.
Statistics show that new drivers are more likely to have an accident in the first two years after passing their test. This is because of their lack of driving experience.
Pass Plus builds on your skills and knowledge. It will teach you how to anticipate, plan for and deal with all kinds of hazards, to help you become a more confident driver.