Taking the driving test can be one of the most stressful things you ever do. In my experience it is not only a test of your driving skill, but a test of how you can handle pressure situations. I’ve put together some useful driving test tips and advice for those of you who may have booked your test or are close to doing so. If you have not yet booked your test you can do so on the DVSA website. If you are in the Mexborough, Rotherham or Doncaster area and are looking to start lessons, get in touch with me today for some great deals. Be aware that you will have to have taken and passed your theory test before you can book your practical driving test.
On the day of the test, you will need to bring the following with you;
- Provisional license
- Theory pass certificate
- Any prescribed eyewear
Don’t worry too much if you can’t find your theory pass certificate, none of my learners have ever been asked to produce it on the day, but the DVSA does advise you to bring it with you on the day. I would also recommend you bring a drink with you.
The Morning of Your Driving Test
I like to give my learners an hour before the test to have some last minute practice and run through the maneuvers and show me / tell me questions. However some people prefer just to go for a coffee and talk through what to expect on the test.
At the Test Centre
I aim to arrive at the test centre 10 minutes before the test to allow time to relax a little in the waiting room. We can also have a toilet break if required.
When parking in the test centre, we will reverse park into one of the available parking bays. This means that when you start you can simply drive out of the bay, rather than having an additional manoeuvre to complete (reversing out of a bay).
Before we go into the test centre, i’ll set up the car ready for the test. As we are not allowed to record inside the car, i’ll adjust the dash cams and turn off sound recording. You can also choose whether you want the radio on (low volume) when you do the test. I’ll also turn off the on board Sat Nav system.
We will then wait inside the test centre for the examiner to greet you. They will firstly check your license and ask if you are still at the same address. The examiner will ask if you would like your instructor to sit in the back of the car during the test. Personally, I don’t like sitting in the back of tests, although I know others that do. For me, it’s extra pressure and another pair of eyes on you. As your instructor I cannot get involved in the test at all which includes speaking to you or the examiner, checking blindspots, coughing, looking at you in the mirror etc. If you decline this, they will ask you if you would like your instructor to be present for the debrief at the end of the test. This is useful for instructors, as any feedback could be used later in follow up lessons, should the result not be a positive one.
As of late 2019, test are now marked on an Ipad and you will be asked to sign the insurance and residency declaration on screen.
The Driving Test
Here it is, the result of all those months of hard work.
The examiner will accompany you outside and ask you to read a number plate from 20.5 metres. If you are not able to read the number plate, the test would be abandoned and you would lose your test fee. They will ask you to wait in the car and get setup (seat belt etc) while they check the car is safe (tyres etc). Do not start the engine yet.
When they join you in the car, they will ask you one of the tell me questions that your instructor will have been through with you. The show me question will come up at some point when you are driving around. The examiner will give you a quick run down of what is expected of you on the test and ask you to drive on when safe to do so.
During the test, the examiner will ask you to pull over to the left 3 or 4 times. This is to check that you can both find somewhere safe to park and check whether or not you need to signal when pulling over.
The test consists of around 15 minutes of driving following directions, just as you will have done with your instructor, and 15 minutes following a Sat Nav. Rarely, an examiner will ask you to follow road signs rather than using a Sat Nav.
TIP: Don’t go the pieces. If you make a mistake, forget it and move on. Worrying about small mistakes can lead to bigger mistakes.
You will also be asked to complete one reverse manoeuvre during the test. There are four manoeuvre that could be chosen. Reverse park (parallel), forward bay park, reverse bay park, pull up on the right. The forward bay park and pull up on the right manoeuvres both have reverse elements. Remember that the most important part of any of these manoeuvre is effective observations. I would suggest reading my in depth guide to all of the driving test manoeuvres.
If you find yourself in the wrong lane for example at a roundabout, take the correct exit for that lane. The examiner would rather you go the wrong way safely than take a risk by changing lanes.
Tip: Remember, this is a safety test, drive safely at all times and don’t take any risks.
Deep breath, and relax!
If your instructor was waiting for you in the test centre, they will now join you for the result. The examiner will inform you whether you have passed or been unsuccessful. They will then give you some feedback and explain any serious or minor faults. This information is useful for your instructor, as should you have failed, there will be some issues to address before re-taking the test. Pass or fail, you will receive an email within a few minutes, detailing any serious or minor faults. You are allowed 14 minor faults on your test or up to 4 minors for the same fault. If you get more than 4, the examiner may upgrade the minor to a serious fault, which would be an automatic fail.
If you Fail
Should the result not be positive, you will have to wait 10 days to re-take the test, although you can book it again almost straight away. Always make a plan with your instructor before you get home. Don’t let the result get you down too much, your instructor would not have put you forward for the test if they didn’t think you would pass. Remember that we are allowing you to drive our cars, without us in it for what could be 40 minutes. We would never do that if we didn’t think you were a good enough driver. Take on board any feedback from the examiner and plan with your instructor what to do next.
If you Pass
Firstly, congratulations! Passing your driving test is one of the best feelings in the world, for both you and your instructor. The examiner will run through any minor faults with you and offer some advice. They will give you a certificate which means you can drive straight away as you are now a full license holder, you do not have to wait until your driving license arrives. You will have the option of giving your provisional license to the examiner who will send off for your new license which takes around 3 weeks to arrive. If for any reason you choose to send off for it yourself, you will need to do this within 2 years or your certificate will expire.
Good luck with your test!