According to the DSA, most people have had about 47 hours of professional driving tuition plus 20 hour of private practice before they pass their practical driving test. This is just an average but everyone learns at a different pace!
Clearly, it’s important to get plenty of practice before taking your practical driving test.
Your instructor will tell you exactly what the examiner will be looking out for – and what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Passing your test is not about performing a couple of tricks. The manoeuvres are important, but what really matters is observing and understanding the situations you find yourself in, and reacting competently and appropriately.
BOOKING YOUR PRACTICAL TEST
So you feel you’re ready for your practical test – how exciting! Just like your theory test, you can book your practical driving test online at:
To book a practical test, you’ll need:
• A valid Great Britain or Northern Ireland provisional driving licence number
• Credit or debit card details to pay for the test
• Your theory test pass date and certificate number
• Your driving instructor’s personal reference number – to make sure they are available.
MOCK PRACTICAL TESTS
Taking a mock test is not compulsory but it is something we recommend. They enable you to experience driving independently under observation and can be useful to help fight the nerves before taking your driving test!
An extended mock test allows for all the driving manoeuvres and emergency stop to be practiced, even if this will not happen in the real practical driving test.
Your instructor will pick you up at the agreed time, usually around an hour before the test. This gives you the chance to ‘warm up’ and get any last minute queries answered. You have the option of your instructor sitting in the back of the vehicle for the duration of the test but this is optional.
Ensure you take both parts of your provisional licence along with a copy of your theory test pass certificate. We would also recommend taking the booking details of the test.
Your practical test will include:
• An eyesight check
• The ‘show me, tell me’ test. You don’t have to be a right petrol head but you've got to be able to answer some basic questions about what goes on under the hood
• Manoeuvres / emergency stop
• The actual driving, which lasts about 40 minutes. This includes 10 minutes of independent driving.
Before you are asked to drive away the examiner will briefly explain the test procedure to you.
'You should drive in your normal manner. Follow the road ahead unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise or unless I ask you to turn right or left.'
This simply means that you should drive normally, as you have been taught, following all the relevant rules.
Expect the examiner's language to be formal, but polite.
'Take the first road on the left, please',
'I would like you to turn your car around in the road to face the opposite direction',
'I'm pleased to tell you that you have passed',
If you are unsure about any instruction, ask for it to be repeated. Don't, however, ask questions about how you should drive the car as this will meet with a polite 'Do what you would normally do' or something similar.
THE DAY OF THE PRACTICAL TEST
You will be required to demonstrate one of the exercises below (the examiner chooses which one) - you might also be asked to do an emergency stop exercise.
• Right Reverse
• Reverse parking
• Reversing & Driving forwards into a parking bay
At the end of the test the examiner will inform you if you have passed or failed the driving test. The examiner will produce a test report and describe any errors you made and if applicable, why you failed your test.
If you have passed, you will receive a test pass certificate that will entitle you to drive immediately. However, your instructor will usually drive you back home afterwards.
If you’re lucky enough to have your own car, there is a possibility you will want to use it on the day of the exam. If this is the case, we recommend you check the test vehicle requirements on GOV.UK before your test. You run the risk of losing your test fee if it turns out on your test day that your car can’t be used for safety reasons.
The test includes approximately 10 minutes of independent driving - to enable you to do this the examiner will ask you to to:
• Follow traffic signs
• Follow a series of directions given in advance (given with the aid of a diagram)
• A combination of both of the above
• Using a Sat Nav
The independent element of the test is not designed to test your memory or navigation skills so if you are unsure about which direction to go you can ask the examiner.
Your test will last for about 40 minutes and include a wide range of different roads and manoeuvres, including dual-carriageways where possible. At the end of the test the examiner will tell you the result and briefly discuss the test.
When you pass, you will be able to apply for a full licence. Whether you pass or fail you will be given a report form showing the mistakes that you made during the drive; this will help both you and your instructor to improve your future driving performance.