The driving test
This section has hints and tips about your practical test and how to get the best possible chance of a pass.
As you will discover from these pages (hopefully not through personal experience!) the most common reason that people fail the test is that they are not fully prepared - they attempt the test before they are ready.
Obviously, you want to pass your driving test as soon as you can and to have all the freedom a driving licence will bring you, but you must remember that the test is designed to assess whether you are safe.
There's not a lot of point passing the test and then crashing in your first year on the road, or losing your licence again after an accident! If you are unlucky and you fail the test it will be because the examiner considers that you would pose a risk to yourself or to others if you were to drive alone.
Of course the good news is that you can take the test as many times as you like, but remember, each test costs time and money and so take your instructor's advice about when to apply.
If you feel that you are ready and your instructor disagrees, no problem, simply get an independent assessment with another instructor. Remember, however, your instructor is a professional and he/she knows the standard required to pass and to drive safely – if you are not ready and you fail, as mentioned above, it could cost quite a lot of money in lesson time and test fees, plus the disappointment. But there is potentially a worse outcome... If you are not ready and by some fluke you manage to pass you will have a high accident risk when you are driving alone – this could end up costing you far more than just money.
The Practical test
Making sure that you are ready...
If/when you have worked through the DriverActive Online programme and followed your instructor's advice with regard to the timing of your test you will possess all the knowledge and skill required to pass your. The final step will be to ensure you can use that knowledge and skill under driving test conditions.
To make sure that you can reach the required standard of driving under test conditions ask your instructor to give you a mock test (or series of mock tests). The mock test should be as near as possible to the real thing, in the same area and at the same time of day if possible.
Unlike a normal driving lesson, a mock test is completed without interruption, this means that if you make mistakes (which everyone does!) your instructor will not tell you about them until the end of the session. This approach can make some people feel nervous, effectively driving 'alone' for 40 or 50 minutes - but this is great preparation for the test and beyond.
Sometimes drivers think that they have failed the test after a minor mistake which would not fail them - if they are not able to cope with the feelings of "Am I doing OK?" they can end up doing something silly that would definitely result in a fail. Mock tests will help you to 'keep your nerve' even if you feel uncertain. This is also a benefit after you pass - sooner or later you will be driving in new places or possibly feel nervous on your first motorway trip, or when you get lost... Being able to stay calm in all driving situations is an essential skill for all drivers.
During your mock test your instructor, like the driving test examiner, wants to see your normal driving skills. Putting on a special performance would defeat the object of a test designed to ensure that your everyday driving standard is safe.
You will be given clear and concise instructions to move off, turn left or right, stop, perform one of the set manoeuvres and drive without direction for a section of the test (independent drive). Remember the main purpose of a mock test is to help to prepare you for the real thing, not to check if you are ready for test; you should be able to drive for about forty-five minutes without help and without making a serious* error before you do your full mock test.
*A serious 'driver error' is one that could lead to an accident, either in a different set of circumstances or if the examiner or other road user had not taken action to avoid the danger. If you can't drive without making serious errors, you will have little or no chance of passing the test.
Applying for your driving test
The easiest way to book your test is to do it online - if you are unable to do this for any reason, ask your instructor for an application form.
- Important: The link above is to the official DVSA Booking Service - there are other companies that provide a booking service but if you use these you may end up paying more for the test.
- Tests can also be booked by phone on 0300 200 1122 between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.
Tests are generally done on weekdays between 8.30am and 4.30pm. However, in some areas it is possible to book a test for weekends or in the evening on weekdays.
If you are disabled, you can make special arrangements for a test of extended duration. In this instance, you will drive for the same length of time as other candidates; the longer appointment is provided for any additional administration or extra time needed to get into your vehicle, etcetera.
If you wish to cancel your test appointment after it has been booked you can do so without losing your fee as long as you give three working days' notice (excluding bank holidays and weekends).