Your driving test appointment
Driving test centres vary in their size and layout - some are in shops like the one shown here, others in purpose built buildings. Some have car parks, others have on-street parking. But no matter what the physical layout is, they all serve the same purpose... The place where you will meet your test examiner and start and finish the drive.
The examiner's job is simply to watch you drive and complete a report on your performance - if your drive meets the standard you pass, if not you fail.
Driving test examiners do not try to trick you or to catch you out; in fact, they will be as helpful as possible. If you are unsure about anything, just ask.
Because of the nature of the job, examiners sit quietly and do not talk unnecessarily as this could be a distraction for you - ironically, the silence is a distraction for some people, this is why it's important to complete a 'mock test' to get used to the testing process.
Sometimes the examiner's supervisor will sit in the back of the car - this is to ensure that examiners do their job fairly and efficiently in line with the regulations. You can also have your instructor in the car but he/she will not be permitted to speak - at the start of the test the examiner will ask if you would like your instructor to sit in. (Note: anyone over the age of 16 years is allowed to sit in on the test.)
Having your instructor along can be helpful, pass or fail, because he/she will be able to give a clear and objective opinion of how you performed. Some instructors offer a 'written report' service with details of the test.
The test starts in the waiting room. Make sure that you arrive on time, otherwise you might lose your test and the fee. The examiner will come out and ask you to sign a form; he/she will check your theory test certificate and photographic evidence of identity. Your provisional licence will also be checked to ensure that it is current and valid for the vehicle that you are being tested in.
For car tests you must have either Both parts of a current-style two-part photo-card licence (photo-card and paper counterpart) or An old-style paper licence with a valid passport. The DVSA will not accept any other documentation as evidence of entitlement or identity.
After the document check is complete, you will be asked to lead the way to your car, on the way the examiner will check your eyesight by asking you to read a car number plate. Before the drive begins you will need to answer a couple of vehicle safety check questions - then, while you make yourself comfortable in the driving seat, the examiner will note the make and registration number of the car and will check that it complies with the regulations.
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. For example:
'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.
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.
- Reversing around a corner
- Turning in the road
- Reverse parking
- Reversing into a parking bay
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
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.