The DVSA Practical Test: What you Need to Know

If you are considering taking the dvsa practical test, you should have already passed the theory test. You cannot take the practical test if you have not passed the theory test. 

To pass the practical dvsa driving test you will need to do the following without being instructed to:

  • Prepare your vehicle, your passengers, and yourself for the journey
  • Control and guide the car at all times
  • Show that you know the Highway Code while driving
  • Drive safely and in a range of different traffic and road conditions
  • Review and adjust your driving behaviour, if necessary


Booking Your Driving Test

You will have to wear a face covering during your driving test. If you cannot wear a face covering, you will need to enter a valid reason when you’re booking the test.

Your test is will be cancelled if you fail to wear a face covering  unless you previously stated that you could not wear one.

Reasons for not being able to wear a face covering include:

  • It could cause you severe distress
  • You have a disability, or a mental or physical illness or impairment that prevents you from wearing a face covering.

If you wear glasses, you cannot use them as an excuse not to wear a face covering.

What Happens During the Driving Test?

Your driving test will consist of 5 parts:

  1. An eyesight check
  2. “Show me, tell me”, safety questions
  3. Driving ability
  4. Reversing the vehicle
  5. Independent driving

The dvsa practical driving test is the same whether you drive a manual or an automatic car.


The eyesight check

You will need to be able to read a number plate from:

  • 20 metres away for vehicles that have a new number plate
  • 5 metres away for vehicles that have an old number plate

All new number plates start with 2 letters and 2 numbers, such as AB62 CDE

If you don’t pass this aspect of your driving test, the test will end.


“Show me, tell me”

You will be asked 2 vehicle safety questions.

The “tell me” aspect will be asked before you start to drive. This question will involve you explaining how you would carry out a particular safety task.

The “show me” aspect will be asked when you’re driving. This question will involve you showing how you would carry out a safety task.


Driving ability

You will be asked to drive in a range of traffic and road conditions. Please note, you will not be asked to drive on a motorway.

At this point in the test, your examiner will give you a set of directions. You should follow these directions. Please note, driving test routes are not published online or in books. This means you will be unable to check the route before you take your test. 


Pulling over

You will be asked to pull over and then pull away. This could include:

  • A hill start
  • Normal stops at the roadside
  • Pulling out when you’re behind a vehicle that’s parked

You could also be asked to do an emergency stop at any time.


Reversing the vehicle

When it comes to reversing the vehicle, the examiner could ask you to do one of the following:

  • Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, then reverse for approximately 2 car lengths before you rejoin the traffic
  • Park in a parking spot or bay by reversing in and driving out. Alternatively, you might be asked to drive in and reverse out. The examiner will tell you what to do
  • Parallel park at the side of a road


Independent driving

During your practical driving test, you will be asked to drive for approximately 20 minutes. During this time, you will either be asked to follow traffic signs or follow directions that are given by a sat nav. Please note, you can only use the examiner’s sat nav.

If you are unable to see any traffic signs you will be given instructions until you can see the next sign.

You might not be able to see traffic signs if they are hidden by trees, taken down temporarily, or covered in dirt.

If you go off the route you are given, you will not be found at fault. The examiner will help you to get back on the route.


Making Mistakes

Unless you make a serious mistake, it’s likely that you can carry on. Your test result is unlikely to be affected if the mistake is not serious.

If you have made a serious mistake, it means you would have failed your driving test. The examiner will guide you to the examination centre. The test will end when you reach the examination centre.


The Length of your practical driving test

You will drive for approximately 40 minutes.

If you are taking the extended driving test it will take approximately 70 minutes.

Other People

You may find that your driving instructor’s supervisor wishes to join you while you’re having your test. Their supervisor is there to watch the examiner. If you refuse to allow the supervisor to join you, the rest could be cancelled. This means you will have to book another test and pay the fee again.


Driving Test Faults

There are 3 different types of driving test faults that you can make.

  1. A dangerous fault: this type of fault involves you causing danger to yourself, the examiner, the public, or property
  2. A driving fault: this type of fault isn’t always dangerous. However, if you keep making the same mistake, it could be considered a serious fault
  3. A serious fault: this type of fault could be considered dangerous


The Pass Mark

You will pass your practical driving test if you make:

  • No more than 15 minor driving faults
  • No major (dangerous or serious) faults

If you pass your practical driving test the examiner will:

  • Tell you if you have made any faults, and explain the faults that you made
  • Give you your pass certificate
  • Ask you if you would like them to send your full licence to you immediately. If you would like this option, you will need to give them your provisional driving licence

You will need to apply for your full driving licence if you do not wish the examiner to send one to you. You should apply for it within the first 2 years of passing your test.

If you fail to pass your driving test the examiner will go through the faults that you made. If you wish to take another driving test, you will have to take one in at least 10 working days. You will have to book the test and pay again.

Please find more information about the practical driving test at GOV.UK


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