Taking the driving test

To pass the driving test you must be able to drive safely in different road and traffic conditions, and show that you know The Highway Code by the way you drive.

What to take to your driving test

On average, more than 1,100 driving tests get cancelled every month because people:

  • forget to take the right documents with them
  • take a car that does not meet the rules
  • arrive late for their appointment
  • go to the wrong driving test centre

Don’t be one of them.

Documents to take to your driving test

You must take your driving licence with you when you go for your driving test. Your test will be cancelled if you go without it.

Using your own car

If you plan to take the driving test in your own car, it must meet certain rules. Your test will be cancelled if your car does not meet the rules.

What happens during the driving test

Read a transcript of this video

There are 5 parts to the driving test:

  • an eyesight check
  • ‘show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions
  • general driving ability
  • reversing your vehicle
  • independent driving

The test is the same for both manual and automatic cars.

Read about how the driving test works.

‘Show me, tell me’ questions

You’ll be asked 2 vehicle safety questions during your car driving test.

The examiner will ask you one:

  • ‘tell me’ question (where you explain how you’d carry out a safety task) at the start of your test, before you start driving
  • ‘show me’ question (where you show how you’d carry out a safety task) while you’re driving

You’ll get one driving fault (sometimes called a ‘minor’) if you get one or both questions wrong.

Driving test faults and pass mark

At the end of your driving test, your examiner will:

  • tell whether you whether or not you passed
  • explain any serious or dangerous faults you made

Driving test faults explained

Find out about the different types of faults that your driving examiner might mark, and what happens next if you pass or are unsuccessful.

Top 10 faults people make

Find out about the top 10 faults that people make in the driving test, and read different examples of each type of fault. Talk to your driving instructor about any of these that you want more help with.

How to get more feedback: take your instructor with you

When you get your test result:

  • your driving examiner will have a short amount of time to explain any mistakes you made – they’ll only be able to explain the most important ones
  • your test result email will tell you how many faults you made and what they were about – but it will not give details such as where you were when you made them
  • you might find it hard to take in and the remember the feedback the examiner gives because you’re either excited to have passed or disappointment to have failed

Because of this, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) encourages you to ask your driving instructor to sit in the back of the car during your driving test.

Benefits of your instructor sitting in

If you take your driving instructor with you, they’ll be able to:

  • see how you do during the test (but they cannot give you any help)
  • make notes during the test, such as where you were when you made a mistake
  • help you remember the feedback the driving examiner gives you
  • help you improve your skills – whether you pass or fail

Some people also find they’re calmer when they have someone they know with them.

Talk to your driving instructor before your test and let them know you’d like them to sit in.

Listening to the feedback

Your driving instructor can also listen to the feedback your driving examiner gives you at the end of your test if you want them to. They can still do this even if they did not sit in the car during the test.

51 out of every 100 driving tests were failed in Great Britain during August 2023

Driving test myths

Over the years, lots of myths about the driving test have developed. This section explains some of the most common ones and what the truth actually is.

Myth 1: Driving examiners have pass quotas
There’s a myth that driving examiners are only allowed to pass so many people each day or week, and if they’ve used up all their passes, you’ll fail the test. It’s not true. Your driving examiner will assess how well you drive during your test. If you drive to the standard required, you’ll pass your driving test.
Myth 2: You automatically fail if you stall
There’s a myth that you’ll automatically fail if you stall the car during your driving test. It’s not true. It all depends on the situation and how often you stall. If it just happens once and you keep under control, you will not automatically fail. You’ll fail your driving test if you stall and roll back a considerable distance. You’ll also fail if you repeatedly stall when moving off throughout your test, or if you repeatedly stall on one occasion.
Myth 3: You automatically fail if you cross your hands when turning the steering wheel
There’s a myth that you’ll automatically fail if you cross your hands when turning the steering wheel. It’s not true. The driving examiner will assess your ability to control the vehicle, and whether your steering is smooth, safe and under control. They will not mark a fault if you cross your hands when turning the steering wheel.
Myth 4: It’s easier to pass your driving test at certain times of day
There’s a myth that it’s better to take your driving test as certain times of day as you’re more likely to pass. It’s not true. You’re more likely to pass your driving test if you’ve got plenty of driving experience, you’ve done lots of practice, and you’ve practised ways of managing your nerves. It does not matter what time of day you take the test.
Myth 5:You need to exaggerate moving your head when you check your mirrors
There’s a myth that you have to exaggerate moving your head to show the examiner that you’re checking your mirrors. It’s not true. Driving examiners are trained to make sure you’re making the proper observations. If you’re focusing on exaggerating moving your head, you might forget to pay attention to something else important.

Check you’re ready to pass

You’ll usually be ready to pass when:

1. You do not need prompts from your driving instructor.
You need to be dealing with every part of driving consistently, confidently and independently – without any prompting from your driving instructor. You’ll be getting ready for your test when you’re able to adapt to situations and see why perfecting your skills makes you safer and more fuel-efficient.
2. You do not make serious or dangerous mistakes when you’re driving.
You need to be a good and safe driver to pass the driving test. If you’re making serious or dangerous mistakes during your driving lessons and brushing them off as ‘silly mistakes’, you’re not ready to pass your driving test and drive on your own.
3. You can pass mock driving tests.
Taking and passing mock driving tests with your driving instructor will help you understand if you’ve reached the standard that’s needed to pass.
4. You have practised ways of managing your nerves.
It’s really important to be able to manage your nerves to be a safe driver. Practise ways of managing your nerves to help you stay calm and focused when you take your test. This will help you in the vital months after you’ve passed your test, too.
5. Your driving instructor agrees you’re ready.
If your driving instructor says you’re not ready to take your driving test, listen to them. Driving instructors are specially trained road safety experts. They’ve got lots of driving experience – and they know what it takes to pass the driving test. Remember, they want you to be a safe driver, keep your insurance costs low, and enjoy driving for years to come.

Not feeling quite ready?

You can move your driving test back if you’re not feeling quite ready yet.

It’s free to change your appointment time, as long as you do it at least 3 full working days (Mondays to Saturdays) before your test.

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