Ensure you know where your driving licence and your theory test certificate are.


You also need your test appointment letter. If you can’t find them, at least you have a week to panic and look for them. You don’t want to be doing this on the morning of your test.

Using your own car? If so, read the notes on the back of the test appointment letter to ensure that you have all the equipment required by the examiner for your test and make sure that you are properly insured for the test.



Before leaving home

Ensure you have your theory test certificate and your photo card driving licence.  No licence – no test!

Switch off your mobile phone – you don’t want it ringing while you are driving.

Take your glasses with you if you need them to drive. (sun glasses if it is sunny!)

Wear the same shoes as you usually wear for driving lessons.

Driving before your test

Take the time to ensure that the temperature in the vehicle is comfortable and that your mirrors are adjusted as you want them.

Generally, it is expected that you will arrive at the test centre no more than 5 minutes before your appointed test time. This is to avoid congestion problems with vehicles returning from earlier tests.

If you have any questions about the test, ask your instructor.

At the Test Centre

Once in the test centre waiting room, the examiner will come out and call your name. They will ask to see your driving licence. They will then shine an ultra-violet light on your licence to check its authenticity.

You will then be asked to sign the top of the test marking form. This is so the examiner can compare the signature on the form with that on your driving licence. Also, you are confirming that the car you are using for your test is correctly insured for the purposes of the test and that you have lived in the UK for at least 180 days in the last twelve months.

They will also ask you to confirm that your address is correct on your licence. If not, they will ask you to write your correct address in the space provided at the bottom of the licence, sign and date it.

They will then ask you if you want your instructor to accompany you on your test. If not, they will ask you if you want your instructor to be present at the end of your test for the feedback.

In The Car Park

They will then ask you to lead the way to your car. When you get into the car park, the examiner will ask you to read a car number plate. If you can’t read a number plate, they will measure out the 20.5 metres. If you still can’t read it, your test will be cancelled and you will lose your fee.

Then they will ask you the one tell me questions. 

They will then tell you to get into the car and make yourself comfortable. While you are doing this, they will walk around the car, carry out a visual inspection of the tyres, ensure that L plates are fitted to the front and rear of the vehicle and ensure that the car is taxed.

In the Car

The examiner will then get in the car and ask you if you want them to explain what will happen on your test.

I would say yes as it gives you a minute to get used to the examiner.

They will tell you something like this:

“We will be out driving for between 35 to 38 minutes on a variety of different roads. During the course of the test, I will ask you to pull up and stop about 4 or 5 times. On one of those occasions, I will ask you to perform a reversing manoeuvre and I may ask you to carry out an emergency stop. In addition, for about 10 minutes, I will ask you to carry out the ‘independent driving’ part of the test and will either give you multiple instructions from a diagram, or ask you to follow some road signs to a particular destination.

I would like you to follow the road ahead, unless the road signs or markings tell you different and if I want you to turn right or left, I will tell you in good time. “

Then the examiner will ask you to start the engine and begin your test.

Driving on your test

When driving on your test, remember the following:

The examiner is not expecting you to be perfect when you drive, but they are expecting you to be safe. For this reason, you are allowed up to 15 minor faults and still pass your test. You are not however, allowed any serious or dangerous faults.

Drive the way you have been taught.

Do not drive any slower than normal – the examiner will not think you are being safer, they will just think you are driving too slowly.

Do not drive too fast – for obvious reasons.

If you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it – firstly, the examiner may not have spotted the fault; secondly, they may well interpret the error differently; thirdly, they may assess it differently. Just move on and concentrate on what comes next.

You may be asked to follow road signs or the examiner may bring a Sat Nav and ask you to follow the directions it gives for about 10 minutes.

You will be asked a ‘show me’ question which means that you have to demonstrate to the examiner that you can, for example, open the drivers door window whilst driving. You should be able to complete the task safely and without causing the vehicle to change course or speed. The examiner may have to demonstrate the task whilst the vehicle is stationary then ask you to perform it on the move. Failure to be able to perform the ‘show me’ task after that can end up with a negative test result. Please make sure you are familiar with all the auxiliary controls and practice using them on the move.  

If you go the wrong way, it is not a fault, so long as you go the wrong way properly. It is the examiners job to get you back on the test route, so you may have to perform another manoeuvre and this would count towards your test even if you have already done your reversing manoeuvre.

Don’t worry about timing – if you are asked to turn right, for example and it feels like it has taken a long time to find a gap, don’t worry – you should only turn when it is safe. It doesn’t matter if it takes 10 seconds or ten minutes to make the turn – it matters that you are safe.

It is the examiners responsibility to get you around the test route and back to the test centre in the allotted time, not yours.


At the end of the test

At the end of the test, you will return to the test centre car park and will probably be asked to park the car facing forwards in a parking bay. This parking manoeuvre is not a part of the test so you do not have to park perfectly. The examiner just wants you to park the car, apply the handbrake, select neutral and switch the engine off. That is then the end of the test.

The examiner will ask you to wait a moment whilst they finish their paperwork and will then tell you the result of your test.

If you have passed:

You will be given a blue Test Pass Certificate and a copy of your Driving Test Report Form. The examiner will offer to keep your existing provisional licence and send it to DVLA for you so that it can be exchanged for a full licence. Its generally a good idea to let them do this as it saves you the time and postage.

If you have you own car insurance you must remember to tell them that you are a fully qualified driver so that your policy can be updated.   

Your new licence should arrive from DVLA in a couple of weeks – there is information of who to call on the back of the test pass certificate if it doesn’t arrive.

You are licenced to drive immediately after passing your test and the Test Pass Certificate is effectively your licence whilst you are waiting for the full licence to arrive, so keep it at home somewhere safe, at least until your new licence arrives. If there is a problem with your new licence, you will need the Test Pass Certificate.

For a two year period after passing your test, you are ‘on probation’.  This means that if you accumulate 6 penalty points or more, you will lose your licence and you will have to retake both your theory and practical test before you can drive again. You would normally receive 3 points for breaking the speed limit or jumping a red traffic light, for example.

After two years, your licence will only be at risk if you accumulate 12 penalty points or more.

If you haven’t passed

If you fail your test, it is important to have your instructor in the vehicle for the feedback. The chances are you won’t really be concentrating on what the examiner is saying after you have been told you weren’t successful, so if your instructor is present, then at least you’ll have two pairs of ears listening to the feedback. The feedback is important because it gives valuable information about what you need to do to improve your driving standard in preparation for your next test.