The Practical test explained

Your driving test will start with an eyesight
check and some vehicle safety questions.
You will then drive away from the test centre to
demonstrate your driving skills, which will
include some of the manoeuvres you have

The driving part of your test will last about 40 minutes.
Throughout the test your examiner will be looking for
an overall safe standard of driving, including when
you are carrying out the set exercises. You can make
up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test
(16 or more results in failure).
However, if you commit one serious or dangerous
fault you will fail the test.

The practical driving test is straightforward and has been designed to see if you:

  •  can drive safely
  •  know The Highway Code
  • can demonstrate this through your driving

What will the test include?
Driving eyesight requirements
Vehicle safety questions
What happens during the test?

What will the test include?

The test will include an eyesight check (if you fail this, your test will not continue). For more information about the eyesight check please use the 'Driving eyesight requirements' link below.

You will then be asked two vehicle safety check questions, be examined on your general driving and some manouvres.
The reversing exercises will be chosen from:

  • reversing around a corner
  • turning in the road
  • bay parking
  • parallel parking
  • emergency stop

Driving eyesight requirements

Before you start to learn to drive, make sure you are aware of the eyesight requirements.
If you need glasses or contact lenses to meet the requirements you must make sure you wear them every time you drive.

Letting DVLA know about eyesight conditions
When applying for your driving licence from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) you should let them know if you have:

  • any visual condition which affects both eyes (not including short or long sight or colour blindness)
  • any visual condition which affects your sight, (not including short or long sight or colour blindness), for example, if you have sight in one eye only
  • If you have had sight correction surgery you should declare this when you apply for your provisional licence.

Medical conditions or disabilities DVLA need to know about and how to tell them
What happens after you have told DVLA about your medical condition

Eyesight requirements for the practical driving test
Before the practical driving test, your driving examiner will ask you to read the number plate on a stationary vehicle.

The distance requirement for the old-style number plate is 20.5 metres. The distance requirement for the eyesight test with the new-style number plate is 20 metres. New-style number plates were introduced on 1 September 2001 and are easily identifiable because they start with two letters ie AB51 ABC.

If your answer is incorrect, your examiner will measure the exact distance and repeat the test. If you can read the number plate correctly you will be allowed to proceed with your driving test.
If you can't speak English or have difficulty reading, you may copy down what you see.

What happens if I can not read the first number plate?
If you are unsuccessful on the first eyesight test, you should be asked to read another number plate, and if necessary be allowed to walk forward until you are just over 20.5 metres away or 20 metres if it is a new number plate.

What happens if I can not read the second number plate?
If you do not read the second plate correctly, the examiner must use a tape measure to measure the exact distance from a third number plate. This will be 20.5 metres if you are asked to read an old-style number plate and 20 metres if you are asked to read a new-style number plate. If you can not read the number plate at this distance, and the examiner is satisfied that you do not meet the required eyesight standard, you will fail the driving test, and the practical test will not continue.
This test failure will be marked on the driving test report form (DL25) with a mark in the Item 1 box. Your interpretation of the number plate along with the correct one will be written on the back of the form along with the measured distance.

What if I need glasses to pass the eyesight test?
If you use glasses to read the number plate for the eyesight test, you must wear them whenever you drive. If you take off your glasses during the practical test, your test will not continue.
If you are unable to pass the eyesight requirement because you have forgotten or broken your glasses, or brought the wrong pair, you will not be allowed to take the practical test. This will result in a test failure.

What happens if I fail the eyesight test?
If you fail your practical driving test on the eyesight requirement, the examiner will send a form (D255) to DVLA notifying them of the eyesight failure. DVLA will then ask DSA to conduct a separate eyesight test for you at a test centre. If you are successful at this separate eyesight test you will still have to pass the standard eyesight test at your next practical driving test.

Vehicle safety questions

These are basic safety checks that a driver should carry out to ensure the vehicle is safe for use. Although some checks may involve the candidate in opening the bonnet to identify where fluid levels would be checked, pupils will not be asked to touch a hot engine or physically check fluid levels.

As vehicle technology advances, more and more vehicles are being equipped with electronic diagnostic systems, which inform the driver of the state of the engine fluid levels and tyre pressures. It will be acceptable for a candidate to refer to the vehicle information system (if fitted) when answering questions on fluid levels or tyre pressures.

You can find source material in the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) publication 'Driving the essential skills' and ' The official DSA driving test'. Advice and information on how to carry out vehicle safety checks can also be found in the manufacturer's handbook.

Candidates will be asked two questions, one ‘show me’ and one ‘tell me’. One or both questions answered incorrectly will result in one driving fault being recorded.

What happens during the test?

During the driving test the examiner will give you directions which you should follow. Test routes are designed to be as uniform as possible and will include a range of typical road and traffic conditions. During the test, the examiner will ask you to carry out set exercises.

Throughout the test you should drive in the way your instructor has taught you. If you make a mistake, don’t worry about it, it might be a less serious driving fault and may not affect your result. The examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving.

You can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test (16 or more results in failure). However, if you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test. If at any time your examiner considers you to be a danger to other road users your test will be stopped.

You are allowed to take someone with you on the test, this person must be over 16 years old and cannot take any part in the test.

After the practical test

When the driving test is over, the examiner will tell you whether you passed or failed. You can request feedback on your test from the examiner, who will then go through your performance during the test.

If you pass...
If you pass and have a photocard driving licence issued after 1 March, 2004 the examiner will ask you if you want your full driving licence issued to you automatically.

If you want to use this service, the examiner will take your old licence off you, scan the details and send them electronically to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). You will then be given a pass certificate to prove you passed your test. The pass certificate should be carried by you at all times when you are driving until you receive your new licence. DVLA will send you your new full licence by post within three weeks of you passing your practical test.

If you pass your test but do not want to use this automatic service, or have a licence issued before 1 March 2004, you will be given a pass certificate by the examiner. On the back of the pass certificate it tells you what you need to do next. This involves sending your licence and appropriate fee to DVLA who will then check your application and issue you with a new full licence.

If you fail...
If you fail the test you should ask the examiner for some feedback to help prepare yourself for your next test. Your driving report form will also show you where you made any mistakes. You can take another practical test 10 working days after your car or motorcycle test.

Pass Plus

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) recommends that new car drivers who have just passed their practical test
consider taking Pass Plus .
Pass Plus is a course of six extra modules taken with a driving instructor after passing your test.

For further information on Pass Plus courses, please phone or email.