The Practical Test is based at one of the many UK Driving Test Centres in the UK or one of the new Multi Purpose Test Centres. You will be driving on roads on a predetermined route, accompanied by an examiner from the Driving Standards Agency. To pass the test you have to give a safe drive in a variety of different road and traffic conditions, commit less than 15 driving faults, and not commit any serious or dangerous faults.
If you wish your driving instructor can accompany you on the test, but he or she must sit in the back directly behind you, and not interfere with the test at all.
It's best to arrive at the test centre 5-10 minutes before your test. At the alloted time an exmainer will call your name. He will then check you licence details and ask you to sign a residency and insurance declaration. He will then ask you to lead the way to your car.
On the way to the car the examiner will ask you to read a number plate on a vehicle at a distance of approximately 20 metres away to check your eyesite. If you can not read the number plate successfully the test will terminate there and then.
Before you start to drive the examiner will ask you one car question from the Tell Me question - you will be asked a Show Me question during the driving part of the test. If you fail to answer these questions correctly you will be marked with 1 driving fault. Here is the current Show Me Tell Me question bank.
During the drive candidate must drive within the law and within the conditions set by the environmental conditions. You will drive on a range of roads with different layouts and speed limits and you should be able to negotiate any major junction. You will not be asked to use Motorways.
The examiner will ask you to pull over to the side of the road and move away again several times, some of which may be on an uphill incline.
One in every three or four tests will include a controlled stop, also known as an Emergency Stop.
You will also have to perform one out of the following list of Manoeuvres.
- parallel park at the side of the road
- park in a parking bay - either by driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do)
- pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for around 2 car lengths, and rejoin the traffic
The whole test is usually complete within 35-40 minutes.
At the end of the test the examiner will inform you whether you have been successful or not, and then will offer you a debrief on your drive. It's useful if you allow your driving instructor to listen in to the debrief.
For about 20 minutes, half of the test, you will be asked to follow directions from a sat nav. This will be set up by the examiner, one in five driving tests won't use a sat nav you will follow road signs instead.
The examiner may show you a diagram to help you understand where you'll be going. It doesn't matter if you don't remember every direction, or if you go the wrong way.
The purpose is rather to assess your ability to drive safely whilst at the same time having to make your own decisions in order to reach your target destination. This includes for example deciding when it's safe to pull over and ask for directions. Your result will not be affected unless you commit a driving fault, even if you go off the independent driving route.
The cost of taking the test is £62 if taken on a week day and £75 if you wish to take it over the weekend.