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UK Driving Test - What to expect on the day

Updated on June 9, 2012

Driving Test Myth

There is a lot of myth surrounding the UK driving test, and a lot of peope preparing for the driving test seem to think that there are secrets to passing the test, or that when in the car with the DSA examiner during the driving test you will be required to do something you haven't done before. I'm going to use this article to go through exactly what happens in the car during the 40 minutes of the UK DSA driving test.

You need to arrive at the test centre about 10 minutes before your appointment time, this will allow you the chance of concentrating on the task of reversing into a parking bay if the centre has them, getting yourself relaxed either in your car or in the waiting room and clear you mind for the task ahead. Don't be surprised if you are nervous, this is natural, but don't allow your nerves to get the better part of you.

The 40 minute driving test

At the appointed driving test time, the examiners will come into the waiting room, call your name, and check your driving licence or identification documents to make sure they are in order and confirm they have the right candidate. You will be expected to sign an insurance declaration to say the vehicle you are presenting for the driving test is fully insured and that you are eligible to take the driving test in the country. Once this is complete, the examiner will ask you to lead the way to your car in the test centre park or road. Before you get to the car, the driving test examiner will stop you and ask you to read a number plate of a car at the required distance of 20.5 meters for the old-style number plates, or 20 metres for the new-style number plates.

If you fail this simple eye test, then you will not be allowed to get into the car for the practical bit of the driving test, if necesarry the exact distance will be measured with a tape.

If you read the plates sucessfully, you will then go on to your car where the examiner will then ask you the two basic car maintenance questions. You may or may not be required to open the car bonnet in response to the questions.

While you get into the vehicle, the examiner will check the driving school car and take down some details of the car being used for the driving test, if you are using your private car on the driving test, make sure it meets all the requirements, as I have seen tests being terminated because cars being presented for the test were faulty in one way or the other, usually tyres or lights.

DSA advice for car test in the UK.
DSA advice for car test in the UK. | Source

The driving element of the Test

The driving examiner will get into the car, give you a brief description of what is going to happen during the practical part of the driving test, if you have any questions, this is a good time to ask, or let him/her know if you get your right andlefts mixed up.

The actual driving will last between 30-35 minutes, on a route that was pre-chosen before the driving examiner met you, will cover a wide variety of roads, driving conditions to demonstrate that you can handle a car safely and carry out all the pre-set exercises. Out of the four pre-set exercises(turn in the road, reverse parking, bay parking, reverse round a corner), you can be asked to carry out 2 or 3, and might include the emergency stop.

If you have prepared properly for the driving test, while you might start off very nervously, you should start to do what you have done so many times before with your instructor or supervising driver, and concentrate on the tasks at hand. Don't be one of the many pupils that have failed because they have not had enough practise, and are just hoping to pass.

Driving Test Routes

While preparing for the driving test, you might go over the test centre routes until you have memorised them, thinking that this will ensure you pass first time, but the truth is there are a lot of things that you can fail on during the 30 minutes or so that you are driving with the test examiner. The DSA want to see a safe drive, and not just being able to get from A to B so just knowing a route doesn't mean you will have the required skills to deal with every single thing that might happen on the road. What happens if an accident occurs, and diversions are in place, will you be able to cope with the additional traffic and narrow roads? I like to vary the routes my test standard candidates use by going on un-familiar roads checking to see how they use their anticipation and planning skills, know their road signs, and are able to meet traffic, etc.

To summarise, the driving test examiner is in the car to make sure you have reached the required standard to be allowed to drive on our roads unsupervised, are safe, not a danger to other road users. You will not be tricked, or failed for no reason, the examiners want you to pass, but they will not give it to you on a platter, you have to earn that driving test pass.

Roundabouts on UK driving test


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