How to Pass the UK Practical Driving Test (Cars) (Category B)
UK Driving Test - Category B (Cars)
The practical driving test is a test of the ability to drive a car without assistance from an instructor or accompanying driver.
Driving tests last for around 40 minutes and candidates are tested by driving examiners employed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), part of the Department for Transport.
Driving tests are conducted on public roads, with the driving examiner directing the candidate around one of several test routes selected for that particular test centre. The UK driving test covers a range of different types of road and driving conditions and test candidates will be required to pass an eyesight check, answer vehicle safety questions and demonstrate a range of driving skills including independent driving and a reversing manoeuvre.
On passing the Category B practical driving test, candidates are granted a full UK driving licence. If the driving test is passed in an automatic car, the full driving licence will be restricted to allow the licence holder to drive automatic cars only, whereas driving tests passed in manual cars give entitlement to drive cars with both manual and automatic transmission.
Read on for more detailed information about the UK driving test
All photographs used on this page are copyright of the author. Approved Driving Instructor and Pass Plus logos have been used with permission of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.
The advice given on this page is intended only for UK drivers and those taking the UK Practical Driving Test.
Please be aware that road traffic legislation and what is considered good driving practice varies throughout the world!
Did You Know?
Compulsory driving tests were introduced in 1935
Before You Take Your Driving Test
Things you must do before you start planning your driving test
Before you can take a Practical Driving Test, you MUST pass the Theory Test and thoroughly prepare for what you will be required to demonstrate on the driving test.
The following links offer advice and more information (right click links to open in a new tab or window):
- More Information About The UK Theory Test
- Theory and Hazard Perception Test
What Happens During The Driving Test?
What do you have to do in the UK driving test?
The practical driving test lasts for around 40 minutes in total and consists of five parts:
- an eyesight check
- ‘show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions
- general driving ability
- reversing your vehicle
- independent driving
You are allowed to commit up to 15 driving (minor) faults during the test, but no serious or dangerous faults. Repeated instances of the same driving fault would be classed as an habitual problem and be declared a serious fault.
If you commit even ONE serious or dangerous fault you will fail the driving test.
Did You Know?
In 2012/13, the DVSA conducted 1,436,481 car tests
(source: Department for Transport)
How To Prepare For Your Practical Driving Test
Get ready to take your driving test
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have stated:
"On average, people who pass their driving test have had 47 hours of driving lessons with a driving instructor and 20 hours of private practice."
Professional driving tuition is the most effective way to make sure that you are fully prepared to take your Practical Driving Test.
If you are having private practice with a friend or family member, get together with your instructor and the person who will be helping you to practice in order to discuss the best ways of helping you to learn to drive and avoid the passing on of bad habits or conflicting ideas.
In addition there are a wide selection of driving test books, software and DVDs which can help reinforce the skills you learn during your driving lessons.
How Much Does It Cost To Take A Driving Test?
Practical driving test fees 2018
£62.00 (daytime Monday to Friday)
£75.00 (weekday evenings and weekends)
Extended driving tests (following disqualification):
£124.00 (daytime Monday to Friday)
£150.00 (weekday evenings and weekends)
Where Can I Take My Practical Driving Test?
Driving test centre locations
Driving tests are conducted by the DVSA at over 370 test centres throughout the country.
You can choose to take your test at whichever test centre you like!
Waiting Times For Driving Test Appointments
How long will it take to get a driving test appointment?
Waiting times for driving test appointments vary throughout the country.
You can see locations of all the test centres in the UK and the estimated waiting list for each test centre at the following link:
WARNING - Booking Your Driving Test Online!
If you book your driving test online, this can be done easily via the GOV.UK website - you pay ONLY for the test & there's no extra booking fee
There are some "test booking services" on the internet who will book a test for you BUT they charge you a hefty booking fee on top of the test fee
THERE'S NO NEED TO PAY ANY EXTRA FEES
Click the link below to book your driving test via the GOV.UK website
How To Book A Practical Driving Test
Book your practical test online direct with the DVSA booking service
You can book your driving test online.
You will need:
- A valid UK driving licence
- Your Theory Test pass number (from the test result print out you were given when you passed your Theory Test)
- A debit or credit card for payment
Did You Know?
In 2012/2013 the national average pass rate for the Practical Test was 47.1%
(source: Department for Transport)
Driving Test Proceedure - What happens on the day of your driving test at the test centre and during the actual driving test itself?
Make sure you are at the test centre in good time for your test - however, as most test centres are very busy and parking is extremely limited and reserved for test candidates only, do not park in the test centre car park until 5 minutes before the scheduled time of your test so as not to disrupt other test candidates.
Before you go to the test centre, you need to make sure that you have the following;
- 1) A suitable vehicle in which to take the test. It is the responsibility of the test candidate to provide a suitable vehicle. The driving examiner will NOT provide a vehicle for you to take the test in. The vehicle used must be appropriately insured and licensed and must be displaying L- Plates. If you have been having driving lessons with a professional driving instructor, then you will almost certainly be taking the test in the car in which you have learnt to drive. If you have not had professional driving lessons, then you must make sure that the vehicle you intend to use for your test complies with the requirements set out by the DVSA - Minimum Test Vehicle Requirements. If you don't provide a vehicle or if the vehicle you provide does not meet the minimum requirements, your test will be cancelled and you will lose the test fee
- 2) Your Theory Test pass certificate (if you have one), or the Theory Test pass confirmation print out you were given at the Theory Test centre when you passed
- 3) Your provisional photocard driving licence. This is very important as if you don't show the examiner your driving licence, your test will not take place and you will lose your fee
If you have mislaid your Theory Test pass certificate this should not by itself stop the test going ahead, but if you do not take your photocard driving licence or if you fail to supply a suitable vehicle, your test will not take place and you will lose your fee.
You are allowed to take your driving instructor with you on the test if you wish BUT they cannot take any part in the test - they are not allowed to speak or distract either you or the examiner in any way. They must sit silently and still in the back of the car. You must tell the examiner that you would like your instructor to accompany you before the test commences.
Most people are understandably nervous before their driving test, but trying to keep as calm as possible and retaining a sense of perspective will help with the "ordeal". Driving examiners understand that test candidates are often very nervous and will do their best to put you at your ease. If pre-test nerves are concerning you, it might help to read my page about Driving Test Nerves.
When it is nearly time for your test, go into the test centre waiting room and wait for the driving examiner who will be conducting your test to call your name. The examiner will then ask to see your driving licence and Theory Test certificate and ask you to read and sign a declaration.
The examiner will then ask you to lead the way to your vehicle and the test will begin.
The first part of the driving test is a test of your eyesight to make sure that it meets the minimum requirements for driving
At the start of your driving test, you will be asked to read the number plate of a stationary vehicle from 66 feet (20 metres).
Wearing glasses or contact lenses to pass the eyesight test
If you were only able to read a number plate using glasses or contact lenses, the law requires that you wear them throughout your driving test and whenever you are driving.
If you have broken, forgotten or brought the wrong glasses with you to your driving test, you should tell your examiner at the start of the test.
For more details please see:
Vehicle Safety Questions (Show-Me-Tell-Me)
Test candidates are asked two vehicle safety questions, based on basic safety checks that a driver should carry out to ensure the vehicle is safe for use.
The examiner will ask you one:
- ‘Tell me’ question at the start of your test, before you start driving. You will need to verbally explain how you’d carry out a specified safety task.
- ‘Show me’ question while you’re driving. You will need to physically carry out a specified safety task.
One or both questions answered incorrectly will result in one driving fault (minor fault).
The vehicle safety questions are sometimes referred to as "Show-Me-Tell-Me", as some of the questions require the candidate to actually demonstrate a procedure or indicate where a particular component is, while other questions simply require a verbal explanation. Although some checks may involve the candidate in opening the bonnet to identify where fluid levels would be checked, candidates will not be asked to touch a hot engine or physically check fluid levels.
If you are taking your driving test in your instructor's car, then your instructor will go through all the questions with you and make sure you know where everything is both inside the car and under the bonnet.
If you are taking the practical test in your own car, you will need to familiarise yourself with the layout and operation of your vehicle with reference to the manufacturer's handbook if necessary.
Tell me questions 2018: official DVSA guide
Show me questions 2018: official DVSA guide
General Driving Ability
You will then be asked to get into your vehicle and the driving part of the test will commence.
This is the third and longest part of the driving test where you have to demonstrate your ability to control and drive the car safely and to perform a reversing manoeuvre. In addition, 1 in 3 test candidates will also be asked to do an emergency stop.
You will be driving the car for around 35-40 minutes. The routes used for driving tests are all designed to be as uniform as possible and all of them take in a range of typical road and traffic conditions.
The examiner will assess your driving and test you on most of the topics you will have covered with your instructor.
During the test, the examiner will tell you what they would like you to do and give you directions. If you feel that you may have made a mistake, please don't panic! It's not the end of the world and it doesn't mean you've failed. Keep calm and concentrate on driving correctly and don't dwell on what you've already done - concentrate on what you are doing.
If you are not sure what the examiner wants you to do, don't be afraid to say so. The examiner will understand that you are nervous and will be happy to repeat or clarify any instructions given.
You will be asked to pull over several times - don't worry, this doesn't mean you have done anything wrong - the examiner is just testing your ability to stop in a convenient place and move away again safely under a variety of conditions including normal stops at the side of the road, pulling out from behind a parked vehicle and a hill start. They will also ask you to stop in a safe place, before asking you to perform an exercise which will involve reversing the car, an emergency stop or before the independent driving part.
Reversing your vehicle
You will also be asked to carry out one out of a possible three exercises which will involve reversing the car:
- Parallel Parking at the side of the road,
- Parking 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),
- Pulling up on the right-hand side of the road then reversing for around 2 car lengths before rejoining the traffic.
In addition, 1 in 3 test candidates will be asked to demonstrate an emergency stop.
The independent driving section of the driving test will test how you make your own decisions when driving. The examiner will ask you to drive independently for around 20 minutes by either following directions from a sat nav or traffic signs. The examiner will tell which you will have to follow and will supply and set up a sat nav if they wish you to use this - you cannot use your own sat nav.
As the test progresses, the examiner will fill in relevant details on a report sheet (DL25).
The drive will last for around 40 minutes and will end back at the test centre car park.
The examiner will then total up any faults recorded on the DL25 and inform you of the result of your test.
You are allowed to commit up to 15 driving (minor) faults but no serious or dangerous faults. Repeated instances of the same driving fault would be classed as an habitual problem and be declared a serious fault.
If you commit even one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test.
For more information about driving test faults, please see Driving Test Faults section of this page.
For more information about the Practical Driving Test please see - GOV.UK - The Car Practical Driving Test
Driving test explained: official DVSA guide
Did You Know?
"On average, those who pass have had 47 hours of professional instruction and 20 hours of private practice"
source: Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
Are You Nervous About Taking Your Driving Test! - Cool as a cucumber...or biting your fingernails? How do you feel about taking your practical driving test?
If you have a driving test booked, how are you feeling in the run up to your test date?
How Many Faults Are You Allowed On Your Driving Test?
If you commit 15 or fewer driving faults (minor faults) without incurring any serious or dangerous faults you will PASS your test.
If you commit 16 or more driving faults (minor faults) you will FAIL the test.
If you commit one or more serious or dangerous driving faults you will FAIL the test
Driving Test Faults Explained
Driving test faults - driving faults, minor faults, serious faults and dangerous faults explained in more detail
While you are driving, the examiner will note any driving faults on the driving test report form (DL25). Faults are categorised into "driving faults", "serious faults " and "dangerous faults".
Definition of driving test faults
Dangerous Faults are errors in driving technique which result in actual danger to the driver, passengers, other road users or nearby property. A dangerous fault means that the test is automatically failed and the examiner has the option to immediately terminate the test.
Serious Faults are errors in driving technique which result in potential danger to the driver, passengers, other road users or nearby property including instances where the candidate repeatedly makes the same driving error or is unable to perform one of the set manoeuvres correctly. One serious fault will lead to automatic failure, although the candidate will be permitted to complete the test.
Driving Faults (often referred to as "minor" faults) are errors in driving technique or inappropriate reactions to a hazard or developing situation on the road - in other words less serious errors that do not cause any actual or potential danger to other road users. Typical examples include harsh use of the brakes, crossing of hands on the steering wheel and excessive hesitation at a junction. Don't forget that you can pick up a driver fault before you even start the engine, through an incorrect answer in the "Show Me/ Tell Me" section.
Your Driving Test Result
Pass or fail? The moment of truth...
At the end of the test, the examiner will inform you of the result before he or she gets out of the vehicle.
If you would like your driving instructor to be present to hear what the examiner has to say, you must let the examiner know.
If you have passed, you will be given a test pass certificate and a copy of the DL25 (the driving test report form which the examiner has been filling in during the test). The examiner will take your provisional driving licence and a full driving licence will be sent to you by post. You will be entitled to drive quite legally in the meantime while you wait for your full driving licence to arrive (but keep the pass certificate VERY safe in case you are required to prove your entitlement to drive while you wait for your updated licence!)
Less than half of the people who take driving tests pass and, should you be unsuccessful, you will be given a verbal explanation of where you went wrong and a copy of the DL25. This will help you, in conjunction with your instructor, to work on the aspects of your driving that let you down to give you a greater chance of passing the next time.
Top 10 Reasons For Driving Test Failure
Top 10 reasons why people fail the practical driving test
- Observation at junctions - ineffective observation and judgement
- Reverse parking - ineffective observation or a lack of accuracy
- Use of mirrors - not checking or not acting on the information
- Reversing around a corner - ineffective observation or a lack of accuracy
- Incorrect use of signals - not cancelling or giving misleading signals
- Moving away safely - ineffective observation
- Incorrect positioning on the road - at roundabouts or on bends
- Lack of steering control - steering too early or leaving it too late
- Incorrect positioning to turn right - at junctions and in one way streets
- Inappropriate speed - travelling too slowly or being hesitant
Source: Top ten reasons for driving test failure based on twelve months to January 2004. Figures produced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
Driving Test Books, Software & DVDs
The Official DVSA Guide to Driving: The Essential Skills
There is a wide range of driving test software, books and DVDs available from Amazon.co.uk
The book shown on the right is "Driving, The Essential Skills". It is the official guide to driving, published by the DVSA - the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (formerly known as the DSA until 2014). The DVSA is the government department responsible for the Practical driving test, and put simply, if you drive in the way they set out in "Driving, The Essential Skills", you are likely to stand a very good chance of passing your driving test!
This is the book that driving instructors use on a daily basis and recommend to learner drivers - it really is that good! Available from Amazon.co.uk for a very reasonable price (usually cheaper than you can get it from a shop), it's a wise investment for anyone who wants not only to pass their driving test, but to be a good, safe and considerate driver!
Did You Know?
Mr J Beene was the first person to pass the UK driving test, at a cost of 7/6d ( - that's the equivalent of 37p in today's money!)
Extended Driving Test
What is an extended driving test?
If you have been disqualified from driving, the court can order that you take an extended driving test.
The purpose of retesting disqualified drivers is not meant as punishment, but is a road safety measure aimed at checking the driver's competence.
Courts can impose an extended driving test on anyone who is:
- Convicted of dangerous driving offences
- Convicted of other offences involving obligatory disqualification
At the end of the period of disqualification imposed by the court you revert to learner driver status. This means that the normal rules for learner drivers are applicable - i.e:
- you have to reapply for a provisional driving licence
- drive only when supervised by someone who is over 21 and who has (and has had for a minimum of 3 years) a full licence for the category of vehicle you wish to drive
- ensure that the vehicle you drive is properly insured for use by a learner driver and is displaying L-plates on the front and rear
- take the Theory and Practical tests again
If you have been ordered to take an extended driving test, this means that instead of being approx 40 minutes in length, the driving test that you take will last for around 70 minutes, and will cover your ability to drive in much more depth taking in a wider variety of road and traffic conditions including dual carriageways.
Due to the fact that an extended driving test takes longer than a "normal" driving test, you have to pay a higher fee to take one.
The fee for an extended test is:
£124.00 (Weekday price)
£150.00 (Saturday price)
You can find out more information about extended driving tests at:
After You Pass Your Driving Test - Further Skills Training
After you pass your driving test, further training is available to help you stay a safe and considerate driver
- Around 3,000 young drivers are killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads each year.
- It is estimated that as many as one in five of all serious road accidents involve drivers under the age of 21.
- Every day in the UK, 23 young people, under the age of 25, are killed or seriously injured in vehicles. Most of these collisions are caused by bad driving. Not the vehicle, the road, or the conditions.
- 1 in 5 drivers crash within their first year of driving.
- Young drivers are more likely to be involved in high speed crashes, single vehicle crashes involving losing control, crashes in the dark and crashes when overtaking and negotiating bends.
Those statistics make frightening reading, but the following range of further training can help you to become a safer driver:
Become a safer driver and possibly reduce the cost of car insurance by taking the Pass Plus course
Pass Plus is a training scheme specifically aimed at new drivers. Designed by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) with the help of insurers and the driving instruction industry, Pass Plus will build upon your existing skills and knowledge and teach you how to anticipate, plan for and deal with all kinds of hazards, which will help you to become more confident on the roads.
By gaining further driving experience in a variety of road conditions and situations, you can significantly improve your chances of avoiding involvement in a road accident and you may even reduce your insurance premiums.
You can take take Pass Plus within your first year of passing your practical driving test.
For more information please see:
Motorway Driving Lessons
You are not allowed to drive on motorways before you pass your Practical Test, so motorway driving cannot be covered by your driving instructor while you are a learner driver.
Driving on a motorway is very different to driving on other types of road. Motorways have totally different signs and signals, and specific rules and regulations - plus traffic travels at much greater speeds than you will be accustomed to.
It makes sense to ensure that you are prepared for a very different form of driving by taking some motorway lessons after you pass your test - contact a professional driving instructor.
Advanced Driver Training
Advanced Driver Training Courses
Why not think about joining one of the many organisations that encourage improved standards of driving and road safety?
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) was formed in March 1956 with the primary objective of promoting road safety. It now has a total active membership of more than 100,000.
Since then other organisations have been setup such as RoADA - RoSPA Advanced Drivers Association and High Performance Club, all of which conduct a form of "Advanced Driving Test".
Through the Advanced Driving Test, these organisations aim to raise driving standards by increasing the competence of drivers. It was determined in a Transport and Road Safety Laboratory Report published in December 1972 that Advanced motorists have between 50% to 70% lower accident rate.
For detailed information about all of the organisations mentioned above and about advanced driving in general, please see the following very comprehensive and informative websites:
New Drivers Act
Now you've got your licence - don't lose it! Make sure you know and understand the requirements of the New Drivers Act.
The New Drivers Act basically means that a 24 month probationary period is imposed on those who have just passed their driving test. If you get 6 or more penalty points on your licence within two years of passing your driving test the DVLA will revoke (take away) your driving licence.
Penalty points are valid for three years, so any points you already have on your licence before you pass the Practical Test count towards the total of 6.
Anyone with 6 or more valid penalty points on their provisional licence when they pass the test for the first time will be granted a full licence in the normal way, but any points earned after that will trigger automatic revocation. If this happens you will have to;
1) Apply for a provisional licence again,
2) Pass the theory test again,
3) Pass the practical test again
Passing the test again does not remove the penalty points which remain on the new licence until the three year period expires. If the total of valid points reaches twelve, the driver risks disqualification.
If all this seems unfair please consider the following;
Statistics show that new drivers are more likely to have an accident in the first two years of passing their test than at any other time in their driving career.
Age doesn't matter - it's basically down to a lack of driving experience.
Further Information About The New Drivers Act:
© 2008 LouiseKirkpatrick