Pass Your Driving Test

Pass Your Driving Test

In this guide, we will show you some tips and techniques to help you pass your driving test first time!  A first time pass is possible for everyone, however, following these guidelines may not guarantee you that pass.


Be consistent with your driving lessons

Wherever possible, take regular weekly driving lessons.  Generally, booking your driving lessons in the same time slot every week leads to even more consistency for both you and your driving instructor.

Try to commit to two-hour driving lessons.  You can learn three times as much in a two-hour driving lesson compared to one hour.  Here’s how it works;

depending on where you live, you may spend up to fifteen minutes driving to a location to focus on your goal for that driving lesson, plus fifteen minutes to drive home again

that means in a one-hour driving lesson, you may only have thirty minutes of concentrated tuition on a particular topic

however, in a two-hour lesson, you will have an hour and thirty minutes of concentrated tuition on a particular topic

Taking two-hour driving lessons will greatly reduce the time it takes to pass your driving test.


Be prepared for your driving lessons

pass your driving test - woman hungover on sofa

It’s your driving lesson – make the most of it!

Being in the right frame of mind will give you the best value for your money. Spending a few minutes thinking about your last driving lesson just prior your driving instructor arriving will help to give you the right frame of mind and make sure that you are focused on the lesson ahead.

Staying up half the night before or overindulging is probably not going to give you your best learning experience!!  Also, actually being conscious is definitely a major plus!!


Recap of your previous driving lesson

Ideally, your driving lesson should start with a recap of your previous lesson.  Better trained driving instructors will be utilising client-centred learning and will have an interactive discussion with you to recap on your previous driving lesson, your frame of mind and discuss what topics you would like to cover on today’s lesson.

Your driving instructor should be asking you relevant questions to confirm your understanding of the previous topic and to test your knowledge for today’s subject.  Don’t feel nervous about this, your driving instructor will use this information to help you and make the driving lesson more fluent.  Your practical driving will be far less effective if you do not have a good understanding of the theory and mistakes can be made through lack of knowledge.


The lesson goal

pass your driving test - goals with scrabble letters

This is probably one of the more important aspects of your driving lesson.  Having a clear understanding of your goal for that lesson will greatly improve your enjoyment of that lesson, but also, it will reduce the amount of time it takes to pass your driving test.  Your driving instructor should have an interactive discussion with you to establish your goal for that driving lessons.  Just driving aimlessly around is a waste of your time and hard earned money and will greatly increase the time it takes to pass your driving test.


The lesson structure

Your driving lessons should follow a structured path from very easy at the beginning and then increase in complexity as you progress. Your driving instructor should be encouraging you to develop by asking you relevant questions to check your understanding. This is a very important procedure as responsibility is gradually transferred to you.

Generally speaking driving lessons will have;

a talk through stage to ensure you are completing the objectives correctly with your driving instructor talking you through each element required

the next stage will be prompted questions where your driving instructor will ask you in advance what are you going to do BEFORE you do it to so correction can take place if required. This is an important stage as you will now be taking some responsibility for your actions and control

the final stage is normally independent practice, this is where your driving instructor will keep quiet (yeah!!) and let you drive unaided and practice what you have learnt. Your driving instructor will be ready to intervene if required, so dont worry you are not on your own!


Summary of your driving lesson

summary writing


What you discuss at the end of your lesson, will compound the retention of that newly gained knowledge and understanding.

Thing back to the goal that was agreed at the beginning of your driving lesson and discuss what actions were taken and whether progress was made.  This is a great opportunity to evaluate your driving lesson and decide if your goal was achieved.

Goals are not always achieved in full but what is very important at this stage is that you understand why!  Any misunderstanding or further practice can be carried forward to the next driving lesson as failure to do this will lead to frustration and a lack of confidence.


Be consistent with your driving

Be honest with yourself!  Are you still making mistakes during your driving lessons?

Many students fail their driving tests because they are not driving consistently before they go to test. Arriving for your practical driving test knowing that you are lacking in confidence due to inconsistent driving will just add to the anxiety and many will blame nerves “on the day”.  But in reality it’s generally down to lack of consistency in the build up to test day.

Being able to drive during your lessons and make very few minor errors and no serious errors will make a massive difference to your confidence and this will be reflected during your driving test.


Listen to your driving instructor

pass your driving test - driving instructor

Driving Instructors are highly trained and experienced at assessing when you are ready for your driving test.  You are paying for professional advice, so it would be wise to listen to it!

You will know if you are still making mistakes and your driving instructor will be reluctant to take you to test on that basis. Your instructor will have been working with you, and building a rapport over a period of time and the last thing your driving instructor or you want is a test fail.

Your driving instructor will have a massive incentive to get you a first time pass as their reputation depends on a high pass rate and the drive home from a failed test is the worst feeling in the world!

Make sure your driving instructor follows the structure mentioned above, adhere to the guidelines and there is no reason why you cannot pass your driving test first time!

Practical Test Explained

practical test explained

You can book your driving test when you’ve passed your theory test.

To pass the driving test you must be able to:

  • drive safely in different road and traffic conditions
  • show that you know The Highway Code by the way you drive


From 4th December 2017, the practical driving test will be changing.

There will be 5 parts to the driving test:

  • an eyesight check
  • ‘show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions
  • general driving ability
  • reversing your vehicle
  • independent driving

The changes apply to the ‘show me, tell me’ questions, reversing your vehicle and independent driving parts of the test.

The test will be the same for both manual and automatic cars.

How long the test lasts

You’ll drive for around 40 minutes.

Eyesight check

You’ll have to read a number plate from a distance of:

  • 20 metres for vehicles with a new-style number plate
  • 20.5 metres for vehicles with an old-style number plate

New-style number plates start with 2 letters followed by 2 numbers, such as AB51 ABC.

You’ll fail your driving test if you fail the eyesight check. The test will end.

‘Show me, tell me’ questions

You’ll be asked 2 vehicle safety questions known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions. These test that you know how to carry out basic safety tasks.

You’ll be asked the:

  • ‘tell me’ question at the start of your test, before you start driving
  • ‘show me’ question while you’re driving – for example, showing how to wash the windscreen using the car controls and wipers

Your general driving ability

You’ll drive in various road and traffic conditions, but not on motorways.

The examiner will give you directions that you should follow. Driving test routes aren’t published, so you can’t check them before your test.

Pulling over at the side of the road

You’ll be asked to pull over and pull away during your test, including:

  • normal stops at the side of the road
  • pulling out from behind a parked vehicle
  • a hill start

You might also be asked to carry out an emergency stop.

Reversing your vehicle

The examiner will ask you to do one of the following exercises:

  • 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

Independent driving

You’ll have to drive for about 20 minutes by following either:

  • directions from a sat nav
  • traffic signs

The examiner will tell you which you have to do.

Following directions from a sat nav

The examiner will provide the sat nav and set it up for you.

You can’t follow directions from your own sat nav during the test.

Going off the route

Your test result won’t be affected if you take a wrong turning, unless you make a fault while doing it.

The examiner will help you get back on the route if you do.

If you can’t see traffic signs

If you can’t see a traffic sign (for example, because it’s covered by trees), the examiner will give you directions until you can see the next one.

If you make mistakes during your test

You can carry on if you make a mistake. It might not affect your test result if it’s not serious.

The examiner will only stop your test if they think your driving is a danger to other road users.


Driving test faults and your result

There are 3 types of faults you can make:

  • a dangerous fault – this involves actual danger to you, the examiner, the public or property
  • a serious fault – something potentially dangerous
  • a driving fault – this isn’t potentially dangerous, but if you keep making the same fault, it could become a serious fault

Pass mark

You’ll pass your driving test if you make:

  • no more than 15 driving faults (sometimes called ‘minors’)
  • no serious or dangerous faults (sometimes called ‘majors’)

If you pass your test

The examiner will:

  • tell you what faults you made, if any
  • give you a pass certificate
  • ask you if you want your full licence to be sent to you automatically – give the examiner your provisional licence if you want to do this

Apply for your full driving licence within 2 years of passing your test if you don’t want to get your licence automatically.

When you can start driving

You can start driving straight away when you’ve passed your test. You don’t need to wait for your full licence to arrive.

Contact DVLA if your full licence hasn’t arrived 3 weeks after you applied for it.

If you don’t pass

The examiner will tell you what faults you made.

You have to book another test and pay again. You have to choose a date at least 10 working days away.


Using your own car for your test

You can take your driving test in your own car rather than your driving instructor’s if it meets certain rules.

Your test will be cancelled and you’ll have to pay again if your car doesn’t meet the rules.

Rules about the car

Your car must:

  • be taxed
  • be insured for a driving test (check with your insurance company)
  • be roadworthy and have a current MOT (if it’s over 3 years old)
  • have no warning lights showing, for example, the airbag warning light
  • have no tyre damage and the legal tread depth on each tyre – you can’t have a space-saver spare tyre fitted
  • be smoke-free – this means you can’t smoke in it just before or during the test
  • be able to reach at least 62mph and have an mph speedometer
  • have 4 wheels and a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500 kg

The MAM is the limit on how much the car can weigh when it’s loaded. It’ll be in the car’s handbook.

Things that must be fitted

The car must have:

  • an extra interior rear-view mirror for the examiner
  • L-plates (‘L’ or ‘D’ plates in Wales) on the front and rear
  • a passenger seatbelt for the examiner and a proper passenger head restraint (not a slip-on type)

Dashcams and other cameras

You can use a camera fitted for insurance purposes, as long as it:

  • faces outside of the car and doesn’t film the inside
  • doesn’t record audio from inside the car

Manual and automatic cars

You can take the test in a:

  • manual car – these have 3 pedals
  • automatic or semi-automatic car – these have 2 pedals

If you take your test in a semi-automatic car you’ll only be able to drive automatic and semi-automatic cars once you’ve passed your test.

Hire cars

You can take your test in a hire car if it’s fitted with dual controls and meets all the other rules.

Vehicle features

You can use a car with:

  • an electronic parking brake
  • hill-start assist

Cars you can’t use

Some cars can’t be used in the test because they don’t give the examiner all-round vision.

You can’t use any of the following:

  • BMW Mini convertible
  • Ford KA convertible
  • Toyota iQ
  • VW Beetle convertible

Theory Test Explained

theory test explained

If you are a learner driver you must take and pass your theory test before you book your practical test. However, if you already have a full driving licence you may not have to take another theory test if you want to start driving a different vehicle.

If you are a GB driving licence holder you must bring your valid signed GB photocard licence showing your provisional entitlement, and a printed summary (dated within a week of your test date) of your driving licence record from link opens in a new window / tab). If your GB photocard licence does not show your provisional entitlement, you must obtain written confirmation from the DVLA of your provisional entitlement.


At the test centre

You are advised to arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled time of your test.

On arrival at the centre you will be asked your name and both parts of your licence will be checked.

You will be asked to store any belongings you have in a locker. You can keep the key with you during the test. All mobile phones must be switched off. You will be given a copy of the test procedures and given a few minutes to read over them.

The invigilator staff will then check you in by signing a registration log and confirming your details. You will be shown into the testing room and allocated an individual booth to sit your test. Check the details on the screen and if they are correct press ‘Start’ on the screen to commence your test.

Should you have any problems in the testing room, raise your hand and a member of staff will come to you.

On completion of the test you are free to quietly leave the testing room. Staff will ask you to sign out and collect any belongings from the locker. You can take a seat in the waiting room to await your results.


Personal belongings

Personal items are not allowed into the testing room and must be placed in a locker. Personal items include, but are not limited to:

  • mobile phones
  • ear pieces/ear phones
  • laptops/hand-held computers/Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and other electronic devices
  • pagers
  • handbags
  • purses
  • wallets
  • hats
  • bags
  • coats
  • books
  • revision notes
  • dictionaries
  • note paper
  • pens
  • watches
  • food and drink

If you are found with any of the above prohibited items in the testing room, your test will be stopped, you will be asked to leave the premises and you will lose your test fee.

Theory test candidate impersonation

Please be aware that having someone impersonate you for the driving or riding theory test is an offence, which carries a fine of up to £2,500.


Taking the test – cars and motorcycle drivers

The theory test for car and motorcycle drivers is made up of two parts taken at the same time – multiple choice and hazard perception. You must pass both parts of the test to get a test certificate.

Delivery of the test

Your responses to the multiple choice and hazard perception parts of the test are recorded through the use of a computer mouse button.

If you pass one part and fail the other, you fail the whole test and will need to take both parts again.

When you take the theory test, you will be asked some specific questions about the particular category of test being taken (motorcycles or cars), as well as questions that apply to all road users.

Part one – multiple choice

Before the test starts you’ll be given instructions on how the test works. You can also choose to go through a practice session of the multiple choice questions to get used to the layout of the test. At the end of the practice session the real test will begin.

A question and several answer options will appear onscreen and you have to select the right answer to the question by touching the screen. Some questions may require more than one answer.

Car drivers and motorcyclists will be asked 50 questions and the pass mark is 43 out of 50. You will have just under an hour to answer the questions. If you have reading problems, you can apply for additional time, and have just less than two hours to answer the questions.

Some of the multiple choice questions will be presented to you in the form of a case study. A case study shows a scenario on which five questions will be based. The subject of the scenario will focus on real life examples and experiences that you might meet when driving.

DVSA publications ‘The Official Theory Test for Motorcyclists’ and ‘The Official Theory Test for Car Drivers’ have been updated to show an example case study.

Part two – hazard perception

After the break you’ll be shown a short tutorial clip about how the hazard perception part works.

The pass mark for the car and motorcycle hazard perception part of the theory test is 44 out of 75.


Theory Test Pro in partnership with FiveDrive

Apply for your Provisional Licence

apply for your provisional licence

Apply for your Provisional Licence

To apply for your provisional licence online for a moped, motorbike or car you must:

  • be at least 15 years and 9 months old
  • be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away
  • provide an identity document unless you have a valid UK biometric passport
  • provide addresses where you’ve lived over the last 3 years
  • pay £34 by MasterCard, Visa, Electron, Maestro or Delta debit or credit card
  • have your National Insurance number if known

Your licence should arrive within one week if you apply online.

 You can also apply by post by completing a D1 application form, which you can get from:

Postal applications take up to 3 weeks.

You must include:

You must send original documents – you can’t use the Post Office document certification service.

Send your completed application and payment to:

  • DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AD – if all your documents are from the UK

When you have your provisional driving licence you can:

Your licence will say when you can start driving different vehicles. Check how old you have to be to drive them.

You can drive a car when you’re 16 if you get, or have applied for, the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

You must do several things before you drive a car or ride a motorcycle. These include getting a driving licence, registering, insuring and taxing your vehicle, and getting an MOT.

Before you drive or ride

You must:

Learner drivers

You must:

  • be supervised by a qualified driver (except if riding a motorcycle)
  • display L plates (L plates or D plates in Wales)

Vehicle requirements

The vehicle must:

You must also have a minimum of third party insurance that covers your use of the vehicle.

Changes to personal or vehicle details

You must tell DVLA if you: