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Practical Test Guide

We’ve provided top tips on everything you need to know about your practical driving test.

You’ve spent hours on driving lessons with your instructor, passed your Theory and Hazard Perception Tests, and have even been driving privately with a family member. With hours of experience under your belt, your instructor finally says you’re ready for the practical driving test!
We understand that this can be both exciting and nerve-wrecking, but if your instructor think’s you are ready to take your driving test, then you should believe it too.
As an experienced driving school, we have some helpful practical driving test tips to get you driving independently as quickly as possible.

Where do you take your driving test?

Your practical driving test will be located at your local driving test centre. Your driving instructor will pick you up from your specified location and let your drive there yourself.
Kinetic recommends that you book in an extra driving lesson one hour prior to your practical test, so your driving instructor can run-through key elements of the test, such as the manoeuvres and a ‘mock test’ so you can get a feel of what you will experience.
If you find yourself worried about how long your driving test will take, then don’t worry as it’s only around 40 minutes long, which will fly by once you set off.

Eyesight test

Being tested for your eyesight is probably something you link to your opticians, but you would be surprised at how road users should wear prescriptions when driving, but don’t!
The eyesight test is simple. You will need to read a number plate from a distance of 20m, and will be given three chances to read the number plate. If you fail all of three of them, the test is over.
If you do wear glasses or contact lenses, you must bring them on the day or you may not pass your driving test before you’ve even got inside the car!

‘Show me, tell me’

The ‘show me, tell me’ is known as the vehicle safety section, which confirms that you have basic knowledge of vehicle safety, and that you can point out any issues and you know how to resolve them.
The vehicle safety ‘show me, tell me’ questions can be asked before you even get into the car, during your practical driving test at any point, or once you are back at the test centre.
Some show me questions could include:

  • Show me how you would check that the direction indicators are working.
    You would then turn on the hazard warning lights and walk around the car to check that all lights are working.
  • Open the bonnet, identify where you would check the engine oil level and tell me how you would check that the engine has sufficient oil.
    Firstly, you must ensure the car is parked on level ground and the oil has had time to settle. Open the bonnet and secure with the strut and remove the dipstick and wide. Insert he dipstick fully and observe the oil level between the maximum and minimum markings. Place the dipstick back securely.

Some tell me questions could include:

  • Tell me where you would find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car, and how tyre pressures should be checked.
    Tyre pressures can be found in the vehicle handbook, they can also be printed on the inside of the fuel filler lid or inside one of the front doorframes.
  • Show me where the windscreen washer reservoir is located and tell me how you would check the windscreen washer level.
    You would locate the windscreen washer reservoir and explain how to check the level by locating the level through the plastic of the container. The windscreen washer lid will have a windscreen symbol on it.

If you do not answer correctly to one or both parts of this test, you will receive one fault on your test.

What to expect on your practical driving test

The practical driving test has two sections to it; the first section will focus on various manoeuvres which the examiner will instruct you to do, and the second is the independent driving test, where the examiner will ask you to follow a set of directions or follow road signs to a location.

The manoeuvres

Switching from 30mph to 20mph, bay parking, reversing round a corner, turning right over the oncoming traffic lane, emergency stops; All of these will fall under the first section of your practical driving test.
Make sure you follow your instructor’s guidance from your lessons and only go at your own pace.

Independent Driving Test

In this part of the UK driving test, the examiner will provide you with a sat nav or a route following street signs, and you will drive independently for approximately 20 minutes by following these instructions.
The aim of this section is to simply drive safely and follow the correct procedures. This includes checking the right mirrors before pulling away or changing lanes, driving with your hands at the right position, or using the indicators at the right time.
Any of these can be conducted on new roads you maybe haven’t driven before, so just remember what your instructor has taught you the best that you can.

Pass or fail?

During both parts of the full practical driving test, the examiner will be giving points for any minor errors you make. You are allowed up to 15 errors, but once you reach a 16th error, it is an automatic failure. If you make one major error, this will automatically fail you.
Unfortunately, if you have failed during the test but it is not serious, you will be expected to carry on with the test regardless. However, if the examiner thinks you are too dangerous for the road and are likely to be a risk to other road users, the test will be abandoned.

Practical Driving Test Tips:

  1. Don’t rush your learning
    Everyone learns at a different pace, so just because one of your friends is driving already, it doesn’t mean you should rush into your test if you aren’t ready.
    The DVSA has stated that the average amount of time needed to pass your practical driving test first time is 47 hours of instructor training, alongside 20 hours of private driving practice. These hours may seem a lot, and you might think that you won’t need to have that amount of training, but if you take your test when you’re not ready, you could end up spending more money on further driving tests and lessons if you do fail.
  2. Know the basic Highway Code
    The Highway Code holds everything you need to know about the rules of the road, whether you drive a car, motorbike, lorry, horse rider or a pedestrian. You will be shown any driving scenario with the full legal requirements which will help avoid any serious driving faults from yourself.
  3. Know the area around your driving centre
    Our Kinetic Driving Instructors will use the final lessons to help you familiarise yourself with the roads that surrounds your designated Driving Centre as they will mostly likely feature in the test.
    Many learners may choose a driving test centre which is further afield than their local. This can be due to higher driving test bookings or a low number of available examiners from the local driving test centre, resulting in longer driving test waiting times.
    If you’re not with Kinetic Driving School, you can request taking a few lessons closer to your test centre from your driving instructor in the lead up to your practical driving test.
  4. Common driving errors!
    It’s recognised that many students are going to complete pass their test with no faults whatsoever, but if you do reach over the maximum 15 driving faults, or make one major point, then you will fail your driving test (and we don’t want that)!
    The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has outlined the most common errors made by learners during their driving tests, and we’ve put together the most common faults:
    • Observation
      Failing to check all mirrors, or to look around fully at junctions or roundabouts.
    • Awareness
      Failing to drive against the right speed limit, you are hesitant at junctions when it is safe to drive, failing to react to items in the mirrors, or not driving correctly in the weather conditions.
    • Signalling
      Failing to use your direction indicators at the correct time.
    • Control
      Failing to show accurate steering on the roads or with hand positioning, not having control of your clutch and result in excessive stalling of the car, or coming out of gear or on a turn and ‘coasting’ (travelling with the clutch held down or with the car in neutral).
  5. Be prepared!
    No one performs their best when they are tired and fatigued, so don’t underestimate the power of eating a good breakfast and getting a good amount of sleep the night before.
    We also advise keeping your day completely free so you’re not rushing to your driving test from somewhere else or thinking about an event you have planned after your test.
    When it comes to your actual driving test, you must remember your theory test certificate, your provisional licence photocard and remember to wear your glasses or contact lenses if you’re required to wear them for driving.
  6. Be positive!

Remaining positive throughout your driving test and carrying on even if you have made a slight mistake is the best way to remain confident in yourself and reduce any nervousness you may have.
If your driving instructor believes in your highway code knowledge and that you’re ready to take your driving test, then you should believe in your skills too!