The Practical Driving Test

Obviously you can’t just book a practical test and hope to pass. This will take months of training. You will also have to apply for a provisional driving licence, and in doing so satisfy various criteria and regulations.

You MUST have possession of your provisional licence before you can drive on the road. This includes taking lessons with a professional driving instruction. A provisional licence that is ‘in the post’ will not give you licence to drive on the roads.

Applying For Your Licence

As a rule you must be at least 17 years old before you can get a provisional car licence. The exceptions to this rule are, if you receive Disability Living Allowance the the higher rate, you only have to be 16 years old.

You apply to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to issue to with a provisional driving licence. The best way to do this is online, however, you can also apply through the post. To pick up the correct form (D1 form) visit your local Post Office.

Your Eyesight


You must have good eyesight in order to drive on the roads. In good daylight, you should be able to read a vehicle number plate from a distance of at least 20.5 metres. Of course if you need to wear glasses then this is fine, as long as you wear them at all times while driving.

When taking your practical driving test the examiner will test your eyesight using the above criteria. If you fail to read the number plate you will automatically fail your driving test.

Booking and Cancelling Your Practical Test

The Driving Test is administered by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA). You should book your test through them. Never use a third party website to book your driving test, as they will charge you an additional fee on top of the fee set by the DSA. There are various ways to book your practical, which ever method you use, you will need to provide the following:

  • your theory test pass certificate number
  • your driver number, shown on your provisional licence
  • your driving school code number (if you have it)
  • payment details

The easiest way to book is online.

To book by telephone call – 0300 200 1122.

If you want to post your test booking application, fill in the correct form which you can get from your driving school or from any driving test centre.

To cancel the test go to the DSA website or call the booking line.

On The Day Of The Test
Arrive at the test centre with plenty of time to spare. You must bring the following documents with you:

  • your provisional driving licence – both parts of your photocard licence.
  • your theory test pass certificate

If you have an old style provisional licence that doesn’t show your picture then you must also bring your passport. Failure to bring the correct documents will result in your test being cancelled, without a refund.

Can Someone Accompany You On The Test
Yes. You are permitted to take your instructor, or anyone else, on the test. It is recommended that you take your driving instructor. If you fail the test, then your instructor will be able to see where you went wrong, your strengths and weakness, and then use this information in the lesson you will need before re-taking the test.

The Show Me, Tell Me Questions
Once you have passed the eyesight test, the examiner will then ask you two questions from the Show Me, Tell Me question bank. These questions are freely available for you to learn prior to taking the test, so should cause you any difficulty. If you do fail to answer either question correctly you will score one minor fault.

The Driving Part of The Test
The actual driving part of the test, will last for around forty minutes. You must demonstrate that you have the required skills, knowledge and attitude to drive safely and unaccompanied. The test route will take you through a variety of road and traffic situations.

The examiner will provide instructions clearly and in good time, but if you are unsure about anything you should always ask them to repeat the instruction.

You will have to perform one of the following special exercises:

  • reverse round a corner
  • turning in the road
  • reverse parallel parking
  • reverse bay parking

One in three practical tests also include an emergency stop.

Independent Driving
This part of the practical test, lasting around ten minutes, aims to test your ability to drive following traffic signs or a series of directions. The examiner will ask you to drive by either following traffic signs to a destination, or following a series of verbal directions, or following a combination of both.

To Pass The Practical Test
You will fail the test if you commit a serious or dangerous driving fault, or if you commit more than 15 driving faults.

Dangerous Fault – causing actual danger.

Serious Fault – a potential dangerous incident or a recurring driving fault that shows a serious weakness in your driving.

Driving Fault – a less serious fault.