Practical Driving Test

The Practical Driving Test makes sure you can drive safely and independently on a variety of roads, following the rules as set out in the Highway Code.

On the day of your test you should aim to arrive at the test centre car park 10 minutes before your test is due to start. You can’t get there too early as you may get in the way of the earlier candidates, but you should be in the location to ensure you arrive on time.
Before the test starts your examiner will check your eyesight by asking you to read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres.

Following that, you’ll be asked to answer a Tell Me question. This is a vehicle safety question where you explain how you’d carry out a safety task.

A Show Me question will be asked while you’re driving.

Show Me Questions

Show Me Questions

You will be asked one of these questions while you’re driving:

  1. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the rear windscreen?
  2. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the front windscreen?
  3. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d switch on your dipped headlights?
  4. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d set the rear demister?
  5. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d operate the horn?
  6. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d demist the front windscreen?
  7. When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d open and close the side window?

Tell Me Questions

Tell Me Questions

You will be asked one of these questions before you start to drive:

(Please Note: check the answers are correct for the car you are using)

1. Tell me how you’d check that the brakes are working before starting a journey.

The brake pedal should not feel spongy or slack.

Brakes should be tested as you set off.

Vehicle should not pull to one side.

2. Tell me where you’d find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how tyre pressures should be checked.

Pressures can be found in the manufacturer’s guide or the inside of the passenger door frame.

To check the pressures, use a reliable pressure gauge.

Check and adjust pressures when tyres are cold.

Don’t forget to check the spare tyre and remember to refit the valve caps.

3. Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.

The head restraint should be adjusted so the rigid part of the head restraint is at least as high as the eye or top of the ears, and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable.

4. Tell me how you’d check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road.

Tyres should have no cuts and bulges

They should have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread depth – this is across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre, and around the entire outer circumference of the tyre.

5. Tell me how you’d check that the headlights and tail lights are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.

Explain you’d turn on the ignition, operate the switch then walk round vehicle

(As this is a ‘tell me’ question, you don’t need to physically check the lights).

6. Tell me how you’d know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system.

A warning light should illuminate if there is a fault with the anti-lock braking system.

7. Tell me how you’d check the direction indicators are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.

Explain you’d operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary), and then walk round vehicle (as this is a ‘tell me’ question, you don’t need to physically check the lights).

8. Tell me how you’d check the brake lights are working on this car.

Explain you’d operate the brake pedal, make use of reflections in windows or doors, or ask someone to help.

9. Tell me how you’d check the power-assisted steering is working before starting a journey.

If the steering becomes heavy, the system may not be working properly. Before starting a journey, 2 simple checks can be made.

  1. Gently pull down on the steering wheel while you start engine You should notice a slight but noticeable movement as the system begins to operate.
  2. Turn the steering wheel just after moving off. This will give an immediate indication that the power assistance is functioning.

10. Tell me how you’d switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you’d use it/them. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.

Turn the car ignition on. Turn on the dipped headlights. Turn on the fog light switch. Check that the warning light is on. Explain that you would use the fog lights when visibility is reduced to 100 metres or less.

11. Tell me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you’d know the main beam is on.

Turn the car ignition on. Turn on the dipped headlights. Turn on the main beam. Check the main beam warning light is on.

12. Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient oil.

Release the bonnet catch in the car and then open the bonnet.

Point out the dipstick. Describe how you would remove the dipstick and wipe it clean. Then put it all the way in and out again. Then check of oil level against the minimum and maximum markers.

13. Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient engine coolant.

Release the bonnet catch in the car and then open the bonnet.

Point out the engine coolant and the level markings on the tank. Explain that the fluid level should be between the minimum and maximum level markings.

14. Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.

Release the bonnet catch in the car and then open the bonnet.

Point out the brake fluid reservoir and the level markings on the tank. Explain that the fluid level should be between the minimum and maximum level markings.

The practical driving test will last for approximately 40 minutes.

During your drive, you’ll be expected to perform one of the following manoeuvres:

  • Parallel Park at the side of the road
  • Park in a Bay, either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will let you know which one they want you to do)
  • Pull up on the right side of the road, reverse back 2 car lengths and re-join the traffic

You may be asked to perform an Emergency Stop exercise.

You will drive independently for about 20 minutes where you’ll be asked to follow directions from a Sat Nav or from road traffic signs.

Pass Mark

You will pass your test if you make no more than 15 driving faults, and no serious or dangerous faults.

If You Pass

Congratulations! You can now get your provisional licence changed to a full licence.

Listen to the feedback your examiner gives you about any faults you may have made, you can take these into account when you’re out driving on your own.

Your examiner will ask you if you would like them to send your licence away for you. Most take this option but it’s entirely up to you.

If You Fail

If you get a serious or dangerous fault, or get more than 15 minor faults you will fail the practical test. Naturally it’s very disappointing, but try to be positive if you can.

Listen carefully to the examiners feedback because it will help you get it right next time.

It’s a good idea to have your instructor with you for the feedback in case you misunderstand or forget something.

Take some extra tuition with your driving instructor to prepare yourself to pass the test on your next attempt.

You won’t be able to take your test for at least 10 days, so make the most of this time; talk to your instructor and get in as much practice as possible.