About the practical driving test

What happens during the driving test

There are five parts to the driving test:

  • An eyesight check.
  • Show me, tell me vehicle safety questions.
  • General driving ability.
  • Reversing your vehicle.
  • Independent driving.

The test is the same for both manual and automatic cars.

How long does the test last?

The driving test lasts for around 40 minutes. You will drive in various road and traffic conditions similar to what you have done in your driving lessons, but not on the motorway. You will 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 may be asked to carry out an emergency stop, not everyone is asked to do this on their test.

Independent driving

You will have to drive for about 20 minutes following either:

  • Directions from a sat nav.
  • Road traffic signs.

The examiner will tell you which you will be following. They will also come with their own sat nav, you will not be able to use mine. If you cannot see a traffic sign, sometimes they are covered by trees, the examiner will give you directions until you can see the next one. If you do find that you have gone off route, the examiner will not give you a fault for taking a wrong turning. They will help you get back on route.

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 three 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 is not potentially dangerous, but if you keep making the same fault, it could become a serious fault.

Pass mark

You will pass your driving test if you have:

  • 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, if yes you will give the examiner your provisional licence if you want them to do this.

Apply for your full driving licence within 2 years of passing your test if you do not want to get your licence automatically.

When you can start driving

Once you have passed your practical driving test you can start driving straight away providing you have contacted your insurance company and told them that you have passed and checked that you are insured to drive the vehicle you are driving. You do not need to wait for your full licence to arrive.

Contact DVLA if your full licence has not arrived three weeks after you applied for it.

If you do not pass

The examiner will tell you what faults you made. You will have to book another test and pay again. You have to choose a date at least 10 working days away from the date of your last test.

Appeal your driving test

You can appeal if you think your examiner did not follow the regulations when they carried out your test. Your test result cannot be changed, but you might get a free retest if your appeal is successful. To appeal in Scotland contact your local sheriff’s court in Dumbarton within 21 days.

Other people at your test

Your driving examiner’s supervisor might sit in on your test to watch your examiner’s performance. If you refuse, your test can be cancelled and you will have to book another test and pay again.