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The Driving Tests Explained

  • - Before you drive
    Driving is a valuable life skill that can open up new opportunities in both work and leisure to provide a new level of freedom.
    To start driving for the first time, you must apply for and hold a valid provisional driving licence for Great Britain or Northern Ireland. To do this please contact the DVLA in Swansea, you may apply online, in person or by post. This can be done up to 3 months prior to your 17th birthday or at any time thereafter.

    Apply for a provisional driving licence here
  • - Eyesight test
    It is also important to ensure that you have reasonable eyesight before you drive. Whilst there is no formal test required, it may be useful to see an optometrist if you are in any doubt, although a simple check will be sufficient for most. The legal requirement is that you are able to read a new style number plate from a distance of 20 metres, or an old style number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres.
  • - Training Vehicle
    You must also make sure that any vehicle you drive is roadworthy and properly taxed and insured, as well as displaying 'L' plates in a clear position at the front and rear of the vehicle.
  • - Choosing an instructor
    Choosing an instructor can be difficult, with many available and with endless offers and guarantees you will have plenty of choice. But how do you find the right one for you? You could use an internet directory to find an instructor, however the most popular way of choosing an instructor is referral by a friend or relative, but it might be worthwhile doing some of your own research. Here are some things you may wish to consider before deciding.

    • What kind of licence is held by the instructor?
    • How long, and how much, are lessons?
    • What kind of discounts are available for block bookings?
    • Do you wish to learn in an automatic or manual vehicle?
    • Does the tuition vehicle have dual controls?
    • How old is the tuition vehicle?
    • Where is your instructor willing to collect you from and drop you off?

    If you are able to drive outside your lessons while accompanied by friends or relatives, this can be a good way to increase your road experience before sitting your test. You should make sure that any person who sits with you is at least 21 years of age and has held a full driving licence for at least 3 years. In order to make good use of this additional practise time, ask your driving instructor what you should practise and where. It may also be useful to get anyone who accompanies you to read the Official Guide to Accompanying L-Drivers.
The Tests.
The Theory Test now consists of 2 parts, the first being the multiple choice section,  followed by the second part which is the Hazard Perception. To pass your theory test you must successfully pass both parts.

Theory.
This consists of 50 multiple choice questions, such as traffic signs, driver attitude and awareness, regulations, effects of alcohol drugs and tiredness, safety and environmental aspects of vehicles etc. All of these topics are covered in the Highway Code. At least 43 correct answers are required in order for a candidate to be successful. This section of the test will last for a maximum of 57 minutes. When you have finished the multiple choice section you can take a 3 minute break before the Hazard Perception starts.

Hazard Perception.
You must watch 14 video clips and during these clips you will have to identify when a hazard arises by clicking the mouse.  All of the clips have one hazard, except one clip that has two. You will need to react to the hazard as quickly as possible to score the highest marks - the earlier you click the mouse the higher your score.  The pass mark for this section is 44 out of 75.

If you need to cancel your Theory Test you must give 3 days notice otherwise you will lose your fee.

Download your FREE Highway Code

Mock Theory Test

Mock Hazard Perception Test

To Book Your Theory/Practical Test

Local Driving Test Centres


The Practical Test.
The practical test is designed to test your driving ability and knowledge of the Highway Code. A standard test lasts for about 40 minutes.

You will begin with an eyesight check (if you fail this, your test will not continue). The eyesight test requires you to read a number plate from 20 metres away (or 20.5 metres if it is an old fashioned number plate) If you are unable to do this you will fail the test and be asked to leave. After the eyesight test you will be asked two vehicle safety questions. You will then be examined on your general driving and on one reversing exercise. The reversing exercise will be chosen from:

• Parking on the right side of the road and reversing 2 car lengths 
• Reverse parking (parallel parking)
• Bay Park (forward or in reverse)

You may also be asked to carry out an emergency stop exercise.

Taking Your Driving Test.
During the driving test the examiner will give you directions which you should follow. Test routes are designed to be as uniform as possible and will include a range of typical road and traffic conditions. During the test, the examiner will ask you to carry out set exercises. Throughout the test you should drive in the way your instructor has taught you. If you make a mistake, don't worry about it, it might be a less serious driving fault and may not affect your result. The examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving. You can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test (16 or more results in failure). However, if you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test. You are allowed to take someone with you on the test, this person must be over 16 years old and cannot take any part in the test.


Independent Driving Explained.
In the independent driving section of your test, you will drive for about 15/20 minutes without step-by-step direction from your examiner.
You will either be asked to follow directions from a Sat Nav or follow a series of directions, following traffic signs, or a combination of both.
To help you understand where you’re going, the examiner may show you a diagram. It doesn't matter if you don't remember every direction, or if you go the wrong way - that can happen to the most experienced drivers. Independent driving is not a test of your orientation and navigation skills.
Driving independently means making your own decisions - this includes deciding when it’s safe and appropriate to ask for confirmation about where you’re going.

Click here to watch Independent Driving Video

The independent driving route.
If you ask for a reminder of the directions, the examiner will confirm them to you.
If you go off the independent driving route it won’t affect the result of your test unless you commit a driving fault. If you go off the route or take a wrong turning, the examiner will help you to get back on the route and continue with the independent driving.
If there are poor or obscured traffic signs, the examiner will give you directions until you can see the next traffic sign - you won’t need to have a detailed knowledge of the area.
Independent driving tests how you make your own decisions.


Links:
DSA Driving Test Fees
List of Local Test Centres
Book Your Practical Test