Here you can find all sorts of helpful information about passing your test; what you need to start your driving lessons, what will happen during your theory and practical tests, and detail common faults + how you can avoid them.
This guide tells you everything you need to know to start the learning process.
Three months before your 17th birthday you can apply for your provisional license – or as soon as you’re 16, if you’re disabled and receiving mobility allowance.
It’s okay to start practising on private land before receiving your provisional (at any age), as long as the site is gated and far away from public highways, but remember; supermarket car parks etc. are classed as public roads, so don’t use these, and ensure you have the landowner’s permission.
Before you start learning, make sure you can read a number plate in good daylight from 20.5 metres away – that’s about five car lengths. For the new-style number plates (that were introduced on September 2001), the distance is 20 metres. If you wear glasses or contacts, that’s fine. Just make sure you always wear them when driving.
When you’re learning, you’ll need to put ‘L’ plates (or ‘D’ plates in Wales) on the front and back of your car. Your “L” plates must be clearly displayed on the outside of the car (not stuck in the windows) and be clearly visible from both front and rear of the car.
Your ‘L’ plates also have to meet legal specification (detailed below) – so buy them rather than trying to knock some up yourself. Whenever the car is driven by someone who’s passed, the plates need to come off or be covered up.
It is a good idea to start getting some real-road experience as soon as you feel comfortable enough to do so. Please remember that to drive legally on public roads on a provisional license you must be 17 years or over, be displaying L plates as specified above, and be accompanied by a full licence holder, who has held their full driving licence for at least 3 years, and is at least 21 years old.
Before you can apply for your practical test you need to pass the theory test, which is made up of two parts: multiple-choice questions and a hazard perception section. We provide FREE and comprehensive online training to all our pupils, which can be found to the right.
Booking and Costs
The theory test currently costs £31 – this covers both parts of the test.
Booking your test
You need a valid provisional driving licence to take your theory test. Once you’ve got that, you can book your theory and hazard perception tests online, or by phone on 0300 200 1122.
The first part of your theory test is a multiple-choice section designed to test your understanding of the rules of the road, including signs, road markings and appropriate reactions to situations. You’ll have 57 minutes to answer 50 questions, and need to correctly answer 43 or more to pass.
Questions are chosen at random from a bank of over 1,000 possibilities, and you will be given some questions in the form of a case study. During the test you’ll have the option to skip questions and return to them later.
For this you’ll watch a series of 14 one-minute video clips, each showing potential hazards involving road conditions, pedestrians or road users. You respond to each hazard by clicking the mouse button. There are 15 hazards to identify and you can score up to 5 points on each one, depending on how quickly you identify them. You need to score 44 out of 75 to pass.
The Driving Standards Agency recommends that most learners take at least 45 hours of professional tuition lessons and at least 20 hours with friends and family.
The average number of lessons for Road Runner pupils is currently 35 hours. As all learners are different, some will pass more quickly than others.
A weekday practical test costs £62.
Evening, weekend and bank holiday tests cost £75.
Don’t forget to budget for a final lesson if you want one, and the cost of booking the instructor and car for the duration of the test, unless you opted for our First 6 Hrs deal, in which case this is already included.
In your practical test you’ll have about 40 minutes to demonstrate everything you’ve learned in your driving lessons. Before you start the practical test the examiner will ask you to read the number plate of a parked vehicle to check your eyesight, so remember to wear glasses or contact lenses if you need them.
You’ll then be asked two vehicle safety check questions known as the ‘show me, tell me’ section. You’ll get one fault if you give the wrong answer to one or both questions.
The practical driving test is designed to show that you can drive competently and safely in a variety of situations. You’ll be asked to do one of the four reversing manoeuvres you’ve practised with your instructor, and possibly make an emergency stop.
In a 10 minute independent driving section you’ll be expected to show that you can make safe decisions without prompting. Don’t worry if you get lost, it’s not a test of your navigation skills!
To pass your practical test you need to complete the test with no serious or dangerous faults and with 15 or fewer minor errors.
Once You’ve Passed
After you’ve passed your test you’re ready to drive alone, but as a new driver you’ll benefit from more experience. Make sure you stick within your comfort zone to start with, pushing your boundaries as you adjust to having fully independent control.
Alternatively, the Pass Plus will give you more confidence in areas that may not have been covered during lessons. It consists of six modules, including motorway driving, driving in town and at night. And remember that completing the Pass Plus course successfully means you’ll be able to claim a discount on your car insurance.
To pass your driving test you need to drive without making any serious or dangerous faults and no more than 15 minor faults during a drive of about 40 minutes, which will include a section of ‘independent driving’, one manoeuvre and possibly a controlled stop. In the independent driving section of your test, you will drive for about 10 minutes without step-by-step direction from your examiner. For the rest of your test the examiner will give candidates step-by-step instructions.
During the independent driving section of the test, the examiner will ask you to drive by either following 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.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
- Make sure you get plenty of practice over the test area with your driving instructor and if you have access to a car between lessons, then download the test routes from the DSA website and practice in your spare time.
- Practice manoeuvres until you can carry them out without any minor faults. That will leave you with a margin of 15 faults for the rest of the drive on the day of your test.
- Practice, practice, and practice until you can drive without verbal or physical intervention from your instructor for the duration of a full driving lesson. Don’t forget: it’s not practice that makes perfect: its practice – with a professional driving instructor – that makes perfect.
- Warm up: Arrange with you instructor to have an hour’s driving lesson around the area of the test centre on the day of your test. This will help you to warm up and get into the swing of things. You will also be aware of any new roadwork’s, obstructions etc and will feel more able to deal with them more easily. Forewarned is forearmed.
- Nerves: If you start feeling shaky bag of nerves, breathe in, hold your breath, count up to 20 and breathe out. Repeat this exercise until you gain control of your nerves. Once the test starts, you’ll settle into your driving and your attention will be on the road rather than on your own feelings, and your nervousness should disappear.
- Think confident: Talk yourself through the test. Talk about hazards coming up and how you are going to deal with them. This really focuses your mind on how you should be driving in order to pass the test.
- Don’t be afraid to ask: Don’t be afraid to ask the examiner to repeat any of the instructions that they have given.
- Think positive: Before you start a manoeuvre, be confident that you can complete it safely and under full control at all times, making all relevant observations
- Making a mistake: Don’t worry about repairing a manoeuvre, just pull forwards and do it again correctly. As long as you haven’t done anything wrong, such as touching the kerb or failing to make effective observations, you can still pass.
- Stalling: if, unfortunately, you stall, deal with it and move on. As long as you don’t stall in a dangerous situation, such as on a roundabout and as long as you handle it properly, this needn’t count as a major fault and you can still pass your test.
- Have I already failed? If you feel you’ve made a mistake, don’t instantly assume you’ve failed – it may only have been a minor fault. Put it behind you and carry on driving as well as you can.
- Keep your eyes on the road: Resist the temptation to look at the examiner and what he or she is writing. Keep your attention on your driving and the road ahead!
Staying calm during your driving test isn’t easy!
Even the most confident driver can get nervous during a driving test and stress and anxiety can easily have an adverse effect on the result.
So how can you keep calm during your driving test?
Here are some tips for reducing driving test nerves;
- Try and work out EXACTLY what you’re worrying about. Are you worried about what others might say if you fail? Do you lack confidence in your driving ability? Do you simply not like to fail at anything? Once you know why you’re worrying, anxiety is easier to deal with.
- If you’re worrying about what other people might say or think, then don’t tell them when your test is! That way, if you pass you’ve got a nice surprise for them and if you fail, they need never know…
- If you’ve been taught to drive by a professional driving instructor and they have told you that you are ready to take your driving test, then you have no need to doubt your own driving ability. Driving instructors know the standard required to pass the practical test and if your instructor thinks you can drive to that standard you can trust their judgement! If you have doubts, talk things through with your instructor.
- Take your driving test when there’s no additional stress in your life. Exams, coursework deadlines, problems at work; relationship difficulties etc are stressful enough by themselves. A driving test looming on the horizon will just make things worse.
- It sounds obvious, but before you go to your test appointment, make sure you have all the documents the examiner will need to see and you’ve had something to eat, you’ve been to the toilet and that you’re wearing comfortable clothes and sensible shoes!
- Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking. If you go into your test in a negative frame of mind, it’s likely to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- During the test itself, try and keep focused only on what the examiner is asking you to do. Forget everything else, just concentrate.
- If you think you’ve made a mistake, don’t dwell on it – it may not be as serious as you think, so put it behind you and focus only on what else you’re asked to do!
- If you fail your driving test it’s certainly disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world! Try again, believe in yourself and you’ll achieve your goal!
Know your enemy! These are the most common major faults learners trip up on during their driving tests, so make sure you’re confident about all of these;
- observation at junctions
– ineffective observations and judgement
- Reverse parking
– ineffective observation and/or a lack of accuracy
- Use of mirrors
– not checking or not acting on information
- Reversing round a corner
– ineffective observation or lack of accuracy
- Incorrect use of signals
– not cancelling or giving misleading signals
- Moving away safely
– ineffective observations
- Incorrect positioning on the road
– particularly at roundabouts or on bends
- Lack of steering control
– steering too early or too late
- Incorrect position to turn right
– at junctions and/or in one-way streets
- Inappropriate speed
– travelling too slowly or with too much hesitation