The compulsory UK test was introduced on 1 June 1935. Prior to this, testing was voluntary. From April 1990, the test fell under the control of the newly-formed DSA.
The practical driving test is a test of your ability to drive a car without assistance from your instructor or accompanying driver. It covers a range of situations and road conditions and involves demonstrating your ability to manoeuvre the car safely in both forward and reverse gears.
The Practical Driving Test is made up of three parts:
The DSA have stated:
Professional driving tuition is the most effective way to make sure that you are fully prepared to take your practical driving test.
The most important thing to remember is not to "have-a-go" at your driving test before you are ready. If you are not consistently getting things right and driving without prompting from your instructor during your driving lessons, then you aren’t ready to take your practical test. Being in a hurry and taking your driving test before you are fully prepared can have a detrimental effect on your confidence...and your bank account!
In addition to driving lessons, there is a wide selection of driving test preparation books, software and DVDs which can help you work towards your driving test.
You must bring both parts of your provisional driving licence (photocard and paper counterpart). If you do not bring both parts of your licence, your test will not go ahead and you will lose your fee.
At the start of the test, you will be asked to read a number plate from 67ft (20.5m) or 66ft (20m) in the case of it being a new-style plate. For more details please see GOV.UK - Eyesight Requirements For The Practical Driving Test
You will then be asked two general vehicle maintenance check questions. These are very straightforward and your instructor will make certain that you know these well in time for your test. All the possible questions and answers can be found on our Show Me / Tell Me Questions and Answers page
The driving part of the test lasts for around 35-40 minutes and will assess your practical skills. You will need to demonstrate that you can drive safely in different road and traffic conditions, with appropriate consideration for other road users and with a good awareness of the Highway Code. All test routes incorporate a range of typical driving situations and are designed to be as uniform as possible.
The examiner will assess how you make your own decisions when driving by asking you to drive independently for around ten minutes by either following traffic signs, a series of directions or a combination of both. If you are asked to follow a series of verbal directions, you will be shown a diagram to help you.
At some point during the test the examiner will ask you to carry out one of the three following manoeuvres:
One in three driving test candidates will also be required to perform an emergency stop.
You are allowed to commit up to 15 driving (minor) faults during the test, but no serious or dangerous faults. Repeated instances of the same driving fault would be classed as an habitual problem and be declared a serious fault. If you commit even one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test.
If you have passed, you will be given a driving test pass certificate and a copy of the DL25 driving test report form. The examiner will take your provisional driving licence and a full driving licence will be sent to you by post. You will be entitled to drive while you wait for your full driving licence to arrive but you will need to show your driving test pass certificate as proof in the absence of your driving licence if required.
Less than half of the people who take driving tests pass and if you have not met the required standard, the examiner will give you a brief verbal explanation of where you went wrong and a copy of the DL25. This will help you and your instructor, to work on the aspects of your driving that let you down to give you a greater chance of passing the next time.
Practical Tests are conducted by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) at over 370 driving test centres throughout the country. Clearway Driver Training instructors regularly use the following centres:
Your driving instructor will discuss with you the most suitable test centre for your test.
A normal weekday driving test costs £62 (as at 2013). Evening and weekend tests are sometimes available and cost £75.
The easiest way to book your practical test is online via the GOV.UK website.
Booking your practical test on any website other than GOV.UK is likely to incur a significant test booking fee.
It is very easy to book your test online at GOV.UK and you will ONLY pay the test fees as quoted above with no extra charges.
There are a number of official looking websites that will charge a booking fee of around £15 to £20 to book your test for you. Some of these will promise things such as "free retest" but this is really not the case. In order to qualify for the "free" retest, you have a VERY narrow window of failure. Most people that fail their driving test do not fail due to gaining 16 or more driving faults. Normally, they will have acquired a serious or dangerous fault. Sometimes, the repeated instances of the same minor fault will result in this being recorded as a serious fault due to it being an habitual problem. On one of these sites, the criteria for getting a "free" retest is that the candidate must not have received a serious or dangerous fault - whilst this is possible, it is VERY rare indeed.
If you are being charged more than the amounts shown above, you are not on the GOV.UK website - DON'T GET RIPPED OFF!
When you pass your first UK driving test, you will be subject to the New Drivers Act for the next two years. Should you get six or more penalty points on your driving licence in that time, you will lose your licence.
For more information about the practical test, please see GOV.UK - practical driving test.