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Changes to the theory test: the facts
From 23 January 2012 the theory test will be made up of multiple-choice questions which are no longer published in learning materials.
The reason behind the move is to stop candidates from simply memorising theory test questions and answers and learning by rote.
Revision materials still available
New official driving and riding theory books were published in September 2011 to help candidates prepare for the test and for life on the road.
The new books contain:
- new sections of text for motorcyclists, a free e-book for car drivers and full references throughout to help candidates learn and revise
- questions and answers for revision, including practice for case studies
- the official DSA explanations for every revision question, helping candidates fully understand the answer
This approach to learning will help candidates to gain a better knowledge and understanding of driving theory which will help them respond correctly to the new, reworded live questions used in the actual test.
No changes to the format of the test
No changes are being made to the format of the theory test. It will still be made up of a multiple-choice part and a hazard perception part.
The time allowed and the pass marks will stay the same.
The latest news about motorway training...
Cannott find an official press release with this info however, addressing a meeting Mike Penning (Transport Minister) announced that L drivers would be allowed on motorways from sometime next year.
Motorway training will not be compulsory, but L drivers will be allowed on motorways if accompanied by a qualified ADI.
See story on this:
Space-saver tyres and driving tests
DSA is getting increasing numbers of complaints from candidates whose test didn’t go ahead because of problems with car tyres.
It’s become a common feature of modern cars to be fitted with a spare tyre or space-saver tyre which is a different size in order to save room and weight
DSA would like to remind driving instructors that any vehicle presented for test must be fitted with:
- the same size tyre on the same axle
- tyres that are not subject to speed restrictions
If any tyre is not suitable for the test, the test will not go ahead and the candidate will lose their test fee.
Observer on test etiquette
Get the best performance out of your pupils by brushing up on your observer etiquette. Your ‘observer on test’ etiquette could help or hinder your pupils. Following enquiries from approved driving instructors and suggestions made by DSA examiners, some ‘dos and don’ts’ have been drawn up, just so we’re all clear. We hope the following are helpful…
Turn off your phone
Whether it’s Star Wars or Tom Jones, your pupil’s concentration will be thrown when the ring tone shrills out, so turn your phone off. The fewer distractions, the better.
Lend a helping hand
Helping your pupils lift the bonnet if they are struggling is fine, but don’t interfere unnecessarily.
Take a back seat
Supervising examiners usually regard sitting behind the pupil as the least intrusive. But the best position for you is wherever it’s the most comfortable, so long as you can sit upright with the seatbelt correctly fitted.
Mirror, signal, manoeuvre?
Contrary to popular belief, you won’t have your candidate’s test terminate for naturally looking left, right and behind you. But try not to put your pupil off. And be aware that overzealous nodding coupled with excessive eye contact with your pupil could be construed as some sort of pre-arranged code. In other words - cheating! Don’t be tempted. Prompting pupils by coughing, or nudging the back of them seat is a slippery road to test termination. Examiners do know when instruction is being added - even in another language!
Changing position to improve your pupils’ visibility during the manoeuvre exercises is perfectly acceptable. Constantly moving from side to side to would be very distracting though, so please try to keep movement to a minimum.
By all means take notes to help your pupil. But bear in mind that if your pupil sees you rigorously note taking it might worry them and fill their head with negative thoughts - when actually they might be doing fine.
Last tip. At the end of the test listen carefully to the feedback so that you and your pupil can work together. But don’t be tempted to involve the examiner in discussion. If you do have genuine concerns about the test speak to the local manager, or follow the complaints procedure.
Following the relaunch on 6 April initial indications look promising with a significant increase in the take up of ‘observer on test’. We’ll keep you updated in future editions of Despatch
Watch the video
DSA has published a video on YouTube called 'Take your instructor on your driving test'. video on YouTube. In the video, Cecilia, a media student who passed her test two years ago, talks to learner drivers and instructors about the benefits of taking someone with you on your driving test.
You can watch it by clicking on thelink below .
Watch 'Take your instructor on your driving test' on YouTube.
Practical test online booking and appointment confirmations
From now, you’ll need to provide a contact email address when you book or change your practical test online to receive your booking confirmation.
Booking confirmations for tests will no longer be posted out to you.
If you’re an approved driving instructor (ADI) and are booking a test on behalf of your customer, you’ll need to consider which email address you’d like the confirmation to go to.
No need to bring appointment confirmation
You’re no longer required to bring your appointment confirmation to the test centre on the day of your practical test.
You must still bring the following items – if you don't, the test may not go ahead and you may lose your fee:
- an appropriately insured and licensed vehicle, displaying L-plates (except for taxi and Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) part two tests), that is suitable for the purpose of the test
- the appropriate theory test pass certificate (or confirmation) if you are not exempt; for lorry or bus theory tests, you'll need to bring both your multiple choice and hazard perception pass letters or your overall theory test pass certificate letter
- both parts of your photo card licence - if you don't take both parts of your licence, your test will not take place and you'll lose your fee
- if you have an old-style paper licence, you must take your signed driver licence and a valid passport - no other form of photographic identification will be accepted
- for both modules of the motorcycle test you must present your compulsory basic training certificate (CBT)
- for module two of the motorcycle test you must present your motorcycle module one test pass certificate
There’s no change to theory test bookings and theory test requirements.
Independent driving: the facts
From 4 October 2010, learner drivers will be tested on independent driving as part of the practical driving test.
During their test, candidates will have to drive for about 10 minutes, either following a series of directions, following traffic signs, or a combination of both. To help candidates understand where they're going, the examiner may show them a diagram.
It doesn't matter if candidates don't remember every direction, or if they go the wrong way - that can happen to the most experienced drivers.
Watch a news report about independent driving on Directgov.
Some newspapers have claimed that independent driving would lead to a fall in the driving test pass rate. This claim is based on early research where conditions did not reflect the eventual design of the new element of the test.
Subsequent trials with a larger number of participants and more closely reflecting the conditions in the planned new test showed no significant fall in the pass rate.
Length of driving tests and test fees
The length of driving tests and test fees will not change when independent driving is introduced in October. Driving test fees can be found on the directgov web site.
From October, car test candidates (category B) will have to complete one reversing manoeuvre rather than two. The manoeuvre will be selected at random by the examiner from:
• turning in the road
• reversing around a corner
• reverse parking (either on the road, or into a bay)
An emergency stop exercise will still be conducted on one in three tests.
DSA has published a short video on its YouTube channel explaining more about independent driving.
Watch the video on YouTube.
Major road safety milestone as driving test clocks up 75 years of success
The British driving test marks three-quarters of a century of helping keep people safe on the road when it turns 75 on Tuesday 1 June.
The first car and driving licences were introduced in Britain in 1903. But it was not until 1 June 1935 - amid rising numbers of deaths as the popularity of the car increased - that a compulsory driving test was introduced.
The first driver to pass was Mr J Beene and within a year, the number of deaths on the road had fallen by 1,000.
In 1934, 7,343 people were killed on the roads and there were 1.5 million cars. The latest figures show there were 2,538 deaths on the roads in 2008 when there were around 34 million cars.
Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: “The driving test is not just a rite of passage, it has helped save thousands of lives on our roads.
“The test and the learning needed to pass it are a vital part of giving drivers the skills they need to drive efficiently and safely.
"High standards of driver training and assessment are an essential contribution to helping Britain's roads remain among the safest in the world."
Trevor Wedge, Chief Driving Examiner at the Driving Standards Agency, said: “The driving test still retains some of the original elements included in 1935, such as turning in the road and reversing, but it is updated regularly. We continue to make sure that the test properly prepares drivers for the demands of modern roads.
"This year will see the introduction of independent driving into the test, to help candidates demonstrate their ability to drive without step-by-step instruction. We believe that this added element will lead to better and safer drivers."
Facts and figures:
- the test became compulsory on 1 June 1935, after being introduced on a voluntary basis on 16 March the same year
- the test was suspended during World War II and the Suez Crisis – examiners were put in charge of fuel rationing instead
- until 1975, candidates still had to demonstrate hand signals
- the theory test was introduced in July 1996
Take someone with you on your driving test
From Tuesday 6 April driving examiners will ask candidates if they would like their instructor (or another observer - preferably the person who has taught them to drive) to sit in on their car test and listen to the feedback at the end. However, it is purely the candidate's choice.
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From 28 September, just one of the new case study questions will be included in each exam for drivers, motorcyclists and moped riders. But the DSA said it wants to include more in future.
The DSA’s director of driver education and learning, Jill Lewis, said: 'Case studies are widely used in education to put learning into context and test comprehension of a subject, so many candidates will have encountered this type of question before.
'Initially we are introducing one case study based on existing questions in the theory test question bank, to get candidates used to the concept. It will also allow us to monitor any impact on the theory test. Over time, we plan to introduce more case studies into the theory test to assess candidates’ understanding of what they have learned.'
Published by the DSA Mon 30/03/2009