The practical Test explained



The Eyesight test
At the start of the test the examiner asked you to read a vehicle registration number.
If you required glasses or contact lenses, you must wear them whenever you drive. If you have had problems with your eyesight, perhaps you should consider consulting an optician before applying for your test. The current UK rules regarding eyesight and driving state focus on the number plate test. This involves being able to read a car number plate from 20.5m (67 feet) away in good daylight . For the new-style number plates, this distance is 20m. If there is a difficulty then a tape measure will be deployed to ensure the distance measured is correct. If you cannot meet this requirement at the start of the test, the test will not continue and this will be recorded as a fail.

When you start driving lessons I will check this requirement can be met if there is any change or you are wearing contact lenses let me know. The Glaucoma association have produced "The Eyeway code" designed with drivers in mind


Show me Tell me
you will be asked to explain or demonstrate an item related to vehicle roadworthiness or road safety see Show Me Tell Me I will be able to coach you on this element. The following videos are available on Youtube.

DVSA show me, tell me - under the bonnet : driving test questions

DVSA show me, tell me - outside the car : driving test questions

DVSA show me, tell me - inside the car : driving test questions


Highway Code
You will have already passed a driving Theory Test. This element is designed to see if you can drive safely, applying the Highway Code and can demonstrate your knowledge of this through your driving.  Test routes are designed to be as uniform as possible and will include a range of typical road and traffic conditions.
If you didn't need to take a separate Theory test, for example, to obtain a licence for a tractor or other specialist vehicle, you will have been asked questions on the Highway Code and other related motoring matters. You will have also been asked to identify some traffic signs.
If you had difficulty with these questions make sure that you study properly by reading as wide a range of publications as you can find to increase your understanding. - Full Online highway code

Precautions before moving off.
Make sure you always adjust the seat,, Headrest, mirrors and seat belt so that you are comfortable and can reach all the controls.
Before you start the engine make certain the doors are shut properly, the handbrake is on and the gear lever or selector is in neutral, look for any warning lights on the dashboard display. If you take your seatbelt off for reversing make sure you reapply it.
Don't worry if you stall, the examiner expects some initial nerves. If you need to restart your engine quickly, for example after a stall, you must make sure that you then start it correctly, safely and keep the vehicle under control.


This covers the use of the accelerator, clutch, gears, footbrake, handbrake and steering.
Clutch and Accelerator
Always try and use these  vehicle controls as smoothly as possible this will help with eco-driving. If jerky try counting 1.2.3 when applying the clutch and bringing the clutch up in time with this This means less wear and tear on your vehicle and a smoother ride for your passengers.
Make proper use of the accelerator and clutch to make a smooth start. Always depress the clutch just before you stop.
Select the correct gear to match the road and traffic conditions. Change gear in good time but not too soon before a hazard.
Do not allow the vehicle to coast by running on in neutral or with the clutch down. At this level there should be no need to look down at the gear lever when changing gear. You can block change (more efficient) or drop down individual gears

As a general guide

1st gear - Used between 0 and 10mph

2nd gear - Used between 10 and 20mph

3rd gear - Used between 20 and 30mph

4th gear - Used between 30 and 40mph

5th gear - Used for cruising speeds over 30mph+

Try to remember "Gears are for Going , Brakes are for slowing"

Use the footbrake smoothly and progressively.
Brake in plenty of time for any hazard. Make full use of the handbrake whenever it would help you to prevent the car rolling backwards or forwards, and if you are parking.
Handbrake. Know how and when to apply the handbrake. A good rule is" if it would delay you by applying the handbrake then don't apply it."
Use the handbrake to stop you rolling back or forwards at junctions. Don't pull up the handbrake while the car is still moving, as it only is applied to the rear wheels.
Steer the vehicle as smoothly as possible. Avoid harsh steering or steering too early or too late as it may cause you to hit the kerb or swing out towards another road user Hold the steering wheel at either the ten-to-two or quarter-to-three position to maintain full control. on mini roundabouts watch you don't oversteer and hit the kerb with the back wheels.Don't let the wheel spin through your hands.

Understand the minor controls, such as lights, indicators, windscreen wipers and de-misters.
Know the meaning of displays on the instrument panel, such as warning lights and Speedometer and Tachometer if fitted


Moving away
The Examiner will have asked you to move off safely and under control on level ground, from behind a parked vehicle and if practicable on a hill.
Remember always to use your mirrors and signal if necessary (MSM).
Just before moving away check that it is safe by looking round for traffic and pedestrians in your blind spot.
Move off without delay in a controlled way making balanced use of accelerator, clutch and brakes, and steer safely.
Make sure you are in the correct gear.
Do not allow the vehicle to roll back.

The Highway code has detailed information regarding Moving Away

Once moving

You should keep to the left, unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise. The exceptions are when you want to overtake, turn right or pass parked vehicles or pedestrians in the road

Keep well to the left on right-hand bends. This will improve your view of the road and help avoid the risk of colliding with traffic approaching from the opposite direction

Drive with both hands on the wheel where possible. This will help you to remain in full control of the vehicle at all times

Be aware of other road users, especially cycles and motorcycles who may be filtering through the traffic. These are more difficult to see than larger vehicles and their riders are particularly vulnerable especially in bad weather.


Emergency stop
If you have to brake in an emergency remember to brake evenly and progressively and try to avoid locking the wheels.
Remember that in wet weather it can take twice as long to stop safely.

The examiner will expect you to:
Stop the car promptly under control without locking the wheels.
Stop the car in the shortest possible distance without endangering other road users.

As this is a simulation on the test, the examiner will physically check it is safe before carrying this out.

Please Note:
An emergency stop exercise will still be conducted on one in three tests so you may not be asked to carry out this exercise.


Whenever you are reversing a vehicle, you will need to control your speed,.
Drive smoothly, steer a course reasonably close to the kerb. Remember that your vehicle will swing out as you turn the corner. Avoid hitting or mounting the kerb, or steering too wide. You must take good, effective, all-round observation when you begin and throughout the manoeuvre and show consideration to other road users. Remember when manoeuvring you may be moving against the normal flow of traffic, be vigilant and be prepared to stop. All-round observation throughout the manoeuvre is essential.

The Highway code has detailed information regarding - Reversing

Car test candidates (category B) will have to complete one reversing manoeuvre.
The manoeuvre will be selected at random by the examiner from:

• pull up on the right
• forward parking
• reverse parking
• Bay parking


Reverse parking
You must take good, effective, all-round observation and show consideration to other road users whilst parking your vehicle.
Control your vehicle smoothly making proper use of the clutch, accelerator, brakes and steering.
Remember, as you steer your vehicle into the parking space, usually about two car lengths. The front of the car will swing out.
Keep a special look out for cyclists and pedestrians who may pass close to the front of your vehicle.

Bay parking

you may be required to do the reverse park exercise as a reversing into a parking bay at the driving test car park. If you are asked to reverse into a parking bay, you can usually choose whether to reverse from the right or the left. When practicing you will be able to see which way suits you best.

On your driving test, the examiner will expect you to perform the Bay Parking Manoeuvre:

The examiner will also be looking to see that you: Are aware of other road users (both motorists and pedestrians) and keep looking all around throughout the manoeuvre.

Why Reversing into a bay is safer
As a rule most car parks have parking bays marked out with white lines. Reversing into these bays is normally the best option as it is easier to manoeuvre a car in reverse. It is also safer to drive out forwards. On your test you will only be asked to perform the bay parking manoeuvre if the test centre has a car park with marked bays. You cannot perform the bay parking manoeuvre elsewhere.

What the driving test examiner expects of you during the driving test. Further Info


Use of mirrors / rear observation
You should use your mirrors often, including exterior mirrors where necessary, and always be aware of what may be In your blind spots.
Just looking is not enough. You must know what is happening all around you and act sensibly and safely on what you see.
You must always check carefully, use them in good time before you signal or change direction or speed
Use the Mirrors Signal Manoeuvre (MSM) routine.
Do not signal or act without first using the mirrors.

be aware that mirrors do not cover all areas and there will be blind spots. You will need to look round and check

Remember: Mirrors – Signal – Manoeuvre


Give appropriate signals
You must signal clearly to let others know what you intend to do. Signal only using signals shown in the Highway Code. Signal if it would help other road users, including pedestrians, in plenty of time. Other road users need to see and understand what you intend to do so that they can react safely. Your signals, or lack of signals, must not mislead others. Always ensure that the signal has been cancelled after the manoeuvre has been completed. Do not beckon to pedestrians to cross the road, you could put them in danger from other vehicles. Demonstration of Arm signals is no longer part of the test, however you should know them, in case a fault with your signals should occur

The highway code details all the rules regarding -Signals


Paying attention to signs and signals
You should understand and be able to react to all traffic signs and road markings.
You must act correctly at traffic lights, and check that the road is clear before proceeding when the green light shows.
Obey signals given by police officers, traffic wardens and school crossing patrols.
Look out for signals given by other road users, including people in charge of animals, and be ready to act accordingly.  


Use of speed
You should make safe, reasonable progress bearing in mind the road, traffic and weather conditions and the road signs and speed limits.
Make sure you can stop safely, well within the distance you can see to be clear.
In built up areas do not speed, On high speed roads keep a two second gap
Remember that as a new driver, your licence will be revoked if you get six or more penalty points, during the first two years, and you will have to retake and pass, both your theory and practical tests.


Safe separation distance
Always keep a safe distance between yourself and other vehicles. Remember, on wet or slippery roads it takes much longer to stop.
When you stop in traffic queues leave sufficient space to pull out if the vehicle in front has problems.
When you stop in traffic queues leave side roads clear.

Remember to apply the two second rule in normal driving. 4 second rule in wet weather and 10 second rule in snow and ice


Maintain progress
In order to pass your test you must show that you can drive at a realistic speed appropriate to the road and traffic conditions with good progress.
You should be able to choose the correct speed for the  type of road, type and density of traffic, weather and visibility.
You should approach all hazards at a safe, controlled speed, without being over cautious or interfering with the progress of other traffic.
Always be ready to move away from junctions as soon as it is safe and correct to do so.
Driving excessively slowly can create dangers for yourself and other drivers.


You should be able to judge the correct speed of approach so that you can enter a junction safely and stop if necessary.
Position your vehicle correctly. Use the correct lane. If you are turning right, keep as near to the centre of the road as is safe.
Avoid cutting the corner when turning right. If turning left, keep over to the left and do not swing out.
Watch out for cyclists and motorcyclists coming up on your left and pedestrians who are crossing.
You must take effective observation before moving into a junction and make sure it is sate before proceeding.

The highway code details all the rules regarding - Junctions

The highway code details all the rules regarding -Roundabouts


Judgement when overtaking and meeting other traffic
Turning across traffic
Only overtake when it is safe to do so.
Allow enough room when you are overtaking another vehicle. Cyclists and motorcyclists need at least as much space as other vehicles.
They can wobble or swerve suddenly. Do not cut in too quickly after overtaking.
Take care when the width of the road is restricted or when the road narrows.
If there is an obstruction on your side or not enough room for two vehicles to pass safely, be prepared to wait and let the approaching vehicles through. When you turn right across the path of an approaching vehicle, make sure you can do so safely.
Other vehicles should not have to stop, slowdown or swerve to allow you to complete your turn.

The highway code details all the rules regarding - Overtaking


Pedestrian Crossings
You should be able to recognise the different types of pedestrian crossing and show courtesy and consideration towards pedestrians.
At all crossings you should slow down and stop if there is anyone on the crossing.
At zebra crossings you should slow down and be prepared to stop if there is anyone waiting to cross. Pedestrians always have right of way at zebra crossings.
Give way to any pedestrian on a pelican crossing when the amber lights are flashing.
You should give way to cyclists as well as pedestrians on a toucan crossing.

Do not overtake within the zig zag lines at a crossing.
A Puffin crossing doesn't have a flashing amber light.

The highway code details all the rules regarding Pedestrian crossings


Position for normal stops
Choose a safe, legal and convenient place to stop, close to the edge of the road, where you will not obstruct the road and create a hazard. avoid driveways, Bus stops and stopping opposite junctions as you should know how and where to stop without causing danger to other road users, signalling if necessary. As with other manoeuvres you may be asked to stop on a hill and behind a stationary car (Angled start) leave enough room to get out

Two or three normal stops should be made during the test. The words "pull up" should be used for these stops, the imperative "Stop!" being used only for the emergency stop. The candidate should be able to pull up within a reasonable distance of the nearside kerb; a very fine degree of accuracy should not, however, be expected of an inexperienced driver. The examiner should observe whether the candidate then applies the handbrake and puts the gear into neutral

The highway code details all the rules regarding Waiting and parking (238-252)


Awareness and planning
You must be aware of other road users at all times. You should always think and plan ahead so that you can, judge what other road users are going to do, predict how their actions will affect you, react in good time. Take particular care to consider the actions of the more vulnerable groups of road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders.
Anticipate road and traffic conditions, and act in good time, rather than reacting to them at the last moment. >


Ancillary controls
You should understand the function of all the controls and switches, especially those that have a bearing on road safety.
These include

You should be able to identify these controls and operate them correctly when necessary, without looking down.


Position during normal driving
You should position the vehicle sensibly, normally well to the left.  About a metre from the kerb normally.
Keep clear of parked vehicles and position correctly for the direction that you intend to take. Where lanes are marked, keep to the middle of the lane and avoid straddling the lane markings. Do not change lanes unnecessarily. Make sure you maintain a good driving position avoid wandering across lanes especially on bends.


Clearance to obstructions
Allow plenty of room to pass stationary vehicles and be prepared to slow down or stop.
A door may open, a child may run out or a vehicle may pull out without warning. Keep a safe distance from builders' skips or other large obstructions, as you may not be able to see pedestrians or workers close to the obstruction.
Look ahead and plan your journey anticipate hidden dangers.
Anticipate road and traffic conditions, and act in good time, rather than reacting to them at the last moment.



Eco-Driving measures introduced to the UK driving test from 2008 require that new drivers have to show that they can drive with fuel-efficiency as well as safely. Learner Drivers are expected to know the basics of eco-driving such as accelerating and braking less harshly and changing gears sooner. So, make yourself aware of eco driving and you will save money and reduce pollution. Candidates will not get marked negatively for poor Eco driving at the moment but advice will be given at the end of the test.

Eco driving means: look ahead, drive smoothly and avoid acceleration and heavy braking. This saves wear and tear on the car and makes for a more economic use of fuel.
Keep an eye on your gear-changing: When eco driving, keep the revs low as shown on the Tachometer if available.
Use the air conditioning only if needed.
When you start the engine, don't keep it idling to heat up the engine. This wastes fuel and should not be necessary if you drive off gently and smoothly.

Remove anything from the vehicle which increases 'drag'. Roof boxes and roof racks should only be in place when they are being used. And don't use the boot as a storage space! Eco driving is lighter driving.
When eco driving, consider avoiding short journeys, or link together several necessary journeys – cold engines use almost twice as much fuel as heated ones and catalytic converters can take up to five miles to become effective.
Before your journey: plan the route to avoid local road works, congestion or losing your way. If you do hit a traffic jam – turn the engine off.

The most efficient speed for Eco fuel consumption has been shown to be 55-65 mph.
Have your Car serviced regularly.
Have your tyres checked regularly – under-inflated tyres use more fuel.
Consider car-sharing for some trips.

Eco driving encourages basic good driving practice. Watch the Video on Youtube or


Independent Driving
Independent driving has become part of the practical driving test in Great Britain from October 2010. It's tasking the candidate to drive for about 20 minutes, either following a Sat nav or following traffic signs
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.

The claim in some newspapers that independent driving would lead to a fall in the driving test pass rate is based on early research where conditions did not reflect the eventual design of this element of the test.


Top ten reasons for failing the driving test... Are you ready?

See the DVSA Official Video on YouTube Here

Those who pass their driving test have had, on average, about 45 hours of professional training, combined with 22 hours of private practice.  Candidates who combine professional instruction with private practice are also more successful on the test."

The current pass rate is only 43% (June 2004) for first time candidates, it’s even lower.

* Top ten reasons based on twelve months to January 2004  (source DSA)

To help you avoid the most common pitfalls* here is a list of the top ten reasons why people fail...

  1. Observation at junctions - Ineffective observation and judgement
  2. Reverse parking - Ineffective observation or a lack of accuracy
  3. Use of mirrors - Not checking or not acting on the information
  4. Reversing around a corner - Ineffective observation or a lack of accuracy
  5. Incorrect use of signals - Not cancelling or giving misleading signals
  6. Moving away safely - Ineffective observation
  7. Incorrect positioning on the road - At roundabouts or on bends
  8. Lack of steering control - Steering too early or leaving it too late
  9. Incorrect positioning to turn right - At junctions and in one way streets
  10. Inappropriate speed - Travelling too slowly or being hesitant

Please see the following page extract from (L of a way 2 pass) sensible advice that may help you to overcome nerves

Common sense: Only apply for a test when both you and your instructor agree you are ready.

Common sense: YOU know if you are safe and can drive unassisted

Common sense: Going to test too early is one of the most common reasons for failure.



Philip Manfield School of Motoring Cardiff | Practical Requirements