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DVLA GUIDE - Unofficial Guide to the DVLA Practical Test

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Practical Test

  Jump to:   The Car Practical Driving Test   For Motorcycles   Booking a Practical Test

What to Expect?

Don't worry. relax. If you are prepared, you can do well on your practical test.

Your driving test starts with an eyesight check and some vehicle safety questions. You will then start your practical driving test which will include some specific manoeuvres.

The driving part of your test will last about 40 minutes. Throughout the test your examiner will shout at you for no reason (just joking). Throughout the test your examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving, including when you are carrying out the set exercises. You can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test (16 or more results in failure). But if you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test.

The Car Practical Driving Test

What to Expect?

Your driving test starts with an eyesight check and some vehicle safety questions. You will then start your practical driving test which will include some specific manoeuvres.

The driving part of your test will last about 40 minutes. Throughout the test your examiner will shout at you for no reason (just joking). Throughout the test your examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving, including when you are carrying out the set exercises. You can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test (16 or more results in failure). But if you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test.

Practical tests are available at all permanent test centres. Saturday and weekday evening tests, subject to resources, are offered at a premium rate. Non-premium rate tests are available at various times between 7.30 am and 3.27 PM Monday to Friday.

The driving test is straightforward and is designed to see if you can drive safely and if you know The Highway Code, and can show this throughout the driving test.

What is Included in the Eyesight Check?

The test will include an eyesight check (if you fail this, the test will be stopped). The eyesight test requires you to read a number plate that is a certain distance away. The distance requirement for the eyesight test using old style number plates is 20.5 metres or 20 metres if the new-style number plate is used. New-style number plates are easily identifiable starting with two letters, for example AD 51 ADC.

Wearing Glasses/Corrective Lenses to Pass the Eyesight Test

If you can only read a number plate using glasses/corrective lenses for the eyesight test, then by law you are required to wear them whenever you are driving and throughout your test. You then can't remove your glasses/corrective lenses during the test (reversing etc).

If you have broken, forgotten or brought the wrong glasses, you should tell your examiner at the start of the test. If you don't tell the examiner and attempt and fail the eyesight test, your test will be recorded as a failure and the remainder of the test will not go ahead.

What if You Can't Read the First Number Plate?

You'll get another chance. If you can't read the first number plate correctly, you'll be asked to read a second number plate, if you can't read this number plate correctly, you'll be allowed to walk forward until you're just over the appropriate distance away.

If you still can't read the number plate, the examiner will ask you to read a third number plate and will measure the precise distance from this number plate.

What if You Can't Read the Third Number Plate

This unfortunately will be your last chance. If you can't read the third number plate correctly, you'll fail the driving test. This test failure will be marked on the driving test report form (DL25) with a mark in the ‘Item 1’ box. Your interpretation of the number plate along with the correct one will be written on the back of the form along with the measured distance.

Failing the Eyesight Test

If you fail the eyesight requirement; the examiner will ask you to sign a form DL.77. This form acknowledges you were unable to comply with the eyesight requirements. The examiner (using form DL.77 form) will notify the DVLA that you did not meet the eyesight requirements and your licence will be revoked.

To reapply for your licence, send to DVLA an ‘Application for a Driving Licence’ (D1), available from the DVLA form ordering service or Post Office branches. You can also download and complete the medical questionnaire V1 and return it with your D1 form.

When your application arrives at DVLA they'll ask the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) to conduct a separate eyesight test for you at a test centre. If you're successful you'll still have to pass the DSA standard eyesight test at your next practical driving test.

After the Eyesight Test

After the eyesight test you will be asked two vehicle safety check questions. You will then be examined on your general driving and on two reversing exercises. The reversing exercises will be chosen from:

  • reversing around a corner
  • turning in the road
  • reverse parking

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

Before You Get in the Car -Vehicle Safety Questions

You will be asked two questions, one ‘show me’ and one ‘tell me’. One or both questions answered incorrectly will result in one driving fault being recorded.

These are basic safety checks that any driver should to make sure the vehicle is safe to use. Some checks may involve you opening the bonnet to identify where fluid levels would be checked. Don't worry you won't be asked to touch a hot engine or physically check fluid levels.

More and more vehicles are equipped with electronic diagnostic systems, which shows the driver the state of the engine fluid levels and tyre pressures. It is okay for a candidate to refer to the vehicle information system (if fitted) when answering questions on fluid levels or tyre pressures.

During the Test, 15 is Your Lucky Number

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). If you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test. If at any time your examiner considers you to be a danger to other road users your test will be stopped.

You can take someone with you on the test, this person must be over 16 years old and cannot take any part in the test. If you decide to take someone, choose a person that will be supportive and helpful…not a good place to take a first date.

After the Practical Test

When the driving test is over, the examiner will tell you whether you passed or failed. If they can barely speak and/or are in tears, sobbing and shaking…you may have failed. You can request feedback on your test from the examiner, who will then go through your performance during the test.

If you pass…

Congratulations! Maybe you can do a little dance or shake open some bubbly like the Formula 1 drivers.

If you pass and have a photocard driving licence issued after 1 March 2004 the examiner will ask you if you want your full driving licence issued to you automatically.

If you want to use this service, the examiner will take your old licence off you, scan the details and send them electronically to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). You will then be given a pass certificate to prove you passed your test. DVLA will then send you your new full licence by post within four weeks of you passing your practical test.

If you pass your test but do not want to use this automatic service, or have a licence issued before 1 March 2004, you will be given a pass certificate by the examiner. On the back of the pass certificate it tells you what you need to do next. This involves sending your licence and fee to DVLA who will then check your application and issue you with a new full licence.

How About Pass Plus?

Pass Plus is a training course specifically aimed at new drivers, designed by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) with the help of insurers and the driving instruction industry. Pass Plus will build upon your existing skills and knowledge, it will teach you how to anticipate, plan for and deal with all kinds of hazards, and can help you to become more confident on the roads.

Anyone who holds a full UK licence is eligible to take part. You will not have to take a test at the end of the course but you will be continually assessed. You must successfully complete all the modules in the course to an achieved or exceeded standard.

If you fail…

If you fail the test, relax, it does happen. Take this opportunity to ask the examiner for some feedback to help prepare yourself for your next test. Use this time well. Your driving report form will also show you where you made any mistakes. You can take another practical test 10 working days after your car or motorcycle test.

Weather Conditions Or Mechanical Problems

DSA do not conduct tests in bad light or in adverse weather conditions for the safety of the candidate and the examiner. They will arrange another appointment at no further cost, but compensation is not payable.

Candidates should call the telephone number quoted on the appointment letter to check whether their test will go ahead. If the driving test is not completed for reasons attributable to you or your vehicle, you will be charged and you will have to take another test at your own cost.

For Motorcycles

The practical motorcycle test includes an eyesight test, vehicle safety questions, a test of driving ability, a test of specific manoeuvres and a question about riding with a passenger.

At the test centre you need to show a valid certificate DL196 unless the test is being conducted on one of the exempted islands. If you are exempt if you are upgrading a full moped licence obtained by passing a two part test since December 1990.

Motorcycle Safety Check Questions and Eyesight Test

Before you jump on your motorcycle and start the practical riding test you will be asked to read a number plate to prove you can meet the eyesight requirements. You will also be asked two machine safety check questions before moving away.

What is Included in the Eyesight Check?

The test will include an eyesight check (if you fail this, the test will not continue). The eyesight test requires you to read a number plate that is a certain distance away. The distance requirement for the eyesight test using old style number plates is 20.5 metres or 20 metres if the new-style number plate is used. New-style number plates are easily identifiable starting with two letters, for example AB 51 ABC.

Wearing Glasses/Corrective Lenses to Pass the Eyesight Test

If you can only read a number plate using glasses/corrective lenses for the eyesight test, then by law you are required to wear them whenever you are driving and throughout your test. You then can't remove your glasses/corrective lenses during the test (reversing etc).

If you have broken, forgotten or brought the wrong glasses, you should tell your examiner at the start of the test. If you don't tell the examiner and attempt and fail the eyesight test, your test will be recorded as a failure and the remainder of the test will not go ahead.

What if You Can't Read the First Number Plate?

You'll get another chance. If you can't read the first number plate correctly, you'll be asked to read a second number plate, if you can't read this number plate correctly, you'll be allowed to walk forward until you're just over the appropriate distance away.

If you still can't read the number plate, the examiner will ask you to read a third number plate and will measure the precise distance from this number plate.

What if You Can't Read the Third Number Plate

This unfortunately will be your last chance. If you can't read the third number plate correctly, you'll fail the driving test. This test failure will be marked on the driving test report form (DL25) with a mark in the ‘Item 1’ box. Your interpretation of the number plate along with the correct one will be written on the back of the form along with the measured distance.

Failing the Eyesight Test

If you fail the eyesight requirement; the examiner will ask you to sign a form DL.77 . This form acknowledges you were unable to comply with the eyesight requirements. The examiner (using form DL.77 form) will notify the DVLA that you did not meet the eyesight requirements and your licence will be revoked.

To reapply for your licence, send to DVLA an ‘Application for a Driving Licence’ (D1), available from the DVLA form ordering service or Post Office branches. You can also download and complete the medical questionnaire V1 and return it with your D1 form.

When your application arrives at DVLA they'll ask the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) to conduct a separate eyesight test for you at a test centre. If you're successful you'll still have to pass the DSA standard eyesight test at your next practical driving test.

The Practical Motorcycle Test

After the pre-test preliminaries the examiner will help you with the fitting of the radio and earpiece. While accompanying you to the motorcycle the examiner will explain how the test will be conducted and how the radio equipment works.

The law requires anyone riding a motorcycle, scooter or moped, with or without sidecar, to wear protective headgear securely fastened. The test cannot therefore be conducted unless the candidate is wearing properly secured protective headgear.

An exemption to this requirement exists for followers of the Sikh religion if they are wearing a turban.

Test Manoeuvres

During the test specific manoeuvres must be carried including an emergency stop exercise. An emergency stop is given on every motorcycle test and can be given at any time during the test. You will be told the route to take and the examiner will demonstrate the signal that will be given for the emergency stop.

The Wheeling/Stand Exercise

You will have to position the machine alongside the kerb and put it on its stand, then take the machine off the stand and wheel it across the road in a ‘U’ turn. (Either a centre or side stand is okay, but a machine without a stand is not suitable for the test).

U-turn Exercise

Via the radio, the examiner will tell you to ride the machine back across the road. Then you will be asked to move off from a parked position and to turn the machine around to face the opposite way, within the road width.

Slow Ride Exercise

You will have to demonstrate the ability to control the machine at slow speed e.g. at junctions.  You will have to ride as if in slow-moving traffic as a separate exercise…or like Evil Knievel before a jump.

After the practical part of the test the candidate will be asked a question on ‘balance when carrying a passenger’.

Booking a Practical Test

You can book practical test appointments online, by phone and by post. If you give the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) three clear working days notice, appointments can be changed and cancelled online or using the telephone service.

Booking Your Theory and Practical Tests Online

To book a test online you need a valid UK driving licence, a theory test certificate number, and a valid debit or credit card for payment (Visa, Mastercard, Delta, Visa Electron, Switch/Maestro and Solo cards are accepted). You can even choose your test centre, the time and date of your test, check test appointment details, and even change or cancel your test if your circumstances change.

Booking Tests by Phone

To book a practical test with a Call Centre Agent over the phone you need to have a valid UK driving licence, a theory test certificate number, and a valid debit or credit card for payment (Visa, Mastercard, Delta, Visa Electron, Switch/Maestro and Solo cards are accepted).

From 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday, you can even book a practical test over the phone using the numbers below,

  • Practical test booking line - 0300 200 1122
  • Welsh language booking line - 0300 200 1133
  • Minicom booking line - 0300 200 1144
  • Fax booking line - 0300 200 1155

Booking Tests by Post

To book a practical test by post you need an application form. Payment can be made by cheque or postal order, cash payments are not accepted. Application forms are available online or on request from the Driving Standards Agency booking line. To download a practical test application form, click on the link below. There is also an information sheet available to download.

Rescheduling and Cancelling a Test

You can reschedule or cancel a practical test either online or by phone up to three clear working days before the test, without loss of fee.

The online service is available from 6.00 am to midnight, seven days a week. To phone, DSA's Call Centre Agents are available to take your call from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday (except Public Holidays). Dial 0300 200 1122 and follow the prompts.

Remember, if you cancel or reschedule the test inside the three working days you will lose your test fee, no if ands or buts!

Special Needs

If you want any special needs facilities at your practical test just request these at the time of booking. You should let the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) know when you book your practical test if you have any hearing problems, language difficulties, movement restrictions or adaptations fitted to your vehicle. Special Needs Click here for more information.