UK Car (Cat B) Driving Tests

 

The UK practical car driving test consists of two parts. The first part is the Theory Test which you will need to pass before applying for a date to sit the second part; the Practical Test.

You can begin lessons before sitting the Theory Test, and this is often a good idea as your instructor can help you with your theory.

The Theory Test itself is made up of two separate tests, which you sit during one session. The first part is a multiple choice which tests your knowledge of basic driving issues and the Highway Code. It is a computer-based test with questions appearing on-screen. If required, the questions can be given over audio, via headphones.

The second part is the Hazard Perception Test. This element tests your ability to anticipate hazards, and is in the form of video clips on-screen.

Theory Test information at GOV.uk.

When you are ready then you can book the Theory Test online.

Your instructor will discuss your readiness for the Practical Test. When ready, you can book the Practical Test online.

(If you are booking a test online, please note that when you are asked for your instructor’s ADI number you should click past that section, as it is not necessary at that stage. This is because the DSA has set up a system to prevent the double-booking of tests, but it does not take into account whether your instructor is unavailable on a particular date for other reasons, so we do not use it).

It is usual nowadays for the candidate to use their instructor’s car, which will be right-hand-drive, fitted with dual controls, insured for test, fitted with an extra interior mirror and displaying ‘L’-plates to the front and rear of the car (preferably on the driver’s side).

It is legal for you to take your test in a non-driving school car, providing it meets the minimum requirements. The car can be a convertible, but not all are suitable. Panel vans or vehicles otherwise deemed by the government to be unsuitable for test may not be used.

About manufacturer recalled vehicles and the test

An instructor reserves the right to refuse to allow use of a driving school car if, in the instructor’s professional opinion, the learner's driving standard is not high enough to pass the test.

If a learner is not ready, sitting a test to “have a go and see what happens” is not encouraged, as this approach can result in a demoralising failure and unnecessary upset. Your instructor may offer you a mock test, performed under realistic test conditions, and you will get a good idea of the test format this way.

First-time pass rates vary around the country, but the national average first-time pass rate is around 45%. Despite this low figure, a well prepared, professionally-taught learner can expect a much greater chance to pass first time. Nine out of ten candidates who pass the Practical Test first time received professional tuition (source: DSA) Good preparation and self-confidence are vital to increase chances of a pass.

At the time of the test, you will meet the examiner in the waiting room. The test begins with an identity check, signing an insurance declaration and an eyesight check. You will then walk to the car followed by the examiner who will go on to ask you two basic 'show me/tell me vehicle safety questions'.

Since 2010 the DSA has encouraged instructors to sit in on the test. This has been shown to be very useful in the event of a fail, as the instructor knows exactly where problems occurred. The whole test process takes approximately 40 minutes, and time is allowed in addition for a debriefing at the end, and the provision of a Pass Certificate if successful. The Examiner will assess your driving skills in various road and traffic situations.

During the test you will be asked to perform one reversing manoeuvre, a 10-minute independent drive, following signs, directions or both, and you may be asked to perform an emergency stop. You are allowed a maximum of 15 Driving Faults. None can be Serious (a fault which is potentially dangerous, but not actually causing danger) or Dangerous. This will be explained in more details by your instructor during lessons. Accumulating a number of the same type of Driving Fault (e.g. missing important observations) is likely to cause a Serious fault to be recorded, resulting in an overall fail.