You need to be 17 or older, hold a valid provisional licence, and have passed your theory and hazard perception tests. You should also have had a number of driving lessons. Driving Standards Agency research suggests that people need an average of 45 hours of tuition before they're ready to pass the practical test.
Comprehensive information about requirements for the tests, prices, and how the tests are conducted are on the official government website, so be sure to read all the relevant the details.
In your practical test you'll have about 40 minutes to demonstrate everything you've learned in your driving lessons. Before you start the practical test the examiner will ask you to read the number plate of a parked vehicle to check your eyesight, so remember to wear glasses or contact lenses if you need them.
You'll then be asked two vehicle safety check questions known as the 'show me, tell me' section. You'll get one fault if you give the wrong answer to one or both questions.
The practical driving test is designed to show that you can drive competently and safely in a variety of situations. You'll be asked to do two of the three reversing manoeuvres you've practised with your instructor, and possibly make an emergency stop.
In a 10 minute independent driving section you'll be expected to show that you can make safe decisions without prompting. Don't worry if you get lost, it's not a test of your navigation skills!
To pass your practical test you need to complete the test with 15 or fewer driving faults, and no serious or dangerous faults.
A weekday practical test costs £62. Evening, weekend and bank holiday tests cost £75.
Don't forget to budget for a final lesson if you want one, and the cost of booking the instructor and car for the duration of the test.
After you've passed your test you're ready to drive alone, but as a new driver you'll benefit from more experience. The Pass Plus scheme will give you more confidence in areas that may not have been covered during lessons. It consists of six modules, including motorway driving, driving in town and at night. And remember that completing the Pass Plus course successfully means you'll be able to claim a discount on your car insurance.
You can repeat your practical test without having to retake your theory and hazard perception tests as long as your theory certificate is still valid (it lasts for two years). Always ask for feedback from the examiner so you can see where you went wrong.
A weekday practical test costs £62, and an evening or weekend test costs £75. For England, Scotland and Wales you can book online and find more information here; for Northern Ireland book online and get more information here.
There will be a waiting time of between two and twelve weeks, depending on where you live. To cancel your test you must give three clear working days notice so you don't lose your fee.