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The practical driving test

Time to book your test

So you're almost there. The only thing between you and the open road is the practical test.

Read on for a run-through of everything you need to get your practical test booked, prepared for, and (fingers crossed) passed.

What does the practical driving test do?

The test assesses a pupil's ability to:

  • demonstrate safe, independent driving in a variety of road and traffic conditions
  • demonstrate working knowledge of the Highway Code.
When can I book my test?

You can book your practical driving test if you're at least 17 years-old, have a valid provisional licence, and you've passed your theory test.

But how do you know when you're really ready? Well, your driving lesson instructor will let you know when they think it's time, and will discuss suitable dates for you to have a go at the test, if you're feeling happy about the prospect.

There's no set number of lessons before someone takes their practical test.

What should I expect?

The test will take place at your local test centre. On the day, make sure you take:

  • your provisional UK driving licence
  • your theory pass certificate
  • a car – most pupils will use their instructors, but if you want to use your own car, that's allowed too

Your instructor will usually offer a final lesson immediately before your test appointment, to do a refresher of everything you've learnt, discuss any last minute concerns, and to generally 'warm up' before the real thing.

The Learning to Drive section of our online shop has a range of books and DVDs that can help you prep for your test.

Book your test at GOV.UK

More about what happens during the test


What happens during the test?

The test lasts for around 40 minutes. During that time, the examiner will cover 5 things:

  • an eyesight check
  • 'show me, tell me' car safety questions
  • general driving ability
  • reversing your car
  • independent driving

Your examiner will assess your driving according to 3 types of faults:

  • A dangerous fault – this involves actual danger to you, the examiner, the public or property.
  • A serious fault – something potentially dangerous (this, and dangerous faults, are often referred to as majors).
  • A driving fault – this isn't potentially dangerous, but if you keep making the same fault, it could become a serious fault (these are often referred to as minors).

In a nutshell, you'll pass your test if you:

  • tot up fewer than 15 driving faults (minors)
  • avoid recording a single serious or dangerous driving fault (a major)
At the end of the test

Once you've returned to the test centre and safely parked, the examiner will tell you the test result. They'll then follow up with feedback, including how many and what type of faults were made.

If you passed the examiner will:

  • give you a pass certificate
  • ask you if you'd like your full licence to be sent to you, or if you'd like to apply for it in your own time
  • allow you to smile

If you didn't pass they'll tell you:

  • the reason(s) why you didn't pass, including details of specific faults
  • that you can book another test online and have another go