Sunday, April 5, 2009

What Happens on the Practical Driving Test: Revealed

As an Approved Driving Instructor I am regularly asked by pupils to explain what happens on the day of the practical driving test, so I have put together a guide that will prove useful for anyone who has booked their driving test and is wondering what to expect.

Before the Test
It is generally recommended that a lesson of at least one hour is taken before the driving test. This allows time for practising and adapting to the day’s weather conditions, as well as allowing you time to relax and go over anything that may be causing you concern.

I usually arrange to arrive at the Driving Test Centre around fifteen minutes before the time of the test. We park up somewhere suitable and then go into the waiting room. At the allocated test time, the examiner calls your name. They ask to see both parts of your Driving Licence (photo card and counterpart) plus your Theory Test certificate. Don’t forget to bring these with you! Both of you then proceed outside to the car.

The Beginning of the Test
In the car park you will undergo the first part of the Practical Driving Test – the eyesight test. The examiner will ask you to read a number plate from 20.5 metres (67 feet) to check that your eyesight is sufficient to drive safely. You must pass this part of the driving test in order to proceed. Providing everything was in order with your eyesight test, you will proceed to the car.

At this point you may be asked by the examiner to lift the bonnet of the car and answer some questions about basic car maintenance. Further questions may be asked when you get inside the car. I always make sure that my pupils are fully briefed in advance on the types of questions they may be asked and show them how to find their way round the engine and the full range of in-car functions any driving instructor worth their salt will do likewise.

Out on the Test
After the questions, the practical driving test will begin and for the next forty minutes or so you must follow the examiner''s directions and proceed according to the road markings, signs and weather or light conditions.

You will be asked to demonstrate two manoeuvres which could be a turn in the road, reverse park, park in a bay or reverse round a corner and you may also be asked to carry out an Emergency Stop.

The end of the Test
The test ends back at the Test Centre at which point you will be told by the examiner whether you have passed or failed. If you have not managed to reach the standard required and have failed the test you will be given the opportunity to discuss the reasons with the examiner. Your instructor can be present at this point if you would like them to listen to the debrief with you.

If on the other hand you have passed, congratulations! You will be given a form and information on how to exchange it for your full driving licence before being driven back home by your instructor. Your instructor should give you some information about Pass Plus, an optional course that can help you become an even safer driver, give you experience of driving on the motorway and even get you a discount on your car insurance.

A driving test can often be a nerve racking experience for many pupils but with the right tuition and support you should be able to approach it with a suitable degree of confidence and skill. All in all, if you can demonstrate that you are safe on the road and able to handle various driving situations, there should be no reason why you won’t be handed that all important pass certificate!

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