Driving Test Tips
In this article
Our top driving test tips
- Anticipate and plan well ahead
- Avoid the common driving test mistakes
- Answer the show me question carefully
- Don’t worry if you make a mistake
- Don’t panic if you take the wrong turn
- Ask your examiner to repeat the instruction
- Use the MSM routine
- Drive Defensively
- Look out for vulnerable road users
- Don’t be afraid of your driving examiner
Anticipate and plan well ahead
A good driver is a good planner. To pass your driving test, you need to demonstrate you’re anticipating what might happen on the road ahead. Our top driving test tip is to anticipate and plan as you drive. To get your driving licence, you need to show your driving examiner that you think as you drive. As you drive on your test, prepare in advance for how the road situation might change. If you’re able to show anticipation, awareness and forward planning, you have a good chance of passing your driving test.
Here are some examples where a failure to show anticipation and a lack of planning would lead you to fail your test;
You’re travelling on a straight road with excellent visibility. The traffic light ahead has been green for some time, and you decide to keep your speed constant as you approach it. There’s a following vehicle behind you. 15m from the traffic light, the lights change from green to amber. You decide to brake harshly to avoid driving through a red light. Your actions cause the vehicle behind you to brake sharply, as the other driver anticipated you’d continue without stopping. Stopping in this manner would be seen as a major fault, and your test would be over.
In this scenario, your driving examiner would expect you to show good anticipation and planning on the approach to the traffic lights. As the lights have been green for some time, ease off the gas and cover the brake in anticipation of the lights changing. If you reach an amber light and there’s a following vehicle behind you travelling at speed, it generally is safer to continue than it is to stop. Braking harshly at the last minute is dangerous, especially when there are following vehicles behind you.
You’re travelling on a two-way road. There are parked vehicles on either side of the road. As you’re driving, you notice a parked vehicle on your side of the road and an oncoming vehicle ahead. The obstruction is on your side of the road, but you’re closer to it than the oncoming vehicle is. You decide to pass the hazard by driving on the other side of the road. The vehicle travelling in the opposite direction is forced wait for you to move back to your side of the road, before they can continue
In this scenario, you need to plan ahead and get past the obstruction, without causing the oncoming vehicle to slow down, swerve or stop. As the obstruction is on your side of the road, you’re expected to wait behind it and give way to the oncoming vehicle. Planning and thinking ahead will help you avoid failing your driving test in this scenario.
Our number one driving test tip for meeting situations is, where possible, always be the first one to give way. You will fail your test if you cause another road user to take evasive action.
You’re on a minor road approaching a t-junction, which you intend to turn left. The junction is closed as visibility is restricted. It’s mid-afternoon, and the residential area you are driving in is very quiet. As you approach the junction, you notice there are no vehicles on the major road. You decide to slow down but not stop at the give way line, as you feel it should be safe to emerge without stopping. The examiner steps on the brakes just before you cross the give way line. Your test is over as a result.
Better planning would have seen you avoid making this fault. At a closed junction with reduced visibility, your driving examiner expects you to emerge with caution only when it is safe to do so.
When faced with a closed junction on your driving test, stop at the give way line, select first gear and look in all directions. Only emerge when you are sure it’s safe to do so. This tip will help you deal with this type of junction on your driving test.
Avoid the common driving test mistakes
One of the best driving test tips we can give you is to learn how to avoid the common driving test mistakes. Each year the DVSA publishes a list of the top 10 mistakes candidates made on their driving test in the previous year.
To help you prepare for your driving test, we’ve listed each of the common faults and scenarios when they are likely to occur. The section also contains tips on how to avoid making these mistakes on your driving test. If you’re wondering how to pass your driving test, we advise you to start by analysing this list.
Observation at junctions
Poor observation at junctions was the number one reason candidates failed to pass their driving test in 2018/19.
Examples include failing to look into the new road when turning right from a major road, failing to look ahead when emerging left or right at a crossroad and emerging from a minor road without looking in all directions.
You can avoid making these types of mistakes by using effective observation when at or approaching a junction. Effective observation requires you to look in all directions long enough to assess the road situation. You can improve your line of sight by leaning forward in your seat and using the ‘peep and creep’ driving technique.
When dealing with junctions, begin your observations as early as possible. Remember, early vision leads to an early decision. Early observation helps you plan your route while anticipating what could happen next. It’ll also prevent you from emerging into a major road or crossing the path of oncoming traffic when it’s unsafe to do so. Beginning your observations as early as possible is one of our top driving test tips.
Use of mirrors when changing direction
The incorrect use of the mirrors when changing direction was another common mistake.
Common scenarios include failing to check your mirrors when changing lanes and failing to check your centre mirror when turning right or left. Candidates are also known to swerve without checking their mirrors too. For example, when avoiding potholes and parked vehicles.
You can avoid falling on this issue if you always check your mirrors before changing direction, no matter how small the change of direction is. Checking your mirrors before and after you change lanes to avoid an obstruction is key. Checking your mirrors in pairs will also help too. If you’re turning left, check your centre mirror and left door mirror before acting and check your centre mirror and right door mirror before turning right.
Another tip worth mentioning is always to check your mirrors when entering a new road. On your driving test, an easy way to remember this piece of advice is new road, new mirrors! Once you enter a new road, check all three mirrors to make sure there are no following vehicles about to overtake you.
Lack of control when steering
If you demonstrate a lack of control when steering, you are unlikely to pass your driving test.
Examples of faults caused by poor steering include touching the curb when turning left, going over the centre line when turning right. Lurching from left to right unnecessarily and taking both hands off the wheel.
When steering make sure you always keep at least one hand on the steering wheel, never take both hands off the steering wheel. Do not let the steering wheel spin back to the centre position by itself, instead, feed the wheel back through both hands using the push and pull steering technique.
Use the reference points you learnt when turning left and right to ensure you do not clip the kerb or go over the centre line. Turning at your point of turn and steering back when you’re supposed to, will help prevent both of these errors.
Turning right at a junction
Right turns can be challenging for learner drivers at the best of times, so it’s no surprise candidates find them tricky on the driving test.
Common errors include poor positioning on one-way roads, blocking following traffic when waiting to turn right and crossing oncoming traffic in an unsafe manner.
If you are on a one-way road and intend to turn right at the end of the road, make sure you position your vehicle on the right-hand side. Positioning in the centre of the road is a common mistake candidates make when faced with this situation on their driving test.
When turning right, if space allows, make sure you position your vehicle in a way that allows following traffic to pass on your left-hand side. Try not to block the following traffic when turning right, as this could cause you to fail your test.
Another tip you can use on your practical driving test is the ‘walk across, drive across’ rule. The rule states you should only cross oncoming traffic, when it’s safe enough, for a pedestrian to walk from one side of the road to the other and back. If there’s isn’t enough time for a pedestrian to walk across the road and come back, there isn’t enough time for you to cross the path of oncoming traffic. Remembering this tip on your driving test should help you with your right turns.
Moving off unsafely
On your driving test, your driving examiner will ask you to pull up on the left-hand side of the road several times. The examiner will ask you to move off again once it’s safe to do so. If you move off in an unsafe manner, you won’t pass your driving test.
Typical faults include failing to check your blind spots, incorrect use of a signal and misjudging the speed of following vehicles.
Simple tips to prevent this type of error include, checking all your mirrors and looking over your right shoulder when moving off after pulling up on the left. Checking all mirrors and both blind spots when moving off after an emergency stop. Doing so will help you spot if another road user is in the process of overtaking you.
Apply a signal if it’ll help another road user or pedestrian close to your vehicle. Avoid signalling if there are vehicles or road users behind you, in the lane that you plan to join. Applying a signal at this moment could cause the vehicle, motorcyclist or cyclist to swerve if they anticipate you moving off at that moment.
Incorrect response to traffic lights
You’d think that navigating traffic lights would be relatively straightforward for most candidates on their driving test; however, in practice, this is not always the case. Failing as a result of an incorrect response to traffic lights made the list of top 10 errors in 2018/19.
Common mistakes include repeated stalling at a green light and failing to stop at an amber light when it was safe to do so. Other errors include failing to proceed at a green filter light, crossing through red lights and harsh braking on the approach to a set of traffic lights.
Being prepared for the lights to change is one of our essential driving test tips. Lots of candidates only think about what they’ll do next once the light has already changed. If you’re reactive instead of proactive, it’s easy to get caught out at a set of traffic lights, especially if you’re feeling a bit nervous.
If you’re waiting at a red light, apply a little bit of gas, find your biting point and keep your feet still as you wait for the lights to change. This tip will stop you from stalling in traffic.
Not moving when it’s safe to do so at a green filter arrow is an easy mistake to make. Filter arrows indicate you have priority so always make progress when it’s safe to do so. Filter lights can be a little harder to spot, so keep a lookout at any traffic lights that have more than three lights. One of the extra lights could be a filter light.
Look out for clues that the lights might be changing. Pedestrian countdown markers approaching zero, cycle lights changing from red to green and traffic flowing in other directions coming to a stop, are all clues that the lights you’re at might be about to change.
Lack of control when moving off
Candidates are required to pull up on the left and move off again when it’s safe. Your driving examiner will ask you to do this several times. Candidates are assessed on their level of control when moving off, and it’s an area that causes a lot of faults.
Typical errors include repeated stalling, moving off with the handbrake, moving off with just the clutch, moving off in the wrong gear and rolling back on an uphill start.
Here are a few tips that can help improve your control when moving off on your driving test.
Always check you’re in the right gear before moving off. If you’ve applied the handbrake, make sure you release the handbrake to avoid the vehicle stalling.
If you are on a hill remember to find your biting point first, then apply gas, release the handbrake and slowly raise the clutch pedal. Following the steps in that order will prevent the vehicle from stalling or rolling back. Avoid moving off with just the clutch pedal, as it makes the vehicle easier to stall when you’re nervous. An easy way to remember this is gas before clutch!
For more tips on moving off safely, check out this guide to finding your clutch biting point.
Incorrect positioning during normal driving
Use the left-hand lane for normal travel and remain at least 1m away from the kerb or parked vehicles during normal driving. You need to do both of these things to pass your driving test.
Common examples of incorrect positioning include driving too close or too far away from the kerb and crossing over the centre line when there’s no good reason to. Using the right-hand lane for normal travel when you haven’t been directed to by signs or road markings, will also lead to a failed driving test.
Our number one driving test tip for maintaining the correct road position is, look as far as you can to the end of the road and focus on the centre of your lane. Doing this should keep your vehicle a safe distance away from the centre line and the kerb. Whenever possible, use the reference points given to you by your driving instructor for maintaining your road positioning. The point at which the kerb intersects with your dashboard is a common reference point used to judge the right amount of distance, between your vehicle and the kerb.
Bonus Test Tip: Most learner drivers know they’ll fail their driving test if they enter a bus lane when the lane is in operation. However, some candidates fail their driving test for not using the bus lane when the lane is NOT in use. When directed to by signs, the bus lane should be used for normal travel as you would use the left-hand lane. Always check the times of operation of any nearby bus lanes.
Incorrect response to road markings
To pass your driving test, you need to respond correctly to all road markings you come across.
Examples of incorrect responses include failing to come to a complete stop at solid white give way line. Travelling in the wrong direction for the lane you are in and stopping in a yellow box junction when your exit is not clear.
To avoid responding incorrectly to lane road markings, look far ahead and plan your approach. Try not to rush as you drive, as it’s easy to end up in the wrong lane for your intended direction of travel when you do. Avoid crossing a solid white line unless signs direct you otherwise and always come to a complete stop at a stop road markings.
Bonus Test Tip: Applying the handbrake once you’ve come to a stop at a solid give way line will ensure you come to a complete stop. If you don’t apply the handbrake, your vehicle could roll forward and unintentionally cross the solid white line. If this happens, your test will be over.
Applying the handbrake at stop road markings is also useful as it gives you a bit of extra time to look in all directions, before moving off again.
Lack of control when reverse parking
You may have to reverse park into a bay or reverse park behind a parked vehicle on your driving test. If you have to perform this manoeuvre, you’ll need to demonstrate excellent control to ensure you pass your test.
From a control standpoint, your objective is to avoid touching the kerb or going over the line of the bay when reverse parking. To complete the manoeuvre without error, drive slowly and avoid rushing. Remember, reversing at a low speed gives you greater control over the vehicle.
Take time to master your reference points as this will also help. Knowing exactly when to complete an action should ensure you finish within the bay or close to the kerb without actually touching it.
Answer the show me question carefully
You will need to answer one ‘show me’ question on your driving test. The ‘show me’ questions require you to demonstrate to the examiner how you would use one of the car’s controls. There are seven potential ‘show me’ questions the examiner could you choose from, and you will need to demonstrate your answer while driving.
Our best piece of advice when answering this question is only demonstrate your answer when you’re sure it is safe to do so. You can fail your driving test if you endanger your vehicle, other road users or public and private property when answering this question. If you feel it’s unsafe to explain how you would operate the control, we recommend waiting until the road situation changes to answer.
If you don’t know the answer to the question, you’re better off letting the examiner know this. You’ll only receive a driver fault – also known as a minor fault – if you answer the question incorrectly. If you answer the question in an unsafe manner, you could, however, fail your driving test because of it.
Don’t worry if you make a mistake
Another piece of advice for candidates on their driving test is don’t worry if you make a mistake. Statistics show that each year, only a small percentage of candidates complete their driving tests without making a single fault.
In 2012/13, 1,436,481 candidates took their driving test in the UK. 677,255 learner drivers passed, and of those that did, 10,380 did so without making a single fault. In percentage terms, 1.53% of candidates that passed, were able to do so without making a single mistake. In the same year, the average number of faults recorded by candidates who passed their driving test was 5.2.
The data suggests that even if you make a couple of errors on your test, you still have a good chance of passing. If you make a mistake, don’t let your head drop and try not to lose your focus. If you dwell on an error, it could cause you to make additional mistakes, and any of these could lead to a failed test.
To help you prepare for your driving test, let’s use this example below, to see how worrying about a mistake you made at the start of your drive, can impact the result of the test.
You’re in the car in the test centre car park about to begin your drive. The driving examiner asks you to drive towards the exit and turn left. The test car park is empty, and the road you’ll be joining looks relatively quiet. On reaching the exit, you check your mirrors, look in both directions, confirm the road is clear and join the major road. While on the major road you realise that you forgot to signal left before turning.
At this point your head drops, you convince yourself you’ve failed and the standard of your driving takes a turn for the worse. You make several more errors and end up failing the test. At the end of the test, the driving examiner lists each of the major faults you made during the drive; however, they didn’t mention the mistake you made at the start.
Here’s a brief explanation of why the initial fault was not the error that led to you failing your test.
Types of faults
There are three types of mistake you could make on your driving test namely;
- Driver Faults
- Serious Faults
- Dangerous Faults
Driver faults are errors that don’t have a significant impact on your vehicle, other road users or public and private property. You can make up to 15 driver faults and still pass your driving test.
Serious faults are errors that if the road situation had been different, your actions would have endangered another vehicle, road user or public and private property. If you make a single serious fault, you’ll fail your driving test.
Dangerous faults are errors that endanger your vehicle, other road users or public and private property. Without intervention from yourself, the examiner or another road user, dangerous faults typically result in an accident. If you make a single dangerous fault, you’ll fail your driving test.
In the previous example, the mistake made at the start of the test would have been considered a driver fault. The examiner noticed there were no vehicles behind you in the test centre, and no road users on the road you were joining. Crucially, no one was around to benefit from your signal. Although correct to signal in this situation, the fact you didn’t, had no impact on any other road user. As a result, the examiner recorded it as a minor fault.
As you assumed the examiner had failed you for that mistake, you let your head drop and the standard of your driving too. In turn, this led to further errors, with one of the additional misjudgements leading to the end of your test. This example highlights why this driving test tip is so important. Remember, even if you make a mistake, put it to the back of your mind and remain focused, as you still might have a chance to pass your test.
Don’t panic if you take the wrong turn
Here’s another little tip for your driving test. Try not to panic if you take the wrong turn or end up in the wrong lane. Candidates often assume that if they make either mistake, they’ve automatically failed, however, on their own, neither of these issues is a major fault. It’s worth bearing this piece of advice in mind if you’re preparing to take your test, as it could be the difference between getting your driving licence and not.
To get your driving licence, you have to demonstrate to your examiner that you’re a safe driver. You need to show that you can respond in the correct way to all road situations you face. If you end up in the wrong lane rectify the issue as safely as you can.
As long as you make the correct observations and signal appropriately before acting, your test will continue. If it is too late to follow the examiner’s instructions, simply continue on your current path. Your examiner will then guide you back to the driving test route.
If you take the wrong turn or end up and in the wrong lane and respond incorrectly, it can lead to the end of your driving test. If you panic and try to recover by suddenly changing lanes without proper observation, you could cause an accident. If you react in this way, your driving test will be over.
For extra reading, check out our guide on how to overcome driving test nerves.
Let’s use the scenario below to see how different responses to this issue could play out on your driving test.
You’re travelling in the left-hand lane of a dual carriageway, and your driving examiner has asked you to leave the dual carriageway at the next exit. The slip road ahead has two lanes, and there are following vehicles behind you. Unfortunately, you’ve been quite nervous during your test, and you’ve missed the countdown markers. Just as you approach the chevron markings, you remember the examiner’s instructions. How should you respond?
As you approach the chevron markings, you slam on the brakes, check your left-wing mirror and abruptly change lanes. You were in a bit of a panic, and you acted before you assessed the road situation. Your actions force the vehicles behind you to brake harshly, to avoid hitting your vehicle.
This response would result in a dangerous fault, and your test would be over. Acting first without the proper observations is dangerous. In this scenario, it endangered your vehicle and the vehicles behind you.
As you approach the chevron markings, you check your centre mirror and left mirror before deciding on what to do. You notice the vehicles behind you wouldn’t have time to react to any sudden changes in direction. You continue on the dual carriageway, and the driving examiner issues a new set of instructions. Your driving test continues.
In the scenario above, responding in this way would be the correct thing to do. Always assess the situation before acting and only change course when it is safe to do so. Changing lanes at short notice is dangerous, even more so when there are following vehicles behind you.
Ask your examiner to repeat the instruction
Another tip you can use on your driving test is to ask the examiner to repeat themselves. If you’ve forgotten their instruction, or you haven’t quite understood it, you can ask your driving examiner to repeat what they said. Not enough candidates are aware of this piece of advice, and it’s an underutilised driving test tip.
There’s nothing wrong with asking an examiner to repeat their instructions. It’s safer for you and other road users if you ask for clarification, especially if it prevents you from guessing, which could cause an accident.
If the examiner repeats their instructions and if it’s too late to change course safely, remain on the path you are one and your driving examiner will get you back on track.
Use the MSM routine
The mirror signal manoeuvre or MSM routine is the cornerstone of safe driving. Your driving examiner will expect you to use the routine throughout your test.
Use the routine whenever you need to change speed, direction or road position. You should also use it when moving off and stopping, changing lanes, overtaking, navigating roundabouts, avoiding hazards and speeding up and slowing down.
To pass your driving test, you’ll need to use the MSM routine as often as possible, and we recommend mastering the technique before booking your test.
Driving isn’t always straightforward, especially on your driving test. Other drivers, pedestrians and the road itself can be unpredictable. To pass your driving test, you need to drive in a way that expects the unexpected. Whenever possible, drive in a manner that allows for other people’s mistakes and unseen hazards. This technique is known as defensive driving.
When it comes down to it, you need to convince the driving examiner you are a safe driver. If they think otherwise, it’ll be tough for you to pass your driving test. Using the defensive driving technique can help make your case, and it’s one of our advanced driving test tips.
To illustrate how defensive driving can help you pass your driving test, let’s take a look at the following scenario.
You’re travelling along a residential road with parked cars on the left-hand side. There’s a vehicle in front of you indicating left. There’s a gap in the row of parked cars ahead, and it looks like the vehicle in front wants to pull into it. As you’re sure the vehicle in front of you is pulling up, you decide to overtake it.
You check your centre mirror, your right door mirror, signal right and move out to the right. As you begin picking up speed, the vehicle in front cancels their indicator and also begins to pick up speed. The driving examiner immediately brakes for you, grabs the wheel, then guides you back to the left-hand side of the road. Their actions avoid a collision, and your test is effectively over.
Defensive driving means anticipating the actions and mistakes of others. In this scenario, a defensive driver would have waited and made sure the vehicle ahead was pulling up, before overtaking.
The vehicle in front could have its indicators on for any number of reasons. The driver could have signalled by mistake, or they may not even be aware of the signal at all. This scenario illustrates why it’s important not to make decisions, solely based on the signals of others.
Remember this piece of advice on your driving test. Before you react to another driver’s signal, always wait until their actions confirm their intentions. Don’t assume you know what another driver is about to do. Defensive driving is an advanced technique, but we hope it’s one that will help you pass your driving test.
Look out for vulnerable road users
The highway code has guidelines in place explaining how to deal with vulnerable road users. Vulnerable road users include pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, horse riders, horse-drawn vehicles and animals.
This section of the highway code also talks in detail about dealing with vulnerable pedestrians. Vulnerable pedestrians include children, the elderly and the disabled.
Be on the lookout for vulnerable road users on your driving test. Anticipating when you may come into contact with a vulnerable road user and driving with care when you do, will help you pass your test. This piece of advice will help any candidates taking their driving test in a built-up urban area.
For example, if you’re driving in a residential area on a sunny day and you notice a park or ice cream van close by, your driving examiner will expect you to proceed with caution. Children could be heading towards the ice cream van or playing in and around the park. You could fail your test if you continue without reducing your speed or exercising caution in this situation.
Be extra cautious when approaching a junction if pedestrians are waiting to cross. The highway code says you MUST give way to any pedestrians already on the crossing. You will fail your driving test if a pedestrian steps out and you fail to give way.
Make sure you leave at least 1 metre between your vehicle and a cyclist/motorcyclist when overtaking. Examiners are quite strict when it comes to passing two-wheelers. You’ll fail if you don’t leave adequate clearance.
Don’t be afraid of your driving examiner
Our next driving test tip is to remember that your driving examiner is a human being too. Even if you get nervous, try not to place the examiner on a pedestal as it can impact your driving.
Some driving examiners like to start conversations with their candidates to get them to relax. Some candidates might find the conversation calming, while others might not want the distraction. If you don’t feel like chatting to your driving examiner and they strike up a conversation, politely let them know. They won’t be offended if you do and it won’t affect your chances of passing either.
If on the other hand, your examiner is silent with you, they probably just want you to concentrate on your drive. Try not to look at their silence negatively.
Driving examiners have to record a lot of information about your driving test. If you notice them writing on your test report, don’t assume the worst. The examiner could be recording a whole host of things, so try to remain focused on their instructions and the road ahead.
How to impress your driving examiner
Impressing your driving examiner at the start of your test won’t guarantee your driving licence. It might, however, swing things in your favour if your test result hangs in the balance. Remember, you don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression.
If your driving examiner perceives you to be a calm and well-prepared driver and your test is on a knife-edge, you could end up passing if they feel you won’t be a danger to yourself or the general public. The opposite could happen if you’ve left a negative impression.
Creating a good first impression with your driving examiner is easy to do. It’s one of our favourite driving test tips, and all candidates can do it. All you have to do is follow the steps outlined below.
Turn up on time
The DVSA recommend turning up to the test centre 10 minutes before the start of your driving test. We suggest you stick to this. Turning up late is a surefire way to disgruntle your driving examiner, it also gives them a reason to question your professionalism and possibly your driving ability too.
Turning up late can also ruin your chances of passing your driving test before it’s even begun. Between April 2015 and March 2016, 2,201 candidates had their driving tests cancelled without a refund, due to their late arrival.
Use the toilet beforehand
Each driving test centre has a set of toilets that can be used by candidates seated in the waiting area. If you need to use the bathroom, do so before the driving examiner calls your name to start your test. Waiting till your name has been called to use the toilet can agitate the examiner, as it could put pressure on the time allocated for your driving test.
Have your provisional driver’s license ready
One simple tip to help your driving test get off to the best start is to make sure you have your provisional driving licence to hand while waiting in the waiting room. When the driving examiner calls your name at the beginning of your test, avoid looking in your pocket, handbag or wallet for your licence. Looking for your licence at the last minute can make you appear unprepared and flustered. It could go against you later on in the test.
Wear your glasses beforehand
At the start of your driving test, you’ll need to read the licence plate on a vehicle 20 metres away. This exercise is known as the eyesight check. If you wear glasses and think you’ll need them to read the licence plate, we recommend wearing them before the start of your test. Similar to the point about your provisional licence, it’s best to be wearing your glasses before you leave the waiting area. Looking for your glasses after the examiner has asked to read the plate, makes you appear unprepared for the test and it could go against you later on.
You can fail your driving test before it starts if you’re unable to read a licence plate 20 metres away. Our bonus driving test tip is to get your eyes checked out before your test and leave enough time to order a new pair of glasses or contact lenses if they’re required.
How to pass your driving test
- Practice as much as you can
- Learn how to follow a sat nav and road signs
- Go over the theory information
- Book your driving test only when you’re ready
- Choose the right test centre
- Practice in and around your chosen test centre
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Eat and drink before your test
Preparation is key to passing your driving test. You’ll be amazed at how many learner drivers turn up on the day of their test unprepared. This part of the guide is all about preparing for your driving test. The advice in this section will help you decide when to book your test, how to choose between different test centres and how to get yourself in the right frame of mind to pass. We hope that the tips in this section will help you perform to the best of your ability.
Practice as much as you can
The best way to prepare for your driving test is to practice as often as you can. There’s no substitute for experience and the more of it you have, the less chance there is of you being caught out by something unexpected on the day of your test. To pass your driving test, the DVSA recommends at least 45 hours of professional training and at least 22 hours of independent practice. Some candidates need less than this, while others require more than the recommended number of hours.
You won’t know what conditions will be like on the day of your test. You could face heavy traffic, adverse weather or any number of challenging road situations. To help you prepare for all eventualities, practice at different times of the day. We also recommend practising in various road, traffic and weather conditions. Doing so should give you the necessary experience you need to drive confidently in all potential situations.
Independent practise can significantly improve your chances of passing the driving test. If you have a friend or family member, above the age of 21, who has held their driving licence for more than three years, they can legally sit in the car with you as you drive. When preparing for your driving test, we strongly recommend you practise independently as often you can.
If you are struggling with a particular area of your driving, you can use your independent sessions to iron out any issues you might have. You can also use your private sessions to master any new concepts or ideas.you’re currently working on.
Bonus Tip: If you plan on practising independently, make sure the vehicle you’re driving has the correct insurance. You might have to purchase learner driver insurance to ensure you’re covered.
Learn how to follow a sat nav and road signs
52% of drivers in the UK regularly use a sat nav when driving. To reflect this, following a sat nav was added to the driving test in 2017. Each candidate on their driving test must complete a period of independent driving. In this section, candidates must either follow a sat nav or road signs for 20 minutes. 4 out of 5 candidates will follow a sat nav, while the remainder will follow road signs.
Before your driving test, we recommend you spend time learning how to follow a sat nav and road signs. It’s worth dedicating a couple of hours to each. If you have to follow the sat nav on your driving test, it’s worth bearing the following things in mind;
The correct way to follow the sat nav on your driving test is to glance at the screen. Try not to stare at the device, as taking your eyes off the road could be dangerous. Avoid just listening to the directions, as you could confuse an instruction, which could then cause you to react in an unsafe manner.
The sat nav will display the speed you’re travelling at, but bear in mind, the figure it shows might not be your exact speed. Your driving examiner will use what’s on your speedometer as your actual speed. We recommend you do the same.
You could unknowingly break the speed limit if the display on the sat nav is incorrect and you end up travelling faster than you realise. If this happens, you could fail your driving test.
The sat nav may also display a speed limit for the road you are on. Sometimes the speed limit displayed differs from the road’s actual speed limit. If you fail to realise when this happens, and you trust the speed limit on the sat nav, it could prevent you from passing your driving test. You can fail your test for going over the speed and also for going under the speed limit when there’s no good reason to. On your driving test, always follow the speed limit signs for the road you are on.
We hope these driving test tips will help you if you have to follow a sat nav on the day of your test.
Go over the theory information
You can improve your chances of passing your driving test by going over the theory test study materials. On your test, you must respond correctly to all road signs and markings, and the theory test practice questions can help you with this. The questions and answers are a goldmine of information, and we highly recommend revisiting your study materials just before your test. To aid your preparation, go over both the theory test questions and the hazard perception clips as well.
Book your driving test only when you’re ready
Driving lessons can be expensive, so it’s no surprise many learner drivers want to book their driving test as soon as they can. Although we understand the temptation to do this, rushing into the process will increase your chances of failing. We always recommend learner drivers complete their training before booking a test.
When you’re able to drive safely and independently, without prompts from your instructor, you’re at test standard. Booking your driving test at this point will give you the best chance of passing.
If you find you need regular prompts or intervention from your driving instructor, and you’re struggling with different aspects of your driving, you’re probably not at the required level. Generally speaking, taking your test at this point is not the best thing to do. Chances are you won’t pass. Assessing your driving ability does require you to be honest with yourself and to listen to your driving instructor, but doing so will help you in the long run.
We recommend you stick with your driving lessons until you’re 100% confident in your driving ability. Being patient and continuing with your training will give you the best chance of passing. However, we know that waiting till you’re 100% confident is not always possible.
If you need to book your driving test as soon as you can, use our driving test cancellation checker to find a short notice driving test. The service searches the DVSA’s database to find you an early driving test appointment.
Choose the right test centre
The UK driving test is the same, irrespective of where you take the test. Driving examiners assess the test in the same way, and you must drive to the required standard to get your driving licence. In theory, you have the same chance of passing, whether you take your test in Edinburgh or Cornwall. In practice, however, this is not always the case.
Unique road layouts, traffic situations and local roads, mean each test centre has a range of potential driving test routes. Different test routes lead to different driving test outcomes, and as a result, different driving test pass rates.
One of our recommended driving test tips is to analyse test centre pass rates and possible routes before you book your test.
Picking the right test centre can have a significantly improve your chances of passing the driving test. We recommend choosing a test centre with an above-average pass rate. Anything over 49% will do. If possible, review any available driving test routes of the test centres on your shortlist. Pick a location that highlights your driving strengths instead of your weakness.
If for example, by the time you take your test, you’re not 100% comfortable with hill starts, don’t book your test at a location that has a lot of hills. If you do, you may have to perform a hill start on the day. If you’re not comfortable dealing with large spiral roundabouts, don’t book your test at a test centre close to one. If you do, there’s a good chance you’ll have to drive through it on the day of your test.
Practice in and around your chosen test centre
Once you have chosen your test centre, it’s time to familiarise yourself with the local area. We advise you to spend some time getting to know the roads in and around your test centre of choice. Understanding the road layout and what junctions to expect will help you to drive with more confidence. A thorough understanding means you’re less likely to get caught out by something unexpected. We recommend this driving test tip to all candidates preparing for their test.
You can increase your local knowledge by practising in the local area in the run-up to your test. You should have several lessons with your instructor where you cover potential test routes. If you have friends or family members who own a vehicle, are over the age of 21 and have had their driving licence for over three years, they can also sit with you while you practice. If you can go out for a drive with someone you know, use the time to amass some additional local knowledge.
Bonus test tip: You can also use Google street view to your advantage when preparing for your driving test. Search for your chosen driving test centre, switch to the satellite aerial view and use the images to build up a picture of the local area and potential test routes. Switch to street view, to get an understanding of the road markings, signs and junctions you may have to navigate. The more information you have about the local area, the better.
Get a good night’s sleep
You need focus and maximum concentration to drive at your best on your driving test. Getting a good night’s sleep the day before your test can help with this. When you’re well-rested, you’re less likely to feel anxious or nervous. In turn, this should help you feel relaxed, which should improve your driving. Getting enough rest the day before should be a crucial part of your driving test preparation.
Eat and drink before your test
Driving takes concentration, and you need a lot of it on your driving test. If your focus drops, you could make a mistake that leads to the end of your test. Having something to eat and drink an hour or two before your test can help with this. Having a meal before the start of your test can help prevent drops in concentration.
As well as eating and drinking beforehand, we also recommend taking a bottle of water with you if possible. A small 2% drop in hydration could lead to a 20% drop in concentration. If you take a bottle of water with you on your test, only drink from it when the vehicle is stationary and secure. An example of when it’s appropriate to drink would be when waiting at a red light with the handbrake applied. Avoid drinking while the vehicle is moving as it could affect your concentration, and always keep one hand on the steering wheel as you drink.
With the national pass rate hovering around the 48% mark, we know passing the driving test can be a challenge. The test can be quite daunting, but, with lots of practice and a little bit of luck, you have as good a chance of passing as anyone else. We hope you find the driving test tips in this guide useful and we hope they help you along the way. Look out for more advice and tips from Book Learn Pass, and we wish you the best of luck on your driving test.