Preparing for your practical test

If you are preparing for your test with lessons from a parent, partner or friend, it is essential that you take a few lessons with an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor), prior to test day. A good ADI will ensure you are following all the required procedures, making all the important safety checks and driving at a level to allow you to pass first time.

Lots my pupils ask me to sit in the back of the car, when they take their practical tests, although I am not allowed to take any part in it. This is a good idea for lots of reasons, not just because having a friendly face in the car helps with nerves, but if the pupil should fail, I am able to help them understand what went wrong and help them rectify the problem, ready for next time. Only a few of my pupils have needed to re take a test more than once.

Another good reason for sitting in the car during tests, is that I get driven around all the test routes. Although all my pupils are taught to drive on all types of roads, in as many weather conditions as possible, practising in some of the more difficult areas they may encounter during their tests, has to be a good thing.

I pride myself on knowing that all my pupils are prepared to not only pass their test, but to be safe and confident to drive, once they have passed. That’s one of the reasons I make them all practice putting fuel in the car during a lesson (how many times have you seen people struggle at the petrol station and wondered why know one had shown them how to do it)?

Test day!

Hopefully you have read through the ‘show me, tell me’ questions, had a good nights sleep and a lesson with your ADI, a day or two before. You are able to drive at the standard required to pass your test and have practised taking mock tests with your ADI, so know what to expect and are prepared for the silence in the car during your test.

You will require a two hour lesson to take your test.

An hour before the time your test is due to start, you should be collected by your ADI, ready to take your pre test lesson. Make sure you bring your photo card provisional licence, your confirmation of your test appointment and your theory test pass certificate. (You should only need your licence, but it’s sensible to take everything).

How you spend the hour is really up to you, but your ADI will ensure you practice anything you are feeling nervous about and arrive at the test centre five minutes before the time your test is due to start. (Because the Cowley test centre is so busy, you are not allowed to drive in before this time).

I will drive you into the test centre car park and reverse the car into bay. There is a toilet in the test centre and when you arrive in the waiting room, there will probably be five or six other people waiting to take their tests, sitting with their instructors.

The examiners arrive one at a time and will call your first name. Once they have checked your licence, they will ask you to read and sign the declaration on the tablet they use to record what happens during your test, and confirm your email address is correct, as they will send your test report to it. You are signing to confirm you are allowed to take the test and that the vehicle is insured for taking a test. Make sure you use the same signature you have on your licence, or you wont be allowed to take the test. Remember, if you are taking the test in a non driving school car, it may not be insured if the owner is not sitting in the front! The examiner will ask you if you want your ADI to come with you on the test or sit in on the debrief at the end.

As you leave the test centre, the examiner will ask you what you would like them to call you and take you to read a number plate from about 20 meters away. If you can’t read it, your test will finish and you will fail, so remember to bring your glasses/contacts if you normally wear them for driving.

Next you will show the examiner to your vehicle and they will ask you a ‘tell me’ questions. They will ask you the other question when you are on the move, see that section of my website. The examiner will look over the vehicle to ensure it is suitable to take a test in. Vehicle requirement are shown on the website.

The examiner will then ask you if you would him/her to explain about the test, say yes! They will tell you that the test will last between 38 & 40 minutes (half an hour of actual driving) will include one reversing manoeuvre, possibly an emergency stop and an ‘independent’ drive section, (this is where you are asked to follow sign posts and road markings, or a satnav for about 20 minutes). At all other times you should follow the road ahead. They will give you directions to follow in plenty of time and will repeat them if you ask.

It is important to remember that the examiner is there only check that you have good control of the vehicle and can drive safely, whilst being aware of and considerate to all other road users. As long as you can show this throughout your test, you will pass. You don’t fail for going the wrong way, even during the independent drive section, as long as you do it safely.

Your test will finish when you arrive back at the test centre, drive in slowly and carefully, there will be other people returning from their test too and you will all be feeling tired and stressed. Drive forwards into any empty bay, (the examiner will give you some advice on where to go and remind you that it doesn’t matter if you don’t end up in a bay, this is not a manoeuvre, but don’t hit the hedge!), secure the vehicle and switch off. The driving section of your test is now over and after a few seconds, the examiner will give you your result.

You are allowed to get up to 15 minor faults (although if you get this many, you should take some extra lessons) and still pass, but one serious or dangerous fault and you will fail, regardless of how many minor faults you have.

If you pass, the examiner will give you your pass certificate and explain any minor mistakes you may have made. They will also offer to send off your provisional licence to be changed for a full licence, this does mean you wont have it for id. The pass certificate acts as your licence to drive, until your new one arrives, so look after it. Your test report will be emailed to you.

If you fail to reach the required standard, the examiner will briefly explain the mistakes you made, and leave the vehicle without entering into a long discussion (they are short of time and an argument wont help anyone)! This is why having your ADI sit in on your test is a good idea. Your test report will be emailed to you.

Whatever the result, make sure you you don’t drive away from the test centre yourself, whether happy or disappointed, you will be in no state to drive!