Practical test

The Practical Test.

So your ready for your Practical Test.


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To pass the driving test you must be able to:

  • drive safely in different road and traffic conditions
  • show that you know The Highway Code by the way you drive

What to take to your test

You must take:

  • your UK driving licence
  • our theory test pass certificate
  • a car

What happens during the test

There are 5 parts to the driving test:

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

The test is the same for both manual and automatic cars.

How long the test lasts

You'll drive for around 40 minutes.

You'll drive for around 70 minutes if you're taking an extended test because you've been banned from driving.

Eyesight check

You'll have to read a number plate from a distance of:

  • 20 metres for vehicles with a new-style number plate
  • 20.5 metres for vehicles with an old-style number plate

New-style number plates start with 2 letters followed by 2 numbers, such as AB51 ABC.

You'll fail your driving test if you fail the eyesight check. The test will end.

Your general driving ability

You'll drive in various road and traffic conditions, but not on motorways.

The examiner will give you directions that you should follow. Driving test routes aren't published, so you can't check them before your test.

Pulling over at the side of the road

You'll be asked to pull over and pull away during your test, including:

  • normal stops at the side of the road
  • pulling out from behind a parked vehicle
  • a hill start
  • You might also be asked to carry out an emergency stop.

If you make mistakes during your test

You can carry on if you make a mistake. It might not affect your result if it's not serious.

The examiner will only stop your test if they think your driving is a danger to other road users.

'Show me, tell me' questions

You'll be asked 2 vehicle safety questions known as the 'show me, tell me' questions. These test that you know how to carry out basic safety tasks.

You'll be asked the:

  • 'tell me' question at the start of your test, before you start driving
  • 'show me' question while you're driving - for example, showing how to wash the windscreen using the car controls and wipers
  • See below for the new questions

Reversing your vehicle

The examiner will ask you to do one of the following exercises:

  • parallel park at the side of the road
  • park in a parking bay - either by driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do)
  • pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for around 2 car lengths, and rejoin the traffic

Independent driving

You'll have to drive for about 20 minutes by following either:

  • directions from a sat nav
  • traffic signs

The examiner will tell you which you have to do.

Following directions from a sat nav

The examiner will provide the sat nav and set it up for you.

You can't follow directions from your own sat nav during the test.

Going off the route

Your test result won't be affected if you take a wrong turning, unless you make a fault while doing it.

The examiner will help you get back on the route if you do.

The 'Show me''Tell me' questions

The examiner will ask you one:

  • 'tell me' question (where you explain how you'd carry out a safety task) at the start of your test, before you start driving
  • 'show me' question (where you show how you'd carry out a safety task) while you're driving

'Show me' questions

  1. When it's safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the rear windscreen?
  2. When it's safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the front windscreen?
  3. When it's safe to do so, can you show me how you'd switch on your dipped headlights?
  4. When it's safe to do so, can you show me how you'd set the rear demister?
  5. When it's safe to do so, can you show me how you'd operate the horn?
  6. When it's safe to do so, can you show me how you'd demist the front windscreen?
  7. When it's safe to do so, can you show me how you'd open and close the side window?

'Tell me' questions

  1. Tell me how you'd check that the brakes are working before starting a journey.
  2. Brakes should not feel spongy or slack. Brakes should be tested as you set off. Vehicle should not pull to one side.

  3. Tell me where you'd find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how tyre pressures should be checked.
  4. Manufacturer's guide, use a reliable pressure gauge, check and adjust pressures when tyres are cold, don't forget spare tyre, remember to refit valve caps.

  5. Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.
  6. The head restraint should be adjusted so the rigid part of the head restraint is at least as high as the eye or top of the ears, and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable.
    Note: Some restraints might not be adjustable.

  7. Tell me how you'd check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road.
  8. No cuts and bulges, 1.6mm of tread depth across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre, and around the entire outer circumference of the tyre.

  9. Tell me how you'd check that the headlights and tail lights are working. You don't need to exit the vehicle.
  10. Explain you'd operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary), then walk round vehicle (as this is a 'tell me' question, you don't need to physically check the lights).

  11. Tell me how you'd know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system.
  12. Warning light should illuminate if there is a fault with the anti-lock braking system.

  13. Tell me how you'd check the direction indicators are working. You don't need to exit the vehicle.
  14. Explain you'd operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary), and then walk round vehicle (as this is a 'tell me' question, you don't need to physically check the lights).

  15. Tell me how you'd check the brake lights are working on this car.
  16. Explain you'd operate the brake pedal, make use of reflections in windows or doors, or ask someone to help.

  17. Tell me how you'd check the power-assisted steering is working before starting a journey.
  18. If the steering becomes heavy, the system may not be working properly. Before starting a journey, 2 simple checks can be made. Gentle pressure on the steering wheel, maintained while the engine is started, should result in a slight but noticeable movement as the system begins to operate. Alternatively turning the steering wheel just after moving off will give an immediate indication that the power assistance is functioning.

  19. Tell me how you'd switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you'd use it/them. You don't need to exit the vehicle.
  20. Operate switch (turn on dipped headlights and ignition if necessary). Check warning light is on. Explain use.

  21. Tell me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you'd know the main beam is on.
  22. Operate switch (with ignition or engine on if necessary), check with main beam warning light.

  23. Tell me how you'd check that the engine has sufficient oil.
  24. Identify dipstick/oil level indicator, describe check of oil level against the minimum and maximum markers.

  25. Tell me how you'd check that the engine has sufficient engine coolant.
  26. Identify high and low level markings on header tank where fitted or radiator filler cap, and describe how to top up to correct level.

  27. Tell me how you'd check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.
  28. Identify reservoir, check level against high and low markings.