A simples guide

A guide to passing your driving test

Learning to drive is an exciting time. Okay, yes, it can be a little bit stressful too, but you can help yourself by being well prepared. The key to good preparation starts with knowing what to expect. By reading this, you’ll be making a good start! 

What is involved in a driving test?

Before taking your practical driving test you’ll need to have passed the theory test. The theory test is divided into two parts carried out on the same day.

First, you’ll need to answer 50 multiple choice questions. Then your perception of hazards will be tested during 14 different video clips. You have to pass both parts to be awarded the theory pass certificate. You’ll need to present this to your examiner at your practical test.

The practical test is then comprised of five parts:

1) An eyesight check – You’ll need to be able to read a car registration plate 20 metres away. If you’re unable to do so, you’ll fail the test immediately.

2) ‘Show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions from the examiner.

3) General driving ability.

4) Reversing your vehicle.

5) Independent driving.

Your driving test will last about 40 minutes and is designed to assess your driving in a variety of road conditions. Simply follow the instructions given to you by the examiner. Pay attention to your speed. This includes going too slowly as well as too fast!

passed badge on car
musical instruments

Driving test

There are three standard manoeuvres and at least two will be tested. These include:

  • A three point turn.
  • Reverse around a corner.
  • Reverse Park - either in a car park into a parking bay or on the road behind a parked vehicle.

An emergency stop may form part of your test, but is actually only used in about 25% of driving tests nowadays. If your examiner does want you to perform one, they will give you some notice that it is coming up.

Another part of your test will be to simply park the car safely and pull away again. This may be done multiple times. Sometimes, you may be on a hill or behind a stationary vehicle or other obstruction.

When the test is over, the examiner will ask you to switch off the engine and will then tell you whether you’ve passed or failed.

In the unfortunate case of failing, make sure you find out why, so you pick up some useful advice for next time.


How many lessons will it take me to pass my driving test?

The answer will of course vary from person to person. The best answer is really ‘when you feel comfortable’. Your instructor is key, the better your instructor, the quicker you will learn.

On average around 30-40 hours of expert tuition are recommended to reach test standard.

Remember too, the more experience you have in the car out on the road, the more knowledgeable you will become about road signs and practical hazard spotting. Both of these will be useful when it comes to the theory test as well as preparing you for the practical test.

What can make me fail?

The top ten reasons for failing a driving test are below. The more practice you have, the less chance you’ll have of making any of the following mistakes:

1) Observation at junctions – not looking properly or showing poor judgement.

2) Reverse parking – not looking properly and ensuring you can manoeuvre safely or a lack of accuracy.

3) Use of mirrors - not checking frequently, at the right time or checking and not then acting on what you’ve seen.

4) Moving away – not looking properly or poor control when pulling away.

5) Use of signals – not indicating, not turning them off or giving misleading signals.

6) Incorrect positioning – not positioning the car properly, for example at roundabouts, in lanes or around bends.

7) Reversing around a corner – not looking properly or reversing inaccurately.

8) Lack of steering control – either steering too early or leaving it too late.

9) Turn round in road – the three point turn, not looking properly or carried out badly.

10) Inappropriate speed - travelling too quickly or too slowly for road conditions. 

Phew. Yes, there’s a lot to learn. At least you know everyone on the road has been there and done it too. Good luck!!

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