Practical Driving Test Explained


The driving test for a car is designed for you to show you understand and can demonstrate your knowledge of the Highway Code and the theory of driving safely.


Throughout the test your examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving, including when you are carrying out the set exercises.

The car practical driving test 

The driving test is straightforward and has been designed to see if you:


- can drive safely in different road and traffic conditions

- know The Highway Code and can demonstrate this through your driving


After meeting your examiner, the next two stages are:


- an eyesight check – if you fail this, your test will not continue

- your examiner will ask you two questions about carrying out vehicle safety

Driving ability 

The driving part of your test will last about 40 minutes during which you will be examined on your general driving and ability to reverse your vehicle safely. One exercise will be chosen from:


- reversing around a corner

- turning in the road

- reverse parking


You may also be asked to carry out an emergency stop exercise


Throughout the test you should drive in the way your instructor has taught you. If you make a mistake, don't worry about it as it might be a less serious driving fault and may not affect your result. However, if at any time your examiner considers your driving to be a danger to other road users your test will be stopped.


Your practical driving test will include approximately ten minutes of independent driving. This is designed to assess your ability to drive safely while making decisions independently.

Independent driving explained 

Your practical driving test will include approximately 10 minutes of independent driving.


During your test you’ll have to drive independently by either following:


- traffic signs

- a series of directions

- a combination of both


To help you understand where you are going when following verbal directions, the examiner will show you a diagram.


It doesn't matter if you don't remember every direction, or if you go the wrong way - that can happen to the most experienced drivers.


Independent driving is not a test of your orientation and navigation skills. Driving independently means making your own decisions - this includes deciding when it’s safe and appropriate to ask for confirmation about where you’re going.


The independent driving route 

If you ask for a reminder of the directions, the examiner will confirm them to you.


If you go off the independent driving route it won’t affect the result of your test unless you commit a driving fault.


If you go off the route or take a wrong turning, the examiner will help you to get back on the route and continue with the independent driving.


If there are poor or obscured traffic signs, the examiner will give you directions until you can see the next traffic sign - you won’t need to have a detailed knowledge of the area.


You can’t use a sat nav for independent driving as it gives you turn-by-turn prompts. Independent driving tests how you make your own decisions.


To book your Practical Driving Test Online, click on the following link to the DSA website