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 driving test because you’ve been banned from driving.
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.
‘Show me, tell me’ questions
You’ll be asked 2 vehicle safety questions known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions.
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
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 are not published, so you cannot 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.
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
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 follow.
They’ll set the sat nav up for you. You cannot use your own sat nav.
If you cannot see traffic signs
If you cannot see a traffic sign (for example, because it’s covered by trees), the examiner will give you directions until you can see the next one.
Going off the route
The examiner will not give you a fault for taking a wrong turning.
They’ll help you get back on the route if you do.
If you make mistakes during your test
You can carry on if you make a mistake. It might not affect your test result if it’s not serious.
Your driving examiner will only stop your test if they think your driving is a danger to other road users.
Other people at your test
Your driving examiner’s supervisor might sit in on your test to watch your examiner’s performance. If you refuse, your test can be cancelled and you’ll have to book another test and pay again.
In England, your driving examiner will ask if you want someone to:
- sit in the back of the car during the test
- be with you for the result and feedback
This will usually be your driving instructor, but you can take a relative or friend. They cannot take any part in the test.
- be over 16
- follow the rules about observing tests
They should also take a rapid lateral flow test on the day of your driving test before they leave home if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms.
Find out how to take a lateral flow test before a driving test.