What to expect from your driving test

Lesson Type
Last updated: 12 Nov 2019

On the day of your driving test you’re bound to feel a mixture of emotions. Whilst the thought that your pink driving licence could be just a couple of hours away is exciting, the uncertainty over what to expect and what manoeuvres the driving examiner will ask you to perform could be sending your stomach into somersaults.

Have a driving lesson beforehand

Knowing what to expect from the driving test will make you feel at ease on the big day and will be really useful when it comes to preparing. Everything you learn in your driving lessons with your driving instructor will, of course, lead up to and equip you for the driving test, but you might also want to know what’s going to happen from when you arrive and after you’ve finished the test.

You should book two hours with your driving instructor on the day of your driving test so that you can get an hour lesson in before the test. This will give you a chance to warm up a bit in the driving seat to get ready for the test, and should also help to calm your nerves a bit beforehand.

During this hour lesson, you might be tempted to get some last minute practice in of the things you struggle most with. If you feel this will help, go for it, but don’t get too concerned with practising just before your driving test, because this might leave you feeling frustrated if you don’t get, for example, your manoeuvre right first time.

Instead, have a drive around and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to prepare for the driving test, as you’ll have already learnt all you need to know in order to be at test standard.

Eyesight checks

When you arrive at the test centre, you will be greeted by your driving examiner before he takes you through an eyesight check. For this, you’ll need to be able to read a car number plate on a parked vehicle from 20 metres away (or 20.5 metres for a number plate made before 1st September 2001).

You will be able to wear glasses or contact lenses for this if necessary, but if you have to wear them to read the number plate, you must wear them every time you drive.

Show me tell me questions

Before you start your driving test, the driving test examiner will ask you two show me, tell me questions. In this part of the driving test, you will have to answer a couple of questions relating to the maintenance and safety of the vehicle.

There are a number of things the examiner might ask you, so you need to make sure you’ve revised the DVSA show me tell me questions before your driving test. Your driving instructor will show you what’s under the bonnet and will tell you how to check things like your handbrake and your indicators, from inside the car.

There are 19 set DVSA show me tell questions and 12 possible combinations.

The driving test

Once you’ve completed the show me tell me questions, it will be time for the driving test. Keep calm and remember that your driving instructor has put you to the driving test because you’re at test standard.

During your driving test

During the driving test, the examiner will direct you. They will try to make sure you experience a varied range of roads, junctions, crossroads and roundabouts. When listening to the driving examiner’s directions, make sure you concentrate on driving safely whilst displaying a knowledge of how to react and respond to different on-road situations and scenarios.


At some point during your driving test, the driving examiner will ask you to perform a manoeuvre. Whilst learner drivers used to have to complete two manoeuvres during their test, generally, one of these is now replaced by the independent driving section of the driving test. Your examiner can, however, still ask you to perform two manoeuvres if there is enough time left.

You will be asked to perform one or two of the following:

  • Parallel park
  • Parking in a bay
  • Pull up on the right and reverse for 2 car length

Reverse around a corner and turn in the road will no longer be tested, but driving insturctors are sitll encouraged to teach them. You will have practised these extensively with your driving instructor so remember what you’ve been taught in your driving lessons and don’t rush your manoeuvres. If you feel like you’ve made a mistake whilst performing one of your manoeuvres, ask the examiner if you can try again, making sure you make all of the relevant checks before you pull out to try again.

Emergency stop

You might also be asked to perform an emergency stop. This is something which around 1 in 3 learners are asked to do in the driving test, so you should make sure you’re prepared and know how to perform an emergency stop.

If you are required to perform one, the driving examiner will ask you to pull over and stop before telling you that they’re about to ask you to perform an emergency stop. They will then explain what the command to perform the emergency stop will be, and will then ask you drive on. The examiner will make sure it’s safe for you to perform the emergency stop before giving you the command to do so.

Independent driving

Independent driving was introduced to the driving test in October 2010. In this section of the test, you will need to follow road signs and traffic signals, without instruction, for around 20 minutes. Most candidates will be asked to use a sat nav for this, but one in five test won't use a sat nav and will have to follow road signs. The examiner will programme the sat nav.

At the end of your test

Once the driving examiner has directed you back to the test centre, they will sometimes ask you to park up in a bay. This might count as one of your manoeuvres if you’re asked to perform a reverse bay park, but, if not, you will be able to drive into the bay forward.

Once you’ve secured the vehicle and turned off the engine, the examiner will tell you whether you’ve passed or failed your driving test. If you’ve failed, they will explain to you what you’ve failed on and why on your driving test report. If you’ve passed, they will give any feedback on any minors you received, before writing out your pass certificate. The examiner will then ask you if you’d like them to send away for your driving licence, and you’ll give them your provisional licence for them to send away for your full driving licence.