Practical Driving Test

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practical driving test first time?


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Mock Test

Needless to say, you will need to make sure that you are fully prepared for your practical driving test. This can best be done by doing a mock test.

The mock test takes exactly the same format as the real practical test and creates the feeling of being under test conditions as your driving instructor plays the role of the examiner (DSA test centre examiner).

This is a great way to help you with any nerves you may have and to give you time to practice any weak points in your driving.

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On The Day Of Your Driving Practical Test

On the day of your practical driving test, make sure that:

  • you have had a good night’s sleep,
  • you have all your documents ready (3 documents),
  • you wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and
  • try not to be too nervous. If you are, take a few deep breaths as it is know to have a calming effect.

The 3 documents you will need to take with you are:

  • your signed provisional driving licence,
  • your driving theory test certificate (which you must have passed first),
  • an acceptable document which contains your photograph and signature. This can be any of the following:
    • your provisional licence (photo type),
    • a passport,
    • photo-bearing version of cheque or credit card,
    • work-place identity card,
    • student or trades union membership card,
    • card used to buy railway tickets, or
    • a school bus pass.


The Car To Be Used for the Practical Driving Test

The car you will use for the practical driving test must be fitted with the appropriate: mirrors, headrests, L-plates, Tax, and must have the appropriate insurance.

The vehicle also needs to be in a clean and good working condition capable of normal performance for that type of vehicle. It must not have any faults.


The Practical Driving Test Itself

The practical driving test itself lasts approximately 35 minutes and is conducted from your local driving test centre by a DSA examiner.

You will be required to sign your test form, after which you will walk outside with the driving examiner who will give you an eyesight test (by reading a number plate).

You will then walk to the car where you will be asked two of the ‘SHOW ME TELL ME‘ questions. If you are not using your driving instructor’s car for the practical test, you will then need to bring a valid insurance certificate for the car you will be using.

The driving examiner will assess your ability to drive competently and safely, and will test you on most of the topics you should have covered in your driving lessons.

You will be required to drive along one of the test routes which are designed to be as uniform as possible and to include a range of typical road and traffic conditions. You will fail the test if you commit a serious or a dangerous fault during the test drive. You can also fail if you commit more than 15 driving faults altogether.

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Show Me Tell Me‘ Questions And Answers

At the start of your practical driving test, the examiner will ask you one of each of the following ‘how to’ type questions:

  • an explanation of how you would carry out certain vehicle safety checks,
  • a demonstration on how you would carry out certain vehicle safety checks. You will need to open the bonnet of the vehicle for some of these checks.

To that end, you will be asked two ‘Show Me Tell Me‘ questions from the following (the red indicates the question you will be asked, and the green indicates the answeryou should provide):

Q1. Open the bonnet, identify where you would check the engine coolant level and tell me how you would check the engine has the correct level.

A. Identify the coolant tank and check the high/low markings. If the coolant is below the low mark then more coolant will need to be added. To do this, unscrew the cap and pour in coolant until the high mark is reached.

Q2. Open the bonnet, identify where the brake fluid reservoir is and tell me how you would check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.

A. Identify the brake fluid reservoir and check the fluid level against the high/low levels.

Q3. Show me/explain how you would check that the power assisted steering is working before starting a journey.

A. If the steering is heavy, the steering may be faulty. Before starting a journey two simple checks can be made. 1) Gentle pressure on the steering wheel, maintained whilst the engine is started, should result in slight but noticeable movement as the system begins to operate. 2) Turning the steering wheel after just moving off will give an immediate indication that the power assisted steering is functioning correctly.

Q4. Identify where the windscreen washer reservoir is and tell me how you would check the windscreen washer level.

A. Identify the reservoir and explain how to check level of fluid.

Q5. Open the bonnet identify, where you would check the engine oil level and tell me how you would check that the engine has enough oil.

A. Identify the dipstick, pull it out and check the oil level against the high/low markings.

Q6. Show me how you would check that the horn is working (off road only).

A. Press the horn and listen (turn on ignition if necessary).

Q7. Show me how you would check that the brake lights are working on this car ( turn on ignition if necessary).

A. Operate brake pedal, make use of reflections in windows, garage doors, etc, or ask someone to help. You may need to turn on ignition.

Q8. Tell me how you would check that the brakes are working before starting a journey.

A. As you move off check the brakes. They should not feel spongy and the car should not pull to one side.

Q9. Tell me how you would check that the headlights and tail lights are working.

A. Turn on lights (turn ignition if necessary), walk around car and check that the lights are on.

Q10. Show me how you would check that the direction indicators are working correctly.

A. Activate the indicators (or hazard warning lights) and walk around the car to see if all the indicators are working correctly.

Q11. Tell me where you would find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how tyre pressures should be checked.

A. Information will be found using the car manufacturer’s manual. Check the tyre pressures by using a reliable pressure gauge when the tyres are cold. Don’t forget the spare and remember to refit the valve caps.

Q12. Tell me how you would check the tyres to show that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road.

A. A safe tyre will have no cuts or bulges. The tread depth should be at least 1.6mm across the central 3/4s of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire outer circumference.

Q13. Show me how you would check the parking brake for excessive wear.

A. Apply the parking brake (also called handbrake). When it is fully applied it should secure itself.

Q14. Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.

A. 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. N.B. Some restraints might not be adjustable.

Q15. Show me how you would clean the windscreen using the windscreen washer and wipers .

A. Operate control to wash and wipe windscreen (turn ignition on if necessary).

Q16. Show me how you would set the demister controls to clear all the windows effectively, this should include both front and rear screens.

A. Set all relevant controls including; fan, temperature, air direction/source and heated screen to clear windscreen and windows. Engine does not have to be started for this demonstration.

Q17. Tell me how you would know if there was a problem with your anti lock braking system.

A. Warning light should illuminate if there is a fault with the anti lock braking system.

Q18. Show me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you would know the main beam is on whilst inside the car.

A. Operate switch (with ignition or engine on if necessary), check with main beam warning light.

Q19. Show me how you would switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you would use it (them). No need to exit vehicle.

A. Operate switch (turn on dipped headlights and ignition if necessary). Check warning light is on. Explain use.

Note: Failure on one or both of the DSA Show Me Tell Me questions will result in one minor fault.


After The Practical Driving Test

Straight after the practical driving test, the examiner will inform you whether you’ve passed or not.

If you failed, you will be told why. You will then have the option of reapplying straight away, but you will need to wait at least 10 working days before being able to retake the practical driving test.

During the 10 working days, we suggest that you book some more driving lessons to gain further driving experience focusing on any driving faults.

If, on the other hand, you pass your practical driving test, then you will be given a form to fill in to obtain your Full Driving Licence . Note that if you had a photo licence issued after 1st March 2004 and the details on the driving licence are correct, then: keep your pass certificate, give you old driving licence to the examiner and a new full driving licence will be automatically sent out to you.

Click here to book your driving lessons and be
ready for your practical driving test!


You too can pass your practical driving test first time

Practical tips + ‘Show Me Tell Me’
questions and answers