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Practical Test

The key skills to passing your practical test will be covered and practiced throughout your practical driving lessons with Drive Me Bananas, we have some information about the test and some video clips to help you.

Test  Day

Written by Jonathan Smith ADI

This page is about how to prepare for your test, one of the biggest problems is nerves and fear of the unkown, so that is why I have created this page.

The driving test is seen as a very significant event in most peoples lives, its put on the same level as doing standard grades or higher exams at school. In reality its just a little pootle around the block for half an hour.

When you were sat in your house waiting for me to arrive for your first ever driving lesson you were probably nervous and unsure of what to expect.  When you got into the car and had a few lessons it hopefully became less stressful.  From the moment you left your house for your first lesson I have been testing you, I watch everything you do whilst you drive, I am constantly assessing your drive in the same way as the examiner during a test. The only difference being that I tell you when you make a mistake and help you to fix the problems as they occur.

The best way to approach a DSA driving test is to treat it as a normal lesson, just you get a better looking instructor.

The examiner is asking one question during the whole test "would I let this person borrow my car?"

It is important to start the day relaxed and with as little stress as possible, make sure you have all your documents ready and that you have your glasses or lenses with you if you use them for driving.  Take a walk and get some fresh air, try not to think about driving.

If you suffer from bad nerves try Rescue remedy.

I will arrive an hour before your test starts and we will go directly to the test centre, we will run through anything you are unsure about and get you to the test centre 10 minutes before the test starts so you can use the toilet and have a seat before the test.

Be positive!!

Do I have to talk to the examiner?  Some examiners may ask you a few questions. Like what you do, they are just trying to put you at ease, you don't have to answer if you feel you need to concentrate on your driving, just be polite and say you'd rather not talk.
Can I open the window? Yes.
Can I listen to the radio? Yes you can if you feel it would help you, but keep it very quiet so you can hear the examiners instructions.
What if I don't understand an instruction? Ask the examiner to repeat or clarify any instruction.
Can I take a drink? You will be asked to pull over during the test, if you must you can take a sip of water whilst you are stopped and the handbrake is on, don't do this at traffic lights or junctions! Don't spend all day the examiner has to get back for the next test.
What if I swear? You are not being tested on your vocabulary, you can swear, just don't swear at the examiner as this could be seen as verbal abuse and the police might be called.

The Test

How to Survive the Examinators.

are normal, friendly and polite people employed by the DSA to help you during your driving test.

You can spot an
Examinator easliy as they wear high visibility bibs so they don't get run down by other drivers.

You are allowed to take your instructor along on the test if you wish, I am happy to sit in on your test if you want me to. If you do want me to sit in let me know in advance.

When you arrive at the test centre, your examinator will come into the waiting room and call out your name.

Make yourself known to the examinator and they will come over to you.

Your examinator will say hello and ask to see your driving licence, so have both parts of your licence ready for inspection.

You will be asked to read and sign the declaration on the test report form, it says you are insured to drive the car and you are resident in the UK.

The examinator will then ask you to show them the way to your car.

On the way to the car they will ask you to read a number plate on another vehicle from about 20m away.

They will then ask you two questions from the show me, tell me list.

The car has a fancy key thing, don't panic if you have problems with the doors just stay calm and press the "open padlock" button. If you can't get the passenger door open use the silver handle on the inside of the door. The Examinator expects you to be nervous and will help if you get really stuck. There isnt a box on the test report form for being unable to open the doors!

Your Examinator will ask you to get into the car while they walk around and check the car is safe and legal for use on the test, they will take note of the registration number and the details on my green instructor badge in the window.

They will then get into the car and tell you about what will happen during the test.

The examintor will ask you to drive the car and they will take notes on the report form during the test, they have to keep notes so if they are writing it doesnt mean you have done anything wrong.

You will make mistakes during the test, very very few people finish the test with no mistakes at all. If you do manage a clean sheet then that is fantastic, but don't worry if you make mistakes. Concentrate on keeping everything safe and under control, try to be smooth with the controls.

Do NOT mark your own test, you are paying the examinator a large amount of money to do the marking, you concentrate on the driving and let them worry about the marking. It is common for candidates to assume they have failed the test for some trivial error which the examinator hasnt even marked down, they then go on to make a proper mistake and fail the test. So stay cool and concentrate.

You will be asked to drive on various types of road, try to drive at a safe speed within the speed limit, don't dally along the road 10mph below the speed limit because you think its safer, the examinator expects you to drive as you would with me in the car.

During the test you may be asked to perform an emergency stop.

You will be asked to perform 2 of the reverse exercises you have been practicing with me, remember you are being tested on:

Car control

Try to complete the exercise as best as possible, if you mess it up, fix it, don't be critical of your performance, touching the kerb, rolling backwards etc doesnt necessarily mean you have failed the test, that is upto the examinator. I demand perfection during lessons, the examinator just wants safe.

You will be asked to pull over at the side of the road about 6 times during the test, you will be asked to pull away up hill and from behind a parked vehicle.

On return to the test centre the examinator will ask you to pull up in a safe place then switch the engine off. They will then tell you that its the end of your test.

Well done!

No matter what the result is you have completed the test and have survived!

Hopefully you have passed the test, if not don't worry. We will address any area of weakness before your next attempt.

Regardless of the result ask the examinator for feedback, It is useful if I can attend the debrief so that I can help you afterwards.

Pass Plus

Top ten reasons for failing the test:

To help you avoid the most common pitfalls here is a list of the top ten reasons why people fail*.

  1. Observation at junctions - ineffective observation and judgement
  2. Reverse parking - ineffective observation or a lack of accuracy
  3. Use of mirrors - not checking or not acting on the information
  4. Reversing around a corner - ineffective observation or a lack of accuracy
  5. Incorrect use of signals - not cancelling or giving misleading signals
  6. Moving away safely - ineffective observation
  7. Incorrect positioning on the road - at roundabouts or on bends
  8. Lack of steering control - steering too early or leaving it too late
  9. Incorrect positioning to turn right - at junctions and in one way streets
  10. Inappropriate speed - travelling too slowly or being hesitant 

* Top ten reasons based on twelve months to January 2004 from DSA website.

Collingwood Learner Driver Insurance

Video Clips for Reverse Exercises

Reverse Around the Corner

Turn in the Road ( 3 point turn)

One of our former pupils doing a turn in the road.....

Parking around another car

Parking in a Bay (left)

Parking in a Bay (right)

Now try it in a bus!


© Drive Me Bananas School of Motoring Edinburgh 2008