It is useful to know about what will happen regarding your driving test.
Please remember that you will have practised all these things many times before your test, you’ve done it before so there is nothing to be feared. The examiners do not have a quota of passes they can grant, it’s a myth. Actually, they are on your side because, if you pass they issue you a pass certificate and congratulate you and their job is done. There is lots of paperwork to do if someone fails. No one likes to do paperwork! Just try to remember what you have been taught and you should be OK. Remember you’ve done it all before.
- Once you have passed your theory test you will be able to book your practical test. You go to www.gov.uk and navigate to “practical driving tests”. Once there you will be able to select a test centre (Gillingham Kent, photo above) and select a time and date. You will be sent a confirmation email by the driver and vehicle standards agency (DVSA) which you should copy to your instructor.
- The time you select needs thinking about. It is customary on your driving test to have 1 hour of practice immediately before your test starts. This means that the fee will be double the fee because you are using the car for 2 hours, 1 for the pre-test lesson and 1 for the test itself this is normal practice. There are certain times of day in Medway where the traffic tends to get much worse. These are during the morning and afternoon school runs and to’s and fro’s to work. It’s probably a very good idea to avoid these and an early test like at 08.30 will put you into that traffic.
- I advise that the earliest test would be at 11.11 and the latest at 14.32. The test times are weird. There is a reason for it but it would take too long to explain it here. Doing this will mean that you won’t get tied up with drivers on the dash to work and school. It is totally your choice though.
- Once your date and time are booked it’s very important to keep up with your regular lessons and not to let them slip.
- Eventually, the day will arrive and I will come to you at the arranged time. Wear casual clothes and remember that we have to keep 2 windows open and we can’t use the test centre building, so choose warmer clothes if it’s likely to get cold in the car. You MUST have your theory pass certificate and your provisional licence with you
- With you driving, I will navigate you to a suitable area near to the test centre where you can practice the 4 reversing manoeuvres, the safety questions the examiner will ask you and an emergency stop. You will have practised these many times already, so this is like a dress-rehearsal. If time allows you could practice some roundabouts but we MUST not be late. This is another good reason to avoid rush hour tests.
- With 10 minutes to go to the start of your test, we will need to reverse into a parking bay at the test centre car park. We then have to get out and keep the doors and windows open to air the car. We have to exercise social distancing in the car park. We are not allowed into the waiting room. I will have to sanitise the passenger’s side contact points where the examiner will sit.
- A driving examiner will call out your name and call you towards him/her. They will check your eyesight by asking you to read a standard number plate from 20 metres this should be easy and your instructor will have already checked it. There are several of these on the walls of the building and the examiner will ask you which one to read. He will ask you to sign a document but won’t lend you a pen so you can use mine!
- At this point, he will introduce himself and ask you what you prefer to be called. They try to be friendly to put you at ease.
- He/she will ask you a safety question about the car like “what is the minimum depth of tread for this car and how would you check it?” you will give him the answer you will have learned. He will then ask you to get in the driver’s seat, make yourself comfortable and put on your seat belt. Because of COVID, no one is allowed to go with you.
- The examiner will walk around the car giving a quick visual check that L plates are in place front and back, that the tyres seem to be ok and that it is generally roadworthy. This won’t be a problem using my car.
- The examiner will get in the car and explain that you will be driving for about 30 minutes on different roads, that you will do 1 reversing exercise and possibly an emergency stop. Remember the e-stop is not compulsory and you’ve just practised them all anyway. The examiner will be friendly and polite. You’ve done it all before.
- At this point, they may or may not put their sat-nav on the dashboard. Some cars go with it, some don’t. If it has put on the dashboard the examiner will fire it up and select a pre-determined route. These are chosen at random so as to show no bias towards you. He will say that you should follow the sat nav’s directions for 20 minutes, half of the test, at which point it will be turned off and you then get normal instructions from the examiner. If he does not assemble his sat-nav he/she will ask you to follow major road signs until further notice. Again this will last for 20 minutes at which point he will tell you and he will back to normal instructions. You will have practised all of these things as part of your lessons several times. If you go the wrong way on the sat-nav or road signs or even with him don’t panic because you won’t have failed as long as you did it safely.
- The examiner will tell you to start the engine and to drive out of the gates either following the sat nav or signs that the examiner selects for you. You will have practised both of these elements.
- You need to drive safely and under control, that’s all you have to do. DON’T drive too slowly, DON’T exceed the speed limit. Some examiners tell you to ignore them and to drive as if it were for your instructor. This is very good advice just imagine they are just along for the ride.
- Whilst you are driving the examiner will ask you to operate something in the car like “please could you put on the front windscreen wipers?” You will have been shown how to do any of the things he will ask you.
- You need to try to stay driving for 30 minutes. Because of COVID, if you make an error, which will have caused you to fail, and because of a potential risk of passing COVID between you and the examiner, to minimise this risk, the examiner will give directions back to the driving test centre If this happened, unfortunately, you will have failed and an explanation is given as to why. Your instructor is allowed to listen to this if you give permission to the examiner. He will keep their door open and ask you to turn off the engine and to open yours. It’s a good idea to let your instructor listen to this.
The DVSA has published an in-depth article about the top 10 reasons for failing the test. You can see this review here.
It is a really good article with some surprises. It’s well worth a look.
- If you have been out for 30 minutes you will probably have passed.
- Either way, I will sanitise both seats and drive you home.
- If you are successful I often ask your permission to take your photo with you holding your pass certificate to be put onto Facebook and onto the gallery on my website and to send you links to put a review on Google and on Yell.com. This is totally your choice.
- Once you have passed I’m afraid you are on probation for 2 years from that date. so please be careful and all will be good. Speed limits can catch us all out, if I’m driving in an area I’m not used to I put on my TomTom sat-nav which shows me the speed of the road and pings at me if I go over, there are apps that do this as well. A simple idea to keep you within the speed limit. Better than getting a fine or points on your licence.
It perhaps sounds a little daunting, but millions of people have done it, so why not you?