top of page

Practical Driving Test

The DSA driving test is designed to check if you can safely drive on the road unaided and also have good knowledge of the Highway Code.  The practical driving test will last for about 40 - 45 minutes which will include a number of elements like:

Eyesight test.  This is done by reading a number plate at a distance of 20 meters or 20.5 meters depending whether it is an old or new style number plate.  If you fail to read it the test will NOT go ahead.

Show Me Tell Me questions.  You will be asked a combination of 2 questions.  One will be a show me question and one will be a tell me question.  We will run through the questions prior to the Driving Test.

You will also be asked to do a reversing manoeuvre which may be Left Reverse, Turn in the Road, Bay or Parallel park and you may also be asked to carry out the Emergency Stop exercise.

Learning to drive with Stewart's Driving School will also help you avoid the top 10 reasons for failure.

  1. Observation

  2. Reverse Parking

  3. Use of Mirrors

  4. Reversing Round a Corner

  5. Incorrect Signal Usage

  6. Moving Off Safely

  7. Incorrect Positioning

  8. Steering Control

  9. Position Turning Right (one way street and major to minor)

  10. Inappropriate speed (approaching junctions, speeding, going to slow)

What happens during the car practical driving test

Before you start the driving ability part of your test, you’ll have an eyesight check and be asked 2 vehicle safety questions.

Eyesight check

You’ll have to correctly read a number plate on a parked vehicle.


The vehicle will be at least 20 metres away if it has a new-style number plate, and 20.5 metres away if it has an old-style number plate.

New-style number plates start with 2 letters followed by 2 numbers, for example AB51 ABC.


If you can’t pass the eyesight test you’ll fail your driving test and the test won’t continue.


If you can’t speak English or have difficulty reading, you can write down what you see.

Vehicle safety questions: ‘show me, tell me’

You’ll be asked 2 vehicle safety questions. These are also known as the ‘show me, tell me’ questions.

The examiner will ask you one ‘show me’ question, where you’ll have to show them how you’d carry out a vehicle safety check.

You’ll also be asked one ‘tell me’ question, where you’ll have to explain to the examiner how you’d carry out the check.

The driving ability part

The driving part of your test will last about 40 minutes. Throughout the test your examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving.

Your general driving ability

During your test the examiner will give you directions that you should follow. You’ll drive in various road and traffic conditions. You should drive in the way your instructor has trained you.

It should include:

  • normal stops

  • an angle start (pulling out from behind a parked vehicle)

  • a hill start

You might also be asked to carry out an emergency stop.

Reversing your vehicle safely

You’ll have to show how well you can reverse your vehicle. The examiner will ask you to do one of the following exercises:

  • reversing around a corner

  • turning in the road

  • reverse parking - either into a parking bay, or parallel parking at the side of the road

Independent driving section

Your driving test will include around 10 minutes of independent driving. It’s designed to assess your ability to drive safely while making decisions on your own.

If you make mistakes

If you make a mistake, carry on because if it’s not a serious mistake it might not affect your result. However, if at any time your examiner thinks your driving is a danger to other road users they may stop your test.

Taking someone with you

Your examiner will ask if you want your instructor, or another person, to:

  • sit in the back of your car during your driving test

  • be with you after the test for the result and feedback

This person will usually be your driving instructor, but it could also be a relative or friend.


They must be over 16 and can’t take any part in the test.

The examiner’s supervisor

The examiner’s supervisor may come along as well. They will be watching the examiner’s performance, not yours. The supervisor won’t have any say in how you’re tested or in your result.

If you don’t let the examiner’s supervisor go with you, your test might be cancelled and you could lose your fee.

Your driving test result

You’ll pass your test if you make:

  • 15 or less driving faults

  • no serious or dangerous faults

When the driving test has ended, you can call your instructor over if they didn’t go with you on your test. This is so they can listen to the result and help you with any feedback afterwards.

The examiner will:

  • tell you if you passed or not

  • explain how you did during the test

The different types of faults

There are 3 types of faults that can be marked:

  • a dangerous fault - involves actual danger to you, the examiner, the public or property

  • a serious fault - could potentially be dangerous

  • a driving fault - not potentially dangerous, but if you make the same fault throughout your test it could become a serious fault

If you pass your test

If you pass your test the examiner will give you a pass certificate. They will also ask you if you want your full licence to be sent to you automatically.

Once you have passed your test you can start driving straight away - you don’t need to wait for your full licence to arrive.

If you don’t pass

If you don’t pass, you have to wait another 10 working days before you can take another test. Working days include Saturdays.

Feedback on how eco-efficient your driving is

The examiner will also give you feedback about how eco-efficient your driving is.

Top ten driving test acts

Publisher:Driving Standards Agency

Publication type:Article

Published date: 1 June 2010

Mode/topic:RoadsRoad safety


The driving test’s been going for years. But here are a few 75th birthday facts:

  • Mr Bean was the first person to pass the driving test in 1935… fact! But it’s not that Mr Bean, it was Mr J Beene who paid a grand total of 37p (7d / 6p in old money) to take the test

  • there were no test centers in 1935 so you had to arrange to meet the examiner somewhere like a post office, train station or town hall

  • the test was suspended for the duration of World War Two and didn’t resume until 1 November 1946

  • in 1975, candidates no longer had to demonstrate hand signals

  • the theory test was introduced in 1996, replacing questions about the Highway Code during the practical test

  • driving was much more hazardous 75 years ago, 7,343 people were killed on Britain’s roads when only 2.4 million vehicles were in operation - in 2008, 2,538 people were killed with 26.5 million vehicles on the road

  • candidates could book their theory test online for the first time in December 2001

  • the pass rate in 1935 was 63 per cent compared to 46 per cent in 2009

  • 1969 saw the first driving test set for an automatic vehicle

  • since 1935 more than 46 million tests have been taken


Show Me Tell Me Video:

Independent driving Video on U Tube

Stewart is always friendly, understanding and helpful with me while learning to drive. He helped me pass my test first time. I would recommend Stewart to any one learning to drive.
Thank you Harry

Harry Graves passed on 21 October 2014

bottom of page