Driving test: cars

3. What happens during the test

There are 5 parts to the driving test:

  • an eyesight check
  • ‘show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions
  • general driving ability
  • reversing your vehicle
  • independent driving

The test is the same for both manual and automatic cars.

How long the test lasts

You’ll drive for around 40 minutes.

You’ll drive for around 70 minutes if you’re taking an extended driving test because you’ve been banned from driving.

Eyesight check

You’ll have to read a number plate from a distance of:

  • 20 metres for vehicles with a new-style number plate
  • 20.5 metres for vehicles with an old-style number plate

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

You’ll fail your driving test if you fail the eyesight check. The test will end.

‘Show me, tell me’ questions

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

You’ll be asked the:

  • ‘tell me’ question at the start of your test, before you start driving
  • ‘show me’ question while you’re driving

Your general driving ability

You’ll drive in various road and traffic conditions, but not on motorways.

The examiner will give you directions that you should follow. Driving test routes aren’t published, so you can’t check them before your test.

Pulling over at the side of the road

You’ll be asked to pull over and pull away during your test, including:

  • normal stops at the side of the road
  • pulling out from behind a parked vehicle
  • a hill start

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

Reversing your vehicle

The examiner will ask you to do one of the following exercises:

  • parallel park at the side of the road
  • park in a parking bay - either by driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do)
  • pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for around 2 car lengths, and rejoin the traffic

Independent driving

You’ll have to drive for about 20 minutes by following either:

  • directions from a sat nav
  • traffic signs

The examiner will tell you which you have to follow.

They’ll set the sat nav up for you. You can’t use your own sat nav.

If you can’t see traffic signs

If you can’t see a traffic sign (for example, because it’s covered by trees), the examiner will give you directions until you can see the next one.

Going off the route

The examiner won’t give you a fault for taking a wrong turning.

They’ll help you get back on the route if you do.

If you make mistakes during your test

You can carry on if you make a mistake. It might not affect your test result if it’s not serious.

The examiner will only stop your test if they think your driving is a danger to other road users.

Learn to drive a car: step by step

  1. Step 1

    Check you're allowed to drive

  2. Step 2

    Get a provisional driving licence

  3. Step 3

    Driving lessons and practice

  4. Step 4
  5. Step 5
  6. Step 6

    When you pass

    You can start driving as soon as you pass your driving test.

    You must have an insurance policy that allows you to drive without supervision.