What To Expect When Sitting Your Driving Test For The First Time

Guys, I did it, I passed my driving test first time!

Its actually been a month to the day since I passed and it still hasn’t sunk in that I can actually drive now!

Probably because I can’t afford a car or insurance and won’t be able to any time soon, so it doesn’t feel like anything’s really changed.

Still, it’s a big thing for me.

I come from a poor family and neither my parents or grandparents can drive, so cars haven’t really been a part of my life until very recently.

I made the decision to learn in an automatic car, after failing miserably at learning in a manual.

While this has vastly limited my options (as automatics are not only more expansive to buy, they’re also harder to find) I don’t know why there is still a lot of negativity around driving them.

They’re so much easier and you don’t get cramp in your foot when you’re sat in traffic!

Obviously you’ll need to have passed your theory test to be able to sit your practical driving test, and if you haven’t done that yet I’d definitely recommend booking that as soon as possible.

[Related: What To Expect When Sitting Your Theory Test For The First Time]

I put mine off for ages because I was too nervous of failing (I’m the kind of person who has to pass things the first time) and it meant I ended up not being able to take my test as early as I could have done.

Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

Before The Driving Test

It’s usual to have an hours lesson beforehand and I’d defiantly recommend doing this if you can!

It gives you time to relax and get some last-minute practice in, plus its the perfect time to make all of your silly little mistakes.

Talk through any worries or concerns you have with your instructor, and my advice would be to try and keep it light and joking if you can.

When you arrive at the test centre you’ll do a reverse park to get into position (don’t worry it’s not assessed) and then once you’re all set, you go on into the centre.

There are normally three other people taking their test at the same time as you, and you have to wait around for your examiner to come and collect you.

Everyone else was sitting with their instructors in awkward silence but Nigel and I were just having a laugh and a joke like always, and it really helped to keep me relaxed.

Once your examiner comes in you have to give them your provisional licence, conform your address is still the same as the one they have on record and then sign your test sheet.

Your signature has to be the same as the one on your driving licence too, which caused me a bit of trouble as I got my provisional 7 years ago and I’ve changed my signature since then!

Luckily Nigel warned me about it the week before my test and I could practice doing my old one beforehand.

Just something to be aware of.

They’ll also ask you if you want your instructor with you for your test and if you want them to be there for the debrief at the end.

This is completely up to you so just do what you feel comfortable with.

I personally didn’t want my instructor with me for my test but I did want him there to hear my results.

Pre-Test Questions And Sight Test

Once all that is over with you’re taken outside the centre and asked to read the licence plate of a car about 100m away.

You’re then taken to the car and asked one “show me” and one “tell me” question.

These are the same everywhere and can involve knowing about things under the bonnet too which terrified me; like I said we don’t own a car so I’ve absolutely no experience with even the most basic elements of car maintenance

[Related: Top 4 Tips For Learning to Drive with Anxiety]

Your instructor should give you a sheet of these questions (plus the answers) a week or two before your test, so you can spend time familiarising yourself with them.

You don’t have to get the answers word perfect and even if you screw them both up they’re only marked as two minors, so try not to freak yourself out too much about them (unlike I did!).

Once that’s over with, it’s time to turn the engine on and start driving!

Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

During Your Driving Test

This is the bit that it’s quite hard to write about, as ever test is completely different but there are a few things that will always be included.

You will have to do one randomly picked manoeuvre, which would be: a three-point turn, reverse around a corner, parallel park or reverse into a parking bay.

I was lucky and got a parallel park for mine.

Now I know so many people hate this one, but I’m actually really good at it and hoped I’d get it so I was really happy!

No matter which you get, remember to take your time and go slowly. You don’t get any extra marks for doing it quickly, and you don’t want to rush it and mess it up with a silly mistake.

The other thing you’re guaranteed to get is the independent driving session.

The examiner will ask you to follow signs for a set place and you will have to use road signs and markings to go there.

I panicked so much about this (I’m the kind of person who could get lost in her own back garden) but it doesn’t actually matter if you go completely wrong direction: as long as you drive safely, they can’t fail you!

I think I might have actually done this on my own test.

My examiner asked me to follow the signs to Manchester (which said go right) but straight after doing that he then told me to go to Doncaster instead.

While I didn’t mind the change as the Manchester route was my least favourite one, I ended up doing a route that I’d never done before in practice.

Luckily it was through the town centre so I knew the area really well, but when I told Nigel afterwards he was extremely confused as he said I’d gone the right way originally and he didn’t get why he’d changed the route.

Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash

Your independent driving session will also include one lane change in it, no matter which route you get.

You’ll also be asked to “park up when it’s safe and convenient”.

This is to make sure you don’t park in a way that obstructs other people (opposite a bus stop, near a junction or outside a driveway are the most common things they look for) and they’ll ask you to do this a few times.

I swear mine asked me to do it at least 6 or 7 times!

1 in 5 people are also asked to do an emergency stop. I didn’t get this thankfully but it can happen so its something to be mindful about and make sure you practice and feel comfortable with.

Before they get you to do anything they’ll ask you to pull up and brief you on what they want you to do.

Don’t be scared to ask a question if you don’t fully understand something, and again don’t rush yourself when completing the task.

Showing off certificate after passing

After Your Test Is Over

Once you get back to the test centre you pull back into a bay (no need to reverse unless this is your manoeuvre) and then, if you’ve said you want your instructor there for the results, you wait for them to come out.

They tell you right away if you’ve passed or you’ve failed and the go through any faults you have and why they marked you down on them.

I passed with only 5 minor faults which I’m really proud of!

If you pass they fill out the certificate, give you a copy of the test paper and take your provisional off you to be destroyed.

Your new licence can take up to three weeks to arrive, something that was a bit of a problem for me as I don’t have a passport, so I had no ID until my new licence turned up.

[Related: Thoughts People With Anxiety Have While Driving]

Also regardless of if you pass or fail your driving test, your instructor will drive you home afterwards, which I was so grateful for as I was still slightly in shock and probably wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on driving.

Which is probably why they do it to be fair…

Like I’ve said before, every test is different but I just wanted to give a general overview of roughly what to expect on your test.

EDIT: Some elements of the driving test are changing on the 4th of December 2017. I think the general structure will still be the same so hopefully, this post will still be helpful after that point!

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What To Expect When Sitting Your Driving Test For The First Time



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  • Awww this is amazing, I’m so happy for you! I took all of my classes on a manual back home in macedonia but I didn’t have time to take my driving test. I’m now living in the US and my husband and I bought an automatic car – so i’m about to take my driving test here and I really hope I’ll pass!
    Hope you get to drive as soon as possible <3

  • Jade Marie says:

    Thank you so much! 🙂 best of luck with your test, I’m sure you’ll pass first time! <3 what made you change your mind and go for an automatic? 🙂 xx

  • My husband doesn’t know how to drive a manual and it’s so hard to actually find manual cars in the US! Everyone drives automatic here 🙂

  • Jade Marie says:

    Oh wow, sounds like I’d be at home over there! 🙂 I get so much stick for “being too lazy to learn in a manual” by people who don’t know anything about me 😒

  • Anonymous says:

    So glad I found this, I’ve got my test soon and this is really helpful, Thank you

  • Jade Marie says:

    You’re more than welcome, glad to know you found this helpful ☺️ Best of luck with your test!🤞🏼

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