Surviving the Practical Driving Test: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Prepare for your practical driving test with confidence. Learn what to expect on test day and effective preparation tips.

Preparing for the practical driving test can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Understanding what to expect and how to prepare effectively can help you feel more confident and improve your chances of passing. This guide provides detailed insights into the test process and tips on handling test-day nerves.

What to Expect on Test Day

1. Arrival and Identity Verification

Arrive Early

Plan to arrive at the test center at least 15 minutes before your scheduled test to allow time for any last-minute preparations.

Bring Required Documents

Ensure you bring all necessary documents, including your provisional license, theory test pass certificate, and any other documentation required by your local driving authority.

2. Vehicle Safety Questions

“Show Me, Tell Me” Questions

The examiner will ask you two vehicle safety questions before or during the test. These may include:

  • Show Me: Demonstrate how you would operate a vehicle control, such as the windscreen wipers.
  • Tell Me: Explain how you would check a component, such as the brakes or lights.

3. The Driving Test

Eyesight Check

You will be asked to read a number plate from a distance of 20 meters (or 20.5 meters for old-style plates). Failing this check means you cannot proceed with the test.

General Driving Ability

The test will include various sections to assess your overall driving ability:

  • Independent Driving: You will be asked to follow directions from a sat-nav or road signs for about 20 minutes.
  • Controlled Stops: Demonstrate a safe and controlled stop.
  • Reversing Manoeuvres: Perform one of the following: parallel park, park in a bay, or reverse around a corner.
  • Emergency Stop: You may be asked to perform an emergency stop to demonstrate your ability to react quickly and safely.

Following Instructions

The examiner will give you specific instructions throughout the test. Listen carefully and follow them precisely.

4. Post-Test Feedback

After the test, the examiner will inform you of the result and provide feedback on your performance, highlighting any faults and areas for improvement.

How to Prepare for the Practical Driving Test

1. Practice Regularly

Consistent Practice

Regular practice is essential. Aim to drive as frequently as possible to build muscle memory and confidence.

Vary Your Routes

Practice driving on different types of roads and in varying traffic conditions to build versatility.

2. Take Mock Tests

Simulate Test Conditions

Ask your driving instructor to conduct mock tests under exam conditions. This helps you get accustomed to the format and pressure of the real test.

Assess Performance

Use mock tests to identify areas where you need improvement and focus your practice on those aspects.

3. Learn Test Routes

Familiarize Yourself with Common Routes

While you won’t know the exact route of your test, familiarizing yourself with common test routes in your area can help you feel more prepared and confident.

4. Master Manoeuvres

Practice Key Manoeuvres

Ensure you are comfortable with all the required manoeuvres, such as parallel parking, bay parking, and reversing around a corner.

Smooth and Controlled Movements

Focus on executing manoeuvres smoothly and with control. Precision and safety are key.

5. Improve Hazard Perception

Stay Alert

Constantly scan the road for potential hazards and practice reacting appropriately.

Use Hazard Perception Tools

Utilize online hazard perception tools to sharpen your skills.

6. Stay Calm and Manage Nerves

Relaxation Techniques

Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, or mindfulness to help manage test-day nerves.

Positive Mindset

Maintain a positive mindset. Remind yourself that it’s normal to feel nervous and that you are well-prepared.

Test-Day Tips

1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Ensure you get plenty of rest the night before your test. Being well-rested helps you stay alert and focused.

2. Eat a Healthy Meal

Have a healthy meal before your test to keep your energy levels up and maintain concentration.

3. Dress Comfortably

Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that allow you to operate the vehicle controls easily.

4. Stay Hydrated

Drink water to stay hydrated, but avoid excessive amounts to prevent discomfort during the test.

5. Arrive Early

Arriving early helps you avoid last-minute rush and allows you to settle in and compose yourself before the test.

6. Stay Positive

Focus on your preparation and believe in your abilities. A positive mindset can greatly influence your performance.


Surviving the practical driving test is all about preparation and confidence. Understand what to expect on test day, practice regularly, and focus on mastering essential driving skills. Manage your



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