How to pass your driving test, when should I book my practical and theory and what are the weirdest reasons people have failed?

TAKING your driving test can seem like a daunting prospect, but all drivers have to go through it. 

But how long is the test, and how do you pass? Here's all you need to know.

How long does a driving test last?

Driving tests may seem scary, but they're a great opportunity to show what you've learnt, and demonstrate you're ready for the road.

DVSA data suggests people are more likely to pass at specific times in the week, but success will ultimately depend on how much work you've put in.

Then all you've got to worry about is the hefty price of running a car and avoiding parking fines!


The test will have five parts:

  • An eyesight check
  • ‘Show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions
  • General driving ability
  • Reversing your vehicle
  • Independent driving

During the test you'll drive for around 40 minutes.

It will be around 70 minutes if you’re taking an extended driving test because you’ve been disqualified as a driver.

If you're taking the test in a busy area, it's possible you'll get stuck in traffic but this shouldn't be an issue, and the instructor may choose to take you a shorter route.

How far will I drive during my test?

Distances covered during tests vary.

You may find you drive further if there are faster roads in your area, though most most tests take place in residential areas so you will be travelling 30mph at the most.

If you're driving for 40 minutes at this speed, you could drive around 20 miles.

Test centres tend to have circular routes for learners to drive that end up back at the centre, so it's unlikely you'll to leave the town or city limits.

How do I pass my driving test?

Sadly there isn't a cheeky life hack to get you over the line, you'll have to show you can drive safely.

A driving instructor has given three top tips for passing your test, but ultimately you'll simply need to be well practiced to pass.

Most people take around 40 hours of lessons, although you can do an intensive course to get you ready in a matter of days or weeks.

You can find a handy explainer on how much lessons cost here.

It sounds obvious, but the best time to take the test is when you feel confident in your ability to pass.

If you fail, it's not the end of the world, as you can always retake it, but there is no reason to rush until you're ready.

If your test is coming up, we've collected some simple ways to improve your chances of passing.

Location, location, location

Where you're taking the test can have a big impact on your outcome.

Pass rates differ enormously across the country, with test centres in the West Midlands statistically the hardest to get a pass at, while areas in rural Scotland were among the best with pass rates over 60 per cent.

Take a mock exam

Structure is key when it comes to locking in good driving habits.

Try to keep your lessons on a regular pattern – ideally once a week, and keep track of your progression while targeting areas you can improve on.

Organising a mock exam with your driving instructor is a great way to see just how ready you are for the big day.

Get your head down

Though not literally, of course. Looking down throughout the test would will lead to a sure-fire fail.

But do make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep before you tackle the test.

Also make sure you've eaten properly, so you've got plenty of energy.

You'll need to be alert and attentive so that you can react to what's happening on the road.

Consider taking a lesson before the test, as it can help to get you in the right mindset for driving.

The examiner isn't your enemy

Examiners might be presented as tough to please – but they take no joy in failing someone.

Ultimately their priority is ensuring that people they pass are ready to drive safely.

Each test is assessed on its own merits, which means there's no fail quota, and examiners can pass as many people as they like each day.

So don't think that taking the test later in the day when lots of people have passed already will be a disadvantage, it won't be.

If you show you can show you're a safe driver, you've got a great chance of passing.

Play it cool to ease the nerves

Driving tests, like any exam, can be nerve-wracking and it's perfectly normal to feel some butterflies beforehand.

But it's important not to let the nerves overwhelm you.

You just need to focus, remember to breathe, and listen to the examiner's instructions.

If you've put the hours in and are able to keep calm, you may find the rest will take care of itself.


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