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Practical Driving Test Guide

Practical Driving Test Guide from Rugby Driving School

A Practical Driving Test appointment can only be booked after the theory test has been passed.

The Practical Driving Test lasts approximately 40 minutes.

The Driving Test starts with meeting the driving examiner, your driving licence being checked, and signing a declaration that the vehicle being used for the driving test is insured, and that you fulfil the residency requirement to take a driving test.

Once outside the driving test centre, the examiner will check that you fulfil the eyesight requirement, by asking you to read a car number plate from a distance of 20 metres, (20.5 metres for old style pre 2001 number plates).

You will then be asked a vehicle safety question, commonly known as a 'Tell Me' question about basic car maintenance or vehicle checks.

For Details of the
Driving Test
Show Me and Tell Me Questions
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The driving test includes various set exercises, and may include some of the following:

The test also includes driving on a variety of roads in various traffic conditions which may include:

You could meet any traffic situation apart from motorways.

Independent Driving

For part of the driving test the examiners give directions of the route to take.

The indepentent driving section of the driving test lasts for about 20 minutes.

The Independent Driving section can be conducted either by the examiner asking the candidate to follow road signs heading towards a particular destination, or by asking the candidate to follow directions from a Sat Nav.

One of the purposes of the independent driving section is to take away the prompt, that every time the examiner gives a direction you automatically check the mirrors and apply a signal.

Driving Independently the candidate needs to recognise that there is a junction for themselves, and decide what they are going to do in order to prepare for it.

The indepentent driving section is also testing the real life skills that will be needed after the driving test, of following road signs or following a sat nav.

Driving Test Assessment

The driving test is marked by the driving examiner recording any faults that are made, and categorising how serious they are:

Dangerous Faults (actual danger)1 faultFail
Serious Faults (potential danger)1 faultFail
Driving Faults (any other errors)16 or more faultsFail
Driving Faults (any other errors)15 or fewer faultsPass

Driving Test Faults Definitions

The driving test is marked by the driving examiner recording any errors or faults made in the drive, these can be categorised into different levels

Whilst some actions would clearly be a definite fail, the answer to the question 'What would the examiner mark if a driving test candidate did...' is usually 'It depends on the circumstances'

Dangerous Faults Definition

A Dangerous Fault, as the name suggests involves actual danger, and would result in a failed driving test.

Safety is compromised, or a legal requirement is breached.

A Dangerous Fault will often result in either the driving examiner, another road user or the candidate needing to take urgent action to avoid a collision.

Serious Faults Definition

A Serious Fault is a high risk fault and would result in a failed driving test.

Safety is compromised, but the difference from a dangerous fault is that another road user may not be involved.

An example could be emerging from a junction without taking proper observation; if another car had to take avoiding action, it would be a dangerous fault; if there is no road user there, it is a serious fault because the high risk action was still taken.

A Serious Fault can also be recorded if the standard of driving falls a long way below the expected standard, for example reversing into a parking space, care is taken, observation is good, but the accuracy is poor, and multiple attempts are needed to try to correct it

Driving Faults Definition

A Driving Fault is any other deviation from an ideal or perfect drive, but without a significant level of safety being compromised

An example of a driving fault could be an inaccuracy in parking that was corrected

Trivial Faults Definition

Trivial Faults are not marked by the driving examiner, they are anything that is an error, or poor driving practice, but without being significant enough to affect the result of a driving test.

Examples of trivial faults could be; dry steering; it can cause extra wear on the tyres, but it is not significant to affect the result of a driving test


Whilst it is desirable for the candidate to follow the requested route, there may be circumstances when a turn is missed, this will not necessarily result in a failed test, the driving test is primarily about safety, not about being able to follow directions perfectly. There may also be occasions when it is not safe to follow the route due to another road user.

The Driving is being assessed, not the navigation.

Preparing for the Practical Driving Test

Research carried out by The Department for Transport (DfT) showed that successful driving test candidates have had an average of 45 hours of professional driving tuition and 22 hours of practice with family or friends.

Everybody is different and how many lessons you will need will depend on:

Your driving lessons can be; 1 hour; 1.5 hours; 2 hours; 2.5 hours or 3 hours.

A 1 hour driving lesson can seem to go very quickly, most people find that longer duration driving lessons are far more effective

Your driving lesson frequency can vary depending on how fast or slow you want your course to progress.

Having one driving lesson, once a week, can result in feeling out of practice, and spending the first part of your driving lesson trying to get back to the standard you reached at the end of your previous driving lesson.

Having 2 or 3 driving lessons per week can be a far more effective way of learning to drive.

The choice is yours though, if you want a 1 hour lesson once a week, that's ok, if you want 2 or 3 hour driving lessons several times per week, that's also ok, we will plan a driving course with you that suits your circumstances.

If you need to pass your driving test quickly we will firstly assess your driving and then plan a Semi Intensive Driving Course or an Intensive Driving Course.

Rugby Driving School can offer you three options of how you prepare for your driving test:

Pages in the Theory and Practical Driving Tests Guide section of the Rugby Driving School website:

Sections of the Rugby Driving School website: