The Practical Driving Test is Changing: What to Expect

Written by | Advice

You’ve probably heard that there are a few changes being made to the practical driving test from 4th December 2017. We’ve noticed there’s been quite a bit of panic about what may or may not now be included, but do not fear – we’re here to cut through the myths and give you the low-down on what to expect!


What will the new Practical Driving Test be like after 4th December 2017?

  • The test will last for approximately 40 minutes
  • You have the option to take your driving instructor with you on the test
  • Before going on the road, you’ll be given a quick eye-sight test and asked one safety question
  • You’ll drive in various road conditions
  • You’ll drive independently for around 20 minutes of the test (keep reading to find out what this means!)
  • You’ll need to follow directions, either from the Examiner’s Sat Nav or using traffic signs
  • While driving independently, the Examiner will ask you another safety question
  • You’ll be asked to perform a reversing manoeuvre
  • You’ll have to perform some controlled stops
  • You may have to perform an emergency stop
  • The pass mark will not be changing

Taking your driving instructor with you on the test

This bit hasn’t changed, you can take your instructor with you on your test already and there are plenty of good reasons to do so, as there are reasons not to!

Moral Support

Driving tests can be nerve-wracking! Having a friendly face out there with you, who’s willing you to do well might be calming. However, you could equally feel that having them there is more added pressure, so think carefully about it.

Memory triggers

Having the person who taught you there could be the best reminder for those tricky questions the examiner might ask. Under pressure it can be hard to remember but having your instructor there might just make the difference.


Your instructor will be keeping track of any mistakes you make. Don’t be alarmed – whether you pass or fail, their feedback will be invaluable afterwards to know where to improve.  And you’ll have plenty to think about, so having someone there to remind you of any post-test examiner feedback while you’re worrying about other things is super handy.

Eyesight test

There are no changes here after December. Before you get in the car with the examiner, you’ll be asked to read a car registration plate or sign from distance. Hopefully it goes without saying but make sure your prescription is up to date if you wear glasses or contact lenses!


Driving independently

This is the biggest change to the test, doubling in time from 10 minutes in its current format – and it’s definitely the area we’ve received the most questions on! Driving independently has been redesigned to be a better test of how you will drive in the real world once you’ve passed, dealing with the normal distractions of being on the road in a car by yourself.


Following directions

It’s been a long time coming but the UK driving test is finally getting modernised! Instead of following directions from a fellow human being or road signs, you’re now likely to be using a TomTom sat nav instead. The examiner will provide it for you and set the route, so this shouldn’t provide any extra difficulties for you to be concerned about. For those of you wanting to use your own sat nav, unfortunately you won’t be able to – you have to use the one supplied by the examiner.

You’ll be allowed to ask the examiner for confirmation of where you’re going if you’re not sure. It won’t matter if you go the wrong way either – just keep your cool and make sure you don’t make any faults whilst doing it!

1 in 5 driving tests will still require you to follow road signs rather than a sat nav, so we suggest you get some practice in with both.


Safety questions

Road collisions are the biggest killer of young people in the UK, so the DVSA have come up with these changes in order to try and reduce the numbers by equipping drivers with the real skills they’re going to need when on the road.

During the duration of your test, 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. For the full set of possible ‘tell me’ questions, head over to the GOV.UK website.

The ‘show me’ question will be asked whilst you’re driving – for example, showing your examiner how to wash the windscreen using the wipers. Have a look at the video below for an idea of what to expect:


Reversing manoeuvres

First of all, the ‘reverse around a corner’ and ‘turn-in-the-road’ manoeuvres have been shelved and will no longer be tested… Woohoo! (Although you should still afford them a bit of practice).

These are the 3 reversing manoeuvres you might be asked to do from 4th December:

  • Parallel park
  • Bay park – either driving in and reversing out, or vice versa (the examiner will decide)
  • Pulling up on the right-hand side of the road, reversing for 2 car lengths and then rejoining the traffic flow.

The final manoeuvre on that list is a new one that might throw you off a little, so we’ve included a short video below. Although parking against the traffic flow contradicts what is written in Highway code rule 239, it has been deemed an important enough manoeuvre to be added to the test. Best get practicing!

Emergency (controlled) stops

This aspect of the test hasn’t changed; as well as regularly stopping at the side of the road, you may still be asked to perform an emergency stop (also known as a controlled stop).


What you need to pass

You’ll pass your driving test if you make less than 15 driving faults (often referred to as “minors”), and no serious or dangerous faults (majors).

Remember, if you do make a mistake, just keep your cool and continue as you were – it might not have been as serious as you think!

Why the driving test is changing

Finally, we thought we’d share some of the reasons why the test has changed, according to our Chairman Alistair Peoples, former CEO of the DVSA. While still working at the DVSA, he noted that drivers often reported feeling unprepared to hit the roads unaccompanied after having passed their test. One of the key changes to the test, the addition of the Sat Nav section, is designed to combat this as it recreates realistic conditions of independent driving. Alistair notes:

” One of the most effective items introduced previously on the practical test was the independent drive. I believed if we could increase that, it would stimulate training, allow examiners to see more of the candidate’s driving, and free up many more roads to drive on”



Last modified: 6th December 2017

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