How Difficult is the Driving Test?

The driving test really is unlike any other test you’re likely to take. It has so many potential pitfalls, high stress and nerves with an examiner sitting right next to you.

As fully qualified driving instructors, we frequently get asked by learner driver, how hard is the driving test? It’s a difficult question to answer as there are so many variables to take into account. We shall however take these variables into account and explain how hard the driving test is, along with advice and tips for driving lessons and for taking the driving test.

Driving test centre location

The driving test centre location plays a large part in how difficult the driving test is. London driving test centres are known for having difficult and challenging driving test routes. This is due to the fast paced traffic giving learner drivers little time to think. Also the challenging roads, multi-lane roundabouts, dual carriageway sections etc.

On occasions, a learner driver living in London can take a driving test elsewhere such as Cambridge.

Certain test centre routes are significantly harder than others. In Cambridge for example, there are many cyclists to deal with, although the test routes on the whole are generally easier than London.

how difficult is the driving test?
Exactly how difficult is the driving test?

If you feel that the driving test routes in your area are difficult, by all means book your driving test in an area that is easier or perhaps has higher driving test pass rates. It’s a good idea to take driving lessons in the area of your driving test as all test routes have difficult areas that will benefit you if practiced by a local instructor who knows the routes.

The driving test examiner

The outcome of a driving test has a great deal to do with the examiner. When booking a driving test, you have no choice which examiner is assigned to you. Although driving test examiners have a standard set of rules to abide by, they can use their discretion.

An example could be; you are performing the parallel parking manoeuvre, and unfortunately gently bump the kerb. Touching the kerb in the turn in the road is never a good idea, although if gently, many examiners will let this go. If your examiner is particularly harsh, or is having a bad day, that could well be a driving test failure.

Remember, examiners are providing driving tests for learners all day long. Their job may indeed become a little tedious at times. Be friendly to your examiner and if possible add a little chat to the test. Gaining a ‘friendship’ with your examiner might, just might be the difference between a tick in the minor box or the serious box (now called faults).

Driving test times

The driving test only lasts for around 40 minutes, the time of day that you book your driving test has an impact on how difficult the driving test is. Rush hour traffic is often around the time of 8am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm in the evening. These times may vary depending on your location.

During rush hour, significantly more traffic is on the roads and each and every one of them is frantically trying to reach their destination. Many of them could be late, or trying to avoid being late and so have little regard for a learner driver slowing them up. As an inexperienced driver, you will not only have an increase in traffic to deal with, but stressed and possibly even aggressive drivers to deal with.

Ideally, try and book your driving test within rush hour times; say between 10am and 3pm. This way you will have a calmer paced test. Certain driving test centres offer Saturday test. This is a slightly higher test fee but if traffic around your test centre location is calmer on Saturdays, it could be worth contacting the DVSA for Saturday driving test availability in your areas. See driving test times for further information.

The driving instructor

The standard at which you have been taught to drive will of course have an effect on how difficult the driving test will be for you. Driving instructors vary considerably from highly critical to complacent. If you feel that your instructor is a little on the complacent side; you are making mistakes, are aware of them but your instructor isn’t bringing them to your attention, this isn’t ideal. A critical instructor who persistently brings every fault to your attention may be a little annoying, but will without doubt gain the best results.

If you feel your driving instructor is just going along for the ride, talk to them about it. Tell them that you have made mistakes and that they haven’t brought it to your attention. If nothing changes, it could be time to think about choosing a different instructor.

Driving test centre routes

If you go into a driving test with no knowledge of the driving test routes, the odds of passing are reduced and the test will become much more difficult. Of course a learner should be to such a standard that they can handle any road or traffic system. Realistically however, driving test routes are designed by the examiners themselves and intentionally incorporate some of the most difficult roads and systems within the test centre radius.

When choosing a driving instructor, ensure they have a sound knowledge of the test routes for your test centre, especially the difficult areas. It’s more cost effective long term to go with an experienced driving instructor with a good knowledge of test routes opposed to simply opting for the cheapest driving school or instructor.

Driving test nerves

Of course you are going to be nervous on the driving test. Nerves play a big part in driving tests and often make the test much more difficult than it actually is. Learners are often their own worst enemy and fail many tests due to nerves. Gain as much knowledge as possible for the driving test, know the manoeuvres inside-out and know exactly what to expect on the driving test.

If you have read the tutorials, guides and advice on this web site, if you feel you can perform on your driving test after reading the guides, then you are certainly ready to take the driving test.

Is the driving test too difficult?

When it comes to taking the driving test, the examiner isn’t looking for professional level driving. They are expecting you to make mistakes. A good level of control, awareness of others and forward thinking is what the examiner is looking for. There is no reason why a learner driver at test standard shouldn’t be able to drive at the same level as a driving instructor.

I do believe the standards should remain high. What is significantly against the learner taking the test is lack of experience. It can be difficult for a learner driver to deal with a situation in a timely manner that they haven’t experienced before during the driving test. This is the type of situation which fails many driving tests.

With this in mind, driving tests are to a degree pure luck. If you get a nice clean and quiet run at it, your chances are significantly increased for passing. The tips and advice within this page should help some way into giving yourself an advantage for passing.

Ready for the driving test?

If you are still making mistakes during your driving lessons, chances are you’re not ready for the test. You will know and you instructor will know when you’re ready. When you feel very confident with your driving and your instructor feel that you are ready, take a mock driving test.

Mock driving test

A mock driving test will simulate the actual driving test, allowing you to gain an understanding of what you can expect on the driving test. It may also be an idea to take a mock driving test with a different driving instructor or school. This way, you get an unbiased opinion on your ability.

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