How to Pass the New Driving Test

The answer to the question of ‘how to pass the driving test’ is knowledge, determination and experience and based on the experience of qualified driving instructors working with the DVSA, we provide some of the key factors that will help you pass the driving test.

We look at statistical data compiled by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) – the organisation that operate the practical driving test. This data shows us specific areas where driving tests are prone to failure. In fact, this data shows us that specific test failures are repeated year-on-year, so in our top 10 tips on passing the driving test, we’ll target these areas.

We will then combine this data with the knowledge of highly experienced driving instructors with high pass rates. This valuable advice based on years of teaching, along with the DVSA government statistics puts you in the driving seat to pass the driving test. There’s no secret for passing the driving test, so let’s get started, here’s how to pass the driving test:

1. Get Prepared

Preparation is a major advantage to gaining success – when you know what you’re getting into, there will be no unexpected surprises. Have a good read-up on what to expect on the driving test. This is an in depth guide that starts from arriving at the test centre to finishing the test.

How to pass the driving test top 10 tips
Pass the driving test with our top 10 tips

Add to this, the new Show Me Tell Me questions and answers, though they are the same questions for everyone, answers can be car specific, so get to understand the car that you’re taking on the driving test. You can’t fail if you get the questions wrong, but it’ll help to keep the stress levels low if you know what you’re doing. You can also take the Show Me Tell Me quiz to test yourself.

One other thing to consider is test centre toilets. Test candidates are obviously nervous and can often require the toilet and that’s the last thing you want to be thinking about on your test. However, not all test centres have them, so popping into your local supermarket on the way might help. The driving test centre listings offer details on which facilities are offered.

2. Get to Know the Driving Test Routes

Examiners use test routes that often involve some of the most challenging roads and traffic systems within your test centre area. Statistically, candidates who are familiar with the test routes have a greater chance of passing the driving test. You don’t need to know each and every road that the examiner will take you on, just the difficult parts. How to pass the driving test using test routes:

  • Study the test routes – You can view the test routes for your test centre or download an app to follow them on your sat nav device.
  • Driving instructor – An experienced and local driving instructor will know exactly the routes examiners use and in particular, those difficult parts that fail many tests.

You can view the test routes or download an app for your mobile / sat nav device:

3. Get to Know your Test Centre

Statistics show that many driving tests are failed shortly after leaving the test centre. The likely cause is driving test nerves which are at their highest right at the start. Here’s how to pass the driving test when leaving the test centre:

  • Get familiar – Familiarise yourself with leaving and exiting the test centre. If possible, practice entering and leaving in your car, but if this is prohibited, park up elsewhere and walk into the test centre. Look at how easy it is to enter and exit the centre, how busy the road is, is there a pavement to cross that might be difficult to see pedestrians?
  • Practice the roads – Those that suffer with nerves are at the most risk of making mistakes at the start. Practice and get to know the roads in and around the test centre which is where you’ll be driving at the start of the test.

4. Junctions

Keeping with statistics, the number 1 reason for driving test failures each and every year is due to junctions, or more specifically ‘lack of observation’. In general, we’re referring to T-junctions, but roundabouts and crossroads are also considered junctions. Here’s how to pass the driving test at junctions:

  • Approaching – Observe road signs and approach junctions slowly. This will allow you plenty of time to observe and decide whether to stop and give way, or proceed.
  • Stopping – If you do stop, stop with the front of your vehicle just before the give way line to allow for the best observation into the new road. Approaching slowly allows for an accurate stopping position.
  • Observing – Before moving out into a new road, always look both ways at least twice. If the junction is ‘closed’ and difficult to see into the new road, very slowly edge forward until you can clearly see.
  • Making progress – Avoid feeling pressured into making progress too quickly. Stay calm, consistent and safe.

5. How to Pass the Driving Test with Manoeuvres

Manoeuvres represent a part of the driving test with relatively high failure statistics, though in reality, with plenty of practice, manoeuvres are the part of the test where you have the most control. Based on statistics where manoeuvres go wrong, this is how you pass the driving test whilst conducting a manoeuvre:

  • ControlHitting kerbs and mounting pavements is not what the examiner wants to see. Always conduct a manoeuvre at a very slow pace.
  • Observation – The examiner wants to see you constantly observing everything around you and act accordingly.
  • Correct yourself – If you go off-course, pull forward and try again.
  • Don’t give up – If a manoeuvre goes terribly wrong, ask if you can start again. The examiner may or may not allow this, but it’s worth a try.

Practice manoeuvres until you’re absolutely confident and that you complete them successfully on every attempt. The reverse around the corner and turn in the road are no longer conducted. On the new driving test, you’ll be required to carry out one of these manoeuvres:

6. How to Pass the Driving Test During Independent Driving

The new driving test now has an increased independent driving section from 10 to 20 minutes. Most candidates (4 out of every 5 tests conducted) will follow directions from a sat nav, whilst the remainder will follow road signs. Independent driving is essentially the test candidate following signs or directions will very little assistance from the examiner. This can be stressful for some, particularly if things start to go wrong, so here’s how to pass the driving test during independent driving:

  • Making a wrong turn – Independent driving is about remaining calm and safe, not about following directions correctly. If you go the wrong way or make an incorrect turn, commit to it and keep calm. The examiner or the sat nav will put you back on route.
  • Stressing out – Being ‘left to it’ can get stressful, particularly if you make a mistake. If the stress gets too much, pull over in a safe, convenient and legal position (SCALP) and explain to the examiner that you need a few moments to compose yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you get a little lost, just do it safely. For a full description of the new independent driving section of the test, see:

7. Be Persistent

The vast majority of candidates make mistakes during the practical driving test and when this happens, they often think failure is a certainty. Some are lucky enough to get a clean test report, though in reality this doesn’t happen too often. So when you make a mistake, avoid dwelling on it, stay positive and be persistent. It may just be a minor fault, so put it behind you and concentrate on doing your best.

8. Choose Your Test Time Carefully

The time of day at which you take your driving test can have a significant impact on the outcome, particularly if you live in a busy town or city. Most busy areas suffer from rush-hour traffic. This involves frenzied drivers desperate to get to work on time, or eager to get home and they often have little patience for a learner driver.

Booking your driving test at a time to avoid rush-hour may prove beneficial due to less traffic and calmer roads. Certain test centres offer Saturday bookings also, so if your area is generally quieter on a Saturday, this may prove beneficial – though please note; weekend bookings will typically incur a slightly higher fee.

9. Make Sure You’re Ready

Sounds obvious, but many tests are failed simply because the candidate wasn’t ready and hadn’t had enough driving lessons. There isn’t a specific amount of lessons you need to take as everybody has different abilities. You will however be looking at a minimum of 30 professional lessons, perhaps closer to 45 hours upwards.

If possible combine private tuition with professional tuition from a driving instructor, though it’s important to follow what you have already learnt from the instructor and to not allow the parent or friend to teach you. This can cause confusion with conflicting information and could ultimately have a detrimental affect. Think of private tuition as driving experience – all of which is essential. Affordable learner driver insurance can be obtained on a daily basis.

10. Take a Mock Driving Test

When both your instructor and yourself feel that you’re nearing test standard, take a mock driving test and ideally take it with an entirely different driving instructor / school. The benefits of this are that you will be sitting next to a complete stranger under test conditions which will help you to prepare for the real thing. Also, the instructor will be unfamiliar with your driving and as a result, may pick up on certain other areas that can be improved on. For further information, see

More Tips on How to Pass the Driving Test

  • Ensure you’re comfortable. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes for the driving test.
  • Have something to eat before the test. Tests are stressful and can zap energy quickly.
  • A bad driving instructor will cost you more. See good driving schools for advice on finding the best driving instructor.
  • The basics are easy to forget. Other common reasons for failure are incorrect or lack of mirrors and forgetting to check the blind spot. If you’re not too great at looking in the mirrors, see keep forgetting to check mirrors for help.
  • Observe others driving – whilst being driven with friends or family, run through the process in your mind of performing everything correctly as though you were driving.
  • If you are not entirely clear on what you need to do, ask the examiner to repeat.

28 thoughts on “How to Pass the New Driving Test”

  1. A. Rogers

    Hi,

    My son was just failed on his driving test today by an examiner who cited him slowing down too soon before a junction so that he was not moving when he reached the junction. Which had a lot of traffic on the road he was going into. I have never heard of this before. It doesn’t appear on the list for examiners. Can anyone enlighten me please?

  2. Hello,
    I can’t imagine that he failed for stopping at a busy junction – which seemed like the appropriate thing to do. I think the issue must have been that he was too slow / failing to make progress / hesitant on approach to the junction.

  3. Darren hopkins

    I have had my driving test at Garrett green I failed because someone cut me up and the examiner had to pick his wife up I had no Maneuvers had not been done.which lead to another test which I failed on silly things I think it is a easy way of them to make money by failing nearly every person who can drive but they make any excuse to fail them I would not recommend. This test center to anyone it is a money making scan

  4. R.S

    Thank you so much for these great tips. The drivingtesttips.biz website in general has been such a great tool which i have referred to many times and it has helped to build my confidence. I have just returned from my driving test with 2 minors and a serious (meaning I failed) and this was completely down to nerves right at the very beginning of the test. I was not really thinking about what i was doing as my mind was occupied with thoughts about passing/failing. Upon moving off from a gradient at the test center car park, I did not control the car enough to move out of a small space which meant the examiner had to intervene and stop the car. Although I knew this would cost me a pass, I decided to not dwell and ensure my driving would be good for the remainder of the test. I did not feel nervous for the rest of the test and the independent driving was not as difficult as I expected- it just involves following roadsigns you are used to. My 2 minors were due to hesitation (not overtaking a bus). For anyone with their driving test coming up, I would say that although it seems daunting , the test is nowhere near as scary as you’d think. Try not to be too nervous- a positive mindset is key. I am looking to rebook my test asap as I know where i went wrong and what I should do next time. Good luck.

  5. Hi R.S
    Glad that the website has been useful to you. As you described, nerves are a huge issue for many test candidates, especially right at the start. But you done the right thing in carrying on as it gave you good experience.

  6. Goodluck

    Sometimes, It is up to luck. Different examiner has a different taste.
    I got a major fault cause I was driving too slow (around 23mph)at built-up areas, which were full of parked cars. And he even marked me fault for slowing down to round 25mph to read the road panels , though I speed up again to reach the junction. And in either case, it was quite clean behind me.
    My instructor had nothing to say about that and my 2nd examiner was totally happy about my driving.

  7. Agreed. There is an element of luck to the test in regards to which examiner you get assigned.

  8. Dewan

    Hello everyone! I have just passed my driving test today for third time at Goodmayes test Centre. I found this site very helpful for learners.
    I would say if you are well prepared for the test, be confident. Don’t overwhelmed yourself with lots of negative things people say about examiner or anything else. Just stay calm and cool, drive as normal and safe, have a little chat with the examiner to alleviate your nervous. That’s it, job done, you will pass.
    Saying above there is definitely examiners discretion and it’s the part of luck!
    Good luck!

  9. Anuradha

    Hello,
    I really like your site, it’s very useful and has helped me quite a lot. I came across this after I failed my 3rd test but unfortunately I failed my test 4th time today :(. Every time there has been a different reason with one major and 5 minors. This time, I stopped at Red light which I was explained was not for my side of the road. I am always getting confused with the road signs and traffic lights whether they are for my side of the road. The road was kind of fork and I was asked to take the left. Traffic light was in the middle and I confused it to be for me which now I understand was for going straight but it did not occur to me while driving. Is there any material/ help I can get on this? Last time also I got confused with the ‘No Entry’ sign as I understood it to be for straight road while it was for right turn. So instead of going straight considering that to be no entry zone, I tried turning right in No entry and examiner had to intervene and was obviously a fail.
    Thanks,
    AR

  10. Hi Anuradha,
    Bad luck on your test failure, but I’m sure you’ll do great next time. I don’t think there is any material on confusing road signs or lights that I’m aware of. But I know what you mean, there are some traffic lights just like that around our area – and they can cause confusion for full licence holders too.
    All I can suggest is to hire a driving instructor who is highly experienced on the test routes that examiner use in your area. Let the instructor know that you want to practice the difficult areas which tend to fail tests (areas like you are commenting on). Make sure you cover these areas so that you know them very well and you should be fine. Most test centres have difficult routes, so it’s just a case of knowing where they are and practicing them.

  11. Francis

    Hi.
    I have my driving test scheduled today. Its gas been scheduled to be performed on the highway since I have glaucoma issues in 9ne eye, in order for me no to have restricted licences I must perform this test on the highway. I’m super nervous and to be honest I haven’t practice to take highways I avoid them unless I absolutely need to. Just because I get nervous anyways any tips.

  12. Hi Fanncis,
    Are you based in the USA? We are UK based, so have no knowledge about driving tests based in the US I’m afraid.

  13. Emersynn

    i have had loads of lessons, but shuld i be practicing on another car? my test is booked for 2 wks time and a friend is saying i wont pass unless i’ve got experience driving another car…is that true?

  14. Hi Emersynn
    I assume you mean private lessons such as with a friend or family member on top of your lessons with your instructor?
    If that’s the case, then it certainly is recommended to practice what you have learnt from the instructor.
    However, in your situation it might be a little more complicated as it’s best to start private lessons early on. Starting private lessons when you only have 2 weeks until your test might potentially make matters confusing.
    If you are confident with your current driving ability, then I would probably avoid private lessons and get as many lessons as you can get in with your instructor.

  15. Jode

    Hi I failed my first test due to coming out the test centre car park on the right instead of left.. I knew straight after I was wrong but I only had 2 minors he said that was a serious though . I have my test re booked and am panicking the examiner said there wasn’t a problem with my driving.. I just can’t seem to shake my nerves off.. is it true they have a certain amount to pass/fail or is it purely down to how u drive.

  16. Hi Jode,
    From what I gather, there isn’t a certain amount that they pass and fail as such, but examiners do maintain a certain percentage of passes and fails. So for example, if the pass rate for a test centre is say 60%, so if all the examiners are passing 6 test candidates out of every 10 tests (roughly) then if there’s one examiner who’s pass rate is a consistent 9 passes out of every 10, that examiner may require assessing. They will generally try to stay within a 10% threshold of the test centre pass rate. Whether that’s down to manipulating pass statistics is really down to you to decide.

    Try to have as many mock tests as possible, ideally with an instructor who you’ve never met. It prepares you better for the real test and eases your nerves.

  17. Sian Levko

    Hello. I have my first driving test booked. Doing it in 6 weeks. Can anyone recommend advice and tips on how to help my hesitation. Plus ways I can prepare myself at home. I am unable to take private lessons with family and friends. Only one lesson a week with my instructor. Any tips and advice will be really helpful. Along with websites, videos etc…..

    What is the best way to remember answers for the show me tell me questions?

  18. Hi Sian,
    Hesitation issues do of course improve with the more practice. In your remaining lessons, ask your driving instructor to take you to busy areas to help improve. A good way to have an idea when to go or wait is to think of yourself as a pedestrian in that exact place, would you cross the road as a pedestrian or wait? It usually works out quite accurate.

    As for the show me tell me questions, ask your instructor to randomly ask you questions during your lessons (the examiner will ask one on your test as you’re driving). Also ask family or friends to ask you random questions. It’s just a matter of keep going over them really. But don’t worry about them too much as you wont fail if you get them wrong. Take the show me tell me quiz to see how well you do.

  19. Sian Levko

    HI. My first driving test is on Tuesday. Any final tips and advice on how to not feel nervous around the examiner. I am confident in my driving and the questions, I have one more lesson. Advice or tips will be helpful. Anyone telling me how the test is actually like will help me too.
    Thanks

  20. Hi Sian,
    The best thing to help reduce nerves is to know exactly what’s going to happen. Have a read of what happens during a driving test to get a good idea. You could also ask your instructor to give you a mock driving test on your last lesson as this will help you to know what to expect. Try and have a little casual chat with the examiner, that helps to alleviate nerves. But it’s perfectly normal to be nervous. You tend to find that once you get over the first few minutes of the driving test, the rest of it is fine and the time goes really quickly. So just remember to drive just like you do on your lessons, take your time and you’ll do just fine.

  21. Laura Haltham

    I had my second test back in October and when the examiner came out he asked if i wanted my instructor in the car during the test and i said yes and as we were about to leave to go to the car he said that a gentleman is joining them to assess him. I didnt know how to feel about this. As we started the examiner asked me to do the reverse bay park in the centre (Tilbury) which is very snug and there nearly full and he said “It is very tight just dont hit the wall” i personally think its not the ideal place to do the manuover as it is tight and if someone came in when i did it id have no where to go i wouldnt been able to move and neither would they it of cost my test and theres. In the end i did it but was difficult as 2 cars were parked in the 2 bays before my one so i wasnt able to see the lines to do the technique i use. In the end i messed it up so i failed before i left the centre. I did a lesson before hand and did the bay park in local ASDA which is up the road from the centre so i dunno why we could not of gone there? I sent a complaint on this and apparently tests do not do bay parking in shopping car parks?? But my instructor who has been on many tests with her learners has said they do do the bay park in Asda. Also, when i was doing my blind spot checks i saw the guy that was assessing the examiner with his head back, eyes closed and mouth open im like “WHAT”? My instructor also thinks he was fulling asleep. Also, the route i did was weird as we only went through Chadwell St Mary and West Tilbury no motor ways or roundabouts and my instructor said she has never ever done that route ever on a test

  22. Hi Laura,
    That does sound like a rather odd driving test there. Also, the DVSA have stated themselves on their despatch blog that they are using supermarket car parks for the bay parking manoeuvre (providing there are no restrictions in place). Motorways aren’t part of the practical test, although you can go on them with a fully qualified instructor during a lesson. Examiners often use dual carriageways during a test though. Unusual that you didn’t use any roundabouts. Hopefully your next test will be a bit more normal.

  23. Will

    Hi Sian, did you pass your test? Cheers

  24. Marlene

    I have my driving test next week i have had lessons for a few years now after reading all your comments it has given me more encouragement to just be me focus and lose the nerves i am 64 years old i hope i have lady luck also .

  25. Hello Marlene.
    In my experience as a driving instructor, I can definitely say that older drivers have more confidence on the driving test. I mean, why get all nervous for that examiner. It’s your test, you paid for it, so own it right?
    You’re gonna do great.

  26. Abby

    Hare hills driving test centre is run by robots. They don’t care if you pass or not. They don’t encourage confidence, they strip you of it before your test. It’s run by the ageing OAP s of this country and just because their lives are nearly done, they fail you out of pure envy n jealousy. Jacky from hare hills, mutton dressed…. Bleach blonde old woman….. time to retire old lady!

  27. Dan

    I wasn’t quite sure where on your site to write this but thankyou so much for all your tips and advice! With your help, I managed to pass my test first time today :))) stay safe out there everyone

  28. Hi Dan,
    Well done for passing the test and an extra well done for passing first time. Glad you found some of the help useful.

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