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What to Expect Before and After Your Driving Test

December 29, 2023

4 min read

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Sam Plant

Content Writer

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a driver and driving test examiner sit together in a car

Even though the driving test is a fairly daunting prospect, it's pretty easy to prepare yourself for what's to come. There are plenty of blogs and advice pages just full of handy content on what to expect during the practical. But what about the stuff that happens either side?

Those who suffer from nerves will know that it can be very reassuring to be able to draw up a clear idea of how a day's events will play out. With this in mind, we think it's important to also have an insight into what will happen just before and after your driving test. Get ready for a quick rundown of how exactly all of the non-test parts of your day will look. No more wasting time—to the facts!

Before the test

Test day has arrived. You've had a hearty breakfast, picked a lucky outfit and your instructor is on their way to pick you up. What happens next?

Final lesson

a driving instructor talks a learner driver through a manouevre

Rather than driving straight to the test centre, most people actually find it very useful to squeeze in one last driving lesson before the test. It's an opportunity to get warmed up and remind yourself that you have all of the necessary skills to knock the examiner's socks off. Or, at the very least, prove to them that you are competent behind the wheel!

By the time you get to the test centre, everything will be fresh in your memory and you should feel good(ish!) to go.

Waiting room

The DVSA do not take kindly to tardiness. Make sure you arrive for your test with some time to spare. Take a seat in the waiting room and try to remain calm. Depending on how you're feeling, you might want to chat to your instructor to settle your nerves. You could go over some last-minute driving tips, or simply bemoan the state of the weather—whatever makes you feel better.

If focused silence is more your thing, now is the time to practice some breathing exercises. Aaand inhale…

Detail checks

a man writes on a piece of paper

When the clock hands land at your time slot, a DVSA examiner will stroll out and call your name. Head over to them and present your documents. You're required to bring your provisional licence, theory test pass certificate and car insurance details (the latter only applies if you're using your own car).

While they'll definitely note down your provisional licence details, the theory test pass certificate often isn't necessary. We still recommend that you take it with you, though, because on the off chance they do ask to see it, you don't want to risk having your test cancelled or rearranged.

Initial checks over, it's time to head to the car! This is the point where you should make it clear whether you want your instructor to sit in on the test or not. If yes, get going. If no, wave goodbye and put your game face on!

Walking to the car

The walk to the car can be a little nerve-wracking, as this is when the importance of the situation starts to weigh on you. Hopefully you'll have a nice chatty examiner who can break the ice. If not, don't be afraid to start the conversation yourself. A little back and forth can really help ease the tension!

The driving test actually begins during this walk to the car, as it's when the eyesight test will be conducted. And this is where we'll leave you for now…

After the test

Phew! It's all over. Depending on how you feel it went, that was either the longest or shortest 40 minutes of your life. There's no point worrying about anything now, though, as it's time for the examiner to give their verdict!

Congratulations or consolations?

a traffic light illuminated green to show it's safe to go

As soon as you're back at the test centre and the engine has been turned off, the examiner will turn to you to deliver the good or bad news.

If you've passed, they will congratulate you, highlight any minor faults you may have picked up and hand you a pass certificate. Get in! They'll also ask if you want your full licence to be posted to you automatically or not. If you go for this option (and we suggest you do) you can expect your new licence to take up to 3 weeks to arrive.

Not successful this time? The examiner will talk you through the faults you made and explain that you have to wait at least 10 working days before taking another test. You probably won't feel like it, but it's a good idea to at least pass this feedback on to your instructor or ask for them to be present while it's delivered. Try to keep your cool and not get too down on yourself.

Driving test scoring system: you are allowed to make up to 15 driver (or minor) faults on the test. If you commit any serious or dangerous faults (also referred to as major faults) or rack up more than 15 minor faults, you will fail the driving test.

The drive home

image of a driver with both hands on steering wheel and looking at the road ahead

If you've just failed the test, this part can be a bit of a drag. You might want to put off discussing what went wrong while you get yourself together. Don't be too disheartened, though! Less than half of learners manage to pass their driving test first time. Plus, at least now you know exactly what to expect, which will make it much easier when you take another crack at it!

Managed to pass? Well done you! Even though you don't actually have your hands on that full licence yet, you are legally allowed to start driving straight away. If you're still buzzing from the excitement of it all, though, you might want to let your instructor take the wheel. This is a great time to soak in the achievement and call your loved ones to pass on the good news.

Driving test day

And there you have it! The timeline of what happens just before and right after a driving test. Now that you have a clear idea of the schedule, you can start focusing on the important part—how to prepare for the test itself! Check out PassMeFast's wide range of guides on this subject, including the lowdown on the driving test mark sheet and some last minute tips and tricks.

With this level of preparation, nothing can stop you turning those driving dreams into a reality!

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