Many people become so preoccupied with the primary parts of the practical test—the independent driving and the manoeuvres—that they forget an equally important component: the ‘show me, tell me’ questions.
While you can’t fail the practical test by answering a ‘show me’ or ‘tell me’ question incorrectly, it’s still important that you know them back to front, inside out. Your instructor is sure to go over these questions with you, but having a solid knowledge of them prior to this will ensure that you’ll be confident when the moment of truth comes.
These questions are included in the test so that you can demonstrate a basic knowledge of your vehicle. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to be a car mechanic to get your head round them!
For the ‘tell me’ question, you’ll have to explain how you’d carry out a safety task. This happens at the start of the driving practical test.
The ‘show me’ question is similar, but the examiner will ask you to do it while you’re driving along. The examiner will ask you one of each type of question.
Let’s start out with the ‘show me’ questions...
If you’ve been driving for quite a while now, we’re sure you’ve had to do this already—unless you live in a magical part of the UK where it never rains! Different cars have different controls for this, but it’s very likely you will need to use the right hand control stalk (next to the steering wheel). If you’re unsure, then just double check with your instructor.
The same advice follows as for the first ‘show me’ question—we’d be very surprised if you hadn’t had to use the windscreen wipers yet! On most cars, you simply spray a bit of screenwash onto the windscreen, and the wipers will automatically clean it off.
You might not have done much driving at night yet, but this will be really straightforward. Make sure you know how to switch on the dipped, not the full beam headlights. If ever in doubt, just check with your instructor.
The controls to do this will most likely be on the centre console, which is situated to your left. You’ll have to change the temperature of the fan, and make sure that you’ve pressed the correct button to activate the rear demister.
You know how to do this—beep beep! It’s as simple as that.
This follows exactly the same principle as using the rear demister—you just need to use a different control on the central console. Make sure you know which one is which!
I’m sure you’ve all been desperate for fresh air during a lesson before, so this one should be pretty straightforward. Before you complete any of the actions that the instructor asks you to do, you need to be completely satisfied that it’s safe to do so.
Fancy a bit of a break from revision? Why not check out this article about our new Emergency Stop Game!
Remember, you don’t actually have to complete any of these tasks—just make sure you know how to respond correctly!
Tell the examiner that you should lightly test the brakes as you set off, and that when you do this, they shouldn’t feel spongy or slack. Also, the vehicle shouldn’t pull to either side when you use the brakes.
There are a few things to remember when answering this question:
This might sound like quite a lot to remember, but it’s really straightforward if you just think about the process of checking the tyre pressures.
Hopefully your tyres don't look like this!
The head restraint should be adjusted so the rigid part of the head restraint is at least as high as the eye or top of the ears, and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable.
Firstly, there should be no cuts or bulges in the tyre. Secondly, the tread depth should be 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the width of the tyre.
Explain to the examiner that you’d turn on the switch, and then walk round the vehicle to check.
DON’T FORGET: This is a ‘tell me’ question—not a ‘show me’—so you don’t actually need to get out!
A warning light should appear on the dashboard if there is a fault with the anti-lock braking system (also known as ABS).
In the same way as you did for the headlights question, explain that you’d operate the switch (turning on the ignition if necessary), and then walk round the vehicle.
DON’T FORGET — you don’t actually need to get out of the vehicle!
Explain you’d operate the brake pedal and make use of reflections in windows or doors, or ask someone to help by looking at the back of the car.
If the steering becomes heavy, the system might not be working properly. You can check whether it's working by performing 2 simple tests.
Apply gentle pressure on the steering wheel, and maintain it while the engine is started. This should result in a slight but noticeable movement as the system begins to operate. Alternatively turning the steering wheel just after moving off will let you know that the power assistance is working.
Turn the switch on (you might need to turn on the ignition and your dipped headlights). Then, check that the warning light is on and explain when you'd use them. This should have been covered in your theory. Not taken your theory test yet? Prepare for success with our guide to passing your theory test.
Again, turn on the switch, and check the main beam warning light on the dashboard. it should look something like the symbol below.
Explain that you'd point out where the dipstick is, and that you'd check the level of engine oil against the minimum and maximum markers. Remember, you need to have wiped the dipstick clean before checking the markers!
Image source: Skica911 via Pixabay
You would need to identify the high and low level markings on either the header tank or the radiator filler cap. then you would top it up to the correct level.
Explain that you’d point out where the reservoir is, and check the level of the brake fluid against the high and low markers.
And that's all you need to know! If you've read through this a few times and the answers aren't sticking in your memory, or if you feel that you're a better visual learner, it might be helpful to take a look at this video from the DVSA.
It shouldn't take you too long to get to grips with the show me, tell me questions, but don't forget there's plenty more to learn before you'll be test ready. Why not take a look at our traffic signs quiz? Or, if you're interested in gaining some more general driving knowledge, check out our guide to the history of the highway code.