Learning to drive

Passing your car driving test in the United Kingdom can be done in the following stages

man driving a van

1. Get your Provisional Licence

In order to learn to drive you must have a valid UK provisional driving licence, there are certain requirements for obtaining a provisional driving licence. You must be a certain age, meet the eyesight requirement, be a resident of Great Britain etc.
you can apply for your provisional licence here

Once you have received your provisional licence you can begin taking driving lessons with a driving instructor.

2. Prepare for your Driving Theory Test

Once you start a course of driving lessons you should also begin to prepare for your driving theory test which is an obligatory test taken before you are allowed to take the practical driving test. Purchase or borrow a highway code book but make sure it is the most up to date version. Today there are many other learning aids such as learn to drive DVD's online tests and help.

3. The Driving Theory Test

Woman Driving a car The driving theory test is made up of 2 parts and both parts must be passed in order to pass the test.

3.1 Multiple choice part.

The first part is a multiple choice test of the information you have learns from the official highway code. You will be tested on different aspects of driving, types of road, speed limits, road signs, stopping distances etc.

3.2 Hazard perception part

The second part of the driving theory test is hazard perception and involves interacting with a video depicting a typical journey on British roads from the perspective of the driver.
You will be shown a series of 14 clips containing 15 possible driving hazards and you must click when you think something or someone is causing a driving hazard on the video.
You must sit both parts of the driving theory test at the same sitting and you need to pass both parts in order to pass the theory test.

When both you and your driving instructor feel confident in all aspects of driving theory, it's time to book your driving theory test.
When you have booked your driving theory test its time to revise intensely as much as you can, this is a critical part of learning to drive and you cannot proceed to your practical driving test until you have passed your theory test.
You can practice your driving theory test on the direct.gov website here

Once you have passed your driving theory test and you have shown your driving instructor how you can drive confidently without reoccurring mistakes. And you should be able to perform all the required driving manoeuvres, and you feel confident that you are ready for your practical driving test. Then your driving instructor will advise your to book your practical driving test.
Links to Practical driving test can be found by clicking here

4. The practical driving test

Car on long road Most often you will use the same car for your practical driving test as the car you have been learning to drive in. Therefore you need to agree a mutually convenient date and time with your driving instructor to book your practical driving test. You can book your practical driving test online at direct.gov at a cost of £62 (may 2012)

Note booking your test through other websites may incur an additional "booking Fee"
click here to book your practical driving test at direct.gov

When you have your practical driving test booked your driving instructor often will arrange mock tests where your driving instructor plays the part of the driving examiner. These mock test are designed to give you a feel for what the practical test will be like and prepare your for the test. Good driving instructors will conduct their mock tests under exam conditions to better prepare you for the real thing. These are good times to iron out any driving flaws or potential bad habits you may have developed. Often the biggest barrier to overcome when taking your driving test is feeling nervous and anxious which can impair your diving, your driving tutor should work to make you feel confident and overcome these feeling as much as possible.

The day of your test

On the day of your driving test it is often a good idea to have a lesson just prior to the test itself, this the time to go through any aspect of your driving that may be concerning you, your driving instructor should go over these areas with you just prior to driving to the test centre. Once you arrive at the test centre you must have your provisional driving licence as well as your counterpart and your driving theory test certificate, without these documents you will not be able to take your practical driving test.

Practical Driving Test Explained

Womans hands tearing L-plate in half The test lasts for approximately 40 minutes and you will be tested on a number of typical driving situations. You will be required to complete one manoeuvre out of 4 possible alternatives: The manoeuvres are Turn in the Road, Reverse around a corner, park in a bay, or a parallel park.

In 2011 the DSA added a new independent driving section to the practical test. The independent driving section is designed for you to show the examiner your capability to drive without instruction through a specific route.

A typical question would be something like
"at the next roundabout follow the signs for Luton and continue to do so until I tell you otherwise".

You must show your ability to drive independently with confidence and without instruction. The examiner will show you a diagram often of 3 roundabouts you will encounter along the route.
You need to remember the route and which exits to take on the diagram. This is not a test of memory this is to show that you are able to use your initiative, if you do forget, ask the examiner well before the part your forgot, so that you are able to continue the journey along the route and know where you are going. Towards the end of the practical test the examiner will ask you to drive back to the test centre where you will be given the result.

If You Pass

Remember what your diving instructor taut you, everything they taut you was designed to keep you and other road users safe. They weren't teaching you how to pass your test, they were teaching you the skills and knowledge to stay safe on the road.

If You Fail

There is no shame in failing your driving test, many of the greatest drivers in the world took a few tests before passing. Just begin preparing for your next test and tell yourself "you are going to pass no matter how many goes you will pass your test"