Top 10 practical driving test tips

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Get test-ready by reading our instructor tips for passing the driving test.

UK driving test tips

The practical driving test is the final challenge for learner drivers. Pass it, and you’re a fully qualified driver, free to explore the roads without L-plates stuck to your car or a driving instructor in the passenger seat. Fail it, and you’ll experience disappointment, frustration and the annoying realisation that you’ll have to part with another £62-75 to try again.

That’s why so many people want a few cheeky driving test tips before they tackle the test. We’ve spoken to our driving instructors and gathered together some of their favourite driving test tips.

Instructor tips for passing the driving test

  • Know what to expect
  • Know the likely test routes
  • Perfect your manoeuvres
  • Take regular driving lessons
  • Hone your observations
  • Keep calm
  • Book a test-day driving lesson
  • Dress comfortably

Let's look at those driving test tips in more detail...

1. Know what to expect

This might seem like an obvious driving test tip, but it’s an important one. The UK practical driving test takes about 40 minutes. You will be expected to drive on one of several preferred routes without making any serious or dangerous mistakes (referred to as faults) and no more than 15 minor mistakes. You will also have to complete several manoeuvres, answer show me tell me questions and successfully navigate without help from the examiner during the 10-minute independent driving section.

2. Know the likely test routes

A tip tip to pass the driving test is to know the likely test routes! It’s not cheating to concentrate your practice on the routes that are most likely to come up on your driving test. The Midrive app lets you look at the test routes that other learners in your area have tracked, letting you focus your practise on key areas. Only we can offer the latest test routes; the DVSA stopped publishing the driving test routes in 2010.

3. Perfect your manoeuvres

By the time you’re ready for your driving test, manoeuvres should be second nature to you. One of our instructor tips for the driving test is to ensure that before you even book your test, you’re capable of pulling off each manoeuvre without a single minor fault three times in a row. By not ‘wasting’ any minors on your manoeuvres you give yourself a bit more leeway when it comes to the more challenging aspects of the test. Our YouTube channel is full of videos to help you out with manoeuvres.

4. Take regular driving lessons

Some people jump into a car with an examiner with the bare minimum amount of driving lessons under their belts; you don’t need our driving test tips to know that’s not how to pass your test!

Schedule driving lessons with your instructor as regularly as possible and get out and about on the roads with your parents/supervising driver for some practice whenever there’s an opportunity. Any non-motorway journey can become great practise for you, providing you’re properly insured.

When you can go an entire driving lesson without your instructor correcting or helping you, you’ve practised enough. Also, remember to ask your instructor for their top tips for the driving test; nobody knows the DVSA better than driving instructors!

5. Hone your observations

Failing to observe the road properly at junctions is the most common reason to fail a driving test. Get used to checking your mirrors regularly and making ever-so-slightly exaggerated motions when doing any observation (don’t go overboard, just make it clear that you’re looking around you).

6. Keep calm

Approach your test in a calm and controlled manner; keeping your nerves in check is a big part of how to pass a driving test. Our article on beating driving lesson nerves can come in equally useful for controlling driving test nerves.

You’ve been practising for this moment for ages. One top driving test tip is don’t let negative thinking get the better of you at the last minute. Just keep thinking “I’ve done this a hundred times before” before each manoeuvre, junction, roundabout or any other element of the test that you find challenging.

Plus, remind yourself that small mistakes like stalling (providing they don't happen in a dangerous situation) won't result in an instant fail. Neither will getting a manoeuvre wrong (providing you don’t hit the kerb or fail to make proper observations). If you feel that a manoeuvre isn’t going well, just calmly start again.

7. Book a test-day driving lesson

This driving test tip is simple; book a driving lesson for right before your test to ensure that you’re on top form.

8. Dress comfortably

Dressing smart for the big day is one of those strange driving test tips that we hear repeated every now and again. If you’re the sort of person who’d be dressing up anyway, then feel free. Otherwise, just wear what you’re comfortable in (within reason; PJs and Ugg boots might be pushing it a bit far). There’s no point putting on a dinner suit to impress the examiner; they only care about your driving. If you’re really worried about dressing properly, check out our post on what to wear for a driving test.

Bonus tip: Have a little faith

The best driving test tip you can follow is being confident in your driving instructor. A good instructor will not send you to your test until you’re ready and they’ll work hard to make sure that you’re well-prepared. If you’re looking for your perfect driving instructor or have been learning to drive for a while and just fancy a change, enter your postcode to get matched with a trusted Midrive instructor.

Can you listen to music while taking driving test?

You’re allowed to listen to music in your driving test, as long as it’s quiet and not disruptive in any way. You need to be able to hear the driving examiner and concentrate on your driving. A good driving test tip is to put on a calming playlist during your driving test, as long as you perform well to music and won’t find it distracting.

Driving test tips for common mistakes to avoid

It might seem obvious, but an important driving test tip is to avoid the mistakes that learners commonly make on their driving tests! Each year, the DVSA releases information about the common mistakes learners made on their test that year. While this does vary a little year by year, the common mistakes are fairly consistent.

Many learners fail to observe adequately - whether that’s at junctions, or just generally failing to check their mirrors often enough. So, make sure you pay attention to the ‘hone your observations’ driving test tip above!

Another common area for mistakes is not controlling the vehicle well enough. This is often a problem during steering or moving off. Your driving instructor wouldn’t let you take your driving test if they didn’t think you could control the vehicle, so make sure that you remember what you’ve been taught, take a deep breath and don’t let your nerves get the better of you.

You can see more mistakes you should avoid in our article covering the Top 10 reasons to fail a driving test.