How to pass your driving test

Discover how many driving lessons it takes to pass your driving test, and how to pass your driving test faster

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How many lessons do I need to pass my driving test?

The average learner in the UK takes 47 hours of lessons before passing the practical driving test, according to the DVSA. But it’s possible to reduce the number of lessons you need, such as by practising between lessons or learning in an automatic transmission vehicle.

How to pass your driving test quickly

Passing your driving test in fewer lessons means you’re able to save both time and money. Find out how you can learn quickly and pass your driving test faster:

1. Apply for your provisional driving licence early

You can apply for your provisional driving licence up to three months before you turn 17 (or 16 if you intend to ride a moped). Getting your licence sorted out early means that you can start your driving lessons on your birthday instead of waiting around for the DVSA. Use our guide for more information on how to apply for your provisional licence.

2. Pick the right driving instructor

If you end up taking the UK average number of driving lessons, you’ll be spending up to 47 hours in the car with your driving instructor. Since you’re going to be spending quite a bit of time together, it makes sense that you and your instructor get on well and that their teaching style and your learning style match.

Make sure that you learn with a fully qualified ADI (Approved Driving Instructor) rather than a PDI (an instructor who’s still in training). It’s also worth checking that your driving school will let you switch instructors if you don’t get on.

3. Book your theory test in advance

When you’re desperate to get on the road, the last thing you want to do is wait around for weeks or even months for a theory test slot. You can book your theory test as soon as you have a provisional licence, so you might as well book it as soon as your licence arrives.

Learning the highway code for your theory test will also give you useful knowledge for the road, helping you to progress through your practical driving lessons quicker.

4. Take more hours of lessons per week

If you’re only taking a single hour of driving lessons per week, it’s going to take you months before you’re ready for your test, even if you’re a quick learner. Most driving instructors will recommend that you take 2-hour lessons, giving you that extra time to get to grips with life behind the wheel.

There is no specific number of lessons that you need to take before your test by law, but you could opt to take more than one driving lesson a week if you’re keen to progress even quicker.

5. Practise between lessons

If you only drive during your driving lessons, you’re always going to be spending the first part of each lesson getting back into the swing of things - particularly if you only take one or two lessons a week.

However, if you can spend some time practising between lessons, you can spend your lesson time learning new skills rather than recapping what you learned the previous week. When practising like this, it’s best to stick to things you know rather than trying to master something new, but the extra time spent on the road will really help you to pass your driving test quicker.

6. Use online resources

The free Midrive Learner app gives you a way to prepare for your test without having to be behind the wheel. You can track your lesson progress, read articles on the areas you need to improve on, get lesson feedback from your instructor and even study for your theory test.

Did you know that YouTube is stuffed full of really useful content to help you out with practical stuff, too? There are videos for everything from reverse parking to learning the meaning of road signs. Videos are no replacement for time spent on the road with your instructor, but they can help you to get to grips with some of the trickier manoeuvres. Our YouTube channel is a good place to start.

7. Book your driving test in advance

The waiting times for practical driving tests can be weeks or even months. Don’t wait until you’re driving at test standard to book. Do it a couple of weeks to a month before that. If you’re unsure, have a chat with your instructor about how you’re doing and how long they think you’ve got until you’re ready for your test.

How to pass your driving test first time

You may have brushed up on your practical knowledge online, practised to your heart’s content and nailed your last few driving lessons. But when it comes to test day, it’s easy to let your nerves throw you off. Here are our top tips to pass your driving test first time.

1. Calm your nerves

We all function differently, so have a think about what best calms you down and make sure you take the time to do it before your driving test - that might involve listening to music, spending time with your pets or wearing your lucky pants!

2. Take a driving lesson beforehand

Taking a driving lesson directly before your driving test is a great way to give yourself an extra boost of confidence and get you back into the swing of driving. It also allows you to practise any routes you find particularly difficult in the vicinity of your test centre.

3. Drive defensively

Driving defensively is a great way to demonstrate that you’re a safe driver to your driving examiner. It basically means expecting the unexpected from the other drivers around you, and tailoring your driving accordingly.

How many mistakes can you make on a driving test?

There isn’t a set number of mistakes you can make on a driving test because there are three different types of fault that are all treated differently. These are:

  • A minor fault: this is a fault that isn’t dangerous.
  • A major fault: this is a serious fault which is potentially dangerous.
  • A dangerous fault: this involves immediate danger to yourself, the examiner, public or property.

In order to pass your driving test, you need to be wary of making too many faults, and avoid making other types of fault altogether. Let’s look at the fault types in more detail:

Minor faults

Nearly everyone gets a few of these in their driving test. They could include things such as stalling or making a mess of a manoeuvre, as long as it didn’t cause any danger to anyone else. You’re allowed to get up to 15 minor faults and still pass your test.

However, if you get more than 15 minor faults, you’ll fail, and if you get several minor faults for the same area of driving, they can turn into a major fault and cause you to fail.

Major faults

A major fault will automatically cause you to fail your driving test because it refers to a fault that could potentially be dangerous. This may be one serious fault or multiple faults in the same area of driving.

Dangerous faults

A dangerous fault also results in an automatic fail for your driving test. You’ll get one of these if you put yourself, your examiner, the public or property in danger and the examiner has to intercept - such as by grabbing the wheel or using the dual controls.

If you do get a dangerous fault in your driving test, don’t beat yourself up about it too much - ultimately, the stress of the driving test can get to you and make you do things you wouldn’t usually. Work on the area of your driving that caused the fault, and improve it ready for your next test.