What to expect the day of your driving test

You’ve completed your 12 EDT lessons and applied for your test date. It can be a nervous time waiting for the day, but half of preparing and dampening those nerves is just knowing what to expect. While you wait for the upcoming day there’s a few things you can prepare to help ensure every success.

Before the test

Before the day arrives here’s a small checklist to tick off.

  • Ensure you have all your documents required on hand. This includes your provisional drivers licence (and make sure it’s in date)
  • The car you use for the test must have a valid and displayed NCT disk, insurance and tax disc. If you’re using your own car and not an instructors be sure to double check this.
  • You must have your L-Plates correctly displayed on your car, front and back.
  • Your car must be roadworthy. This includes all working lights, above the minimum thread depth of your tyres.
  • Finally arrive on time. There’s always a waiting list for a driving test so testers will not wait long for you.

This checklist is not exhaustive, but it is critical. Many people fail their test every year before they even get into the car because they’ve forgotten documents, been late or not noticed a tyre that’s balling.

In order to get into the mindset of driving with someone watching you should think of taking a pre-test. Your instructor can give you some last-minute pointers and things to focus on and, hopefully, some nice words of encouragement that you’ll be fine!

On the day

Once the day of your test arrives, you’ve done your pre-test with your instructor and you’ve crossed everything off your checklist in preparation. But what happens when you walk into the test centre office?

Wait to be called into the office. When you are don’t be alarmed if there’s no chit-chat or small talk with the tester. They’re there to examine your driving ability, not chat about the weather.  

  • First, you’ll be tested on the rules of the road with a number of random questions and asked to describe or choose the correct diagram.
  • Once this is completed, you’ll head outside to your car. The tester will go through the details of the car such as tax, NCT insurance (remember that checklist).
  • You’ll also be asked to run through all the lights and indicators on your car and your tester will check them off as working.


After that its in the car and off with the driving. Follow your tester instructions carefully. Try to imagine it’s the same instructor you’ve been doing all your 12 lessons with to calm the nerves. And again, don’t be worried if there’s no small talk. The testers aren’t really supposed to engage. During the driving portion of your test, you’ll be assessed on your driving such as your attention to the safety of other road users, your progression as well as your skill, ability and knowledge of driving competently.

While you’re out driving, you’ll be asked to pull over on quieter roads at different times to demonstrate hand signals, hill starts, reversing around corners and turnabout manoeuvres.

The entire test can take about 30 to 40 minutes. The driving portion is about 5km, so it can seem like its over almost too quick.

After your test is complete

 Once you’ve returned to the test centre and parked up, you’ll return to the test centres office. You may be told in the car if you’ve passed or not but often the tester will stay silent until they’re back in the office, and sometimes several agonizing minutes more!

The tester will inform you of your results. If you’ve passed (congratulations) they’ll go through any minor mistakes you’ve made and present you with a certificate of competency. If you haven’t passed, they’ll go over in detail where you need to improve and give you an official list of errors. You can bring this back to your instructor to go over and focus on these areas for your next test.

Your certificate of competency enables you to apply for a full driving licence for two years. During this time, you’ll be required to display your ‘N’ or ‘Novice’ plates and you may not be the sole accompanying driver for a learner driver.

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