Preparing for and taking the Practical Driving Test

Preparing for, and taking the Practical Driving Test

Your driving test day could become one of the most memorable days of your life; opens new doors for most people. It might mean you can get that much desired promotion, or simply that you don’t have to take the bus to get your weekly shop. It does just make life easier. For whatever reason, passing your driving test will give you more freedom, and the possibility to be more spontaneous - imagine all those late night drives you could go on! The night before your driving test will probably be nerve-racking - the most important thing is to stay calm. Remaining calm means you’re less likely to make silly mistakes that could cost you the much desired pass. Here are our top tips of things to do the evening before your practical test.

The night before:
  • CHECK DETAILS - Imagine turning up to your practical test to find out you got the time/date wrong; believe us, it happens more often than you think!
  • SLEEP! - Experts recommend that you get between seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you don’t get enough sleep, your concentration could be negatively affected - this could mean you get that much deserved pass. You might find it difficult to sleep because of all the nerves, so make sure you head to bed early enough and try to relax. Perhaps picking up your favourite book or listening to some relaxing music could send you into that much needed sleep.
  • DOCUMENTS! - Check everything is ready for when you leave the day after. You will typically need to take 3 documents to your practical driving test:
    • Your invitation to the exam (which will have the date and time that is scheduled)
    • The pass certificate for your theory
  • PREPARE PHYSICALLY! - Remember that you want to be comfortable, but also look presentable. Consider it like an interview - you want the driving examiner to have the best impression of you as possible. If you turn up in your pyjamas, it may look to the instructor that you haven't made an effort. Make sure you wear shoes that are comfortable and have good grip - we recommend wearing trainers or a shoe with a flat sole.
  • PREPARE MENTALLY! - Make sure you know what to expect in the driving test! Being in a strong and positive mindset can go a long way.


You might wake up on the morning of your driving test feeling very nervous. Remember that this is normal! There is often the feeling of pressure to pass, whether that’s because of money or time, but always remember that it’s not the end of the world if you fail. You can only do your best - the most important thing is to remain calm. Below are our top tips of things to do on the morning of your driving test.

The morning of:
  • PREPARE - Have a nice big breakfast, grab a shower and make sure you’re ready to leave for when your instructor arrives to pick you up. They might arrive a few minutes early to make sure there’s plenty of time before the test. We always recommend having an hour's driving lesson before your test - this gives you time to iron out those small silly mistakes, or double check with your instructor those last minute questions you might have. 
  • TIMING - We recommend arriving at the test centre about 10 minutes before your test - this way you can ask your instructor any final questions, grab a drink and go to the bathroom, all without feeling rushed.
  • RELAX - It might be hard, but try to keep calm. Don't sit thinking about what might come from the practical test, take your mind off of driving and do something you enjoy, whether that's gaming, reading or walking your dog. Putting too much pressure on yourself is never good. 


  Here at National Intensive, 2/2.5 hours will be reserved from your course for your test day - one hour for the use of your instructors car, and one hour for you to brush up on your skills before the test. This is recommended as it allows you to shake off your pre-test nerves, and ask any questions you may have before the all important test. It’s also important that you’re aware of the things that will, or could happen during your driving test. Below is a rough guide of how the driving test generally works.

Start of the test:
  1. Before you begin the actual driving in your test, the examiner will need to test your eyesight - you will have to read a number plate from a car parked at a distance of around 20 meters away. If you fail the eyesight test, you will fail your driving test, so make sure you know your eyesight is good enough - if you're not sure, or you think your eyesight is slightly blurred, book an appointment at an opticians in advance of your test.
  2.  You will then be asked your ‘show me, tell me’ questions - these questions are also a vital part of your test. There will be one question where you will have to demonstrate something to the examiner, and another where you simply have to explain how to do something.
  3. You will then begin your practical driving test. Tests usually last around 40 minutes, and you will be tested on:
  • Your general driving ability - you will drive in a variety of road and traffic conditions. You will receive directions from the examiner which you should follow. Don’t panic if you go the wrong direction - all drivers sometimes make mistakes such as entering the wrong lane at a roundabout. If this does happen, only attempt to correct yourself if you are absolutely sure that the change in direction is safe - otherwise, head in the direction of the lane you're in and your examiner will redirect you.
  • Stopping and pulling off. Your examiner will assess you on how safely you move off and pull over in your vehicle. Make sure to check all mirrors and ensure that it’s safe to do so before taking action. You may also be asked to do an emergency stop - this will only be done if it is completely safe to do so.
  • How you reverse your vehicle - you will be asked to complete one of the following:
    • Parking in a bay (either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out) - this will be instructed by your examiner. 
    • Parallel parking - parking behind a parked car by pulling up to the side of it, and reversing so that you're directly behind it, as close to the kerb (but not touching) as possible!
    • Pull up on the right hand side of the road, then reverse for 2 car lengths, and rejoin the traffic once safe to do so.
  • Following either traffic signs, or directions from a sat nav. Your examiner will tell you which you have to follow, and if you are required to use a sat nav, then they will also set this up for you.
  If you make a mistake, don’t panic! Stay calm, take a deep breath and continue on as though it never happened. Unless it was a serious fault, you are allowed 15 minors to still pass your practical driving test. If you do make a serious mistake, your examiner will more than likely direct you back to the test centre and your test will end early.

If you do unfortunately fail, here at National Intensive we are confident we can secure test dates for 4 weeks after your course start date - this is up to 80% quicker than you would be able to yourself. We also have an 83% first time pass rate. If you are test ready or have recently failed, we would recommend a 5 or 7 hour course. If you'd like to see prices or to book, head to the 'Prices and Booking' page on our website.