How to Pass a Driving Test in the UK on the First Attempt

Seven Parts:Applying for the licenceLearning to drive with a driving schoolGetting sufficient private practiceTaking the theory testAdvancing your practical learningBasic car maintenanceTaking the driving test

Passing your driving test in the UK is a daunting task. With pass rates below 50 percent, it is important that you prepare well for your practical exam. The suggestions provided in this article are intended to help boost your chances of passing the test the first time.

Part 1
Applying for the licence

  1. 1
    Apply to the DVSA for a provisional driving licence. You will need to have an up-to-date photo and fill out an application form. For more information, you can visit the website here:

Part 2
Learning to drive with a driving school

  1. 1
    It is highly recommended that you find a local driving school to train you to drive. In looking for a reputable instructor, ask family and friends to offer trusted recommendations. Check the feedback on websites, forums and social media channels in relation to the driving school and the instructor, to get a good feel for what others think about this person's skills and the school in general. Upon enrolling, it is important to do the following:
    • Clarify the terms and conditions of their driving school.
    • Ensure that you state what you need and expect from them.
    • Make sure that you are clear on the driving school's process of teaching their pupils to drive.
    • Start your driving lessons ASAP once you have your provisional licence.
  2. 2
    Don't expect to pass your test within a few lessons. The average amount of lessons needed is above 40, according to the DVSA. They suggest an average of 44 hours, plus another 20 hours additional private practice.The following will help you plan your time and driving lessons.
    • Plan a day each week when you will take your lessons.
    • Agree this with your instructor.
    • Plan how many hours you would like to take each week.
    • Agree this with your instructor.
    • After each lesson, keep a diary of your journey.
    Don't panic if your learning is slow. Many learners struggle with one or two elements of learning to drive.
  3. 3
    Make sure that you follow a schedule of learning. Your instructor should give you feedback at the end of each lesson and offer practice sessions to combat problematic areas. Answer the following questions:
    • Does your instructor give you feedback during each lesson?
    • Does your instructor use books and media to help to teach you certain topics?
    • Do you have a learner log?
    • Is your instructor thorough with their explanations and advice?
    • Do you feel you are improving?
    • Are you happy in your instructor's company?

Part 3
Getting sufficient private practice

  1. 1
    Do plenty of private practice. It is important to have as much time behind a wheel as possible. You can't put a price on experience. If you are able to drive with a parent/friend or family member, the following advice will help you with your practice sessions:
    • Drive as much as possible, even if it is for five minutes.
    • Drive to school, college and work for extra 'real-life' practice.
    • Ensure you try to follow the advice of your instructor whilst out with mum and dad.
    • Don't panic if you are shouted at. Remember, your parents don't have dual controls!
  2. 2
    If you disagree with a parent about something, ensure that you ask your driving instructor for advice on your next lesson.
    • Be consistent. Consistency is the up-most important factor when it comes to learning to drive.

Part 4
Taking the theory test

  1. 1
    Prepare well for the theory test. It is important to study for your theory test at an early stage. You can find all the information you may need on the internet, plus there are lots of books you can buy when it comes to learning to drive. The following will help you:
    • Prepare for your theory nice and early.
    • Practice daily and involve your family and friends.
    • Ask friends and family for advice.
    • Make sure you have a copy of the highway code.
    • Practice with mock exams to plan when to sit your test.
    • When you pass 5 exams in a row, then apply for your theory test and pass first time.
  2. 2
    Join social media groups and forums online. Chat with other learners about their experiences. The following will help you:
    • Share experiences and learn from others.
    • Research common problems and see which ones you can relate to.
    • Watch videos online to see how things can be done differently.
    • Ask your instructor to sit in on another pupils lesson, and invite another learner to sit in on yours.
    • Invite your parents to sit in on your lessons.

Part 5
Advancing your practical learning

  1. 1
    Make sure you communicate with your instructor. It is important to have a clear dialogue at all times, to understand your progress and to be able to plan your training up to your test. Research test waiting times, and liaise with your instructor to clarify your end goals. The following will help:
    • Determine any weaknesses and gain extra practice.
    • Don't rush- always conquer one thing at a time, until it becomes natural, even if it takes a couple of lessons- this is normal!
    • Don't compare your driving to anybody else's.
    • Listen to your instructor's advice.
    • Ensure you are prompt and regular with your lessons––and also that your instructor is also!
  2. 2
    Plan a mock test. When you are ready, plan a mock driving test with your instructor. Treat it as if it were the real thing. Gain as much practice as you can privately and professionally. The following will help:
    • Learn to drive independently. The more practice you get, the easier it will be to navigate on our own. This will make your test easier.
    • Understand what is expected from you. The test is marked in three areas: driver error, serious fault, dangerous fault. Ensure you understand what you could get if you make mistakes.
    • Practice challenging road layouts and roundabouts. This will help plan your journey and understanding of road positioning and defensive driving.
    • Watch and evaluate other people's driving.
    • Practice ensures perfection.
    • Make sure you pass one mock test before your real test.
  3. 3
    Be sure you've done all weather driving. Seek to gain in all weathers. This is useful for when you pass your test. If you never drive in the rain, how will you cope if it rains on test day? Even if you never plan to drive at night or in inclement weather, you never know when you might need to know how, so learning now will embed the memory for any future occasion, so that you can get it right. The following will help you:
    • Keep an eye on the weather forecast.
    • Schedule lessons for different days and times of the week.
    • Drive in the dark.
    • Drive in rush hour, both morning and evening.
    • Drive with passengers.
    • Practice with the radio on.
    • Have plenty of real-life driving experiences.
  4. 4
    Have plenty of lessons. It is important not to restrict the amount of lessons you may need. Many learners fail due to not having enough. Although the DVSA recommend a certain amount, everyone is different. It is always better to have more lessons, than not enough. The following will help:
    • Do not follow the crowd.
    • Ensure that you are 100 percent confident in all areas of driving.
    • Make sure you are not panicking about any areas of driving.
    • Don't dismiss your gut instinct.
    • Ignore nerves. When you become a good driver, nerves are a false emotion.
    • Focus on the task in hand.
    • Don't rely on driving to improve your life; ensure that you take the pressure off and deal with your driving for what it is.
  5. 5
    Book your test when you have passed at least one mock test. The following will help you:
    • Pass a mock test
    • Feel confident in your driving.
    • Ensure your family and friends are confident in your driving.
    • Ensure your instructor is happy with your driving.
    • Practice, practice and practice any weak areas of driving.
    • Be confident with driving independently.
    • Ensure you are 100% legal with road signs, markings and speed limits.
    • Continue to re-fresh with your knowledge on the highway code.

Part 6
Basic car maintenance

  1. 1
    Learn basic car maintenance. Ensure that you are familiar with the car and how to maintain it. Learn the following:
    • Have an understanding of all lights, how they work, how and why we use them, and how to identify a fault with them.
    • Ensure that you are familiar with the car bonnet and the fluids needed. These include: engine oil, screen wash, break fluid levels, and engine coolant. Know where they are located and how to check the levels of them.
    • Ensure that you are familiar with the tyre pressure and road suitability. You should know the car's pressure and how to check it, and what the car's legal tyre tread depth should be, as well as how to identify whether the tyres are roadworthy.
    • You should ensure you are able to identify and operate the following: de-misters, window wipers and washers, head restraint, power steering, hazard warming lights and fog lights.
    • You should be able to identify and check the following: how to determine the parking break for ware and tear, and who to identify any problems with the foot break.

Part 7
Taking the driving test

  1. 1
    Preparing for your test. In order to be ready for the test, ensure that:
    • You maintain a good standard of driving at all times.
    • You are fit and well to take a test.
    • You are able to see the required distance.
    • You have all documents needed for the test.
    • You are confident in your ability.
    • You have practised any weaknesses and gained as much driving experience as possible.
    • You are familiar with the local areas where you will be driving on your test.
    • You have practised mock tests with your instructor.
  2. 2
    On the test day, be as well equipped as possible. The following advice will help you:
    • Have a good night's sleep.
    • Have a light breakfast/lunch prior to your test.
    • Ensure that you have the correct documentation.
    • Take the pressure off, and don't tell everyone when you are taking your test.
    • Arrive promptly for your test appointment.
    • Ask the examiner any questions if ever you are in doubt.
    • If you would like your instructor to sit in on the test, ask him/her.
    • If the examiner isn't clear, be sure to confirm with them.
    • If in doubt, follow the road ahead at all times and use correct signals and road positioning on the approach.
    • Ensure good use of the MSPSL routine.
    • Apply defensive driving skills.
    • Watch for all hazards.
    • Plan your journey well in advance.
    • Respond to all road signs, markings, hazards and other road users.
    • Don't block, annoy, wave other road users across or out of junctions.
    • Operate and maintain control of all ancillary controls; these include: de-misters, lights, window washers and wipers and the horn.
    • Make sure you drive without over-accelerating, harsh breaking.
    • Make sure you follow the examiners directions and instructions.
    • Maintain control of the car at all times.
    • Don't nudge curves, block driveways or access areas.
    • Make regular blind spot checks when moving away from the side of the road, changing lanes and exiting roundabouts.
    • Give-way to on-coming traffic when they have priority.
    • Keep a good following distance when on dual-carriageways and single carriageways. Apply the two-second rule at all times.
    • Use safe and correct signal procedures.


  • Make sure you can see 20.5 metres away (on an old style number plate) or 20 metres away (on a new style number plate).
  • Make sure your car is fit for test purposes. It will need to have a valid MOT certificate, valid learner insurance, tyres in road-worth condition, valid road tax, fitted seat belts, a rear-view mirror for the examiner, and L plates attached to the car.
  • Make sure you are not above the alcohol limit and are clear of banned substances which could cause you side affects whilst driving.

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