Taking the test

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) reports that 45.9% of people passed their car practical test in 2019/20. (Source: Dept. of Transport, Statistical Report, 24th June 2020). If you’re truly ready there is no reason you will not be one of these people!

Test ready

Your instructor will know best when you are up to the high standard of driving expected to pass the driving practical test. To pass your test you will need to make no more than 15 driving faults (sometimes called ‘minors’) and no serious or dangerous faults (sometimes called ‘majors’). You will need to show you are able to drive safely in different road and traffic conditions and demonstrate that you know The Highway Code.

Your instructor wants you to pass first time with as few faults as possible, so do wait until they are confident you will succeed. Emerging Left Intensive Driving School are proud of our many clients who have passed their test, most of whom did so first time and fault free! If you book a course with us, we will book and organise your test for you for FREE.

You must have passed your theory test before you can take your practical test and you’ll need to bring your certificate with you to the test, as well as your provisional license. You will also need these items to book your driving test online at a cost of £62.00 (at the time of writing). You can pay extra to have a test in the evening or at the weekend. When booking you will be able to let the examiners know if you have a disability or additional needs that you need support with.

When should I take my driving test?

There is a lot of talk about when is the best time to take a driving test. Obviously if it’s Winter you may need to drive in more difficult weather conditions and if it’s school pick up time or rush hour there may be more traffic – the right instructor will have equipped you for any scenario and will only put you in for your test when you are truly ready.

Contrary to popular belief there are no quotas for Driving Test Examiners so it won’t matter what day of the week you take your test.

The DVSA test cancellation period is five working days. A DVSA test can be cancelled at the last minute due to bad weather or other circumstances, such as examiner illness; the DVSA will automatically rebook a test for you for free – plus you can claim any out of pocket expenses due to the situation.

If you are ill you will have to contact the DVSA directly and possibly show proof with a doctor’s letter to get a new booking. Sadly, if no proof is given or if you have a car problem and do not turn up to the allocated test appointment, you will need to rebook and pay the test fee again. If you also turn up more than five minutes late, your examiner has the right to refuse to test you.

Before the test

On the day of the test it’s a good idea to have a driving lesson before to get you in the zone and reassure you that you are ready and confident to succeed.

Don’t forget to bring your provisional license and your theory test certificate with you. You can take the test in your own car (as long as it meets the DVSA regulations) but most likely it will be your instructors’ vehicle – it’s good to take the test on the car you’ve been learning in.

The test itself

The test will last about forty minutes, it’s the same for both manual and automatic cars. It will consist of five parts:

  1. The eyesight check – you’ll need to read a number plate aloud, from 20 metres away. If you fail this, the test will automatically be over.
  2. ‘Show me, tell me’ – two vehicle safety questions; the ‘tell me’ question before you start driving and the ‘show me’ question while you’re driving.
  3. General driving ability – you’ll need to follow the examiners’ directions through various road and traffic situations. You’ll be asked to pull over and pull away, including pulling out from behind a parked vehicle and a hill start, and perhaps an emergency stop.
  4. Reversing your vehicle – you will be asked to either parallel park, park in a bay or pull up on the right and reverse for two car lengths before joining the traffic.
  5. Independent driving – you’ll need to drive for 20 minutes following traffic signs or a sat nav (which they will set up).

A mistake is not a serious fault so don’t panic if you accidentally take a wrong turn or stall your engine – it’s how you show the examiner you can safely correct the mistake that is important.

Occasionally, you may have two examiners go out on test with you, again don’t panic; the examiners’ supervisor may join you and will sit in the back very quietly. He or she is only there to watch your examiners’ performance, not yours! Tip: if you do have an extra person in the car it will be heavier so apply a little extra acceleration when needed.

After the test, you will make your way back to the Test Centre where the examiner will tell you there and then if you have passed and what faults you made, if any. The examiner will give a certificate if you pass and ask if you want your full license sent directly to you (you’ll need to hand over your provisional license).

After the test: you’ve passed!

Congratulations! When you pass your test, you can drive as soon as you like but you will not be insured as a learner driver on your instructor’s vehicle anymore. You will probably be so excited after you pass that you won’t be able to focus properly on the road anyway so arrange to be chauffeured home, most likely by your instructor.

After you pass your driving test, you will obviously need to sort yourself out a vehicle and the relevant insurance and tax before you can get on the road. You may also want to arrange breakdown cover. Your license will arrive around three weeks after you’ve taken your test but do call the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) if you haven’t received it after this time.

When you’re learning to drive, ‘L’ (learner) plates are compulsory; the ‘P’ (probationary) plates, however, are entirely optional. ‘P’ plates show other drivers that you have just passed your test and they will (hopefully!) give way. You can leave ‘P’ plates on your vehicle for as long as you like, but it’s good to get into the swing of ‘normal’ driving as soon as possible to get you used to life as a real driver.

You will definitely benefit from the Pass Plus training scheme and additional Motorway Training which will teach you specific skills for long journeys. At Emerging Left Intensive Driving School, we offer all kinds of post pass support so please do get in touch to discuss your driving needs.

If you need to try again…

First time passes are more often than not for us at Emerging Left Intensive Driving School but if your nerves get the better of you and you don’t pass first time, don’t worry – this will give you a chance to get some more experience under your belt. You will need to wait at least ten days to retake your test. There is no limit to how many times you can take a driving test as long as it is within the two years of you passing your theory test.

In July 2019, the DVSA released that the top reasons people fail their driving tests are failing to look properly at junctions and not using mirrors effectively. Make sure your observation skills are tip top before you retake your test.

Chances are you’ll be more relaxed the second time as you will know what to expect – so just stay calm, apply all you now know and you will become a confident and safe driver for life.

If you have any queries about this process or how you can get started on your learning to drive journey please do contact us.


“As a touring musician and living in London most of my adult life, I never actually got around to taking my driving test. It was only when my children were old enough to speak that they gradually started mocking me for not being able to drive, thus kicking my shame and parental responsibility into high gear! I cannot recommend Dennis and the team at Emerging Left more highly; their experience, patience and professionalism is 2nd to none. They ensured that by the time I took my test, I was a fully confident driver, was aware of the dangers and how to be safe on the road & was extremely knowledgeable about the rules of the road. Seems now my kids are only mocking me about everything else. Thanks guys!”

Ed Harcourt

Singer / Song Writer / Musician

“Den is truly a great instructor whom I would highly recommend for anyone who is serious about driving.  He is highly experienced, full of integrity, honest and has a knack for making you feel ‘calm, confident and in control.’

If you don’t learn how to drive with Den and Emerging Left, you simply shouldn’t be on the road!
Thank you Den and thank you Emerging Left!
All the Best,”



“I used 3 different driving instructor companies and Emerging Left was the best by far. The office team of instructor’s took time to ensure I understood the course that I required to help me pass my test. Everything was explained fully  before any payment was made.

My instructor was very patient and explained clearly what we were doing and why. I felt not just ready to pass my driving test which i did with 0 yes 0 minors but confident and safe to drive on the road with my baby girl.

I would recommend Emerging Left to anyone  who wants to learn to drive.”

Sharon Mullarkey

“Den is an exceptional driving instructor of remarkable patience and professionalism. I would not hesitate to recommend him and Emerging Left to anyone wanting to get on the road. His dedication to his students puts him head and shoulders above any other instructor I encountered while learning.

Perhaps most importantly, he understands how daunting the process can be and has a knack for making you feel he is on your side. If you are someone who has failed before or finds driving tests stressful, Den and Emerging Left will get you through.”

Roland Oliphant

Reporter for the Telegraph

“I passed my driving test on the 13th of January 2017 with Emerging Left.

I had had a few lessons with somebody else previous to Emerging Left and I didn’t learn a thing with them, I was left feeling that this was a bridge to far and that i would never get my licence but as soon as I started lessons with my A grade instructor he gave me so much more encouragement and reassurance that the road became a place of confidence.
My instructor taught me to be a great driver and his knowledge and experience helped me to pass with only 1 minor fault. He made me feel comfortable while on lessons. If I made a mistake he would say ‘don’t worry let’s try again’. He was very patient with me during my lessons and gave me the confidence to pass my test. I am very happy I used Emerging Left as my driving instructor, I would recommend this company to any learner.”

Chloe, Wimbledon

“When I first started my driving lessons I felt very nervous and anxious about being behind the wheel. My instructor took all the nerves and anxiety away instantly with his calm and patient approach. He took his time to explain each and every step in a way I could understand and put into practice confidently. After each lesson I felt more and more confident and excited for the next lesson to come as each lesson was made fun. When doing my lessons I was studying in college and the office team and instructor tried their hardest to work around my classes and I believe I was provided the best customer care possible. The teaching was so effective that even now when parking I can still hear my instructors voice in my head telling me exactly what to do.”

Kelly Rice

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