There are several significant parts to the practical driving test. The first is the eyesight
check. The examiner asks you to read a number plate from a specified distance. If you
cannot - the test ends immediately. This is followed by two, 'show me - tell me' style
questions. You may be asked, for example, to 'show' the examiner how to confirm the
vehicle's indicators work properly. Continue, perhaps, by 'telling' the examiner how to
check the fluid in the windscreen washer reservoir. Poor answers result in one 'fault mark'.
Next is the 'driving' part of the test which lasts for forty minutes. The examiner instructs
you to follow a particular route, which includes a variety of road and traffic conditions.
You will also be asked to reverse the vehicle, perhaps around a corner or into a parking
bay. Alternatives include parallel parking or turning in the road. The independent driving
section follows, so the examiner can evaluate how you make decisions without guidance.
If necessary, the examiner marks 'faults' on your report sheet during the test. There are
three types: dangerous, serious, and driving. You can have fifteen 'driving faults' and still
pass – but one serious or dangerous mark guarantees failure. Under these circumstances
the examiner may stop the test. By contrast, passing ensures a certificate is issued
immediately. You are then a fully qualified driver - even before your full licence is printed.
By Stephen Turvil, motoring.co.uk