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Ex Driving examiner


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The Driving Test

Although I provide training for Larne based driving tests or Belfast for the extended test. The following information is relevant for any driving test centre.


The practical driving test will last about 40 minutes it includes an eyesight check, vehicle safety questions, and the driving part of the test which will include a section of independent driving. Practical driving tests are generally available at all permanent test centres from Monday to Friday during normal working hours. Saturday tests may be available throughout the year with weekday evening test available from May to September. These tests are subject to availability and cost more than the normal driving test.

General advice

Don’t listen to people who tell you horror stories about the test, or that you can only pass on certain days or at certain times. I worked as an examiner and in my experience virtually all the myths and certainly all stories about quotas are untrue. I was never told how many people to pass or fail, I was told to judge each test on its own merits. The driving test is straightforward and has been designed to see if you; can drive safely and that you know the Highway Code and can demonstrate this through your driving.

The day of the test

Your appointment letter will tell you what to bring with you as well as the correct time for your test. Well before it is time to leave the house make sure you have all the required paper work at hand, don’t leave it until the last minute.

Waiting room procedure

When you have parked the car (reverse in) take your paperwork and go to the waiting room. Try and aim to get into the waiting room about 5 minutes before your test this way you won’t be rushing or have too long to sit and think about it. Once inside you do not need to tell anyone you have arrived simply take a seat and wait for the examiner. Your examiner will come into the waiting room, they will ask for you by name and invite you up to the counter. The examiner will ask for your paperwork and invite you to read and sign the insurance declaration on the test marking sheet. While you are doing this the examiner will start checking your paperwork. When you have finished they will take the marking sheet back and enter some details taken from your paper work. Once ready the examiner will ask if you wish your instructor or accompanying driver to come with you on test and to lead the way out to the car.

Eyesight check

The first part of your driving test is an eyesight check this will be conducted once you are outside in the car park (if you fail this, your test will not continue). The eyesight test requires you to read a number plate that is a certain distance away. For more information about the eyesight check please use the following link.

Driving eyesight requirements

Vehicle safety questions

After the eyesight check you go to your car and the examiner will ask you the 2 vehicle safety questions. These are basic safety checks that a driver should carry out to ensure the vehicle is safe for use. The examiner will ask you one 'show me' question, where you'll have to show them how you'd carry out a vehicle safety check. You'll also be asked one 'tell me' question, where you'll have to explain to the examiner how you'd carry out the check.

Vehicle safety questions for car tests (PDF 22.9KB)

The Driving

The driving part of your test will last about 35 minutes and take place on a range of typical road and traffic conditions. During the driving test the examiner will give you directions which you should follow, the examiner will also ask you to carry out set exercises. You will be examined on your general driving and on one reversing exercise. The reversing exercise will be chosen from:

The examiner will be looking for an overall safe standard of driving. You can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass the test (16 or more results in failure). However, if you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test. If at any time your examiner considers you to be a danger to other road users your test will be stopped. Throughout the test you should drive in the way your instructor has taught you. If you think you have made a mistake don’t try and second guess the examiner, just drive normally. Any mistake may be less serious than you think and may not have affected your result. Remember you can’t go back and fix it and if you spend too much time thinking about what has happened you may make a mistake which will affect safety and the result.

Independent driving explained

In the past examiners gave get step-by-step instructions, from 27 June 2011 the driving test has included a section of independent driving. Don’t get too concerned independent driving is not a test of how you follow directions. It doesn't matter if you don't remember every direction, or if you go the wrong way that can happen to the most experienced drivers. Independent driving simply means making your own decisions and not relaying on the examiners directions as a prompt. For all other parts of the test the candidate will still get step-by-step instructions.

How does it work?

During this part of the test, you'll have to drive independently by either following:

To help you understand where you are going when following verbal directions, the examiner will show you a diagram. You can use the link for an example of the diagram and a detailed guide to Independent driving

After the practical test

When you get back to the test centre drive forwards into a parking bay, if the examiner wants you to reverse in he will let you know. When the driving test is over, you can call your instructor over if they didn’t go with you on your test so that they can hear the result and feedback with you. This feedback is beneficial for your ongoing development whether you have passed or failed.

If you have been successful and you have been driving at home remember to inform your insurance company you have passed the test. Also remember to send off for your full license as soon as possible, although the pass certificate is valid for 2 years I have met people who forgot and had to retake the test.

This is a general guide to the driving test, if you have any detailed questions you can use the links to the official web sites or get in touch.

Follow this link for information on driving test booking procedure

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