Motoring Guide - Learning to Drive
When choosing a driving school, spend some time finding one that suits your needs, the cars that they teach in, instructors, track record. Quite often a personal recommendation can be the best selling point, with almost everyone knowing someone who has recently passed his or her test.
Although the price of lessons can vary hugely from region to region, it is worth remembering that the cheapest does not necessarily mean the best. So shop around and see the type of tuition you will receive for your money, i.e. mock tests, and keeping a track record of how you are progressing after each lesson should be a must rather than a nice to have.
Once you have filled it in and sent it back you will be issued with your provisional licence, sign it upon receipt and you are ready to start your lessons.
It is advisable to have a lesson at least once a week for anything from one hour to two if possible. If time and money allows you could take up to two lessons in a week. Over the period of time that you are learning you will practice driving test techniques such as three-point-turn, reverse parking and emergency braking.
You may find that if you book a course of lessons they become cheaper than booking one at the end of each lesson; and some schools will also give discounts for block bookings as well as special offers for students.
If you do practice in another vehicle other than the instructors make sure that:
- you are accompanied by someone who is at least 21 years of age
- they have held a full driving licence for at least three years
- you display 'L' plates at the back and front of the car
- that you have adequate insurance cover
The theory test is a computer-based, touch-screen test at various centres around the country. There are 35 multiple-choice questions and you need to get at least 30 right to pass. The cost of the theory test is £15.50.
You will be required to register and allocated a booth containing a computer loaded with your theory test. The test is available in a variety of languages other than English and there is an option of using British Sign Language for the deaf. Instructions on how to take the test are clearly detailed and you can even try some practice questions to get warmed up. The test begins when you are ready to start and you have 40 minutes to complete it. It is advisable to practice mock theory driving tests with a friend as soon as possible to ensure that you understand the theory fully.
If you are unsure of an answer you can flag the question and return to it later, if you fail to flag the question and leave it unanswered the computer will register it as incomplete. Once you have answered all the questions you will be given the opportunity to revisit the flagged ones and to review the entire test if required.
While completing the test a clock will keep track of the amount of time left. Ensure that you give time to attempt all driving test theory questions to maximise your ability to pass.
You can collect your results from the invigilator at the end of the test. It is vital to check through your answers at the end of the test as people often make careless mistakes.
The practical test
The Practical Driving Test lasts approximately 35 minutes and is conducted from your local driving test centre by a DSA examiner. When you take your Practical or Theory Test you must bring along your driving licence or some other acceptable proof of identity that bears your name, photograph and signature. If you are not driving in your instructor's car you must bring an insurance certificate.
The examiner assesses your ability to drive competently and safely and tests you on most of the topics you have covered in your lessons. Test routes are designed to be as uniform as possible and include a range of typical road and traffic conditions. In addition to failing for committing a serious or dangerous fault, you can fail if you commit more than 15 driving faults.
Straight after the exam the examiner will inform you whether you've passed. If sadly, you fail you'll be told where you went wrong. You can reapply straight away but you must wait at least 10 working days before you retake. If you pass your Practical Test you will be given a form to complete to gain your Full Driving Licence (£12 fee).