Practical test for cars

The practical driving test includes an eyesight check, safety questions and about 40 minutes of driving which involves a section of independent driving. You can prepare yourself by reading the information below.

Driving test video

Test results go digital

Driving examiners will be using a digital tablet to carry out category B (car) practical driving tests instead of using the paper based driver test marking system. 

Examiners will use the tablets during the driving test to input the assessment information.  

There is no change to the driving test or to the assessment, only to the method of capturing the information during the test.

This means that candidates who provide an email address can have the test results emailed to them after the test and if they've passed the test, their licence will be issued automatically, if appropriate. 

All test centres where category B tests are carried out will be using the tablet devices instead of the paper based driver test marking system. 

Eyesight check

The test includes an eyesight check. 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, visit:

After the eyesight test you will be asked two vehicle safety check questions.

Vehicle safety questions

These are basic safety checks that a driver should carry out to make sure the vehicle is safe for use. Although some checks may involve the candidate opening the bonnet to identify where fluid levels would be checked, pupils will not be asked to touch a hot engine or physically check fluid levels.

The examiner will ask you one 'show me' question, where you'll have to show them how you would 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 would carry out the check.

For example, the examiner might ask you to identify where the windscreen washer reservoir is and tell them how you would check the windscreen washer level.

If you give the wrong answer for one or both questions, you'll be marked with one driving fault.

As vehicle technology advances, more and more vehicles are being equipped with electronic diagnostic systems. These inform the driver of the state of the engine, fluid levels and tyre pressures. It will be acceptable for a candidate to refer to the vehicle information system (if fitted) when answering questions on fluid levels or tyre pressures.

You can find source material in the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) publication 'The official DVSA guide to driving - the essential skills' and 'The official DVSA guide to learning to drive', available online via the link below:

If you plan to use your own vehicle at the practical driving test, there are some vehicles that can't be used for safety reasons. You'll need to check that a recall or safety notice doesn't affect the vehicle.

During the test

During the driving test the examiner will give you directions which you should follow. Test routes are designed to be as uniform as possible and will include a range of typical road and traffic conditions. The examiner will ask you to carry out set exercises.

Throughout the test you should drive in the way your instructor has taught you. If you make a mistake, don't worry about it, it might be a less serious driving fault and may not affect your result.

You will be examined on your general driving and on one reversing exercise. The reversing exercise will be chosen from:

  • reversing around a corner
  • turning in the road
  • reverse parking, either on road or into a parking bay

You will also be asked to carry out an emergency stop exercise.

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.

Independent driving

There will be a section where candidates will be asked to drive independently. For all other parts of the test, examiners will give candidates step-by-step instructions. 

In the independent driving section of the test, you'll have to drive independently by either following:

  • traffic signs
  • a series of directions
  • a combination of both

To help you understand where you are going when following verbal directions, the examiner will show you a diagram.

More information about independent driving is available at the following page:

After the practical test

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. 

Candidates who provide an email address and had the test conducted using a tablet can have the test results emailed to them after the test and if they've passed the test, their licence will be issued automatically, if appropriate.

You can view the guidance notes and explanation of your driving test report at the following:

Driving test standards

All examiners are trained to carry out the test to the same standard. They do not have pass or fail quotas. As long as you demonstrate the standard required, you will pass your driving test.

Adverse weather

DVA does not conduct driving tests in adverse weather conditions for the safety of the candidate and the examiner.

Practical driving tests are managed locally on a test by test basis, subject to local conditions which are reviewed regularly throughout the day. All attempts will be made to cancel tests in advance; however this is not always possible as local conditions can change quite quickly.

You can get contact details for your local test centre at the link below:

In the event that your driving test is cancelled, another appointment will be arranged automatically at no further cost but compensation is not payable. You will be contacted with a new appointment date as soon as possible.

Taking someone with you on your driving test

DVA promotes the benefits of candidates having an ‘observer on test’. This involves an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), parent or friend sitting in on the test to observe and listen to the examiner’s feedback with a view to providing critical support for the learner and newly qualified driver’s ongoing development and lifelong learning.

The examiner will ask you if you wish to have an accompanying driver to sit in on the test. If you decide that you do not want to be accompanied you will be given the opportunity to have your accompanying driver present for the debrief at the end of the test.

Using an interpreter

You may bring your own interpreter for your practical test as long as they are over 16 years of age.

An ADI can act as an interpreter on the test for their own pupil.

You will be responsible for arranging your interpreter and for any necessary fees.

More useful links

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.