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  • Emma Hallett

Changes to the practical driving test

With less than 3 months to go to the new test I thought a summary of the changes would be useful for everyone. Please feel free to comment on this post with any questions. I’ve already been teaching the changes to the test for several months, even to those likely to take the test before December, so most of this will be familiar to people. There’s been lots of talk online and in the media about the changes but the most reliable source will always be the DVSA and all my information comes direct from them. I have included YouTube video links below where possible so you can see the changes in action.

DVSA YouTube video on the new test changes:

When is it changing?

4th December 2017. Everyone taking a test before that date will take the current format. Any tests on or after that date will be the new format. If you take a test before 4th December but fail you will need to retake the new format. If you have a test booked before 4th December that the DVSA rearrange (due to examiner sickness for example) and it is rebooked for after 4th December you will take the new format.

What is changing?


The turn in the road and reverse around a corner manoeuvres will no longer be tested but I will still teach them as part of the DVSA syllabus. Once you have passed your test you will need to know how to turn the car around and they are useful introductions to understanding steering and speed control whilst reversing.

They will be replaced by the following:

  • Driving forwards into a parking bay and reversing out.

This is not likely to be carried out at the test centre but instead will be done in a convenient car park on your route. You will be expected to pull into a space on your left or right (so at a 90° angle) and finish within the lines. When you reverse out either to the left or right you must ensure you do not cross the spaces behind you. You may not have a choice over whether you drive in or reverse out to the left or right as it depends on the car park layout. You do not need to park next to other vehicles. You may however find that a vehicle parks next to you before you are able to reverse out.

DVSA YouTube video showing this manoeuvre in action:

  • Pull up on the right and reverse

The examiner will not pull you over on the left first to explain this they will just ask you to “pull up on the right, when safe to do so”. You will need to identify a safe place to park on the right, the same as you would do on the left, but there are additional risks to be aware of. Once you have parked the examiner will ask you to reverse 2 car lengths then drive on again when it is safe. Effective observations are key here as there is a lot more to be aware of compared to moving off from the left. If a vehicle parks in behind you preventing you from reversing then the manoeuvre will be considered incomplete and you will be ask to do the same or a different manoeuvre later in the test. If a vehicle parks in front of you limiting your view the examiner may give you assistance in judging traffic or allow you to reverse further if it is safe.

DVSA YouTube video showing this manoeuvre in action:

Independent driving

On the new test the independent section will be doubling so you will be expected to drive for 20 minutes independently. 4 out of 5 tests will be following directions given by a satnav and 1 in 5 will follow signs.

  • Signs

This will basically be the same as it is now except for longer. The examiner will tell you which signs to follow and may change those signs as you are driving around.

  • Sat nav

The examiner will provide and set up the sat nav, it will be a different one to the one I currently have but as you won’t need to set it up the differences should not matter. The sat nav will be running for the entire test but you will only follow directions from it for 20 minutes. You will still need to pay attention to road markings and traffic signs as the sat nav will not give you all the information that you need. The examiner will provide clarification on instructions when required. The sat nav will display the speed limit for the road based on its own records – this is sometimes incorrect. It is best to ensure you are following signs and are aware of the speed limit so as to avoid driving at an inappropriate speed.

The examiner may ask you to carry out a manoeuvre or park on the left during the independent phase.

Show me, tell me questions

You are currently asked one ‘show me’ question and one ‘tell me’ question about vehicle maintenance and safety at the start of the practical test. The new test will still have the ‘tell me’ question at the start but the ‘show me’ question will be on the move. The questions they can ask you are also changing. Bear in mind that you may fail your test if whilst carrying out the ‘show me’ question something occurs to be marked as a serious or dangerous fault.

DVSA YouTube video showing how the ‘show me’ question will be asked:

I also have the new questions with pictures specific to my car the same as I have for the current format.

The DVSA would like examiners to be testing more on rural and faster moving roads so it is likely that some of the routes will be changing. The Exeter test centre have announced there will only be two new routes. The Newton Abbot test centre haven’t made any announcements yet as to routes changing but I expect that they will and am working under the assumption that you will be expected to drive out of the immediate area a lot more than currently. Newton Abbot doesn’t fit well with the new independent driving requirements so I am planning routes that I think may be used but it is all my theories at present.

I am happy to go through any of this in more detail on an individual basis, please just ask.

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