Driving test myths debunked: the truth about passing and fails, from examiner’s quotas to crossing your hands

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Separating truth from fiction as DVSA reveals mistakes including forgetting licence cost learners £673,000 in missed tests

The DVSA has issued new advice to learners preparing for its driving test, including dispelling common myths around the practical test and offering tips on ensuring their test goes ahead.

The body responsible for approving new drivers has created a new guide to the most common misconceptions as it launches a new version of its Ready to Pass? Online service. It has also highlighted some of the common mistakes that see 1,100 learners every month fail their test before even setting off.

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With learners facing huge waiting lists to sit a test, plus the expense of rebooking and resitting the exam, it pays to know exactly what’s expected of you when you arrive at the test centre. According to the DVSA, learners have wasted more than £673,000 since April 2022 because they turned up unprepared for their test.

The most common mistakes include forgetting to bring the right paperwork, trying to use an unsuitable car and turning up late or at the wrong test centre.

We can’t remind you where and when your test is but we can tell you that you must take your provisional driving licence with you when you go for your driving test. You should also take your theory test pass certificate, if you have it (if not the examiner can check if you have passed).

You’ll also be turned away if the car you want to use doesn’t meet certain criteria on its condition and specification, including being MOT’d, taxed and insured. It must also not be one of the models prohibited by the DVSA.

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While it’s vital to be aware of the basic requirements, it also helps to understand the truth about the test and not to fall for some of the scare stories that have grown up around it, such as:

Driving examiners have pass quotas

There’s a myth that driving examiners are only allowed to pass so many people each day or week, and if they’ve used up all their passes, you’ll fail the test. It’s not true. Your driving examiner will assess how well you drive during your test. If you drive to the standard required, you’ll pass your driving test.

You automatically fail if you stall

Learners live in dread of stalling during their test but, despite the scare stories, even a couple of stalls doesn’t mean an instant fail. It all depends on the situation and how often you stall. If it just happens once and you keep under control, you will not automatically fail. You will fail, however, if you stall and roll back a considerable distance. You’ll also fail if you repeatedly stall when moving off throughout your test, or if you repeatedly stall on one occasion.

You automatically fail if you cross your hands when turning the steering wheel

The examiner will be watching to make sure you stay in full control of the carThe examiner will be watching to make sure you stay in full control of the car
The examiner will be watching to make sure you stay in full control of the car | Adobe Stock

This myth must be almost as old as the driving test itself but the current guidance is that crossing your hands won’t lead to a fail as long as you’re in control. The driving examiner will assess your ability to control the vehicle, and whether your steering is smooth, safe and under control.

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It’s easier to pass your driving test at certain times of day

There’s a myth that it’s better to take your driving test as certain times of day as you’re more likely to pass. It’s not true. You’re more likely to pass your driving test if you’ve got plenty of driving experience, you’ve done lots of practice, and you’ve practised ways of managing your nerves. It does not matter what time of day you take the test.

You need to exaggerate moving your head when you check your mirrors

You want to make sure the examiner sees you are making the proper observations but the idea of having to exaggerate your head movements is another dispelled by the DVSA’s experts, who advise: “Driving examiners are trained to make sure you’re making the proper observations. If you’re focusing on exaggerating moving your head, you might forget to pay attention to something else important.”

DVSA’s chief executive, Loveday Ryder commented: “I’d urge learners to use our Ready to Pass? website to make sure they’re ready – and delay their test if they’re not. This will help make more tests available and prevent people having to pay to re-test.”

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