Passing your driving theory test

If you’ve got your theory test coming up, you want to make sure you pass. Once you’ve passed, you can book your practical and be well on your way to becoming a fully fledged driver! This post will give you some handy tips on passing your theory test so you can feel confident on the day:

Take Practice Tests Online To Prepare For The Questions

Free practice texts on the DVSA website, which are designed to mimic the exam conditions you’ll be in when you go to do your real test

Do this over and over until you become more confident in the questions and answers

Looking through the Highway Code and other useful guides can help you when studying for your test too.

When you first sit down to do your test, you’ll also have the option to do a practice test first to get a feel for what you need to do. You don’t have to do this, but it’s advisable. Try to make the most of the time you have to do the test, although you don’t have to fill it completely.

Answering The Questions

When you answer your questions, make the most of the time you have. Don’t be tempted to rush through them. Read them carefully, so that you understand what you are being asked. Answer with as much care as possible. You can also flag questions to come back to later, if you can’t think of the answer right now.

Bear in mind that any attempt to cheat will mean you fail the test. Taking your mobile phone in is not allowed, and you shouldn’t attempt to hide it.

Reading through each question twice will save you from disappointment when your test is over.

Preparing For The Hazard Perception

The Hazard Perception part of your theory test is just as important as the questions. You will see images on the screen as if you are the driver of a vehicle, and you’ll need to identify any hazards before they become dangerous by clicking.

What is a hazard? A hazard is identified as something that causes you to change direction, change speed, or stop completely. You want to make sure you click as soon as you spot something that could be deemed as a hazard.

You don’t get any extra points for clicking more than once, and you can’t just click in random patterns until a hazard comes in the hopes you’ll pass. The test can identify this and you will fail. Be patient when you watch the clips. There’s a maximum of 5 points to be scored for each clip, but if you click it too early you won’t score anything

When you’re out on the road on your driving lessons, make sure you’re observing the hazards so you know what kind of things you’ll see during your test.

The Night Before Your Test

You’re going to feel better and more prepared if you get an early night the night before your test, rather than staying up late cramming for it. You should leave plenty of time to revise and learn in advance, so that you can go to bed early and feel confident in your abilities the next day.

When you are well rested and up early, you’ll also be able to have something healthy to eat to energise you for the test, as well as leave with plenty of time to arrive at the test centre. You want to feel your best, and you definitely don’t want to be rushed.

If you struggle to get to sleep, you can try things like a hot bath and some bedtime tea to make you sleepy. Wind down by staying off the computer and your phone, as well as avoiding the TV. This should allow you to relax enough to fall asleep and get a full night’s sleep.

You need to be super organised before the day so that you can get there on time. Make sure you’re not in so much of a rush that you forget your documents. You’ll need your provisional license and card with your test details, and if you forget them you won’t be able to take the test. You won’t get a refund either. Make sure you leave them somewhere you’ll be able to see them the next day, or put them in your bag ready.

It’s really important you follow the instructions given to you at the test centre too. You’ll need to place the items you can’t take into the test in a locker.

Doing as you’re told at the centre, remembering the correct items, and preparing as early as you can will ensure you pass your theory test.

Booking your driving test

This piece will serve as a guide to any individuals that are ready to book their driving test via the DVSA on the Gov website. You’ll figure out how to do it and any tips/tricks along the way too. The guide can also provide assistance for anyone looking to change their test too.

All of the information you need can be found down below:

Booking Your Driving Test

There is only one way you can book your driving test online, and that’s via the DVSA. To find the correct site all you have to do is search ‘book driving test’ on Google. It’s the first search result you see and will take you to GOV.UK where you can get started with your booking.

Things You Need Before Booking

There are certain things you need to have handy before you book:

  • You must have passed your Theory & Hazard Perception tests before you book your practical driving test. You’ll need to have your pass date and certificate number handy when you book. If you haven’t passed, then you need to book these tests first and complete them.
  • You need your UK driving licence number, which can be found on your provisional licence.
  • A credit or debit card to pay for the driving test itself.

Now that you’ve got all of these things by your side it’s time to proceed and actually get started booking your driving test. You’ll see a big green button that says Start Now on the ‘Book Your Driving Test’ web page. Click this button, and it will take you to the next stage.

The Booking Process

As soon as you click Start Now you will be prompted to select the type of test you want to book. You should select the relevant option and then proceed to the first step.

Step 1

The first step requires you to fill in some basic information about yourself. You’re asked to input your driving licence number as it appears on your provisional licence. Then, you’re asked whether or not you’ve been ordered by a court to take an extended test. Finally, you’re asked if you have any special requirements such as disabilities, pregnancy, or requiring a Welsh speaking examiner.

Step 2

Step two is a simple step and only requires one piece of information from you. This is where you need to get your hands on your theory test and enter the pass number for it. You will find this number on the written confirmation given to you after you passed your theory test.  

Step 3

This step allows you to choose the date of your driving test. Be advised that you might not find available bookings on the date of your choice and will have to look for a different date instead.

Step 4

The fourth step requires you to pick the test centre where you want to take your test at. It’s recommended you take your test at a centre close to you as you’ll know the roads better and probably have driven the test route during your lessons. However, some people opt for a centre further away because they have slots free on their desired date.

Step 5

Once you’ve chosen the date and test centre, it’s time to pick the time of your test. Naturally, you’ll want to pick a time that suits you best. However, your options may be limited depending on the date.

Step 6

Step six is self-explanatory once you’re on the page. All you have to do is input your personal details including your name, address, and contact information.

Step 7

Again, step seven is easy as it just requires you to put in your payment details.

Step 8

This is the step where you review all the information and confirm that everything is how it should be. Once you’re certain there are no mistakes, you can pay for your driving test.

Step 9

After you’ve paid, you will be met with a screen that confirms everything has gone through and that your driving test is booked.

Once you get started, it’s actually a very simple process to follow and doesn’t take too long at all. Please note that you can only book via the website between 6 am and 11:40 pm every day.

Changing Your Driving Test

When you’ve booked your driving test you can go back on the Gov website to change the time if you so wish. You’re able to change your test up to six times without having to cancel it and go through the whole process again.  

Navigate to the Change Your Driving Test Appointment page on the Gov website to begin, then click Start Now.

Access Your Booking

You’ll need your driving licence number and driving test reference number to access your booking. The reference number was given to you when you booked your test. If you’ve lost it, then you can use your theory test pass number.

Check For Cancellations

Once you’ve accessed your booking, you can now check for any cancellation appointments and find an earlier driving test. Some people may have changed their test dates leaving an open space at an earlier time for you. You can select this earlier date if you wish.

Move To A Later Date

You can also use this service to arrange your test for a later date. Perhaps you’ve not made as much progress during your lessons and want to push the test back a bit? This service allows you to this free of charge.

Change Test Centre

You’re also able to change the location of the test centre you take your test at. Pick your new centre and it will be changed for you.

Again, this service is so easy to use and very self-explanatory once you get into it. It’s also only available from 6am – 11:40 pm daily.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand how you book and change your driving test via the Gov website. It’s advisable that you book as soon as you pass your theory test to find your most favourable date.

Black Box Insurance for New Drivers

We wrote a blog last week about how to get cheaper insurance as a new driver. If you’ve tried all of those things before though and insurance still seems to be out of your grasp, why not look into telematics or, as it’s more commonly known, black box insurance.

What is Black Box Insurance?

When you sign up for black box insurance, the insurance company will fit a black box to your car (generally free of charge) so they can monitor how many miles you do, how much sudden braking you do and your speed on different roads in different conditions. All of this information is then assessed to see how much of a risk you are when driving.

How does it work

Different insurance companies have different policies when it comes to saving you money with a black box. Some will limit your miles and grant you extra if you’re a safe driver. Others will provide you with a discount for safe driving at the end of the year. Have a look at the different options and see where you could save the most money – while also having a package which suits you.

Benefits of the Black Box

A lot of people can be a bit wary and uneasy about having their driving tracked, however you could save thousands of pounds each year by having a telematics system installed in your car. The tracking data will help you reduce your premiums, which could put a car that you wouldn’t normally have been able to insure within your reach. The other big benefit of having a black box installed is that the car now has a tracking system installed in the event of it being stolen. This could very well put your mind at ease if you don’t have a modern immobiliser or alarm system fitted.

Who is Telematics Suited for

Black box insurance is aimed at younger people and more inexperienced drivers; however, it could also be useful to you if you haven’t passed your test. Most black box schemes work on a limited mileage basis, making it perfect for people who don’t drive a great deal anyway. If you have a second car in your household that only gets used very infrequently, look into a telematics insurance policy and see how much you could save.

Conversely of course, black box policies are no good for people who drive a large number of miles each year. If this is you, take a look at our previous blog post with some ideas of how to reduce your insurance policy costs.

How to get Cheap Insurance as a New Driver

Before you’ve even passed your test, chances are you’ll be shopping around for the best deals on car insurance. Insurance for young drivers can be painfully expensive with the average cost coming in at between £1000 – £2000 each year. Here are some tips on how to get the cost of insuring your first car down as low as possible.

Add a Second Driver

Insurance is all about risk and by adding a second, more experienced, driver to your policy you are saying that there is a lower risk of the car being in an accident. Try getting an insurance quote with your parents or an old family friend on the policy and see how much it brings down the price. There seems to be very little logic behind how insurance companies work this out however, so try with a few different combinations of people on your policy and also insurance companies to see how much of a difference it can make.

Minimise your Risk

If you add a security device to your vehicle like an aftermarket alarm or immobilizer it could bring the cost of your insurance down – make sure you check first however or the cost of installing could be more than the saving you’ll see. In some cases, it could even raise the price of your insurance as the car will be classed as modified. You should also be realistic about where you’re parking the car and how many miles you’re doing each year, if you’re only using the car to get to and from the shops once a week, you may only be doing 6,000 miles a year which could lower your premiums

Raise the Excess

If you get the option to change your excess, try pushing it as high as you think you could reasonably afford in the event of a crash. The difference between a £150 excess to a £1,000 one could make a huge difference to your annual premium. Bear in mind however, you will have to pay more in the event of a crash if you set your excess high – which could potentially catch you out at a later date.

Tweak your Job Description

Some job descriptions are classed as higher risk than others in the eyes of insurers. It may not make sense to you, but it all works on the averages and how many claims people with a similar job description have put in, in the past. You can use this tool to see how a little change to your job title could massively effect your premium.

Big Changes Coming to Driving Tests In 2017

The government is committed to reducing the number of deaths on the British roads each year and as such they are proposing a shake up in the format of the driving test to include more real world examples of modern day driving. The changes are due to come into place in early 2017 following a period of public consultation. Over a quarter of deaths of people aged 15 – 19 are due to road traffic accidents and these changes hope to reduce this figure. So what do the changes include?

Increase the independent driving part of the test from 10 minutes to 20 minutes.

Research has shown that this is the part of the driving test that people find the most beneficial for when they pass their test. Independent driving teaches the driver how to make decisions on where they would like to go and sets them up for driving without someone else in the car. It teaches a learner driver the importance of preparing for turnings well in advance and being in the correct lane when approaching junctions and roundabouts.

Include Following Sat-Nav Directions as part of the Independent Driving

Over 53% of drivers use a Sat-Nav when they’re driving and many people don’t realise quite how distracting one can be. By making a learner on their test follow a Sat-Nav system, it will give the assessor a good idea of how well the person can multi-task with the additional distraction of a screen in the car with them.

Replace Reverse Around a Corner & Turn in The Road with More Real-Life Scenarios

While learning how to reverse around a corner and make a turn in the road is important, it’s not vital that someone is tested on their knowledge of how to do it. It’s been decided that it’s far more important for an assessor to look at a person’s ability to drive into and reverse out of a parking space; or another maneuver which a person will be more likely to undertake in their every-day driving life.

Ask One of Two Vehicle Safety Questions While Candidate is Driving

The questions which are known as the show me, tell me questions are traditionally asked when the car is stationary, before the candidate leaves the test center. These revisions will see these questions being asked to a candidate as they are driving, showing their understanding of the car’s controls and also their ability to concentrate on two things at once when driving. Currently the DVSA is working with the Transport Research Laboratory to assess how much difference the changes are making to real life driving. The trial is due to finish later in 2016 when a full report will be published on the findings.

Top Nine Reasons People Fail Their Driving Test

Failing your driving test isn’t all that uncommon, in fact over 50% of people fail their driving test first time around. Below are the nine most common reasons that people fail their driving test, in no particular order.

Inappropriate Speed

This isn’t just about going too fast – going too slow will more likely count against you when it comes to driving at an inappropriate speed. Holding up traffic or have a visible lack of confidence will mark you down so make sure you’re driving at the correct speed for the conditions.

Reversing Around a Corner

My personal least favourite maneuver, reversing around the corner requires you to stay as close as possible to kerb, without touching it, and controlling the car in a cool and collected manner while your steering is the wrong way around. Just like the Turn in the Road, take your time with this and try not to get flustered if things start going wrong.

Turn in the Road

What used to be called the three-point turn is a common failing point for a lot of people. If you get asked to do this on your test, take your time about it. Remember to check behind you before you reverse – as this is the most common failing point about this particular maneuver.

Lack of Control

This relates to steering the car at the right speed and in the right gear. Make sure you approach a junction in the right gear and turn at the right point – don’t ‘swan-neck’ your way into a right turning or cut up the left turn lane as you come across the road.

Reverse Parking

Either reversing into a bay or parallel parking – reverse parking can be tricky. If you’re parking in a bay, make sure you keep an eye on the white lines on the ground so you get in straight, then keep an eye on the car behind to stop before you hit it. If it’s parallel parking, make sure you remember your turning points to get as close to the kerb as possible.

Wrong Lane Usage

Read the road signs as you approach a junction – make sure you’re in the right lane for the direction you want to take. If it’s a roundabout you probably want to be in the left hand lane for the first or second exit – right hand lane for all other directions.

Not Moving Away Safely

Similar the above point, make sure you remember to indicate before you move away from the kerb, but also check your blind spot as well as your mirrors. If you see anything coming up behind you, indicate but don’t pull away until they have passed or stopped to let you out.

Observation at Junctions

When coming out of a junction, make sure you look both ways – even if you’re turning left! Your examiner will fail you if anyone else on the road has to change speed or direction when you pull out so make sure no one is coming or you can pull out in sufficient time so they don’t have to alter their driving.

Failing to Use Signals or Mirrors

This could be not providing a signal, providing the wrong signal or simply not being fast enough to provide a signal. It also covers not looking in the relevant mirror before you make any change to your position in the road. Just remember that before you make any changes to the lanes on the road – mirror, signal, manoeuvre.

How to Prepare for Your Practical Driving Test

So you’ve passed your theory test and you’ve either booked, or are thinking of booking your practical test. Now you’re going to want to make sure you do everything you can to pass first time and not have to re-book and re-sit the exam. Here are our top tips on how to fully prepare for your practical driving test.

Revise your Theory

As much as it might seem like a pain – your theory test is there to instill as much base knowledge about driving as possible in your mind. Read through all of your theory materials once or twice again and take a couple of tests to make sure you’re still up to speed (no pun intended).

If you’re failing on some aspects of your theory test, read through them again and make sure you fully understand all of the different rules – just being able to remember things is very different to understanding them!

Get as Much Practice as Possible

Book yourself in for a few extra lessons in the week running up to your exam. You want to make sure you’re as confident as possible behind the wheel before you sit down with your examiner. It might be an idea to book a single lesson with a different instructor and ask them to run through a test with you. This will give you a feel for being sat in the car with someone who isn’t your usual driving instructor and remove that safety net of a friendly face in the car with you.

If you can’t afford to book a lesson with another instructor, sit in the passenger seat of a family member or friend’s car and practice critiquing their driving. Assess everything they do and tell them where they are going wrong – it will annoy them no end, but it will be great practice for you.

Work Through your Driver’s Record

The DVSA has published a resource called the Driver’s Record, this is a checklist for working through how confident you are on various aspects of the driving test. You can download it from the DVSA website here. The tool itself is aimed at driving instructors to keep a record of how they think you are progressing with your lessons. It would be a good idea though to download a copy for yourself and make sure you’re happy with all of the items on the sheet. If there’s anything you’re not sure about – go back to your instructor and tell them you’d like some extra tuition on that particular area of the test.

Tips for finding driving test cancellations

How to find an earlier driving test

When do cancellations get put on the DVSA system?

The DrivingTestCancellations team investigated this for you,  using our last couple of weeks of reservation data. As you can see in the chart below, most driving test cancellations become available during working hours- 9am and 6pm. Just when a lot of us are out at school, college or work!

When driving test cancellations become available

If you need to find an earlier driving test, it seems a lot more cancellations become available at the start of the month than the end of the month:

More driving test cancellations at start of month than end of month

Is there a Cancellation ‘List’

No- the DVSA maintain there is no special list of cancellations that are not available on the website. When someone cancel or moves their driving test date, the cancellation appears almost straight away on the DVSA booking site. Whoever clicks this date first will be able to book it. This is what gives our service such an advantage- as we check every 5 or 10 minutes between 6am and midnight.

Why is there such a long wait for a driving test cancellation?

Quite simply- the DVSA (Driving Standards Agency) do not have enough test centres in urban areas (e.g. London) to satisfy demand. This means people are having to wait up to 18 weeks for their driving tests at West Wickham, while those booking at Melton Mowbray can get a test in a week or two.

Remember- use our automated system to find yourself an earlier driving test. Signup for a free trial.

How do I check for Driving Test Cancellations?

There are loads and loads of questions on the internet about how to check for driving test cancellations, so we thought we’d take the time to put together some advice, and weigh up the different ways you can do it, as well as dispelling some myths about the process on the way.

Myth Number 1: There is a ‘driving test cancellation’ list, you can be put on, or search to let you get an earlier driving test:

Unfortunately, this is simply not true, (although it is in Ireland, maybe this is where the confusion comes from). There is no secret list that you need a special telephone number to access, nor is there a hidden part of the DSA website where all the cancellations are kept.

Myth Number 2: You can only find cancellations by ringing the DSA.

Again, not true. The DSA have told me that their telephone operators have access to exactly the same lists of tests that you see when using the DSA website. And as anyone who’s tried to get through on their phone line will know, it can take take hours just to get to talk to anyone. If you do want to ring them though, you can do so on 0300 200 1122. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you need an extended retest, or are doing an upgrade from automatic to manual, you will not be able to change your test online, so will have to ring the DSA.

Checking yourself:

If you want to check for driving test cancellations manually, we think that the best way of doing it is using the DSA website. Log on here , enter your details, and then search for the closest date at your test centre. If nothing suitable shows up, try again. And again. And again. Cancellations do come up, but you have to be vigilant and quick if you want to change your driving test to a closer date. We’ve put some stats together on the best time of day, and best days to check for cancellations, so make sure you check around these times.

Getting us to check for you:

Well, of course we’re going to say this is the best option, but let me tell you why…

  • Guaranteed, a driving test at a time and place you are happy with, or your money back. No catches, time limits, or small print (unlike all of our competitors).
  • No hassle. With our online driving test finder there is no software to download, just enter your details and we’ll text and email you when dates come up, you just text/email back to book them.
  • Less than the price of a driving lesson. At under 20 quid, even if you only move your driving test a week earlier, you’ll have saved yourself money.
  • No need to sit in front of the computer, or phone stressing out about finding a test, let us do the work, and you can get on with life.

Driving Test Changes- An update from the DSA

I’ve been in touch with the DSA about why they only let you change your test date three times, and why this isn’t made clear on the test booking website.

They have told me that the 3 changes to your driving test date rule is to ‘prevent abuse by some customers’. The good news is, that this rule is under review, so watch this space.
They’ve also agreed to my recommendation to make it clearer that you are only allowed to change your driving test date three times.
They have updated their website to make the three change limitation clear. It now reads:

You can only change your test three times – after that, you need to cancel your test and book a new one.

This is sure to make things a lot clearer for learners. Lots of the users of our service to find driving test cancellations have been caught out by this rule in the past.