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.

Why does the DSA only let me change my test three times?

We hear from learner driver after learner driver who has got absolutely no clue that the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) only let you change your practical test date up to three times. There is no indication anywhere on their main website, or on the practical test booking website that this is the case (http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Diol1/DoItOnline/Doitonlinemotoring/DG_197300 – specifically says you can change your date as long as your instructor is available).
The first time most people realise it, is when they have already changed their practical test date twice, and start seeing a message when they log in to the DSA site saying ‘You can only change your test details one more time’.
The problem is, that if you aren’t aware from the start that you can only make three changes to your test date, you may waste two changes (say moving your date earlier by a day or two), and then be stuck with a test many months away, and only one chance to change it. In this situation, if one comes up a few weeks earlier, it is impossible to know whether to change it, or to hold out for an even closer test.
But fear not. There is a way round the DSA’s arbitrary restriction on test date changes (though it is not without a little risk). You need to cancel your current booking, you will receive a full refund from the DSA (as long as your test isn’t within the next few days). You can then rebook, and voila, you will have three more changes to make to your test. The risk is that you won’t be able to get the date you’ve just cancelled when you rebook, and will have to settle (at first) for a more distant date.
Lots of people looking for driving test cancellations use this approach, as it gets them a fresh set of three changes, and second time around they will know not to waste them.
I think the DSA needs to do one of the following:
1.) Remove the arbitrary and unnecessary limitation that only allows people to change their practical driving test date three times. It serves no discernible purpose, and just makes life harder for pupils and instructors who need to change their test date multiple times for perfectly valid reason.
2.) Put a clear indication, every time you use the DSA test booking service, that you are only allowed to change your test date three times (don’t save this message until you’ve already done so twice as happens at the moment). Then people are much less likely to get caught by surprise after already having made two changes to their test date, be forced to cancel and rebook their test.
It is hard enough trying to find a decent driving test date without silly restrictions being put on the system.
I’ve emailed the DSA asking for why the system works like this, so I’ll update when I hear back from them.

The DSA- and a rather broken website

I’ve been receiving numerous complaints from people over the last couple of months about error messages on the DSA website.

You’ll be navigating the website and then suddenly receive a message saying
Invalid navigation!
You are attempting to use an invalid path through the booking application
Please click here to return to the booking homepage
What’s even more annoying- is that the link to contact the site administrator goes to “dsawebmaster@driving-tests.info” . Which is just a made up address on a non-existent domain.
If this happens to you- the best way to contact the DSA is by emailing customer.services@dsa.gsi.gov.uk . Though they generally take around 10 days to reply. Hardly sterling customer service.
For those of a more technical bent- I’ve worked out why their website throws these random errors…
Inspecting the HTTP Response headers I see the following:
  1. Cache-Control:
    private
  2. Content-Length:
    13044
  3. Content-Type:
    text/html; charset=utf-8
  4. Date:
    Sun, 06 Mar 2011 16:25:08 GMT Sun, 06 Mar 2011 16:25:08 GMT
  5. X-PoolMember:
    2 2
  6. X-Powered-By:
    ASP.NET ASP.NET
The item of interest here is X-PoolMember. This suggests to me that they are using a number of load balanced webservers. The X-Powered-By header informs us they are using ASP.NET and this is confirmed by the “VIEWSTATE” fields we see on the forms:
ASP.Net uses these viewstate fields to keep track of form state. But in order to prevent tampering by the client, they are encrypted.
Now, by default each web server will use its own encryption key to encrypt and decrypt the viewstate (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms972427.aspx for details).
This means that if you get an HTTP Response from one of the web servers, and your request is handled by a different web server, the second webserver will be unable to decrypt the viewstate fields (as they are using different encryption keys) and will throw an error.
To fix this the DSA need to add a setting like this:
 machinekey validation="SHA1" validationkey="  F3690E7A3143C185AB1089616A8B4D81FD55DD7A69EEAA3B32A6AE813ECEECD28DEA66A 23BEE42193729BD48595EBAFE2C2E765BE77E006330BC3B1392D7C73F"  

to all their web.configs, in order to ensure that all the web servers are using the same validation key. Then we not see quite so many errors being returned quite so much of the time from their website. DSA Techies- if you read this, feel free to pop a cheque in the post!



Driving Test Wait Times

Just a quick note to say we’ve just launched (its still a bit rough round the edges), a site to let you look at driving test wait times at all the test centres across the country (well- all those we have data for).

As ever- I’d love to hear feedback on the site, and whether it’s useful or not.
I’ll be adding more to it in the coming weeks, so do keep checking back.

Driving Test Scams Part Two- Google bites back

I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated at the scam sites that exist on the internet to try and con learner drivers out of their precious, and hard earned, money.

People booking driving tests are often those who can least afford to be conned out of 30 quid, often being students without a full time job, who are struggling to pay for driving lessons, let alone the driving test.
Some sites which appear in Google Ads when you search for “book driving test” are scams. They will take your details in exactly the same way as the DSA, fill in the form on the DSA website and charge you 30 quid for the privilege. They trick learner drivers into thinking that theirs is official booking site. Not many people fall for it, but enough to make it worthwhile.
They aren’t doing anything illegal, just deeply deeply immoral. So going to the police or trading standards was probably out of the question.
I resolved to try Google. As these people advertise on Google, they surely have some responsibility. I spent an hour or so trawling through the Adwords content guidelines and found this (Google.com).
Examples of prohibited websites:

  • Sites that charge for downloads of software that’s readily available for free elsewhere
  • Sites that charge for government forms that are free or available for a lesser charge from the government site

It clearly states that sites that charge for government forms that are available for a lesser charge from a government site are prohibited. The driving test booking system is just a collection of forms so I reckon this policy covers what these scam artists are doing.
I head over to the Adwords Content Violation form and report every one of these dodgy websites.
No we just wait and see whether these sights disappear from Google….
Just a reminder- if you’ve been scammed by these sites, get in touch and I’ll give you a free copy of our online Driving Test Cancellation Checker

Driving Test Scams

Watch out for Driving Test Scams

When booking your driving practical test beware!
There are a number of sites out there which say they will book your test for you. There are a number of these that come up when I search Google for “book driving test”

As far as I can tell (and please let me know if I’m wrong!), all these sites will do is charge an extra fee for booking your test for you. They won’t get you an earlier driving test, and they will charge up to £50.

They try to look as similar to the official DSA website as possible in order to trick you into parting with your cash.

If you’re looking for a closer driving test, then I recommend using either http://www.drivingtestcancellations.co.uk or our online driving test cancellation checker , both of which have the price clearly marked, and will constantly monitor the DSA website for you, looking for cancellations and booking them when they come up.

Have you been scammed? Send me details at enquiries@drivingtestcancellations.co.uk and we’ll give you a free license to our software, helping you to find driving test cancellations

New web based Cancellation Checker

Today I’m delighted to announce the launch of our new online Cancellation Checker. Finally, Mac/Linux users will be able to easily check for driving test cancellations.

The site can be found at http://www.changedrivingtest.co.uk .

This means no need to leave your PC running to check for tests, just sign up, sit back and wait for the texts/emails to come in!