Learning to drive: pre-driving test checklist

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There’s a lot to remember when it comes to your driving test, both in terms of operating the car and knowing the Highway Code, so we’ve put our heads together to come up with a comprehensive guide on how to prepare for your driving test.

With so much to think about you could end up forgetting something vital, so we’ve put together a checklist of things to do, what to take with you, and things to leave at home.

Last-minute driving lessons

Your driving instructor will normally suggest you have a lesson immediately before the test to cover off any last-minute areas you’re struggling with. They can also conduct a mock test with you.

As with most things, practice makes perfect, so take full advantage of driving mum or dad’s car and get plenty of additional experience behind the wheel in the week before your test. Make sure you’re covered to be out on the road with Veygo by Admiral's Learner Driver Insurance; the short-term cover is available on most cars, and costs £29.79 for a week’s cover.

And if mum or dad is in the passenger seat while you navigate the roads, tell them to take a look at our handy guide to supervising a learner driver.

Tick off the following key manoeuvres once you’ve mastered them:

  • Reversing around a corner
  • Turn in the road (‘three-point turn’)
  • Reverse park (‘parallel park’)
  • Bay park

Around one in three tests incorporate an emergency stop. Your driving instructor will not practise these with you on the open road, but may ask you to perform one if there’s access to an empty car park, for example.

The only sure-fire way to practise them is with a friend or family member in their car. You should ensure there are no other vehicles around that you could endanger with a sudden stop – an empty car park is a great option.

Checking the car over before the test

Your driving instructor will make a point of ensuring their car is roadworthy before the test, as it’s vital to their livelihood. If you’re using your own car, you’ll need to check a few things:

  • Are the headlights, tail lights and indicator lights all working?
  • Is the horn working?
  • Do the tyres meet the minimum legal requirements?
  • Do the windscreen wipers and wiper jets work?
  • Are any warning lights on the dashboard illuminated?

There are some specific exemptions about particular makes and models that you cannot use for the test, plus other restrictions, outlined here.

What paperwork do I need for my driving test?

You’ll need to take along several pieces of paperwork to the test:

  • Your UK provisional driving licence photocard (plus the paper counterpart if you’re in North-ern Ireland)
  • Your theory test certificate (dated within two years of your practical test)
  • Proof of car insurance and L-plates (if you’re using your own car)

Remember your glasses

Before you set off, you’ll need to prove that you can read a registration number from a distance of around 20 metres. If you forget your spectacles and can’t complete this part of the test, it’s an instant failure - even before you’ve pulled away.

If it’s a very bright day, and you don’t need prescription glasses, you’re allowed to wear sunglasses during your test.

Can I take an interpreter on my driving test?

No. Your test must be conducted in English or, if you’re taking your test in Wales, Welsh.

You can take a friend or family member along to sit in the back of the car during the test, but there are strict rules about observing a test that they must obey. These prevent them from communicating with you during the test, including translating into your preferred language.

Things you should leave at home

  • Mobile phone - even if on silent, a phone buzzing in your pocket can prove very distracting. Unless you absolutely have to have it with you, leave it behind
  • Sat-nav - you’re not allowed to use satellite navigation during your driving test under current rules, although this may change in future
  • Cigarettes - you can’t smoke in the car immediately before or during the test. This is for Health & Safety reasons, to protect the examiner from second-hand smoke
  • Children - anyone in the car during the test must be at least 16 years of age. You’ll need to ar-range a babysitter if your offspring are younger than this.

From everyone at Admiral, good luck!

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