Once you’ve passed your theory test and have made your way through most of your driving lessons, you’ve not got much longer until you have to take the last step in your learning journey: the driving test. Even though it takes less than an hour, the practical test is dreaded by most learners. Nerves and adrenaline can get so overwhelming on the day that many instructors opt to prepare their students beforehand. They do this by giving their learners mock driving tests.
We’re going to look at exactly what a mock driving test entails and why it might be worth taking one before your test date. We’ll also give you some top tips!
What is a mock driving test?
Once you’ve made your way through most of your driving course—and your instructor decides you’re up to test standard—they might decide to give you a run through of the driving test. Rather than talking you through it, however, they might opt for a mock driving test. Set out in a similar way to the actual practical, a mock driving test gives learners a chance to see what they should expect on the day of their test.
Typically, an instructor would give a learner a mock driving test a couple of weeks or so before their test date. Leaving a gap between the mock test and the practical is absolutely vital. It gives learners enough time to work on any weak areas highlighted by their performance in the mock test. It also means that if the mock goes badly, the learner has more than enough time to get their confidence back up before they have to go in for the real thing.
If your instructor has chosen to give you a mock driving test, it will likely take place near your chosen test centre. This means that you might end up driving on a route that’s similar to the one you’ll be taken on during your practical test—making it pretty useful experience to have under your belt.
Why should I take one?
Your driving lessons are designed to take you from a complete beginner who struggles with clutch control to a confident driver who can complete advanced manoeuvres with their eyes closed (not that we would ever advise such a thing!). Of course, whilst you might have the skills, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ready for the driving test. Unless you’ve looked into the format of the driving test, you’re probably not that familiar with how it’s structured.
A mock driving test is the perfect way to get a hands-on look at what will happen on the day of your driving test—from the eyesight test to the ‘show me, tell me’ questions to the independent driving section. Knowing the structure of the test isn’t just beneficial for helping you pass the test, it’s also great for easing any of those pre-test butterflies you might have. One of the biggest reasons that many learners fail the driving test is due to test day nerves. Once you know what to expect, however, you’ll be able to keep those nerves at bay.
Though your instructor isn’t a driving examiner, they’ll be more than experienced in sitting in on driving tests. This means that they’ll be able to make your mock driving test as realistic as possible. By the time you take your actual driving test, it will seem like a walk in the park.
What will happen during a mock driving test?
If you’re taking a mock driving test, it will mostly follow the structure of the actual driving test. Of course, it will vary depending on the instructor. Some will go the whole hog—printing off a DL25 feedback sheet and going into full examiner mode—asking you to go through the entire step-by-step process of an actual driving test (even the eyesight test!). Others, however, might just walk you through what’s expected of you and offer some tips as you go along.
The driving test usually lasts around 40 minutes. When it comes to the mock driving test, however, your instructor might extend the time so that they can make it more challenging and test you on more road features. If they’re going for a fully authentic vibe, they might have a feedback sheet on hand so that they can note down any minor or major faults you accumulate as you go along. Let’s take a look at what you can expect with a mock driving test…
The structure of the mock driving test
1. An eyesight test
At the beginning of the driving test, you’ll be asked to complete a mandatory eyesight test before getting into the car. This will involve you reading a number plate from 20 or 20.5 metres away, or around 4 car lengths. So, make sure you’re wearing your glasses or contact lenses if you need them. Your instructor may or may not include this section of the test.
2. ‘Show me, tell me’ questions
By this point, you should be more than familiar with the ‘show me, tell me’ section of the driving test. These questions will show that you have a basic understanding of your vehicle. The examiner will ask you to answer a ‘tell me’ question before you start driving, e.g., “How would you check that the brakes are working before starting a journey?”. The ‘show me’ question will be asked once you start driving, e.g., “When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d switch on your dipped headlights?”.
Though you’ll only get a minor driving test fault for getting a question wrong, you don’t want to use up all of your faults just because you couldn’t be bothered revising the ‘show me, tell me’ section. So, practice them as much as you can and make sure your multitasking skills are on point for the ‘show me’ question!
Your instructor might decide to shake things up and ask you multiple ‘show me, tell me’ questions, just to make sure you’ve mastered the section.
3. Assessment of your driving ability
As with your actual test, your instructor will take you on the roads around your chosen test centre, which you should be mostly familiar with by this point. They will make sure to incorporate a variety of road features and types, ranging from dual carriageways to multi-lane roundabouts to tricky one-way systems. You’ll likely be taken through busy urban areas and quieter residential estates—ensuring different traffic conditions which will test your skills with hazard perception and speed awareness.
Throughout this 20 minute drive, your instructor will likely replicate the examiner’s actions by asking you to pull over every so often—testing your ability to park and move off safely—and demonstrate a hill start or two. Your instructor will be monitoring your control of the vehicle, with both your steering and road positioning. Additionally, they’ll be keeping an eye out to see if you’re completing all around checks and observations throughout.
4. Independent driving
During this section, you’ll be asked to drive (independently) by following sat nav directions or sign posts to reach a set destination chosen by your instructor. 80% of candidates on the test will use a sat nav on their test, whilst the remaining 20% will use road signs. Your instructor will decide at random which method to use—most likely, they’ll pick the one you’re least comfortable with, just to give you good practice.
On the actual test, this section will last around 20 minutes; however, your instructor might choose to extend this just for practice purposes. Remember—you are allowed to go the wrong way. As long as you’re showing that you can safely follow directions (using a sat nav or signs), you’ll be just fine.
5. Assessment of your manoeuvring ability
During the driving test, you’ll be expected to demonstrate one of the manoeuvres.
Wondering where you’ll be asked to demonstrate these manoeuvres? It depends on the manoeuvre. With pulling upon the right and parallel parking, the examiner isn’t limited to quiet roads only—that being said, they’re not exactly going to pick the busiest roads available. If it’s too congested, you’ll end up wasting precious test time. When it comes to the bay parking manoeuvre, however, they’ll either use the test centre car park or another cark park of their choosing.
If your instructor thinks you need the practice, or wants to make sure you’ve mastered your manoeuvres, they might ask you to demonstrate all three manoeuvres at different points in the mock driving test. 1 in 3 learner drivers are asked to demonstrate an emergency stop, so your instructor might also include one on your mock just to be sure you know how to complete it safely.
The end of the mock driving test
If your instructor has gone all in for your mock driving test, they might take a few minutes at the end to finish filling out their feedback sheet. Alternatively, they might just take a small break just to jog their memory of how you performed throughout the mock. They will then tell you whether you would have passed or failed if it was a genuine test. If they’re using the feedback sheet, you’ll get an exact number of how many minor and major faults you might have accumulated.
Though it might not seem like it, the result of your mock driving test doesn’t actually matter much. The whole point of it is just to prepare you for your driving test—helping you familiarise yourself with the structure and ease your test day nerves. As such, you shouldn’t take your result too seriously. If you pass, you shouldn’t rest on your laurels—you need to keep working hard and listen to your instructor. If you fail, don’t let it discourage you too much. As we’ve said, it’s all about the experience, not the result.
Pay close attention to your instructor’s feedback. Remember, mock driving tests are ideal for figuring out your strengths and weaknesses. If your instructor pulled you up on poor observation, then you know what you need to work on during the build up to your test date.
Still not sure if you’d like to take a mock driving test? Check out the pros and cons below…
– Settle your nerves: going into your practical blind can turn even a confident driver into a nervous wreck. By taking a mock driving test, however, you no longer have to let your imagination run wild—you’ll know exactly how the day will go.
– Get used to the test format: once you’ve gone through the actual process of the driving test, you won’t be surprised by anything the examiner asks you to do, e.g., when they ask you a ‘show me’ question whilst you’re driving on a dual carriageway!
– Figure out your strengths and weaknesses: if your instructor is using a feedback sheet, they’ll be noting down every slight miscalculation and mistake—making it easy to see which areas need more work before your actual test.
– It’s not the real thing: no matter how realistic your instructor makes it, it’s still not the actual driving test. If you’re particularly anxious, a mock test probably won’t stop you from still panicking on the day of your test.
– It might make your nerves worse: if you end up “failing” your mock driving test, it might end up making you feel like you’re not actually ready for your driving test. In the worst case scenario, you might end up cancelling your test.
– You might get a serious case of over-confidence: if you end up “passing” your mock driving test, you might end up getting a bit too relaxed on the build-up to your test date. Confidence is good, but too much of it can be counter-productive.
Mock driving test tips
1. Check out the feedback sheet
One of the best ways to ace any test you take in life is to actually look at what the examiner is marking you on. During the driving test, your examiner will be noting down any minor or major faults you’ve accumulated using a feedback sheet. Take a look at this sheet and you’ll be able to see what kind of areas and skills they’ll be monitoring. Whilst not the most riveting read, it’ll definitely make the test seem less daunting.
2. Talk it through with your instructor
If your instructor gives you a mock driving test, make sure you ask them to walk you through your performance step-by-step. If you don’t agree with something they’ve pulled you up on, or you simply don’t remember which part they’re talking about, just ask them to explain it in full detail.
3. Don’t take it to heart
If your instructor tells you that you’ve failed your mock driving test, or you feel like they’ve been a bit unfair in their marking, just remember that you shouldn’t take it too personally. Your instructor will likely be far more critical than how your actual driving examiner will be on the day—it’s their job to make sure you’re going the extra mile. Remember, they wouldn’t let you go in for your driving test if they didn’t think you were ready.
4. A mock is still a mock
Try to bear in mind that the mock driving test is not the real thing. Rather than seeing it as a reflection of your driving ability, you should just view it as a way to ease your nerves and get used to the structure of the test. Even if you pass every single mock driving test you take, it doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to pass the actual driving test.
5. There’s always next time
Plenty of learner drivers fail their driving test—some fail several times before finally getting it right. Though it might be disheartening, it’s really not the end of the world. What’s important is that you keep on going anyway.