Learner During Their Driving Test

When family, friends and even your driving instructor hear that you’ve taken the leap of faith and booked your driving test, it is almost guaranteed that you’ll be hounded with a heap of advice on how to pass. Although this is helpful and you can never have too much information, it can sometimes be more useful to make yourself aware of the most common major driving test mistakes learners make, so you know what to avoid. It is very rare that a huge disaster unfolds during your test that leads to a fail, nine out of ten times easily made errors are made that are unavoidable if you make a conscious effort to avoid them.

Common Major Driving Test Mistakes In The UK

Over 80,000 practical tests are carried out every year in the UK, so it’s not a surprise that there is a fair share of fails, all of which are more than likely for the same reasons. To give you a small insight before your test on crucial points to avoid, we’ve devised a list of the most common driving test mistakes.

Reverse Parking

Nailing reverse parking takes a considerable amount of patience and determination, so once you’ve got it, don’t forget the basics if this ends up being your chosen test manoeuvre. Always remember to do a full 360 observation, taking extra care when checking blind spots. Don’t just turn your head to make it look as if you are checking all directions to please your examiner, ensure you are fully aware of all of your surroundings. Failure to thoroughly check blind spots is likely to result in a major, especially if you miss a cyclist or pedestrian coming towards you and your examiner has to point out the hazard for you. Accurate is key when it comes to reverse parking, do not misjudge situations.

Traffic Light Response

Traffic lights can easily catch you out, particularly if you are caught up in nerves during your test. Once stopped stationary at a traffic light for several minutes, try to prepare yourself for moving off. The moment you notice the lights turning to amber, grasp the bite point and move over to the acceleration. Rushing to move off at traffic lights due to lack of preparation is likely to result in stalling.

Not only is it important to keep a careful eye on traffic lights when stationary, but you must also stop at all traffic lights before the separation line. Stopping your vehicle past the line disrupts traffic and impairs your view of the traffic lights in front of you.

traffic lights


Minors can quickly be picked up due to poor signalling. Failure to cancel signals on time, misleading other drivers and failing to give any signal at all are all culprits for picking up minors during your test. Always remember to indicate when you are planning to move off from stationary, whether this may be after manoeuvres, once you’ve taken instructions from your examiner or after giving way to another driver. If you move off without alerting other drivers, it runs the risk of a collision.

Turn off your signal immediately after you have many your movement, this includes entering the road after leaving a roundabout or turning into a junction. Many roundabouts are followed by sliproads or an entrance to a housing estate, leaving your indicator on may mislead other drivers into assuming you are making another turn.

Last minute indications are just as, if not more, dangerous than forgetting to cancel your signals. Signal in advance, so other drivers are prepared and understand that you are likely to be slowing down in speed within the next few seconds.

Steering Accuracy

A mistake that many learners do not take into consideration is losing control of your steering. Of course, if you couldn’t control the car, your instructor wouldn’t allow you to go ahead with the test. By losing control, we don’t mean steering into pavements and going on a joyride, its more about maintaining accuracy.

When changing gear, take one hand off the steering wheel to reach over to the gears and then go straight back to two hands on the wheel. It means your lane discipline remains steady, avoiding hitting the curb.

Accurate steering is vital when approaching and turning into junctions. Arriving at a tight corner too wide will leave you incredibly close to the approaching vehicle making it a very close shave. Whereas approaching a wider junction too tight will result in skimming the curb, potentially injuring pedestrians.

controlling steering wheel


The mistake of inaccurate steering leads on us to emerging junctions which is one of the main culprits for a serious major.

There are two types of junctions that you may be faced with during your practical test, a closed or open junction. A closed junction commonly found in built up, residential areas. It means that there are trees, hedges, houses or even cars blocking the full view of the road ahead. Here you must take a ‘peep and creep’ approach to emerging, slowly easing out of the road as slow as possible. Using a slow but steady method means that you can quickly stop if you notice a vehicle ahead.

On the other hand, you may be faced with an open junction which means that nothing is obstructing your view of the road ahead. Here you must look left, right, left and right again. Once the coast is clear, merge out and join the road.

Poor judgement of how far away a vehicle is to you when emerging from a junction or pulling out causing another vehicle to brake or swerve will result in a major. Hesitation at a junction, holding up other driver is unlikely to cause a major, but likely to occur a minor.


It’s no surprise that speeding is up there with one of the most common mistakes during a practical test, especially when you’re caught up with nerves. A primary culprit for catching out learners mid-test are roads with dramatic changes in speed limit. Your test is likely to be a combination of main road and residential driving, meaning at some point you’re likely to have to change down from a 60 to a 30 zone within a matter of seconds. Always remember to take a quick glance at your speed now and again to check you’re within the limit.

You may want your test to be over and done with as soon as possible, but driving fast won’t make that happen! We had a pupil once taking driving lessons in Leicester and another similar situation with an individual taking driving lessons in Colchester who had a perfect test right up until the point they realised they were heading back towards the test centre. They were in such a rush to finish their test as they knew they’d nailed their manoeuvre and performed well, they ended up doing 45mph in a 30 zone – a big no-no!

speedometer in car


We cannot express enough the importance of mirrors. Check your mirrors at every opportunity, from speeding up to changing lanes. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend ages inspecting every detail in your mirror, just take a quick glance to ensure you are aware of your surroundings. Don’t let mirrors distract you and lose sight of the road, again, always just a glimpse.

Stay Calm and Pass The First Time!

It is normal to feel a little on edge or nervous at the thought of taking your practical test. There is a huge built up, months of practice and learning, all drilled down to just one 40 minute test. During your test, try to remain calm and remember all of the processes and sequences you’ve been taught, think thoroughly and take one step at a time!