Driving Examiners are out to trick you!

As a learner driver preparing for the the UK driving test, you've probably heard somewhere that the DSA driving examiners are not interested in passing you, that instead they would even go as far a tricking you into failing by getting you into various situations that would cause you to make a serious driving error.

First of all, let me say that as a driving instructor, most test candidates do not give the practical car assessment the due credit it deserves. The DSA test is a very high quality and demanding examination, and you should expect the examiners to follow the rules to the letter (even though we know that the driving test is never 100% consistent since it involves humans and conditions vary across the UK especially in rural areas), and the only way of having a guarantee of passing the driving test is if you aim to be an A plus student.

So do DSA driving examiners cause you to fail the practical car test delibrately? The answer is no, and contrary to common belief, they do actually want you to pass, and will do their best to get you relaxed during the 40 minutes you are in the car with them. The problem is sometimes the test candidates either don't know fully how the test works, or are too nervous to have noticed an instruction, or the lack of one (if you are not told anything at a junction you need to follow the road ahead which could be a compulsary turn).

Before you drive out of the test centre, the DSA driving examiner will give you a lot of information about the test, what is going to be covered in the assessment, and finally those famous words "I'd like you to follow the road ahead unless road signs indicate otherwise, if I want to turn, I'd let you know in goodtime". Those words are important, because they have just laid down a rule for you while driving, basically continue to follow the road ahead, but you must pay attention to road markings or signs, because there could be times when the examiner will not give you instructions (at a complusary right turn for example), yet you will still be expected to use MSM, with the signals being timed properly and the approach handled at the right speed! You can't complain that you didn't know which way to, and therefore didn't signal or had little time to slow the car down enough to deal with the junction safely.

Another example could be at a multi-lane roundabout which has 4 lanes on approach, you are told turn right it is the 3rd exit, if there are signs which tell you which lane to use, then the examiner is not going to advice you that both the 3rd and 4th lanes are for turning right, and that you need o be in the 3rd lane, they would expect you to follow the signs!
On the other hand if there was traffic on approach to the roundabout, and all road markings where covered by cars, then the examiners will prompt you with some advice, as they don't expect you to be familiar with the area.
Some large roundabouts especially on dual carriageways have traffic lights controlling them, and while the examiner will give normal instructions such as 'At the roundabout turn right 3rd exit', you need to pay attention and notice the red light and not try to go because nothing is approaching from the right. If the lights are not working then you need to know that normal roundabout rules apply, which means give way to traffic on the right. ALL of this information is clearly stated in the highway code, which I ALWAYS advice all my learners to master inside out not only for the test, but after passing it could save your life and money by avoiding penalty points and fines with an increase in insurance premiums.

You are not a learner driver

Anyone presenting themselves to a practical car driving test at a DSA centre is not expected to be a learner driver! You might not be very experienced, but you are expected to be trained to the test standard, have had enough practical driving experience (private practice or with your driving instructor) to be able to independently deal with any situation that would arise during the test, and this is what the DSA examiner is looking for. They expect you to be able to plan your driving to deal with what is happening on the road ahead, be able to perform any of the set exercises competently and safely, and most importantly want you to have the right attitude towards driving and other road users. 40 minutes is a long enough time for you to show what your normal driving habits are, and those that have been relying on the little prompts from Instructors or supervising drivers, will now be struggling to be at ease and drive safely, and the DSA examiners are trained and experienced enough to know and pick up on this.

It is the job of the DSA examiner to make sure that the driving test is valid by covering a variety of road conditons, traffic and they are not supervising you during the 40 minutes of the assessment, and while they might throw you a life line by repeating an instruction, or advising that the current road is a National Speed Limit restriction, you should not be relying on that or indeed expect them to be linient towards you.
You don't have to make small talk with the driving examiner, if that puts you off your ability to concentrate, just let them know you prefer not to talk, and they will allow you to focus on the driving test.
Finally remember you are in charge and control of the car, if something starts to go wrong, immediately correct it, remember the faster the car approaches a junction, the faster you have to think, and the less likely you are to make a safe decision.
The driving test is your opportunity to prove to the DSA examiner that you can be trusted to be incharge of a vehicle unspervised, if you are totally prepared for it, and you go into the examination with the aim of making no mistakes because you haven't cut any corners and are dreading any situation, then you are move than likely to comeout as one of the 40% who pass!

DSA Examiner Driving Test Routes

As an instructor over the years I have seen some very good drivers get tripped up at some tricky places on some of the routes by examiners in the NW London area, so I have made these tutorial videos to cover these situations.

Each video covers what I have found out to the toughest route, and has additional tips on other places or things that you should be aware as a driving test candidate. These are offered as complimentary preparation materials to your lessons or private practice sessions.

Hendon Driving Test Routes Video 2012

£4.99 Buy Now

Independent Driving On the Test.
Theory Test Changes
Driving Test Changes.

Mill Hill Driving Test Route Video

£4.99 Buy Now

Borehamwood Test Centre WD6 Route Videos

Subcribe to Driving Test Tips so you don't miss future articles.

More Reading
Using your car for the driving test
DSA driving examiner complaints


  1. Anonymous3:28 pm

    How should we deal with a driving examiner's inefficient poor professional judgement and appalling racism plus ageism?

    1. Anonymous7:51 pm

      Learn to drive properly then you'll pass. Those who pass never criticise an examiner's judgement. Accusations of racism and ageism are usually sour grapes from someone who's had umpteen tests and can't pass because their driving is crap.

  2. Anonymous3:41 pm

    Like for this examiner the pass is made only possible to young pretty girl. The over 40 or minority is only on the "demominator" in any case. Please give me advice on this because I know the case, but I don't have any document proof? Many thanks

  3. I just finished my driving test. And failed. Sue Atkins from west wickham test center was my examiner. she was rude through my exam. 5 minutes into my exam, after the show me tell me bit was over, she ordered me to turn right. okay...Blind spot check. she abruptly said "I said turn right" okay ...signal on. It didn't bother me as I was quite confident I could pass. Got to a roundabout traffic was moving fine. suddenly the bus in front of me suddenly stopped, while I was still on the roundabout, and no there wasn't a bus stop ahead of me. I tried to creep of the roundabout she suddenly broke with her duel pedals and asked me "are you stupid". That was maybe 7 minutes into my driving test. I was so shocked and began to cry, and in fact, cried through my driving test and failed on awareness and planning. so I am going to request a retest.

    11:16 AM

  4. You can always make a formal complaint to the test centre manager if your examiner was rude or unprofessional in the way they behaved while conducting your drivng test.

    There is no guarantee you will get a free re-test though.

  5. Anonymous9:17 pm

    Natalie, I've just complained to the DSA about the same examiner. I believe someone like that is not fit for the job. I really do not wish for anyone to have this woman as an examiner. Very heartless woman. I urge you to make a complaint about her.

  6. Anonymous7:05 pm

    well, i am sorry you have both had bad experiences with her, however i found this lady to be nothing but claim and fair, despite taking a wrong turn, she remained claim and i for one found her to be very pleasant and put me at ease.

    by complaining- does it really solve a problem? you will still have to take the test again, and could still fail?!?

  7. Anonymous10:24 am

    Learn to drive properly then you'll pass. Those who pass never criticise an examiner's judgement. Accusations of racism and ageism are usually sour grapes from someone who's had umpteen tests and can't pass because their driving is crap.

    Sorry that is absolutely rubbish, so you assume that one can't pass their driving test because their driving is crap?
    I failed my test because i was a couple of seconds late moving into the left lane on the dual carriageway, that was my only fault along with 3 minors. Does that make my driving crap? Even though the examiner said at the end of the test, there was lots of positive driving and i should pass if i keep on trying. Just because someone fails the test doesn't mean they are a crap driver.

  8. Anonymous4:05 pm

    I have failed my driving test third time. First time I failed because of my test nerves, second time I failed purely on the ground of not checking over my right shoulder when pulled off after successful reverse parking (just few other minors). Third time I failed purely because of undue hesitenacy when the roads were jame packed after moteway closure and everyone was out of patience!

    I know many others were given minors for these faults.

    I genuinly belive that Examiners are biased!!!

  9. Anonymous4:41 pm

    "Driving tests are always fair and always equal [even if you aren't a pretty young white girl in a short skirt]": no evidence for this optimistic religious belief.

    "Driving examiners want you to pass": no evidence for this religious belief.

    "People who complain about examiners are only doing it because of sour grapes and their driving is crap. Their complaints are unfounded": no evidence for this religious belief.

    "Complaining about an examiner does nothing": FALSE!!
    Complain complain and complain again. The likelihood is that if you feel something was up with the examiner or your test, you're not the only one. If the same examiner gets lots of the same complaints about their behaviour (verbal outbursts, sudden hitting the dual brakes, etc) it will show on their employment record.
    Plus if your complaint succeeds you will get a free re-take.

  10. Anonymous8:38 pm

    I have. A question a an you refuse to have the same examiner as I live in a small town and don't want the same stupid examiner.

  11. No you can't request a different examiner, they are chosen at random. You can however ask the test centre manager to also come in the car with you.

  12. I do not believe driving test is fair i think they are biased and they know if they gonna pass you or not,i failed my driving test for the third time and basickly so far,have been failed on something that people keep saying other examiner may over looked???if there is fairness why re they not just base on one rule either you fail or pass..the way i see it is that learner have to now rely on their luck for the examiner to pass them.my second failed was that i puled out in secound gear fine ok.my third yesterday i could not believe as my driving instructor him self said he thought i passed it but its turn out to be that he failed me on a uphill narrow road and i was asked to turn left trying to avoid the curb so i went alittle bit over was just me and he said i faild you for that after driving with him for 45 min ,does he know i can drive?YES. does he know am safe on the road ? YES what is the purpose of the test ?to show that this person can drive and be safe on the road.he never failed me on that tho and i never did this same mistake twice .and my instructor said another examiner may have passed you for that so how can you look at all this reasons and think there is no bias and think the examiners are always fair NO NEVER ..there is corrupt with anything that has to do with this government they toy with us like they always do,in control of everything we do.pass you when they are ready bulls'''''t

  13. 16th December 2016 had my practical test at Goodmayes, I failed and Sue Atkins was my examiner. Was very rude, patronising, kept rushing and I agree with Natalie, she has a tendency to "order" instructions. This comes across as very intimidating and learners can really do without that sort of attitude and behaviour from their examiner. I have complained about Sue Atkin to DVLA but as usual student's complaints hold no credibility. They got back to me stating she was professional and didn't do nothing wrong. Strange. At least I've passed my test now but honestly do not wish for anyone to get Sue Atkins as their examiner.

  14. Is huffing and puffing throughout the test acceptable? Even when only getting 3 minors?

  15. There is nothing on the test sheet that the examiner can mark for huffing and puffing, however if your frustration is affecting your ability to drive safely, then it will be marked down. Will in theory examiners need to be un-emotional, they are human beings and I have on 1 ocassion reported an examiner.




eXTReMe Tracker