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 RoutesAs 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
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Using your car for the driving test
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