Learner Drivers

Frequently Asked Questions


When will I take my theory test? The theory test consists of 50 questions, of which currently you need 44 correct answers to pass. You also need to pass the Hazard Perception test which is the second part of your theory test. There are 14 video clips to view, each with one hazard, however one of the clips will have two hazards. Each identified hazard has a value of 5 points, making a total of 75 points from 15 hazards, currently you need 44 points to pass the HPT.

The price is £23.

After thoroughly reading the highway code and having a good working knowledge, knowing your traffic signs thoroughly you will be able to sit the mock tests, if you can pass 5 pairs of examinations consecutively you will be ready for the real test. This could take you as little as 7 to 10 days or up to 3 to 4 weeks dependant on how commited to your studies you are. If you are Dyslexic or have other Autism Spectrum problems you may, (on production of written proof) be allowed additional time and other help to suit your needs. For example; on test day, as a dsylexic you could have the questions read over to you but you would need to advise of that requirement of special needs at the time of booking.

What are the waiting times for theory and practical tests?
Test waiting times tend to fluctuate with the time of year, this can also depend on whether schools or colleges are on holiday. Theory tests in quiet times could be as quick as 3 days, other times as long as 3 weeks. Practical driving tests also tend to fluctuate, currently arouond 12 - 14 weeks at Portsmouth and Lee on the Solent.
There is a facility to apply for short notice tests either online or on the telephone, call 0870 0101 372 and phone the instructions on the phone.

I've heard so much about the examiners on test day being ogres. What are they really like?
In the time I have been using the local Portsmouth and Lee on the Solent test centre, I can honestly say that without exception we are very fortunate to have a pretty good team. They are friendly and will try to put you at your ease.

How long will it take me to learn to drive?
In reality, this will depend entirely on you. Statistically it tends to take females longer than males, albeit females tends to be more thorough. The DSA has provided some research on this issue as per the table below.

Age Group Hours Taken
  Male Female
17-19 38 43
20-24 43 62
25-29 42 63
30-39 56 74
40-49 60 82
50-59 58 100
60+ 76 120

These time scales are for professional tuition. However, 65% of candidates who passed their practical tests, have also had additional practice with family or friends.

Can I learn to drive in my own car?
When you learn to drive and you pay someone to teach you, like a driving instructor, the insurance that they have is a business policy, the insurance that you would have for driving your car would normally be social, domestic and pleasure, therefore your own insurance might not cover you. That's not to say you can't learn in your car as long as you advise your insurance company what you are using the vehicle for.

A driving instructor might not be too keen, at first, to take you out in your own car because they will not know what your ability is, so your first lesson (at least) would probably be in the instructors car because he/she would have dual controls should they need it. Once they are confident of your abilities then it is not impossible to have lessons in your own vehicle. You should advise your insurance company that you are using your car to take driving lessons, just to make sure it will not affect your own insurance policy.

Can I use my own car for my test?
The short answer is, yes, however you must remember to display 'L' plates correctly, front and rear. You will also need to provide another rear view mirror for the examiner who will sit in the front passenger seat. You must also ensure that the seat belts are working properly and that the head restraint is effective for the examiner.
You would also need to ensure your vehicle is properly road worthy and insured for your driving test. Again, I would advise you to inform your insurance company that you are intending to use your car for your practical driving test.

How will I know when I am ready for my test?
Your instructor will provide you through the course of your lessons with the tools to do the job but he or she will not send you to test unless they believe you are ready to drive the vehicle totally unaided without assistance of any kind. You could look upon your lessons as making a cake together with your instructor and the passing of the test is the cherry on that cake.
Whether you pass your test or not, first time, will be a matter of how you handle test nerves/stress. An adrenaline rush is a good thing but you will need to keep it under control just as you will with the motor car whilst on test, and beyond. Your instructor will tell you when they believe you are ready.

How long will my actual test take?
On your test day, you will be collected approximately 1 hour before your test is due to start. We will drive for around 35 minutes whilst we travel to the test centre, ironing out any last minute nerves. If time permits a manoeuvre can be practised. Once at the test centre, your photo licence will be checked by your examiner whilst you sign the declaration of residence and insurance cover.
You will then escort your examiner to the vehicle during which time they will check your eyesight, reading a number plate at 20.5metres (67ft). You will then be asked two show me tell me questions (something you will be taught about during your driving lessons).
The examiner will tell you a little about what to expect on test, after which you will leave the test center and drive for around 35 to 38 minutes.

On the test route you will be asked on several occassions to pull up on the left in a safe and convenient place. You may also be asked to pull away at an angle, do a turn in the road; do a left reverse or even a bay park at the test centre (before you leave or on your return if you have not done any other manoeuvre). There is also a period of 10 minutes independent driving which you will be asked to follow signs to a place within the test area. Your examiner will stop you at the side of the road and explain each time they want you to do something, including an Emergency Stop, which 1 in 3 people will do.  If you forget what you have been told, you CAN ask for clarification.  If you think you have gone wrong / off route, DON'T PANIC; go wrong correctly and the Examiner will put you back on route.

On your return to the center you will be debriefed on your test result and whether you were successfull / unsuccessful and where you need to focus for the future. Afterwards you will be driven home as the adrenelin will be pumping through your veins.  This whole procedure will take around 2 hours.