Author Topic: Driving test  (Read 971 times)

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Offline jayd0406

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Driving test
« on: February 15, 2017, 08:47:34 PM »
Dreading it. Is it really as impossible as it's made out to be? I'm 28 and been driving a car for 13 years including learners permit in the US, and am a good driver. My husband says I'll need to do lessons and everything. Anyone American whos then done Uk driving test please give me any pointers! Would I be ok getting a study guide book and maybe a couple of lessons?

Online KFdancer

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2017, 08:50:31 PM »
Lessons!  Be sure you get an instructor you gel with.  Don't be afraid to switch and ditch if need be. 

Also don't feel pressured to get a full license if you don't already know how to drive a manual.  There is no shame in an automatic only license.

Just go for it.  It's not so bad.  I passed the first try after about 10 hours of lessons.  My instructor said I was ready and I was! 

A good instructor will teach you how to pass the test (not how to drive) and will conduct all your lessons on the roads used during the test (again, as you just want to pass, not learn how to drive).

Offline larrabee

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2017, 08:58:08 PM »
A good instructor will teach you how to pass the test (not how to drive) and will conduct all your lessons on the roads used during the test (again, as you just want to pass, not learn how to drive).

This!

But I wouldn't limit yourself to driving an automatic. You are only going to want to sit that test once and driving a stick is not hard!  :)
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Offline Aquila

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2017, 08:11:14 PM »
It's definitely about learning how to pass the test, and not necessarily how to drive.  My instructor says I'm a darn good driver (much better than most of his students), yet I'm on my 3rd attempt to pass this test after almost £1k of lessons behind me over several months.  He thinks I should have passed first time, but my nerves have the horrible habit of messing me up because it's such a specific way you have to drive for the exam (no one really drives like that in real life... plus, London drivers are crazy).  I had 10+ years driving experience in the US (with not even a single speeding ticket), but the UK driving test is totally owning me.  A colleague of mine at work (native UKC) is on his 8th attempt.  Another one couldn't pass in two years, and has to retake his theory test as well because it expired.  Most of my colleagues took 3-4 tries to finally get a pass.  If you don't pass, it's pretty frustrating (and I admit, there were tears), but keep at it and keep taking it.  Remember, it's one of the hardest driving tests there is.

Now, watch me fail my third attempt next week!   ;D
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Online KFdancer

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2017, 08:16:12 PM »
You've got this Aquila!

Offline writeshawnna

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2017, 10:28:02 AM »
I passed on my 2nd test. I took 15 hours of lessons. I had 20+ years of US driving with only one ticket.

I was stupid and didn't get an instructor in the area I was testing. I could only get a test in Nuneaton before my year was up, but I practiced in Solihull where I lived. That was my mistake. On my first test, I was taken to a multi-lane roundabout I'd never seen before with 3 lanes going in, but 4 lanes in the roundabout and I picked the wrong lane for the direction the tester told me to go and it was an automatic fail. There were tears. The 2nd test, same tester, talk about nerves, we drove off into the country, easy pass, 2 minors, same questions, same maneuver as the first test. I would have passed easily the first time if I'd had the route he took me on the 2nd time. Both the tester and my instructor told me the UK test is one of the hardest in the world. I believe them!

I'm not trying to scare you! But it is very important to be confident in your driving and know the area you're testing in. Once you pass, you can basically throw a lot of the stuff you need for the test out the window (I will NEVER reverse into a bay!). I know lots of people who passed first try, but I also know a person who has failed 11 times. I would think 2-3 times is the average.
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Offline lorenausuk

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2017, 01:42:16 PM »
I didn't learn to drive in the US at all. I was 28 when the need to drive couldn't be put off any longer. I took 10 lessons with the AA driving school and I passed first time. I've been in the US now nearly 13 years so I let my UK driver's license expire. I'm returning to the UK in a few years and now I'm completely freaked out that I'll have to retake the test. I'm reading that people who have been driving longer than me are needing that many lessons and that many re-tests have me sweating. Is the exam really that hard now?!


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Offline larrabee

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2017, 01:51:22 PM »
I didn't learn to drive in the US at all. I was 28 when the need to drive couldn't be put off any longer. I took 10 lessons with the AA driving school and I passed first time. I've been in the US now nearly 13 years so I let my UK driver's license expire. I'm returning to the UK in a few years and now I'm completely freaked out that I'll have to retake the test. I'm reading that people who have been driving longer than me are needing that many lessons and that many re-tests have me sweating. Is the exam really that hard now?!


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If you had a UK license before, I am pretty sure it's just a case of sending off for a new one. You don't have to re-sit your test.
March 29th 2013-Moved to UK, husband on spouse visa.Oct 20th 2015-Applied by mail for FLR(M).Feb 1st 2016 FLR(M).

Offline lyonaria

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2017, 01:52:28 PM »
It really is that hard.

The theory test is 50 questions from a bank of 500 questions plus another 'real world' scenario thing on a computer where you have to click and say when you would react to incoming hazards. Right. Hazard Perception section.

Then the actual test is a lot harder and they have a lot of fiddly requirements like when exactly you have to shift to third to be 'eco-driving'. Ugh. It's horrid.
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Online KFdancer

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2017, 01:57:32 PM »
I didn't learn to drive in the US at all. I was 28 when the need to drive couldn't be put off any longer. I took 10 lessons with the AA driving school and I passed first time. I've been in the US now nearly 13 years so I let my UK driver's license expire. I'm returning to the UK in a few years and now I'm completely freaked out that I'll have to retake the test. I'm reading that people who have been driving longer than me are needing that many lessons and that many re-tests have me sweating. Is the exam really that hard now?!

Are you sure you'd have to retest and can't just renew?


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It's really a very individual thing.  Some people haven't driven a manual before, so learn that in order to get a full license.  Most of us just have to learn to break "bad" habits.  Then there are things that are 100% out of people's control that will cause you to fail.  I wouldn't worry too much but I would also have a refresher lesson or two before you take the test.

Offline Karlee

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2017, 03:02:32 PM »
Got my Ohio driver's license when I was 17 in 2005. I passed my UK practical last October, first time. I've been driving in the UK since December 2015, so I had 10 months driving experience here when I took the practical. There are some big differences between UK and US driving! There are many UK driving techniques, and you need to do them to a T on the test so you can pass. Your instructor should teach you all these. Agree that it's all about just passing the test, and there are things on it that you may never need to consider in real life driving. I had the reverse around corner maneuver (which I messed up and got a minor for, BTW), and I would never do/see the point of that in real life! 

I also went through two instructors before I found "the one." It's important to find someone you mesh with. One of the instructors was impatient and acted like he didn't want to be there, actually knocked my driving confidence a little. Didn't put up with that very long, and swiftly moved on to the next instructor.

I'd never driven manual in my 10 years of driving and was a very nervous driver over here anyways, so I went with automatic. Husband really tried to convince me to go manual and gave me a few lessons, but I knew it just wasn't for me... but, if you're comfortable with manual I say go for it.

I had about 11 one hour lessons total. I also took my test in a town I knew fairly well (which coincidentally has a better pass rate than other surrounding areas), and I took the test and last few lessons in my own car since that was what I was most comfortable with. I just needed to check with my insurance to make sure I was insured for a driving test and lessons. I had a friendly examiner and I'm pretty sure I got one of the easier test routes, so I think those things worked in my favor too.

I'd recommend getting started on the process ASAP, since it takes a while. Time flies! For 2 months I couldn't drive on my own since I had been here for a year (arrived Aug. 2015 and started driving that December). Taking the bus to work everyday for those 2 months was not fun!
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Offline lorenausuk

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2017, 03:18:23 PM »
I find it curious when people say you have to drive to "pass the test". What does that mean exactly? I own a manual car in the US, I still reverse around corners and into parking bays. I still drive with both hands at the wheel and run the wheel through as I was taught. I guess I must be an oddball but so does my husband.
I have a teenage son who has taken lessons here in Texas and I'm appalled at how bad he and his friends drive and they've done well enough to pass the test! Interestingly, neither my son or his friends can parallel park or reverse into bays never mind drive my car. I'm very glad I learned to drive in England.


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Offline ksand24

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2017, 03:20:39 PM »
I've been in the US now nearly 13 years so I let my UK driver's license expire. I'm returning to the UK in a few years and now I'm completely freaked out that I'll have to retake the test. I'm reading that people who have been driving longer than me are needing that many lessons and that many re-tests have me sweating. Is the exam really that hard now?!

As far as I know, UK driving licences don't officially expire until you're 70 years old. You just need to update the photo on it every 10 years (it's only the card itself that expires, not the licence). However, it is illegal to drive on an expired photocard licence, so you have to have a valid 10-year card to drive in the UK.

But just doing some Googling, it says that if it has been expired for more than 2 years, you may have to retake the test. However, it looks like this is usually only required if it has expired due to age (you're over 70) or for medical reasons.

Otherwise, you should just be able to apply to renew it as normal, though you'd need to explain why it has been expired for so long (http://www.yourdrivinglicence.co.uk/what-happens-if-driving-licence-has-expired.html).

As I understand it, the dates on the front of the licence are just the validity of the 10-year photocard. On the back, it will state the date you passed your test and the date the licence actually expires.

So, my current licence card (I'm on my second one) states:

Front of card :
4a. 28/04/10 (Licence valid from)
4b. 27/04/20 (Licence valid to)

Back of card:
10. From: 09/08/01 (which is the date I passed my test)
11. To: 30/05/53 (which is the day before my 70th birthday)
See: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/photocard-driving-licence-explained

Offline ksand24

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2017, 03:28:19 PM »
I find it curious when people say you have to drive to "pass the test". What does that mean exactly? I own a manual car in the US, I still reverse around corners and into parking bays. I still drive with both hands at the wheel and run the wheel through as I was taught.

It means you have to do certain things at certain times, when they expect you to do them.

I doubt the test has changed that much since you took yours (I did mine in 2001 and I don't think it's much different now), so it would just be a case of refreshing your memory on exactly how they expect you to do everything.

For example, things like:
- when you check your mirrors
- how often you check the mirrors
- how much you move your head when you check them (i.e. so that it's obvious you're doing it).
- the speed you go when you reverse around a corner
- how much you turn the steering wheel when you do it (by how many degrees of a circle)
- when during the manoeuvre you turn the wheel
- how many inches you are away from the curb as you reverse.
- the timing of when you put your turn signal on
- when you should use the handbrake and when you shouldn't
- the speed you should be going at when you change gear
- which gear you should be in at which speed
- where in the road you should be when you go around a roundabout
- the position of your car in the road when you turn left or turn right

Offline lorenausuk

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Re: Driving test
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2017, 03:30:35 PM »
Ksand24--Thanks for all that info. Neither the husband or I have photo card driver's licenses. We still only have the paper ones. The photo card licenses came into effect in 98 or 99 but it wasn't "enforced" until 2003 and by that time, we didn't have a car anymore so we didn't get one. I wonder if we can just turn them in to DVLA when we get back and get a new photo card.


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