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In the driving test, the tester is looking for:

  • Safe, competent, smooth driving with good and accurate observation. Proper timing and use of all mirrors. Put another way, the tester is looking for 'cop on' safe driving without any gimmicks. FACT
  • The tester is not looking for a fault free drive. If you can provide one, all the better. However, if there is a pattern of repeating the same fault, this will lead to failure. If you commit a single fault which is dangerous, potentially dangerous or illegal, this will obviously lead to failure. FACT
  • The straightest line of drive is the best line. Do not weave in and out between parked cars if the way ahead is clear. This will lead to failure for incorrect road positioning. FACT
  • If there are no obvious hazards ahead maintain a position of about one metre from the kerb while on the straight or on bends. Move out early for parked vehicles or other hazards (e.g. children on the footpath etc.), signalling if necessary. FACT
  • Apply the handbrake where necessary i.e. on hills or when stopped for any length of time at traffic lights, in traffic or at stop signs etc. FACT
  • Maintain reasonable progress. A good driving instructor or a tester is not impressed by a slow 'dawdling' drive. If it is legal and safe to drive at 40, 50 or 60 km/h then do so. Do not 'hang-about' at junctions if it is safe to go especially at open junctions. FACT
  • It is much more efficient and safer driving to stop at traffic lights or stop signs etc. in the gear you are in without changing down through the gears. Modern cars do not need the 'reverse thrust' of the engine to slow the vehicle down. We suggest stopping in third gear if driving a diesel car. FACT
  • A good driver should be able to drive a car smoothly, i.e. when changing gear you should not cause a jerk to occur. Braking should be gentle and progressive and the accelerator should be used smoothly without 'jabbing'. Imagine you are carrying a bucket half full of water in the boot; except in an emergency situation, (or pot holes and ramps etc.) you should not spill any of the water. FACT
  • Good and accurate observation is an essential part of good and safe driving. When emerging at T-junctions scan the road you are about to enter as early as possible (early scanning, early planning) so that you know the way is clear. Never stare to the right when turning left either at T-junctions or at roundabouts. FACT
  • Follow the correct position when turning right or turning left. Take left turns tightly where possible. When turning right from a major to a minor road do not overshoot (i.e. ‘swan-neck’) or cut the corner. FACT
  • Checking the blind spots is an essential part of good driving. FACT
  • MSM - Mirror, Signal (if necessary) Manoeuvre. It is not the frequency of the use of mirrors that is important but rather the timing of the use of your mirrors. The left door mirror tends to be under utilized by many drivers. Failure to use the left or right door mirrors before turning left or right respectively, will lead to observation faults. FACT
  • React correct to hazards. This means that you should not under react or over react. Read the road ahead and avoid getting yourself into awkward situations. Never complicate the situation for yourself or for other road users. Watch the pedestrian who is about to press the pelican crossing button; look out for the child who may follow the ball which is either moving or stationary. FACT
  • Make sure your vehicle is in roadworthy condition. All your lights should be working, especially all your brakelights and indicators. FACT
  • You must be able to demonstrate easily that you know where all your vehicle controls are. Many experienced drivers do not know where the rear fog light is. A tester will ask you questions on the vehicle controls as part of the test. FACT
  • Make sure you have a fully up to date insurance disc, tax disc and where applicable an NCT disc displayed with the correct registration number on each. It is your responsibility to ensure that these are in order - do not leave the responsibility of checking these to other family members or to your instructor. FACT
  • Make sure your tyres are in good condition and that the tread depth is above the TWI (Tread Wear Indicator) mark on each tyre. Also ensure that the air pressure is correct and that the walls of the tyres are in good condition. FACT
  • You must have a current provisional licence with you on the day of your test. No other document will suffice under any circumstances. FACT
  • The vehicle in which you are being tested must be registered in the Irish Republic and have an Irish Registration Number. It is absolutely in order for you to open a window, adjust the heater or operate any other relevant control during the course of the test. FACT

Test Myths

There are many myths surrounding the driving test, these are some of them:
  • A young male driver will not pass the test first time even if he is up to test standard... NOT TRUE
  • There is a quota system which allows a certain percentage to pass each week... NOT TRUE
  • A person will fail the test if they do not change down through the gears in sequence when stopping... NOT TRUE
  • You would fail the test for repeatedly block changing gears i.e. changing from 5th or 4th gear straight to 2nd gear even if it is the appropriate thing to do... NOT TRUE
  • You are more likely to fail the test driving your own (or family) car rather than a driving school car... NOT TRUE
  • You are more likely to fail the test in a luxury/more powerful/sporty car... NOT TRUE
  • First test on Monday or last test on Friday is the worst time for passing the test... NOT TRUE
  • You must check the mirrors more often than necessary to impress the tester... NOT TRUE
  • The tester must see you scan every side road, otherwise this will lead to failure... NOT TRUE
  • You may not cross the central white line without indicating... NOT TRUE
  • You must not cross your hands even when executing the turnabout manoeuvre... NOT TRUE
  • You must have both hands on the steering wheel when executing the reverse manoeuvre... NOT TRUE

Some of the myths are perpetuated by people who have failed the test, some have become part of driving test folklore and some are even being perpetuated by driving instructors. While you must be prepared for the test, the tester does not set out to fail you. As in any other walk of life, the majority of testers are pleasant and humane individuals, not sadistic demonic monsters! Standards among testers are generally consistent. Most testers much prefer to pass a candidate than fail them. Most testers will try to put you at your ease. They know that you are nervous and allowances are made for this fact, especially in the first few minutes of the test.