Whether you’re a fresh-faced 17-year-old or a silver fox fast-approaching pension age, your Northern Ireland driving test can be one of the most daunting experiences of your life.

In 2019-20 there were 55,400 driving tests conducted in Northern Ireland.

Thankfully, there was a 58% pass-rate.

But how do you join that exclusive club of over 1.2million people in Northern Ireland who have a full driving licence?

Preparation and calmness will help you pass your driving test.

Regardless of whether your vehicle is manual or automatic, the test is the same.

Here’s what to expect during your driving test.

At a glance:

There are several parts to the driving test: an eyesight check; ‘Show Me, Tell Me’ vehicle safety questions; general driving ability; and reversing your vehicle.

Tablets and tests

In 2020, examiners now use tablet devices during driving tests to input assessment information.

So if you catch your examiner inputting data don’t worry; it’s part of their job.

Even better, it means you can have your test results emailed directly to you.

Eyesight check

To be behind the wheel of any vehicle, you need to have good eyesight, so the practical driving test includes an eyesight check.

At the beginning of your test, the examiner will ask you to read a number plate on a stationary vehicle at around 20 metres away.

If you fail three separate attempts to read a registration plate, you will fail the test.

 ‘Show Me, Tell Me‘ – Vehicle safety questions

These necessary checks ensure your vehicle is safe to use.

It might include opening the bonnet to identify how to check fluid levels and the examiner will ask you a ‘show me’ question.

You might be asked to show your examiner how you would carry out a vehicle safety test and a ‘tell me’ question, where you explain to the examiner how you would successfully carry out the check.

If you give the wrong answer for one or both questions, you will be marked as having one driving fault.

General driving ability

Now that you’ve got your eyesight checked and the ‘Show Me, Tell Me‘ questions answered, it’s time to release the handbrake and follow the examiner’s directions.

All test routes in each city and town follow a similar pattern but the time of day of your driving test can pose different challenges, for example during rush hour or school finishing times.

Your examiner will ask you to carry out set exercises that you will already be familiar with from your driving lessons.

The examiner will ask you to follow a series of directions and traffic signs.

Reversing your vehicle

You’ll be under observation throughout the test of course, but you will also be asked to do some specific exercises such as reversing.

This could be reversing around a corner or turning in the road.

It could also include reverse parking on the road or into a parking bay.

And while not part of every single driving test, you may be asked to perform an emergency stop exercise.

What do I need to pass?

Your examiner will be looking to see if you’re up to an acceptably safe level of driving.

But don’t worry, you can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass your test.

Any more than that and you will fail.

However, if you make one serious or dangerous fault, you will also fail the test.

And breathe.

Your driving test is now over.

You will find out quite quickly whether you’ve passed or failed.

But whether it’s elation or deflation, listen to all the feedback.

If you’ve failed, it’s a good idea to ask your driving instructor to listen to the feedback too, so you know what to work on in future driving lessons to prepare you for attempt number 2 of your driving test.

If you’ve passed, congratulations!

And if you’ve provided an email address, your results will be emailed to you.

If you’ve passed, your licence will be issued automatically if appropriate.