How we’re helping driving instructors carry out realistic mock driving tests


We think that carrying out mock driving tests with your pupils can be really beneficial – particularly when they’re realistic. 

It can help to give your pupils a better understanding of what to expect when they take their test.  

So, we’ve published a new guide to help you carry out more realistic mock driving tests. 

Why we needed to create this guidance

This is the first time we’ve published guidance about carrying out mock driving tests. It’s exactly the type of thing I’d have found really useful during my years as an ADI.  

Acting on your feedback

Back in October 2019, we carried out a survey to find out what you think of mock tests, how you use them, and what support you wanted from us. 

You gave us some really useful feedback about what you’d like to see included in mock test guidance. We’ve published the full results of the survey if you want to take a look at what was said. 

You told us that: 

  • most of you carry out mock tests (96%) 
  • you agree that mock tests need to be more realistic (89%) 
  • you include all the important parts of the test – though not necessarily every time 

Interestingly, the data shows that: 

  • 5% of you give feedback after every fault 
  • 49% of you give feedback after your pupil makes a serious fault  
  • 47% of you wait until the end of the test to give feedback 

We’d recommend that you wait until the end of the test to give feedback, so that you can fully see how your pupil drives independently for 40 minutes. But if your pupil’s driving becomes dangerous during the mock test, stop it early and explain why you’ve decided to stop it. 

Learner drivers who fail their driving test think they’ve been marked too harshly

Over the last few months, we’ve also been asking people who did not pass their car driving test what they think was the main reason they failed.  

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The top reason they’re telling us is that they think they were marked too harshly. More than 1 in 5 have been saying this – 22.1% to be precise.  

So there’s clearly work for us to do together to help them understand how the marking works and only take the test when they’re ready.  

And about 1 in 10 say they failed because they were too nervous to drive well. We think that having experience of a realistic mock test might help reduce their nerves. We’ll be talking a lot more about driving test nerves in the coming weeks. 

It’s not about teaching to pass a test – it’s about assessing whether people are ready to drive on their own  

With 89% of instructors agreeing that mock tests need to be more realistic, and 1 in 5 learners thinking they failed their real test because they were marked too harshly, it’s clear that mock tests are really important.  

For you, they: 

  • help you to manage your pupils’ expectations and encourage those who need more practice to take extra lessons and delay their test if they need to  
  • can be used as a tool to help you to assess if your pupils are ready to drive independently and check their readiness for test 
  • help you to guide the learning process and focus future lessons on any faults they make under test conditions  

And for your pupils, they: 

  • allow them to see what will happen when they take their driving test  
  • allow them to get a better understanding of what they’ll be marked on 
  • help them understand the standard that’s needed to pass 

What we’re going to do next 

Later in the summer, we’ll launch a campaign to encourage learner drivers to make sure they’re ready for their driving test. One of the things we’ll be recommending to them is to talk to you about making sure they’ve passed a mock test before they take the real thing.  

Related:  How we are reducing car driving test waiting times: Part 1, more tests and examiners

We’re also going to do more research with people who have taken their driving test to better understand whether there’s a link between the test result and whether they passed a full mock test.  

6 things you can do next 

 1. Read the new guide 

The guidance will take about 45 minutes to read. I know it’s long and detailed – but we think that’s what it takes to make a mock test realistic.  

Read the guide about carrying out mock driving tests for your pupils. 

2. Join a webinar to learn more about mock tests 

We’ll be holding some webinars to offer you extra help and advice on carrying out realistic mock tests and advice on using the marking form.  

Don’t worry if you’ve never been to a webinar before. You’ll be able to see and hear me and the other presenters. Nobody will be able to see or hear you.  

You’ll be able to join us via your PC, laptop, tablet or phone. 

We’ll do a short presentation, and then we’ll give you the chance to ask any questions you have about mock tests. You’ll be able to type any questions you’ve got, and we’ll do our best to answer as many as we can during the session. If we run out of time, we’ll answer any other questions after the event.  

Dates for your diary 

The mock test webinars will take place on:

  • Thursday 30 June 2022 from 5pm to 6pm (fully booked)
  • Friday 1 July 2022 from 11.30am to 12.30pm
  • Tuesday 5 July 2022 from 5pm to 6pm
  • Wednesday 6 July 2022 from 5pm to 6pm (fully booked)

Sign up as soon as possible to secure your place.

3. Sit in and observe driving tests 

As well as reading the guidance and attending the webinars, I’d encourage you to sit in on your pupils’ driving tests (with their consent, of course). It’s one of the best ways to learn things like the timing to give between instructions and expecting your pupil to make a turn.  

Related:  What is causing the long driving test waiting times?

4. Buddy up with other instructors 

Another thing you can do is buddy up with another instructor to carry out mock tests for each other’s pupils. It can help make them more realistic by putting your pupil with someone they do not know well. 

The next time you’re in the waiting room at the test centre, have a chat about it with other instructors. Or check with your local driving instructor association to see if they can help buddy you up. 

5. Keep a record of this professional development 

And remember, all of this counts as continuing professional development. Whether you’re reading the guidance, joining the webinar or sitting in on tests to get a better understanding of how they work, it all counts. So keep a record of what you do.  

6. Give feedback on the guide 

Finally, we want to hear your feedback on the new mock test guidance. Towards the bottom of the guide, there’s a blue bar which asks, ‘Is this page useful?’ which you can use to give us feedback on the guidance. Please use this to give your feedback. 

We’d also like to hear from you about how you’re using the guide and any feedback that you get from your pupils.  

And if you’re interested in being featured in a guest blog post here on Despatch about how you’ve used the guidance, let us know in the comments and we’ll be in touch. 

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