Regardless of your level of skill and preparation, any learner driver will certainly feel the nerves leading up to their driving test. The idea of being examined after so much practice leading up to that moment can be daunting - and add to that the financial burden.

When assessing your driving, the examiner will be looking for faults in a variety of categories. As you may already know, these faults can be regarded as dangerous, serious or general driving faults. In order to pass your test, you can receive a maximum of 15 general driving (minor) faults, with zero serious or dangerous. However, a culmination of minors under the same category can result in a serious fault.

Here at McCluskey Driving Academy, we ensure that you will have the skillset to have the best chance of passing your practical test first time!

Let's take a look at some of the most common reasons for a failed test:

Junction Observation

Failing to carry out effective observation at junctions is the most common test failure and the most likely cause of accidents. It is vital to have a good look around before joining a new road. Don't forget to look extra hard for those cyclists or motorbikes as they can be less visible.

Not Using Mirrors Correctly when Changing Direction

You must always check your mirrors before signaling, changing speed or changing direction, Improper use of the 'MSM' routine (Mirrors, Signal, Manoeuvre) will result in a minor or possibly serious fault if it puts you or another road user in danger.

Top tip: Check what is behind, then check which side you want to go


Failing to Respond to Road Signs

Getting to your required destination safely involves identifying and processing all the available information around you, including road signs and road markings. These are in place to keep you and other road users safe. Examples of common faults include:

Not stopping at 'Stop' signs 

Driving in an active bus lane

Incorrectly positioned at a roundabout that has clear road markings stating the lane you should take

Failing to adjust speed when a sign indicates a new speed limit


Control during Manoeuvres  

During your practical test in NI, the examiner will assess your ability to perform one of the following; Turn in the road, Left reverse, Parallel park or Bay park. These manoeuvres require tight clutch control and good use of steering. Failing to do both of these together can often lead to hitting a kerb or improper position of the car

Top tip: Remember the phrase 'Slow feet, fast hands' and 'Up to go, down to slow' for controlling the speed of the vehicle. 


Poor Observation While Reversing

Reversing can be tricky as your view can be somewhat limited. For this reason, a full 360 degree check must be carried out before starting to reverse. This is often referred to as a '6 Point Check'. 

In addition, it is imperative that you look out the rear window as you begin to reverse as that is the direction you are travelling. A common mistake people make here is simply looking in the rear view mirror - where you have no peripheral vision.

Throughout the manoeuvre, continue to keep your head moving all around the car.

Remember the phrase: 'Head like an Owl'