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Driving test

Probably the most nerve-wrecking 40 minutes ever


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in education


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You've passed your theory test, spent a fortune on lessons, and after much anxiety the big day has finally arrived. Your driving test. Eek. SpunOut explains the whole process in more detail below.

In Ireland, driving tests are carried out by the Road Safety Authority. You must do a driving test in order to get a full Irish driving licence.

How much does the driving test cost?

The cost depends on the category of vehicle you are taking the test in. Most categories cost €85.

How to apply for the test

You can apply online for the test at rsa.ie. Alternatively, you can post the form and fee to the RSA. The fee must be in the form of a crossed cheque, money order or bank draft. Forms are also available at local motor tax offices.

Who is eligible for the test?

  • You must have held a learner permit for at least six months before doing the test. This is known as the six month rule.
  • You must have a suitable roadworthy vehicle to do the test in. If you pass your test in an automatic car, you will only be legally qualified to drive an automatic car.
  • Your car will need to be insured. You must also have an up-to-date motor tax disc, and a valid NCT disc if required.
  • You may need to have completed an Essential Driver training (EDT) course, depending on when you first got your provisional licence.

How to prepare for the test

  • Take lessons with a qualified driving instructor.
  • Study the Rules of the Road booklet.
  • Study the Preparing for your Test booklet.
  • Practise driving as much as possible. Make sure to practise in both heavy and in light traffic. Also, make sure to practise driving at night. You will need to have experience in all these types of situations in order to pass your test.
  • Make sure that you feel confident about your driving abilities before booking a test.
  • If you have a disability, make sure to notify the RSA in advance of doing the test.

Applying for the test

  • Driving tests are allocated on a first come, first served, basis. The average waiting time from application to test is currently ten weeks.
  • Applying online allows you to pick an appointment slot if some are available at the time of application.
  • If you cannot choose a slot online, you will get sent notice of your test at least one month beforehand. The letter will state the date, time and venue of your test.  It will also give you information on how to cancel a test.
  • You will generally be tested at the place you indicate on your application form.
  • You can apply for your test to be done through Irish if you are an Irish language speaker.
  • You are entitled to have an interpreter with you for the oral part of the test if you are deaf or have hearing problems.
  • Make sure to arrive early for your test. The test will not be conducted if you are at all late. You’ll have gone through all the stress of preparing for it for nothing. Plus, you may not get your application fee back.
  • Before the test begins, the driving tester will check your learner permit to make sure that it is yours and not someone else’s. They will also check that the permit is in-date and is for the right type of vehicle.

What happens during the test?

The driving tests last about 30 to 40 minutes.

  • Driving testers will generally not comment or advise you on any aspect of your driving. So don’t be put off by the fact that they are so quiet.
  • You will be asked questions about the rules of the road and will have to reverse around a corner, make a u-turn on a road, do a hill start and use hand signals.
  • You will drive about five miles in a variety of road and traffic conditions and will be examined on your ability: to drive in traffic, to stop when reversing round a corner, to turn and face the opposite direction from where you started and to move off after stopping or idling in traffic. Your use of mirrors, your ability to overtake others, your speed and your compliance with the rules of the road will also be assessed. Finally, your use of the clutch, brakes and other controls will be assesed, as will your use of your wipers and de-misters.
  • Try not to worry if you make a mistake. Most people will make some mistakes in their tests, and many of these people will pass.
  • If you pass the test, you will be issued with a Certificate of Competency. You will then need to exchange this certificate for a full licence at your local motor tax office. You must exchange this certificate for a license within two years after getting it. Otherwise, you will be required to sit the test again.
  • If you do not pass the test, you will be given a report detailing the reasons why you failed. The tester will also talk to you about why you failed.
  • If you feel that you were unfairly failed, you may officially complain by appealing to the District Court under Action 33 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961. If the court finds that the test was not conducted properly, you will be offered another test free of charge.

Cancelling an appointment

  • If you can’t come to the test centre due to bad weather or road conditions, you should try to contact the centre as soon as possible.
  • You will not lose your driving test fee if you give notice at least ten days in advance and have not cancelled more than two times before.
  • You can cancel through the Driver Testing online application system.
  • In rare cases, the centre may need to cancel your test. This only happens in exceptional circumstances and is usually due to severe weather or a tester being suddenly absent.

The driving test may be daunting, and it may seem like there’s a lot to learn but with practice and a positive attitude, you can do it. Good luck!

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Published July 12th, 2013
Last updated November 28th, 2016
Tags driving driving test
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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