Driving Lessons

Cowley’s School of Motoring

Newton Abbot Driving Test Tips

Top tips to help you pass your driving test in Newton Abbot

Let’s start by looking at some tips for the driving test in Newton Abbot, before moving on to general tips for passing your driving test. Now there is no magic bullet for how to pass your driving test, the key will always be lots practice and learning with your instructor and waiting until you’re ready before taking the driving test.

Having said that why not try and gain a bit of an advantage and learn some key places that might catch you out on your test.


Roundabouts on Newton Abbot Test Routes

There are lots of roundabouts on the Newton Abbot test routes of all different shapes and sizes. The main point here is to learn to be comfortable with roundabouts in general, but some key roundabouts to know about are Penn Inn roundabout (click here for our detailed explanation on Penn Inn Roundabout), Wear Barton roundabout, Balls Corner roundabout (near B&Q) and the roundabouts near the Willows in Torquay. For more detail on all of these roundabouts check out our roundabouts page.

Tricky Junctions
No Entry Junction in Newton Abbot

This No Entry junction on Knowles Hill Road in Newton Abbot has caused many a learner heartache. The key here is forward planning and awareness. So spotting the signs and road markings and deciding how to act in time.

I also believe the psychology of the test plays a part here. There is an element of you seeing the sign but not being sure you need to turn right because the examiner hasn’t told you to.

At the start of the test the examiner will ask you to “follow the road ahead at all times unless road markings or signs tell you otherwise.” This is one of those moments, so the examiner won’t say anything and expect you to see the No Entry signs and then turn right.

Junction Near Newton Abbot Test Centre

This tricky junction near the Newton Abbot test centre has some stange angles on approach, lane splits, and lane changes. All things you will want to practice as it’s so close to the test centre. Check out the video to see how it’s done.

Staggered Traffic Light Crossroads

This staggered crossroads at the bottom of Abbotsbury Road in Newton Abbot is a little confusing. It works the same as normal crossroads but as it’s staggered it can be easy to be unaware of the other cars.

When turning right you will need to give way to the oncoming cars (slightly over on the left due to the stagger). When turning left you will have priority however you will need to be aware as the other cars may not have realised they need to give way so approach with caution.

Unmarked Crossroads in Kingsteignton

This unmarked crossroads in Kingsteignton has caused lots of confusion to learners and qualified drivers. There are a couple of things to take into consideration here. One, don’t confuse the markings for the zebra crossing as markings for the junction and two, you will need to understand the rules for an unmarked crossroads. The Highway Code states that no one has priority at an unmarked junction. You therefore need to approach with caution and be prepared to give way to other road users.

Multi-lane Junction Near Torbay Hospital

This is a left turn followed by a right turn and getting the positioning correct is crucial. Quite often on this route you will be following sat-nav, but the examiner generally helps by telling you to also follow signs for the hospital.

As you turn left you will have 3 lanes to choose from. We are turning right at the next junction, so it’s important that as soon as we move into the road we keep right and aim for the right lane.

What to Expect on the Day of Your Driving Test

So the big day has arrived, after all those lessons, parallel parks, dual carriageways, ups and downs it all boils down to 35 minutes in a car with a stranger and a clip board. The nerves are probably kicking in by now and you’ve forgotten which pedal is which let alone how to use them.


It will be fine. The more prepared you are the better.

The more you know about the process the less scary the day will be and that’s what we can help with today.

Is there anything I need to do on the day before my test?

 Confirm the time with your instructor, make sure you are both turning up at the same time. Our driving instructors will book your test for you to save any confusion.

You will need to bring your provisional licence with you and your theroy pass certificate.


So the morning arrives and you’re getting jittery. Try to avoid watching a billion YouTube videos the night before on how to drive that will only serve to confuse you. They are great for learning but the night before the test it will just increase your nerves. If you want to check a particular topic that’s OK just don’t overdo it. (Check our YouTube Channel for all the information you will need.)

You’ve done the practice, you’re ready, you’ve got this.

 Maybe also take the time to revise your Show me and Tell me questions; being confident with these is an easy way to help calm the nerves.

 What happens once my instructor has picked me up?

 We tend to pick you up an hour before the test, this gives you time to get there and warm up those finely honed skills you’ve been working on. Before you leave your home check,


Whilst driving to the Test Centre, take the opportunity to ask any final questions you may have. We aim to get to the Test centre 10 minutes early. We’ll park the car up, engine off, one big deep breath and in you go.

 What happens when you get to the Driving Test Centre?

 You’ll take a seat in the waiting room and then remember that all that expert training you had will get you through the next 35 minutes. The examiner will come out and call your name. Up you get with confidence and say hello. They will ask to see your licence (no matter how bad the picture may be you do have to show them). You will then need to sign the test form or ipad declaring that the car you’re driving is insured and that you have lived in the UK for 185 days in the last 12 months.

This signature needs to match the one on your licence, so if you signed your licence a while ago when you were planning on becoming famous but have since changed your signature you will need to either change your licence or practice your old signature. Next, the examiner will ask if the address on your licence is your current address. This will effect what happens at the end of the driving test but we will get to that later, don’t panic if it doesn’t.

All good, the examiner is happy you are who you say you are and off you go outside. First they will ask you to read a number plate of a car at a distance of 20 meters. Wow that was easy! Let’s hope the rest of the test goes like that. On the way over to your car or when you get into the car they will ask the ‘Tell me question’. I’m sure you will have practiced these to death, which is great as nailing this question is a great way to calm your nerves and also set a good first impression with the examiner.

Eyesight check  and ‘tell me’ question done.

“Wow I’m breezing this, what next?”

The examiner will then check around the car for any safety issues. Don’t worry about this as your instructor will have checked these beforehand. Your examiner will then explain what is about to happen and what the Driving Test will entail.

 What will my driving test entail?

 It will last around 35-40 minutes and take in a variety of different roads. You will spend 20 minutes driving independently, this can be either following signposts or the sat nav. The examiner will set up the sat nav, you just need to follow the directions. You will also have to perform a reverse manoeuvre on your test, these include Parallel parking, Reverse Bay parking, Forward Bay parking and Parking on the right hand side of the road. Try not to worry about this if you’ve had the proper training these should be an opportunity to show off your skills to the examiner. Your “Show me” question will be asked whilst on the move, again if this has been practiced it should be a breeze and not anything you won’t be doing once you pass your driving test. The examiner will also ask you to pull over on the left on a few occasions. Don’t rush this, it’s not an Emergency Stop. 1 in 3 Driving Tests do an Emergency Stop this is not done without prior warning, the examiner will stop you beforehand to explain that he is about to ask you to perform it. That’s it. 35-40 minutes of driving a nice man/woman around your local area, nothing to be worried about really.

Will I get my result at the end of the driving test?

Yes, the examiner will give you your result almost immediately and also any feedback that is needed. They will ask if you want your instructor to listen to this. I believe this is always a good idea, whatever the result. If you have passed, your examiner will offer to take your licence and send you your nice new shiny pink licence in the post. This is definitely the best option, unless your address is wrong, in which case you will need to send it off yourself with your new address.

 Once I’ve passed, what’s next?

I would always suggest a motorway lesson and then enjoy the freedom of driving!


newton abbot driving test centre

Top 10 Reasons Learners Fail Their Test

  1.  Observation – Junctions
  2.  Mirrors – Changing Direction
  3.  Control – Steering
  4.  Junctions – Turning Right
  5.  Moving Off – Safely
  6.  Response to Traffic Lights
  7.  Moving Off – Control
  8. Position – Normal Driving
  9.  Response to Road Markings
  10.  Reverse Parking – Control


  1. Observation at Junctions

This isn’t a surprise that it’s at number one. It also follows on into the real world with over 1/3 of accidents being recorded as failure to look properly.

Obviously, everyone knows you need to look at junctions (including roundabouts), so what’s happening here?

Well part of the reason this is number one is because it includes a lot of different mistakes, where the cause may not have been observation, but the effect is lack of observation. Another reason is because observations at junctions/roundabouts includes a lot of judgement calls and the skill of judgement is one of the hardest skills to master as a learner, as one of the factors needed for this skill is experience.

  1. Mirrors – Changing Direction

This fault commonly occurs when learners are multitasking, this is normally due to starting your routines early enough or spotting the hazard early enough.

The best way to fix this issue is to practice good overall mirror use during your lessons, you should be using your mirrors without your instructors help on a consistent basis before you take your test.

  1. Control – Steering

First thing to note here is this is NOT because you were crossing your arms. The main reason these faults are marked are for hitting the kerb, getting too close to cars when steering around them, and mis-judging steering at junctions. Generally these mistakes are caused by lack of other skills like planning and judgement, steering just happens to be the effect of the problem.

  1. Junctions – Turning Right

These are faults that generally aren’t covered elsewhere but happen during a right turn at a junction/roundabout. The key here is recognise that turning right is trickier and throws up more complications, so make sure you practice them with your instructor.

  1. Moving Off – Safely

This is mainly caused by lack of a blind spot check or poor timing of the blind spot. It can also be a lack of judgment skill when deciding if it’s safe to go. Get plenty of practice moving off and don’t rush the process. Also, as you’re moving away always be thinking “where could the danger be?” For help on this check out our Moving Off and Stopping page.

  1. Response to Traffic Lights

The main causes for these faults are not spotting the red light, stopping unnecessarily at an amber light, not knowing how to deal with filter lights or turning right. This comes down to either a lack of planning or knowledge.

  1. Moving Off – Control

Stalling and rolling back! First thing to note here that this includes any move off not just from the side of the road. It’s also important to note that stalling and rolling back are not automatically fails. The fail comes from either the effect of the stall or the recovery from the stall. For example, stalling in the middle of a roundabout with a car coming towards you is likely to be a fail, whereas at the side of the road with nobody around won’t be.

  1. Position – Normal Driving

The main cause of this is being too far left or too right when driving. It can also be being in the wrong lane on a roundabout or the wrong lane on a dual carriageway. Check out our roundabouts page for more information.

  1. Response to Road Markings

The two main reasons for this fault are using the wrong lane when road markings have told you otherwise and stopping in a yellow box. I would suggest that these both come down to awareness and planning, which are both crucial skills to be practicing with your instructor.

  1. Reverse Parking – Control

Generally, these faults are marked for not finishing in a bay on the Bay Park, hitting the kerb on a Parallel Park or finishing too wide on a Parallel Park.

driving test marking form

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