The Driving Test Marking Guidelines Explained

Have you ever wondered what the driving tester has on that tablet they use whilst out on a driving test? We get some expert advice from Ladybird Driving School

Those of you who have previously sat a test would have noticed them tapping the tablet when you have made a mistake but just what are they tapping and where do they get this marking system from? Well, they get this system from the Driving Fault Assessment Guidelines relating to the severity of driving faults plus guidance/advice from their Regionals Supervisor. 

These guidelines do not cover every possible situation which may arise and can be amended from time to time.

Based on these marking guidelines, the driving test marking sheet covers all of the necessary sections In which to evaluate your ability to drive and every test applicant should demonstrate that they have the required knowledge and skill and roadcraft to use the roads in a correct and courteous manner. 

Before explaining some of the most important marking guidelines we will break down the marking sheet first that the tester grades and apply the fault relevant to severity.

Within the Examiners tablet, you will find the digital marking sheet (MarkingScheme )  the following 18 sections make up the full marking sheet.


  • Rules/technical checks
  • Position
  • Observation
  • React to hazards
  • Mirrors
  • Clearance
  • Signals
  • Motorcycles
  • Courtesy
  • Alighting 
  • Progress
  • Vehicle control
  • Speed 
  • Traffic controls
  • Right of way
  • Reverse
  • Turnabout
  • Parking 


In demonstrating the above level a test applicant would need to use what would be best practice and ensure compliance with all relevant regulations and by not doing so would incur a driving fault recorded on the marking sheet by the tester. The tester will use all of their experience to assess the fault and grade it accordingly under the following headings.


Grade 1: Minor fault

Grade 2: More serious fault 

Grade 3: Dangerous/ Potentially Dangerous.


Failing the test happens when you receive,


1 or more grade 3 faults

4 of the same grade 2 faults for a single aspect

6 or more grade 2 faults under the same heading 

9 or more grade 2 faults overall.


Grade 1 faults don’t affect the result.


Double Marked


Driving faults are not double marked. For example, if on a test you hit the kerb on a left turn, a fault would be recorded here for position turning left and not steering.


Top 5 reasons within the marking guidelines that candidates fail.


  1. React promptly and properly to Hazards.


An applicant should show awareness by reading the road and traffic situation ahead and show an ability to react in an appropriate way. There will be times that you may have to deal with more than 1 hazard in a short space of time where you will have to show initiative and common sense while remaining calm and in control.


Examples of Reaction to hazard faults are,


  • Applicant brakes hard on approach to an amber light when they should have carried on
  • Applicant drives into or contributes to a bottleneck 
  • Applicant drives towards parked cars on the left and does not move out in good time to pass them.
  • Applicant turning right from a major road into a minor road and allows a vehicle who intends to emerge from the road to reverse out of the way.
  • Applicant makes exaggerated use of mirrors which distracts from forward observation 
  • Applicant splashes pedestrians with pools of water.
  • Applicant stops suddenly turning left on a slip lane by misreading the main lights.
  • Applicant hits the ramps with excessive speed.
  • Applicant fails to decelerate on approach in general to turns, traffic lights, roundabouts.




A fault will be recorded if an applicant doesn’t look sufficiently as required moving off, overtaking, changing lanes, crossing junctions, roundabouts, turning right, turning left,


Examples of Observation faults include,


  • Not looking around fully over the right shoulder on moving off from a stationary position
  • Full means fully over the shoulder not a sideswipe.
  • Not checking their right-wing mirror sufficiently before a right turn distinct lane change after chevron markings a mark will be recorded for observation changing lane or mirrors changing lane.
  • Insufficient observations before and while overtaking 
  • Insufficient observation crossing a junction
  • Insufficient observation on approaching and on roundabouts
  • Insufficient observation turning right or left 
  • Swan necking on a right turn and not checking to the side before completing the turn
  • Insufficient observation being the first in line moving off at traffic lights at a blind junction 
  • Insufficient looking to the left when turning right from at junction.
  • Most applicants are not observing correctly and are the number one reason applicants get marked on the test. Knowing how to look properly is crucial.


  1. Position


Applicant should normally drive reasonably close to the left-hand side and take up the correct position on approach to left turns, right turns and roundabouts. Basically every part of your test the position is monitored by the tester.


Examples of Position Marks are


  • Applicant drives for a distance in an incorrect position in the straight or on a bend a fault is recorded for position on the straight. An example would be driving too close to the kerb or driving too close to the centre white line.
  • Applicant crosses a continuous white line a fault is recorded for road markings 
  • Applicant weaves in and out between parked cars a fault will be recorded for position on the straight. Applicant drives in an incorrect lane.
  • Position in traffic lanes.
  • Applicant straddles in traffic lanes 
  • Position crossing junctions
  • Applicant continuing straight ahead at a cross junction should be close to the left or a fault is recorded for position at cross junctions.


Position at roundabouts,


Applicant Intends to take any exit 6-12 o’clock the approach should normally be in the left lane subject to road markings.


Any exit after 12 o’clock should normally be in the right lane.

A fault will also be recorded on hitting or mounting the kerb for position at roundabouts. 


Position turning right.

At a right turn the approach should normally be just left of the central dividing line of the road.

The turn should be made around the centre point of the road which is being entered. 


Examples of incorrect position turning right faults include


  • Cutting the turn too early or too soon
  • Swan necking or going too far past the point of turn 
  • Turning from the left-hand side of the road
  • Making a square right turn at at junction  


Position stopping


Applicant should stop in a safe position which does not inconvenience or delay other road users.A fault for position stopping would be recorded.


Examples of incorrect position stopping are 



  • Stopping on and blocking a junction
  • Stopping too far away from the kerb
  • Stopping too close to the vehicle in front
  • Hitting the kerb while stopping.



4 Clearance/Overtake Safely.


Applicant should allow sufficient clearance to pedestrians, cyclists, stationery vehicles, other objects or a fault may be entered as clearance


Examples of clearance faults include

  • Driving too close to parked cars
  • Arriving behind a parked car and attempting to overtake far too late
  • Not allowing extra clearance to cyclists or pedestrians on a wet or windy day.


Examples of failing to overtake safely include 


  • Applicant cuts in too sharply after overtaking 
  • Overtaking on a bend or hill or narrow road
  • Allowing too much clearance
  • Accelerating aggressively and erratically approaching the hazard to overtake.


5 Progression 


Applicant should make reasonable progress moving off, on the straight, overtaking, crossing junctions, turning right, turning left, changing lanes, and at traffic lights. A fault for progress will be recorded if progress is not adhered to.


Examples of progress faults include.


  • Applicant intends to turn right and waits at a stop line when the traffic lights are green and it’s clear to move forward into the junction.
  • Applicant waits at a stop line for a green arrow to come on when a full green light is showing
  • Applicant waits at stop line for a green light to come on when a green arrow or flashing amber arrow is showing for the direction to be taken.
  • Applicant doesn’t avail of a gap in traffic in order to turn right
  • Applicant stops too far back from the vehicle in front
  • Too slow on approach to turn left or right 


Whilst these are only a taste of some of the more important sections of the Driving test it is wise to understand what the tester needs to see overall.

The Internet is great for somethings but passing the test alone from videos online doesn’t really replace knowledge and experience of your own local area or an instructor who knows the business like no other. Practice is the only way to get to the required level to pass the test.

We will be back next month with our next instalment of #LearnWithLadybird but in the meantime check out some info about us here

30th September 2019

Author: wheelsforwomen

Ireland's only website for women on wheels - cars, motorbikes, bikes. Video/ reviews, driving tips - written by women for women.

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