Driving test ‘show me, tell me’ questions: top tips

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Credits: Matt Vosper
1 Feb, 2016 2:50pm

The ‘show me, tell me’ questions assess driving test candidates on vehicle safety checks before you even start the engine

The UK’s roads have never been busier with more traffic and more complex road layouts making driving more of a challenge than it’s ever been before. These changes have been reflected in the driving test, which has developed to become more challenging in recent years with extra questions and components including the 'show me, tell me' questions.

The practical driving test 'show me, tell me' section has changed from a few informal questions to a recognised part of the test. The questions are asked in order to check that the learner driver knows about basic vehicle safety checks before they go out on the road. After all, It's important that you can do more than just drive a car. 

'Show me, tell me' questions are asked at the start of every practical driving test. Two questions are posed, normally one of each type - for example; ‘show me where you would check the oil level for the car’, and ‘tell me how you would check the brakes are working before you set off’.

We take an in-depth look at the show me, tell me’ section of the practical test below. Scroll down for a more detail on what the questions are and which ones you’re likely to be asked.

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What are the ‘show me, tell me’ questions? 

The examiner will ask the candidate two questions. The ‘show me’ question, as the title suggests, involves asking the candidate driver to show them how and where on the car they would carry out a particular safety check. 

Following this, as you can probably guess, the ‘tell me’ questions consist of explaining to the examiner how you would carry out the safety check. Some of the questions contain both show me and tell me elements but they all follow the same theme.

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If one or both of these questions are answered incorrectly, a driving fault will be marked against the candidate in the same way as in the practical test itself. 

The questions are changed by the DVSA (Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency) from time to time, with the current set having been put in place in July 2008. There are 19 ‘show me, tell me’ questions in total but you’ll only be asked two on your test.

Questions can be as simple as; “show me how you would check the horn is working” or more complex. We’ve included a few examples from the DVSA guide below…

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Show me, tell me questions: examples

1. Show me how you would check that the direction indicators are working.

Apply the indicators or hazard warning switch and check all indicators are working.

2. Show me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you would know the main beam is on.

Operate switch (with ignition or engine on if necessary), check with main beam warning light.


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3. Open the bonnet, identify where you would check the engine oil level and tell me how you would check that the engine has sufficient oil.

Identify the dipstick/oil level indicator, describe how to check the oil level against the minimum/maximum markers.

4. Tell me how you would check that the brakes are working before starting a journey.

Explain that the brake pedal should not feel spongy or slack. Brakes should be tested as you set off. Vehicle should not pull to one side under braking.

5. Tell me how you would check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road.

There should be no damage, cuts or bulges. There should be a minimum of 1.6mm of tread depth across the central ¾ of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire outer circumference.

6. Tell me how you would check that the headlights and tail-lights are working (no need to exit the vehicle).

Operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary), then walk around the vehicle. As this is a ‘tell me’ question, there is no need to physically check the lights.

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Five top tips for driving test ‘show me, tell me’ questions

  1. 1. ‘Show me’ questions will require you to physically demonstrate to the examiner how to carry out a particular vehicle safety check.
  2. 2. ‘Tell me’ questions are ones where you must explain what you would do, NOT to act it out as in the ‘show me’ questions.
  3. 3.  Some questions can be similarly worded – make sure you revise the questions and answers – there are 19 of them.
  4. 4. Be as detailed as you can when responding to a ‘tell me’ question – it shows the examiner you know what you are talking about.
  5. 5. Talk the examiner through what you are doing when responding to a ‘show me’ question – it shows you are confident in what you are doing, and might even help you remember.

Have you encountered the 'show me, tell me' questions on your driving test? let us know your top tips in the comments section below...

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