Learning to drive

Information on getting a provisional driving licence, learning to drive and the driving test. 

Most people can't wait to be old enough to drive. But before you start planning the road trip you'll need to sort out a provisional licence, driving lessons and pass your test. It's a long process, but it's definitely worth it in the end!

How old do I have to be to drive?: 

Before you can start learning to drive you must be aged 17 or over and have a provisional driving licence.

Getting a provisional driving licence: 

You can apply for a provisional licence up to three months before your 17th birthday. If you do apply for your provisional licence before you're 17 then you will still have to wait until your birthday before you can take your theory test.

You can apply for a provisional licence online at the Gov UK website. You’ll need a credit or debit card (ask your parents/guardian if you don't have one) as a provisional licence costs £50.

To get your first provisional driving licence online for a car, motorcycle or moped you must:

  • Be a resident of Great Britain,
  • meet the minimum eyesight requirements,
  • Not be prevented from driving for some reason,
  • Have a valid UK passport or other form of identification, 
  • Be able to provide addresses for where you've lived for the past 3 years.

For more information on making an online application visit the page on 'Apply for your first provisional driving licence'.

If you prefer you can pick up an application form from your local Post Office.

Learning to drive: 

Until you pass your test you must:

  • display ‘L’ plates on your car whenever you drive.
  • have someone with a full driving EC licence to supervise you. They will need to be over the age of 21 and have at least three years of driving experience.

Learning to drive can be expensive but it’s well worthwhile to invest in some driving lessons. Shop around and ask friends about the costs of different driving schools.

You can sometimes get discounts on your driving lessons with your Young Scot card, see the Discount section for more information.

The driving test: 


Once you’ve had enough lessons and your instructor thinks you’re good enough to take your driving test, you can sit your theory test. It’s made up of two parts:

  • a multiple choice part,
  • a hazard perception part.

If you think you're ready, you can book a theory test on the Direct Gov website.

Once you've passed the theory you can then book your practical test. You can do this on the website.


Once you have done the theory test comes the practical part of the test. This starts with an eyesight check and some vehicle safety questions. Once you've done that the you will have to drive! This usually lasts about 40 minutes.

As part of the test you will have to complete one exercise from: 

  • reversing around a corner, 
  • turning in the road,
  • reverse parking. 

You may also be asked to carry out an emergency stop exercise.

Your practical will contain 10 minutes of ‘independent driving’. At anytime in your test your driving instructor will ask you to drive independently to a particular location. You will be asked to follow either traffic signs, a set of verbal directions and diagrams, or a combination of both. 

Independent driving is not a test of your orientation and navigation skills but your ability to make decisions when driving. This includes deciding when it’s safe and appropriate to ask for confirmation about where you’re going.

Throughout your practical test your examiner will be looking to see that you can drive, position and signal well and that you have an overall safe standard of driving.

You can make up to 15 driving faults and still pass but if you commit one serious or dangerous fault you will fail the test.

Your instructor will let you know after the test if you have passed or not. If you've passed you will get a full licence sent to you and a certificate. If you have't passed, you'll have to wait at least another 10 days before you can sit another test. 

Booking your test: 

You can book both your theory and practical test online. Just go to the Gov UK - Driving website.

Learning to drive to kick start your career goals?

Young Scot Extra have teamed up with My World of Work to give away £1000 in travel prizes between 19th Jan -31st March 2015.  If you would benefit from £1000 towards driving lessons, or money towards your public transport until you pass your test then why not enter?  

Enter now