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Your Guide to Passing your HGV Driving Test

HGV Training Centre

So, you’ve already decided that HGV driving is the future career for you. It’s easy to see why – competitive pay, flexibility and great experiences are pretty compelling advantages! You’ve done the training, the practice and the planning. Now it’s just the tests to get through.

You’ll already have passed standard driving tests – after all, you needed a full UK driver’s licence (ideally clean) to begin training. So you’ll have a bit of an idea about what’s ahead. It can take months to achieve your full Driver CPC, and there are more separate parts to the process than you will have experienced with a standard licence.

We have a selection of tips to get you through the process from start to finish.

Get the Theory Tests Under your Belt

With 5 parts to the full Driver CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence), two of these are ‘theory’ based. They are Part 1 test: theory and Part 2 test: case studies. You can apply for these tests as soon as you’ve received your provisional licence. Since your pass certificates from parts 1 and 2 are valid for 2 years, it’s a good idea to get them under your belt. In fact, there’s no reason not to be studying from the moment that you decide on your HGV driver career.

Understand the HGV Practical Tests

The third and fourth sections of the full Driver CPC are made up of off-road and on-road driving, and a practical demonstration. Part 3 is split into a) off-road exercises, and b) on-road driving. There is a sequence to the tests that you should be aware of in order to plan your test booking correctly.

You must have passed part 2 before you can take either the part 3a or the part 4 tests. You must have passed part 3a before taking the part 3b test.

During part 3 of the Driver CPC, you’ll be tested on vehicle safety, practical road driving, and off-road exercises. Part 3a will take around 30 minutes, and part b will involve an hour of driving after you have answered vehicle safety questions.

These key skills should be demonstrated during this section of your qualification:

  • Demonstrating awareness and anticipation
  • Using the controls in the vehicle
  • Using your mirrors frequently
  • Signaling correctly
  • Moving off at an angle (up and down hill)
  • Controling your speed
  • Dealing with hazards
  • Making controlled stops
  • Finding a safe place to stop
  • Reversing into a parking bay

It’s important to remember that your part b test must take place in the same category of vehicle as your part a test. Plus, you must pass part b within 6 months of passing part a, otherwise you’ll need to take part a again. So it’s worth being prepared and confident!

Part 4: What to Expect

As the final and most intensive test, Part 4: practical demonstration is probably the test that’s the most nerve wracking. However, once you know what to expect, it can feel less terrifying!

The test covers 5 areas of the CPC syllabus with 20 points available in each area. A pass requires a score of 15 in each topic area, which means a total mark of at least 80.

While you’re being tested, you should be able to demonstrate understanding and awareness in the following areas:

  • Performing a walkaround vehicle safety check and assessing emergency situations
  • Reducing physical risks to yourself or others, including prevention of illegal trafficking
  • Loading the vehicle following safety rules and keeping it secure

So, when you think about it, these things are pretty straightforward. As long as you remember your core skills below, your ability will be allowed to shine:

  • Distractions: Empty your pockets and make sure that nothing that could distract you is present in the vehicle during your test. All of your attention should be on driving as soon as you get into the HGV.
  • Blind spots: These can be a major issue for HGV drivers, so demonstrate regular checking, particularly before you start pulling out. Don’t forget that you can temporarily remove your seatbelt to check behind you when you’re reversing.
  • Mirrors: Your examiner needs to see evidence that you’re constantly aware of what’s going on around you. So you’re never too obvious in checking your mirrors. You should be checking approximately every 15 seconds, so it’s really not possible to overdo this in a test situation.
  • Awareness: Things like changing gears smoothly and in good time, and avoiding emergency breaking will form a good basis for your test. Keep the basics in check and the rest will come naturally.

Top Tips for Preparation

You will have practiced your driving for plenty of hours with your training provider before your practical demonstration. On the day, it often comes down to relaxation. Nerves are hard to manage, but use our tips for preparation to keep them in check:

  • Practice: Confidence improves with practice. Don’t rush into the test if you’re not ready. Think about asking your instructor to set some mock examinations with you leading up to the exam.
  • Arrival: Check that you have the correct documents and equipment ready to take with you. Your test provider will give you instructions on what you need to bring. You’ll generally need your theory test pass certificate, your photo licence and an HGV (if it’s not provided for you).
  • Destination: It’s important to arrive to your test on time or early. Check your route and even recce it beforehand to make sure you leave enough time.
  • Sleep: It’s important to be rested to perform at your best, as nerves are increased with tiredness. Avoid caffeine and get to bed early the night before your test.
  • Clothing: This might seem unusual, but it’s important to be comfortable while driving. Check the weather and dress in layers so that you don’t get too warm or cold. Wear sturdy shoes and avoid any clothes that are too restrictive.
  • Stay calm: You can have up to 15 minor errors, so try not to sweat the small stuff. Breathe, focus, and try to remain calm. The rest will look after itself.

Getting the Best Training

Passing an HGV driving test can seem like a daunting prospect. Especially when there are so many to get through! However, choosing the right training provider will immediately give you the best chance of success. Contact HGV Training Centre today to start preparing for your new career.

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