HGV Tests Part 2 (3a and 3b tests)

The 3a and 3b HGV tests

On 15th November 2021, the HGV driving test was split into two parts known as 3a and 3b. The 3a test covers the off-road exercises and 3b covers the road driving element. You must pass the 3a test before you can book the 3b test. The benefit of this is should you fail the off-road part of the test, you will not have wasted an expensive driving test fee and can retake the 3a part on its own.

Before your HGV tests

When the day comes, try to stay relaxed and just focus on remembering what you have been told by your Instructor. You should get the opportunity for a warm-up drive before the HGV driving test. If you make any mistakes at this point, it can be very unsettling. However, think of it like this: would you rather make the mistake just before the tests starts, or just after? Learn from any errors and move on. Likewise, if you have a perfect drive just before the test, don’t allow yourself to become complacent and too relaxed.

Pre-test nerves

Almost everyone feels nervous immediately before the test, so try not worry about things that might go wrong. Remember that Driving Examiners deal with anxious drivers every day, and are very good at spotting the difference between a bad driver and a nervous driver. To get yourself prepared for the HGV tests, we recommend the following steps:

  • Get a good sleep the night before the test. Try to avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon, it will help you sleep.
  • Eat a good, healthy breakfast – skipping breakfast can make it hard to concentrate.
  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water. Dehydration is known to cause difficulty concentrating.
  • Think positive – remember that the worst part is waiting for the test to start. Once it begins, your nervous energy will have something to focus on.

Things to take with you

Ensure that you have everything you need. We advise preparing everything the day before the test, so that you don’t need to worry about it on the day. For more information about what to take for your HGV driving test, click here.

At the Test Centre

Make sure you arrive with plenty of time so you are not unnecessarily stressed. When your allocated time arrives, your DVSA Driving Examiner will come and introduce themselves. You will need to show your Driving Licence (and may be asked for your Part 1 Theory Test pass certificate) and will be asked to confirm that your vehicle is insured and that you have lived in the UK for 185 of the last 365 days. Your Examiner will then ask you to lead the way to your vehicle.

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The 3a Off-Road Exercises Test

Reversing Exercise

You can find many demonstrations of this exercise on YouTube. Simply search for “Category C Reverse”, “Category C1 Reverse”, or“Category C+E Reverse”

Trailer Uncoupling Exercise

You can also find examples of this exercise on Youtube. Search for “Category CE Uncouple”

The 3b On-road Driving Test

Vehicle Safety Questions

You’ll be asked five vehicle safety questions, also known as ‘Show Me, Tell Me Questions.
Click here for the Full list of Show Me, Tell Me Questions

On The Road

The Driving Test is designed to assess your abilities when driving on a variety of different road and traffic conditions. Pre-defined test routes are created to ensure this and to make all driving tests fair regardless of where you go during the on-road driving section. You will be driving for at least 1 hour, during which your Examiner will ask you to complete some additional exercises.

Independent Driving

You will drive for approximately 10 minutes independently, following road signs or a series of directions. Don’t worry if you go the wrong way, providing you have done so safely then no fault will be marked. The most important thing is that you drive in a safe and controlled manner.

Controlled Stops

During the test, your Examiner will ask you to pull up and park on the left, before driving away. This exercise is designed to check you can safely stop your vehicle and move away again.

Instructor on test

If your vehicle is fitted with three seats, you may request to have your Driving Instructor present on the test. Some drivers feel more relaxed with a familiar person in the cab during their test. They will not be able to offer any assistance but will be able to offer advice after the test has finished.

Final words of advice

Try to relax and don’t worry if you feel nervous. It’s completely normal and providing you have prepared properly, you will have a good chance of passing the test. Good luck!

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Sections in the ‘Getting Your HGV Licence’ guide

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