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

The ‘show me, tell me’ questions are key to the driving test and assess a candidate’s ability to check a car

New drivers shouldn’t just be able to drive a car – they should also be capable of making sure it doesn’t break down and is safe. 

As a result, the driving test has evolved over the years to challenge drivers with questions and tasks to make sure they understand the basics of car workings and can carry out basic checks to ensure they will be reliable and safe for the road. This part of the test is called the ‘Show me, Tell me’.

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The questions are asked at the beginning of every practical driving test, so it’s important to get off to a good start by revising these carefully. Luckily there are only a few possible questions and they are easy to learn.

The examiner will ask you two things to prove your knowledge. One is a ‘show me’ question and the other is a ‘tell me’. The former needs you to actively demonstrate something, such as: ‘show me where you would check the oil level for the car’. The second just requires you to tell them how you would check something,  for example: ‘tell me how you would check the brakes are working before you set off’.

To help you pass easily and get your practical test off to a good start, we have taken an in-depth look at the show me, tell me’ section of the practical test. Scroll down for a more information on what the questions are and which ones you’re likely to be asked.  

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

As mentioned above, the examiner will ask the candidate two questions. The ‘show me’ question, involving asking the candidate driver to show them how and where on the car they would carry out a particular safety check. This question will be asked before you start driving. 

Following this, the ‘tell me’ question will be asked while you are driving. The examiner will ask you to explain how you would carry out a particular safety check. Some of the questions contain both show me and tell me elements but they all follow the same theme.

Should you answer incorrectly, you will be awarded one ‘minor’ point in the same way as in the driving test itself. You will be pleased to know that even if you get both wrong you still only get one minor. You are allowed 15 minors before you fail the test.

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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 14 ‘show me’ and seven ‘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… 

Show me, tell me questions: examples:

1. Tell me how you’d check that the brakes are working before starting a journey. Brakes should not feel spongy or slack. 

A: Brakes should be tested as you set off. Vehicle should not pull to one side. 

2. Tell me where you’d find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how tyre pressures should be checked.

A: Use the manufacturer’s guide, use a reliable pressure gauge, check and adjust pressures when tyres are cold, don’t forget the spare tyre, remember to refit valve caps.

3. Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.

A: The head restraint should be adjusted so the rigid part of the head restraint is at least as high as the eye or top of the ears, and as close to the back of the head as is comfortable. 

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

A: There should be no cuts and bulges, Minimum of 1.6mm of tread depth across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre, and around the entire outer circumference of the tyre. 

5. Tell me how you’d check that the headlights and tail lights are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle. 

A: Explain you’d operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary), then walk round vehicle (as this is a ‘tell me’ question, you don’t need to physically check the lights).

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6. Tell me how you’d know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system.

A: Warning light should illuminate if there is a fault.

7. Tell me how you’d check the direction indicators are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.

A: Explain you’d operate the switch (turn on ignition if necessary), and then walk round vehicle (as this is a ‘tell me’ question, you don’t need to physically check the lights).

8. Tell me how you’d check the brake lights are working on this car. 

A: Explain you’d operate the brake pedal, make use of reflections in windows or doors, or ask someone to help. 

10. Tell me how you’d switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you’d use it/them. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.

A: Operate switch (turn on dipped headlights and ignition if necessary). Check warning light is on. Explain when you would use them, according to the highway code rules.

11. Tell me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you’d know the main beam is on.

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

12. Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient oil.

A: Identify dipstick, describe check of oil level against the minimum and maximum markers.

13. Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid. 

A: Identify the reservoir, check level against high and low markings.

You need to open the bonnet and tell the examiner how you’d do the check if you’re asked question 12 or 13.

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

1. ‘Show me’ questions will require you to physically demonstrate to the examiner how to carry out a particular vehicle safety check.

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.  Some questions can be similarly worded – make sure you revise the questions and answers – there are 21 of them.

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. 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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