This part explains the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘when’ of the PDA.

How Does the Assessor Judge?

Driver and Vehicle Services has set a Driver Licensing Competency Standard which describes the components of driving in detail. The standard represents what the DoT expects of a competent driver.

During your PDA, the assessor will compare your performance to the Standard. To pass, you must make significant progress towards meeting the Competency Standard.

The assessor will look at the components of good skills and at how well you put the components together. The assessor checks during the driving tasks you perform as part of your PDA. They will look at how well you:

  • operate and guide the car
  • put the road rules into practise
  • fit in with other traffic
  • see and respond to hazards

How Does the PDA Work?

The PDA has 5 sections. During 3 sections you will follow directions and during 2 you will perform set exercises. The diagram below summarises how the PDA works.

PDA Site
Section 1: Follow Directions
Section 2: Exercise A
Section 3: Follow Directions
Section 4: Exercise B
Section 5: Follow Directions
PDA Site


When following directions, the assessor will be telling you when to turn and guiding you on the journey from the PDA site and back. When performing exercises, the assessor will explain what you have to do. You will have to decide the best way to execute. The exercises cover common driver tasks, such as finding somewhere to park.

The assessor uses ‘PDA items’ to judge performance. The PDA items list what you are expected to do. The assessor judges if you do what the PDA items require.

The assessor records by indicating ‘YES’ or ‘NO’. If the assessor writes something it doesn’t necessarily mean you have made a mistake.

Assessors are subject to regular auditing and training. If present, the auditor, trainer or trainee sits in the rear observing and recording the assessor’s role in the assessment.

What Happens at the End of the PDA?

When you get back to the PDA site the assessor tallies your score to see if you pass.

You need to perform consistently in the PDA. PDAs assess the ‘completeness’ of your driving and you won’t pass if you haven’t demonstrated important aspects of the skill.


The assessor will note that you have passed the PDA on the form and give you a copy.

Nobody’s perfect and even if you pass, you have likely made some errors. The assessor will tell you which areas of your driving did not meet the standard.

Your driving will improve as you gain more experience. Even after you pass you should continue to get as much supervised driving experience as possible.

If You Don’t PASS

The assessor will note you haven’t passed the PDA on the form and give you a copy.

The assessor will explain which areas of your driving did not meet the standard. The PDA form will clearly show where your performance needs to improve.

You will also get specific information on how to improve before you take the PDA again.

How Long Does it Take?

The driving part of the PDA will take around 35 minutes.

When you return to the PDA site your assessor will give you feedback.

If you are more than 5 minutes late for your PDA, you will not be assessed.

What Will the Assessor Look For?

During each section, your performance is assessed against 5 items. Some faults can cause you to fail. They include all offences for which demerit points apply while on a provisional licence, together with things that indicate you are not ready to drive solo. You will automatically fail if you:

  • drive without wearing a seat belt
  • speed
  • disobey a regulatory sign (e.g. stop sign)

What are the PDA Items?

The items against which your driving will be assessed are:

  • Flow - assesses how well you combine driving skills together
  • Movement - assesses whether you move smoothly when you drive the car
  • Path - assesses whether you pick the best track and stay on track
  • Responsiveness - assesses if you’re aware of hazards & respond appropriately
  • Look Behind - assesses if you use your rear view mirrors and check blind spots
  • Signal - assesses if you use let others know what you intend to do
  • Vehicle Management - assesses if you keep an eye on vehicle instruments while driving, use the steering wheel correctly and use the clutch/gearbox effectively

The first 3 items are the essence of the PDA. They look at how well you can combine all basic control skills. You need a lot of experience to do well on these items.

The 4th item assesses how you respond to what is happening around you. It is an important ingredient in taking care of your and others’ safety.

The final 3 items assess if you have developed basic routines that are ingrained habits.


Continue reading the How To Pass Your Driving Assessment Summary:

1. About The Handbook

2. Preparing To Drive On Your Own

3. A Quick Look At The Practical Driving Assessment

4. The Practical Driving Assessment Items

5. Are You Ready For The Practical Driving Assessment?

6. Conclusion

Check out the other resources available to help you pass the Practical Driving Assessment and get your provisional licence (Red Ps):