EP Training

Fri, February 16, 2024

HGV 3A Test: Essential Guide for Success

HGV 3A Test: Essential Guide for Success

In November 2021, the Driver and Vehicle Services Agency (DVSA) introduced a significant change to the practical driving test by dividing it into two parts. The first segment, Module 3A, focuses on off-road maneuvers. In this discussion, we will provide comprehensive insights into the Module 3A off-road maneuvers exercise, covering its mechanics, associated costs, and relevant regulations.


Understanding HGV Module 3a



Explaining the significance of Module 3a in the HGV testing process


After the Covid lockdown, the government implemented a series of significant changes to the process of acquiring an HGV license. These changes, introduced in November 2021, included granting automatic entitlement to the car and trailer (BE), allowing direct progression to CE without passing the Cat C driving test, and the division of the DVSA HGV driving test. The primary aim of these measures was to address the chronic driver shortage by simplifying the acquisition of HGV entitlement. While many in the training industry initially viewed these changes as unnecessary and potentially complicating, they were nonetheless implemented.

Previously, the HGV driving test consisted of a single assessment, incorporating both "tell me" and "show me" questions, off-road maneuvers such as reversing and uncoupling/re-coupling exercises, and a one-hour on-road driving test. However, post-November 2021, the Module 3 driving test was divided into two distinct parts. Module 3A focuses on off-road maneuvers, while Module 3B assesses on-road driving skills.




Overview of the skills assessed in the reversing test



For Cat C trucks, the off-road reversing exercise involves maneuvering the vehicle around a cone in an S shape and stopping the rear of the truck within the designated hatched markings, simulating a loading bay. This exercise is relatively straightforward, requiring basic reversing skills.

The same off-road maneuver is required for CE candidates but with an additional challenge. CE candidates must also uncouple and recouple the trailer from the unit. While the Cat C exercise is relatively easy and requires minimal practice to master, the CE exercise is more complex. CE candidates need to reverse a trailer in addition to coupling and uncoupling it, making it a more challenging task.  


Differences between Module 3a and Module 3b



The Module 3a reverse test, conducted off-road, costs £40 through the DVSA, while the Module 3b on-road driving test is priced at £115. It's important to note that VAT is not applicable to these driving test fees..


Cost and Duration of the HGV Module 3a Test



Examining the typical cost associated with Module 3a testing


The test fee for Module 3a is £40, but it's essential to undergo formal training for this part, which will include additional costs. Typically, the reverse part of the Module 3a test will be arranged by your training provider, usually scheduled in the same week as your driving test. Keep in mind that practical truck training can be quite expensive, so be prepared to invest a significant amount. Prices for training may vary based on your existing experience and the training company you choose. It's advisable to compare prices from different providers to ensure you're not overpaying for the services.


Understanding the duration of the reversing test


During a 3A off-road driving test, candidates are allotted a maximum of 30 minutes to complete the exercise. With proper tuition, candidates aiming for a Cat C license typically complete the exercise within 5 minutes, while those pursuing a CE license may take up to 15 minutes..


Tips for Passing the HGV Module 3a Reversing Test


Practical strategies for improving reversing skills


The key to success in the reverse test lies in your initial positioning. You should aim to be as close to cone A as possible, ensuring that you clear the yellow line (curb). Once you've established a good starting position, the rest of the maneuver should fall into place more smoothly. It's essential to maintain excellent visibility throughout the maneuver, which includes regularly checking in front of you, monitoring the sides, and making effective use of mirrors.


Preparing mentally and physically for the test


Driving tests often evoke nervousness in people, but for the 3A test, there's typically no need to worry excessively. With proper instruction, the 3A test should be a straightforward procedure. In the event of failing the 3A reverse test, it's possible to retest the following day. However, it's important to note that passing the 3A test is a prerequisite for taking the 3B on-road test. Failing the 3A test means you cannot proceed to take the 3B test. 


Practice and Preparation Resources


Your 3A training and testing will typically occur concurrently with your general driver training. Your training provider should arrange sufficient training and testing sessions for you. However, not every training company has its own dedicated "off-road" 3A testing center. EP Training is one of the few that operates its own driving test center, where you'll receive training from their instructors and be tested by examiners on-site. It's important to note that many companies do not have their testing centers, so it's advisable to research and compare options before committing to any training company. Additionally, EP Training has produced various instructional videos on YouTube covering the reverse exercise, which can be beneficial for learners.



Overview of HGV Reversing Exercises



Detailed explanation of common reversing exercises included in the Module 3a test


There is only one reverse maneuver that must be carried out during the 3A test. The exercise simulates an HGV driver reversing in an S shape and stopping the vehicle precisely within the designated loading bay area. Failure to stop within the loading bay will result in a test failure. It's crucial to stay within the yellow lines during the maneuver as they represent curbs, and mounting curbs is not permitted.




Tips for mastering each exercise and avoiding common mistakes


The best advice is to ensure proper initial positioning, take your time, and maintain excellent observation throughout the maneuver. It truly is that straightforward. Lastly, remember to concentrate and stay focused on the task at hand..


Importance of understanding vehicle dimensions and blind spots during reversing maneuvers


The reverse area will be tailored to match the size of the truck you will be using for the 3A test. 



Test Changes and Updates


Once you pass the 3A test, the examiner will issue a certificate confirming your success. This certificate remains valid for 6 months. Therefore, if you were to fail the on-road 3B test within this 6-month period, you would not be required to retake the 3A test during that time. 



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



What is the duration of the 3a test?


The 3A off-road driving test is limited to 30 minutes, although you should not need anywhere near that time.


Do you reverse on a HGV test?


Yes, the driving test is now split into two parts, and each section must be passed to obtain an HGV license. The 3A off-road test must be taken and passed first, followed by the 3B on-road test.


How do I get better at reversing HGV?


Practice, practice, and maybe even more practice. Repeatedly practicing the maneuver will help improve your skills and confidence in reversing HGVs. 




It seems you're expressing frustration with the recent changes in HGV driving test regulations, particularly the addition of the 3A test. This change has led to increased complexity and costs for both training companies and customers. However, EP Training has invested significantly to provide candidates with the best facilities and service for the 3A testing. While these changes may be challenging, EP Training aims to offer a clear and efficient testing process for candidates. 


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