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Taking your Module 2 motorcycle test explained

Motorcycle Test – Module 2

On the Riding Test Report given out by DVSA, the examiner can record a fault in any one of 43 different tick boxes for the Module 2 test.

You can fail for incurring one serious fault, one dangerous fault (which would result in the test being terminated early) or a combination of rider faults of which you are allowed up to ten (eleven faults would result in a fail). Consistent errors leading to four rider faults in the same box, however, will typically result in a serious fault, and therefore a fail. It is worth bearing in mind that, with some exceptions, the examiners tend to give two serious faults when they fail a candidate as this takes the result beyond dispute. So if you do make a mistake then try very hard not to make another, and there is a possibilty that you may get away with it. Very few examiners will fail a candidate on eleven rider faults alone – although some do.

Being judged to have committed a serious fault is the most common cause of failing the Module 2 test, and listed below are descriptions of the various ways that this might be done…

One of the first things you will be asked to do by the examiner during the test is to demonstrate that you can read a car number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres (with glasses or contact lenses if you need to wear them). This fault is easy to avoid by regularly checking your eyesight, and getting fitted with the appropriate corrective eyewear as required. If you can’t read the number plate the test will end there and then – i.e. a fail.

A fault in this box occurs if you demonstrate a lack of understanding of the Highway Code (and related safety issues). If, for example, you are riding on a dual carriageway and there is a sign showing that the lane you are in is closing, but you fail to react until prompted by the examiner, then this box may be used. It is, however, unusual for this box to be used to record any faults as they are often covered by other boxes elsewhere on the test report.

This box is rarely used as any faults are often put in other boxes. At the very start of the test the examiner will ask you to answer a variety of questions about the maintenance and routine checking of the motorcycle, and also some questions related to carrying a pillion passenger.  These are colloquially known as the “show me/tell me” questions.  A “show me” question will involve you touching the motorcycle, for example by checking the operation of the front brake.  A “tell me” question will involve you saying something to the examiner, for example describing how you would check the condition of the final drive chain. It is not possible to get a serious fault for answering these incorrectly (unless you rather ill advisedly say “I don’t know”), but you can be given a rider fault. You may regret this later if you get 10 other riding faults. See “show me, tell me” safety questions.

This is no longer part of the Motorcycle Test – Module 2. See Taking your Module 1 motorcycle test explained.

Happily, these all relate to reversing and therefore do not affect motorcycles (even if they are fitted with a reverse gear!).

Hurrah! hurrah! This pointless exercise is no longer part of the Motorcycle Test – Module 2. See Taking your Module 1 motorcycle test explained.

This category is used to mark faults resulting from things like forgetting to lift up the side stand, starting the motorcycle in gear or leaving the lights set to high beam. Typically, leaving the side stand down (once a rider fault, twice a serious fault) and gear faults occur after the U-turn and emergency stop exercises of the Module 1 test or at the very start of the Module 2 test. Forgetting to securely fasten your safety helmet at the start of either test is very much a serious fault!

This needs to be done safely and under control. Safely means doing adequate shoulder checks and not pulling out into oncoming traffic. Under control means using the correct gear and not stalling or swerving excessively. Slight lack of control normally only leads to a rider fault, whereas completely forgetting to look before you pull out, or if you cause another vehicle to swerve or slow-down, is most definitely a serious fault.

This is an unusual fault, but rider faults can be picked up for blipping the throttle unnecessarily (a bad habit that older riders tend to bring to their training due to early exposure to recalcitrant 2-stroke off-road bikes).

This is an unusual fault to be recorded as it is not that easy for the examiner to see if the clutch is being operated badly during gear changes unless you are obviously having difficulty riding smoothly (‘kangarooing’). Good clutch control, however, is fundamental to being able to ride a motorcycle safely. Poor clutch control often causes poor road positioning, where students attempt to swing widely in and out of junctions to avoid using slow control (swan necking), and the fault tends to be marked under ‘steering’. Likewise stalling is often marked under ‘move away safely and under control’.

This fault typically occurs when you attempt to pull away from a stationary position in a gear other than first. Normally this will incur a rider fault. The examiner will tend to look more deeply into this if s/he feels that this is a persistent problem for you. During your test if you find yourself being asked to pull over and stop several times the chances are that the examiner is concerned that you are failing to change down gear properly before coming to a halt. Stalling at junctions, or when entering a roundabout, is often caused by trying to pull away in the wrong gear. This will frequently be considered a serious fault as invariably you will have moved out into the road a short distance. Try to get down into slow control and first gear before stopping.

Effective use of the front brake is the subject of a great deal of scrutiny during the test. Ideally it ought to be applied before the rear brake during normal braking, and should be used with more bias than the rear brake. People who do not use the front brake at all, or only rarely, may not necessarily get a fault, however their ability to stop normally will be seriously compromised and this will be a fault. Remember – don’t use the front brake during slow control or when turning as this is a sure way of dropping the motorcycle. As a rule of thumb you should use the front brake in a straight line when the motorcycle is fully upright.

The most likely fault here arises by leaving your right foot resting on the brake pedal resulting in the brake light staying on. This could typically be considered a rider fault, but if you are inclined to do this often then it is very easy to rack up four of these faults during the course of the test, which can result in failure. Poor posture on the motorcycle or inappropriate footwear are the most common causes of this problem.  Try to let your feet splay on the footrests so that they fall comfortably to either side of the gear and rear brake levers. During normal riding the footrest should sit in the instep of your boot.

This is a very common fault and is generally caused by having poor machine control, for example not slipping the clutch, and not turning your head to look where you want to go. Most steering faults arise as the result of turning too wide into or out of junctions (swan necking). Depending on the severity, this can be a rider fault or a serious fault.  Poor steering is the sort of fault that will make an examiner look very hard at your ability properly to control a motorcycle. The more closely you are scrutinised the more likely faults will be spotted.

Different examiners can have different opinions as to how relevant this fault is. It is fairly safe to say that unless you totally lose your balance and drop the motorcycle then this fault in itself is unlikley to be regarded as a serious fault. Rider faults here, however, quickly add up towards the final score, and are mostly caused by dabbing your foot during pulling away or jabbing the front brake when coming to a halt.  You also need to demonstrate good slow control as when, for example, riding in slow moving traffic.

Probably one of the most common faults encountered during a test. There are really only five times that you will need to do an observation. These are, 1) speeding up (including pulling away), 2) before slowing down, 3) moving or turning to the left, 4) moving or turning to the right and 5) when there is the potential to slow down (such as when approaching traffic lights, or pedestrian crossings). If you forget anyone of these then you will get at least a rider fault, but changing lanes, for example, without doing an observation will often be considered a serious fault. Typically an observation (or lifesaver) will involve using both the mirror and a shoulder check (for the blind spot), however to keep updated using the mirrors on their own is adequate.

There are three related aspects involved with the use of your indicators (or, more rarely, any hand signals that you give).These need to be done 1) when necessary, 2) correctly and 3) at the right time. This is a very common area leading to test failure because this is where forgetting to cancel the indicator will be recorded. The likelihood of you getting a serious or rider fault will depend largely on whether or not you actually affected another road user at the time. A frequent cause of confusion with signals is whilst negotiating roundabouts, as you may often need to make use of both the left and right indicators in order to select the correct lane depending on which exit you are going to take. It is very important to understand the impact that your indicators can have on other road users. If you drive a car you can practice cancelling the indicator when you are driving rather than letting the car do it automatically. One of the tenets of succesfully taking a motorcycle test is that other people (road users, pedestrians etc.) need to understand correctly what you’re trying to do – any use of signals that either by their omission, incorrect timing or direction causes confusion is going to result in a serious fault.

This fault only rarely occurs as the position you should be adopting during normal riding (the ‘dominant’ position) largely covers this. It is, however, not impossible that if you drive too close to parked vehicles you could incur a rider fault.  You should always carry out appropriate observations before changing your position in order to ride around any obstruction you may encounter.

This aspect commonly relates to missing, or not responding in a timely way, to speed limit signs and other Highway Code issues.  Normally if you miss a speed limit you are in trouble unless you are fortunate enough to spot a repeater sign and then act promptly,  then the fault is more likely to be a rider fault. Other traffic signs that are often misunderstood are traffic priority signs and stop signs. Failure to spot signs and respond appropriately is usually symptomatic of someone focusing too closely on the front wheel of the bike and not looking ahead enough (i.e. forward planning).

This also tends to be a issue related to lack of knowledge of the Highway Code, but can also arise as a result of poor forward planning (looking ahead) and anticipation. The most common road markings that can affect you are stop lines and designated lanes (i.e. with arrows). Typically, this is a serious fault which will result in a fail.

It is not unusual for people to fail their test over this issue. The number of different ways of making a mistake here is almost too long to list. The main mistakes are jumping the lights, trying to stop for an amber light when you really should have carried on, and not proceeding after you have crossed the line but the lights have changed from green. Nearly always any fault here will be deemed serious. A basic lack of knowledge of the Highway Code is often the root cause of the problem.

“Traffic controllers” is a broad term referring to anyone with the authority to control traffic.  This can include (but is not limited to) Police Officers, Highways Agency Traffic Officers, and School Crossing Patrols (‘lollipop people’).  It is unusual for faults to occur here as most people respond well to the “human touch”.

This is another common cause for people failing their test. Problems can arise, for example, when meeting oncoming traffic where there are parked cars, or not accepting a free gap when someone waves you forward. There are a large number of possible issues here, and the type of fault can cover the whole range. Responding appropriately to particular situations is one of the most important skills you need to acquire and develop during your training. How you deal with and respond to other road users will have a very big impact on how safe you are on the road. Even if other people drive badly or make mistakes you can still be failed if you react in an inflexible manner. Remember – there is no such thing as “right of way”. 

Paradoxically, people who ride too quickly during their training often fail for going too slowly in their test. The reverse is true for those that ride too slowly during training. Typically, there are two main issues here, firstly not getting up to speed in national speed limits and dual carriageways, and secondly, riding too quickly in busy built up areas. If the rest of your riding is very good this may well be only a rider fault (unless you are exceeding the speed limit), but if the examiner is looking for an excuse to fail you as your riding has lacked confidence etc. then this is where s/he may find it.

People who ride too quickly during their training often fail for going too slowly in their test. The reverse is true for those that ride too slowly during training. Typically, there are two main areas, firstly not getting up to speed in national speed limits and dual carriageways (particularly on slip roads), and secondly, riding too quickly in busy built up areas. If the rest of your riding is very good this may well be a rider fault, but if the examiner is looking for an excuse to fail you as your riding has lacked confidence etc. then this is where he/she will find it.

The number one cause of test fails (2018) – “only a fool breaks the 2 second rule, and when it pours make it 4”. If you are dithering about overtaking the vehicle in front then this is often the time that you will get too close to them. In addition, people who find themselves travelling at higher speeds having been in town for some time often misjudge how close they are to the vehicle in front. Normally this is a serious fault.

Divided into appropriate speed and undue hesitation. Undue hesitation is the most common one, bear in mind though that this is normally a rider fault, whereas if you pull out when cars are coming that would be a serious fault. Therefore, if you need to err in one direction or the other then being slightly cautious is the better route. Progress faults tend to tot up quickly, as people who struggle to make progress do so everywhere. Look earlier on the approach to junctions to see if it is clear and safe for you to go.

This is an area where more fails occur than almost anywhere else. Junctions include major roads to minor roads, minor roads to major roads, mini roundabouts, roundabouts and box junctions. Being able to understand how to deal with a junction is fundamental to being safe on the road. The examiner will divide faults into the following categories:

This can be divided into two faults; too fast and too slow. People who approach junctions too slowly are generally having issues with using the brakes correctly, i.e. too much emphasis on the rear brake. People who approach junctions too fast are having problems with forward planning. A good approach speed should not impede the flow of traffic while at the same time afford the opportunity to make adequate observation. Remember, don’t ride as if you’re driving a car! Generally, this is an area for riding faults, but as with other problems if your riding generally lacks forward planning you will very quickly pick up enough riding faults for it to become serious.

Again this can be divided into two main areas: missing lifesavers and failing to spot things. During the process of negotiating a junction you are required to do various observation (which can include a lifesaver or looking right-left-right). If you miss one of these out then you will normally get a rider fault. If there was something to see (a vehicle), and you didn’t look, then this will be a serious fault. The other area where this can be marked is emerging from a junction and either failing to spot another road user or misjudging its speed; either way if you cause another vehicle to swerve or slow down then you will have failed your test. Typically, an approach speed that is too fast will contribute to this.

This box is not used much as approach, observation and cutting corners pretty much cover all the usual faults. However, if you turn from a major road into a minor road from the middle of your lane then it is possible the fault will be marked here.

Much the same as turning right.

As described earlier cutting corners is a bad habit bought on normally by either poor slow control (slipping the clutch) or trying to take the turn too fast. It is a dangerous habit and consequently will result in a fail.

Judgement decisions are very rarely classed as riding faults. This is a very contentious area as it covers situations where you thought something was okay and the examiner did not. What makes it particularly difficult is that no two examiners have exactly the same idea of what is okay and what isn’t; so, for example, some examiners are quite aggressive in their riding and expect you to overtake, whereas others are more cautious and would not even give the time of day to filtering. If you demonstrate positive body language and positive & deliberate manoeuvring then the examiner is more likely to respect your judgement, than he/she is if you dither or show poor machine controls. In any event, it is important that you find out from your instructor what the examiner likes.

It is not a requirement of the test that you do actually overtake someone, but if the situation presents its self the examiner will expect you to overtake, particularly on dual carriageways. Should you feel that it is necessary you must ask yourself if it is safe and is it legal? Examiners will look very closely at overtaking moves and if there is any hint that it was unsafe they won’t tolerate it and you will fail (for example, inside a 2 second gap). Good judgement here is often impaired by people spending more time thinking about what the examiner is thinking rather than worrying about whether they are riding safely or not. The other common mistake is to try and look over your shoulder rather than using the mirror. Filtering, as described by the Highway Code, is passing lanes of stationary or slow moving traffic. It is highly unlikely that you will be expected to do this during the test.

This is extremely difficult. Essentially this is normally a situation where parked vehicles have narrowed the road to one lane and there is oncoming traffic, or where there is a priority sign, width restriction or any situation where there is a fifty-fifty decision when you deal with other traffic. What makes things so difficult is that you have to second-guess what other road users are going to do. Good forward planning will help make better judgements as you have longer to think and reach a good decision. You must not wave to, flash at or gesticulate to other road users as this contravenes the Highway Code.

Crossing traffic with or without the aid of traffic lights or road markings has massive safety issues. Due to motorcyclists vulnerability the junction/manoeuvre must be clear and all directions must be looked at before you proceed. Any area not catered for or a wrong choice of speed or gear will be marked as serious.

This is split into two areas, but essentially there is no absolute rule on this as the examiner will look for what is safe, legal and if your choice made sense within the context of the surroundings.

During normal riding you should ride in a dominant position (i.e. more or less in the middle of your lane) allowing for the road surface, parked vehicles and oncoming traffic. Riding too far to the left or right when conditions are clear will get you a rider fault. However, being inflexible when dealing with, particularly, oncoming traffic (in other words not moving to the left allowing more room for the oncoming vehicle) will be viewed more seriously. Likewise being too close to parked cars.

Examiners love this area as nine times out of ten it is so black and white. You must choose the correct lane for the manoeuvre you are trying to attempt. So, for example, if you go straight ahead from a lane marked for turning left you have blown it, likewise indicating right while in a straight ahead lane will also ruin the test. Clearly the most obvious area where this will occur is at roundabouts. Generally if you pick the wrong lane it is a serious fault. However, this box can also be used to mark your behaviour on dual carriageways. You must keep to the left unless you are overtaking; once you have overtaken a vehicle you must move back into the left lane. The examiner will expect you to overtake slower vehicles where conditions allow. If you have done nothing else wrong the examiner might let it go with a rider fault, but normally as with other areas of lane discipline, they tend to mark this as a serious fault.

Although there are several types of pedestrian crossing (Pelican, Puffin, Toucan, etc.) there are two basic types; those with lights and those without. Those with lights need to be obeyed in the normal way, the only variation being the flashing amber lights. Examiners take pedestrian crossings very seriously and any indications that you might be keen to mow down pedestrian will be greeted with a hearty fail. Zebra crossings, being a give way, are slightly different as you are required to give way not only to those on the crossing but also those that show intention of crossing. A common fault here is failing to plan ahead and therefore not seeing the crossing until too late. Overall faults in this box tend to be serious.

On several occasions during the test the examiner will ask you to pull up on the side of the road. You will need to take into account road markings and surrounding hazards. Generally, this is one of those things that you either get right or you don’t. So pulling up within 10 metres of a junction or on zigzag lines, the brow of a hill or on a sharp bend will result in a serious fault and therefore a fail. The examiner won’t want you stopping on single or double yellow lines particularly if there is a better alternative, but occasionally, for expedience, they may say “you can ignore the double yellow lines on this occasion” – in which case it is okay.

As you are riding your will be assessed on your awareness of various hazards, such as the road surface, moving vehicles, stationary vehicles and pedestrians. This is a very common area for serious faults and is generally a consequence of poor forward planning. Poor forward planning is often the result of lack of confidence with machine controls so that attention is focused more on the motorcycle than the road ahead. Alternatively just a general tendency to focus only a few metres ahead will tend to make a rider reactive rather than proactive. To avoid faults in this area it is essential to look almost as far ahead as you can see, and to be actively making a plan as well as trying to anticipate the actions of other road users.

An unusual area to be marked on a module 2 test. If you did not know, or did not demonstrate, that you were fully aware of all your controls (horn, indicators, lights etc.) and any non-essential controls of your motorcycle then you may receive a riderfault. An example would be leaving the lights on high beam or leaving a fog light on (if fitted).

Using the throttle too aggressively or over-revving the engine (by not changing up through the gears) and you can get minor/rider faults here. No one has failed on this yet but as we worry more and more about our environment this one will be a grower.