Help! I’ve Failed my Driving Test. What should I do now?

The wise heads at Steering Clear are here to advise you on some useful next steps, as well as the right mental mindset if it all goes wrong on the day.

So, after all that hard work, practice and one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of your life so far, you’ve heard the words you definitely didn’t want to hear, “I’m sorry to inform you that on this occasion you haven’t passed”. Quite frankly, you’re gutted. Why? Because nothing succeeds like success. You were looking forward to it so much. So, not achieving something you really, really wanted is pretty horrible. If this has happened to you, our good thoughts are coming your way. We know how you feel. Obviously, not all our students pass (although a great many do), so it’s fair to say that we know what crushing disappointment looks like when we see it.


Please be assured that it really is NOT the end of the world. You may even feel like a failure, but know that you are no such thing. You didn’t pass this time but, having drowned your sorrows, and further to a totally honest assessment of what went wrong, you’ll soon be in a stronger place to re-book your test. Sincerely, you truly will.

And, in a few years’ time you won’t even be giving it a second thought.

Here are some practical tips to help you regain your focus and perspective.

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Tip no. 1. Understand that It’s Not Easy. You’re Doing Something Hard.

If it was, everyone would pass the first time, all the time. And they don’t. The current driving examination pass rate is about 46%. On average, less than half the people who take their driving test will pass. Importantly, this percentage has actually gone down in recent years, too. This means that literally hundreds and hundreds of frustrated, despondent would-be drivers are leaving the test centre every day.
So, you are not alone. Do give yourself a break.

(Incidentally, the top two causes of driving test failure are poor observation skills at junctions – the most common cause of road accidents in the UK – and failing to use mirrors when changing direction. It’s all about not seeing, or more accurately, not coordinating your eyes with your engaged brain.)

Tip no. 2. Get Back Behind the Wheel Quickly.

Your nerves may have got the better of you and it’s super-tempting to have a few weeks off to recover. Don’t do this. Leaving it too long to book more lessons will affect your courage and confidence. Also, the skills that you’ve acquired could start to fade quite quickly, meaning that there’s a bigger, tougher and much steeper mountain to climb.

Sadly, at this stage, some people give up on the idea of driving altogether. The very concept of repeating failure is terrifying; they tried it once and never again. Ever. Don’t let that person be you.
You WILL succeed, you simply need to try again.

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Tip no. 3. Take a Long, Hard Look at Why you Failed.

Hard, but valuable. Read our blog about why people fail their driving test and see how many you identify with. Your examiner will have given you some pointers at the end of the test so make sure that you listen carefully. You should be presented with a copy of your driving test report, too. You’ll no doubt be upset or disheartened, but believe us, this is useful feedback. It goes without saying that you should focus on correcting these errors during your re-booked lessons.

Make sure that you ace the moves you under-performed on last time.

You’re going to have to re-learn them in order to do them better. It stands to reason that you’ve started to realise that failing your driving test this time has empowered you to be a better driver. You’ve got this.

Tip no. 4. Book Your Next Driving Test.

This will give you something to work towards and a goal to aim for.

A few things: your driving instructor will only suggest that you book it when you’re ready, so he or she will obviously rate your chances pretty well if you go for it. Also, the examiner won’t know that you’ve failed previously. They may ask you if this is your first time, but please be assured that this won’t affect your chances of passing. They’re not judging you in that way and won’t be trying to catch you out. They’re nice people and they want you to pass. Honestly!

You’ll need to select a date at least 10 working days away. You could leave it a little longer if you’d like to practice more.

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Tip no. 5. View Your Previous Test as a “Practice Run”.

This is great mindset advice. Reviewing your “practice test(s)” as useful experience could be your key to success. Doing something perfectly that you’ve not done before is challenging, so repeating the experience means that you’re much more prepared. Think in terms of “next time” rather than “failure”. Also, consider the following: you won’t face the fear of the unexpected, which for many of us, is half the battle.

So, how do you feel about things now? Remember, less than half of drivers pass their practical test the first time. Less than half. You’re not in the minority. Don’t give up.

And…Good Luck.

Finally, don’t forget this important fact: even people who go on to become highly qualified driving instructors may not pass their driving test the first time. What about the team here? We couldn’t possibly comment!