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Learning to drive

What to do if you fail the practical test?

Just because you failed your driving test that doesn’t make you a failure. In fact, the pass rate is around 47%, so more candidates miss the mark than pass! With over 1 million driving tests conducted every year, hundreds of people are kicking themselves over a failed driving test every day. If you’re one of them, here’s how to pick yourself up and get back behind the wheel.

I’ve failed my practical test… now what?

Don’t get down over a failed test. Driving a car isn’t something anyone is born knowing how to do. Just like riding a bike or playing a musical instrument, learning how to do it takes time and practice, and some people will get the hang of it faster than others.

Even if you can drive well enough to pass the test, nerves could get the better of you on the big day. So don’t blame yourself in fact, we suggest you wear it with pride: some studies show that people who pass the second time are actually the safest drivers. The extra lessons you take after failing will improve your skills and better prepare you for independent driving.

Get back in the car

Failing your test can feel like a huge blow to your confidence and it can be tempting to have a few weeks off to get over it. But remember the old saying about getting back on the horse? The same applies with a car. The longer the break you take, the rustier your skills will become. So re-group, talk through what went wrong with your instructor, and get back behind the wheel as soon as possible.

 

Booking your re-test

Your driving instructor won’t suggest you book a test until they feel you’re ready, so if they’ve suggested it previously they must rate your chances. When you’re booking your re-test, you need to choose a date at least 10 working days away. Your examiner won’t have a record of your previous test, so they won’t be trying to catch you out.

Remember, more drivers fail their practical test first time than pass, so you really don’t have to put yourself under pressure just because you didn’t pass first time.

Common mistakes

If you failed, there’s a good chance it was down to one of these frequent errors. Here’s what you won’t want to mess up next time around…

  • Observation – Ineffective observation and judgement at junctions
  • Mirrors – Failure to check mirrors particularly the rear-view mirror, when changing direction
  • Steering control – Steering too early or leaving it too late
  • Junctions – Turning right at a junction is something many learners find tricky
  • Response to signals – Poor response to traffic lights could lead to failing your test
  • Control at move off – Ineffective control when moving off
  • Positioning – Poor positioning on the road in general
  • Observation at move off – Lack of observation when moving away
  • Reverse parking – Lack of control, poor observation or accuracy
  • Response to signals and road markings – Not paying enough attention to markings