examiner taking notes

Unfortunately, as much as everyone hates to come to terms with the thought of the possibility of failing in the lead up to their test, it is a concept that must be prepared for. In an ideal world, we’d all pass the first time and drive off into the sunset after a stress-free test eager to get on the roads independently, but this just isn’t realistic. It is vital to understand the steps and what to do when you fail a test.

6 Tips On What To Do When You Fail A Test

No one really likes to talk about the subject of failing their driving test, but we’re all human, which means silly mistakes can easily happen, especially if you’re under immense pressure. Over 800,000 practical tests are carried out each year, so not everyone can be lucky enough to pass with absolutely no problems.

If you’ve recently failed a test and unsure where to go from here or just want to prepare yourself for the possibility, then there are a few key steps to ensure that you smash your test on the second attempt!

1. Don’t Be Disheartened

First things first, don’t be disheartened and completely put off driving for life if you fail. Nerves impact how you perform considerably more than you would expect, so instead of panicking, learn from your mistakes and stay positive. Use the fact that you’ve already experienced exactly what happens during a test to your advantage as you’ll know what to expect during your second attempt. This alone will reduce nerves dramatically as you will no longer have a fear of the unexpected.

Think of your first attempt as a test run, adding to your skills and improving your driving. Studies show that those who took more than one attempt to pass their test are all round safer drivers as they have had considerably more practice working on their flaws.

2. Take Advice From Your Examiner

Although straight after your test, you might be frustrated and the last person you want to speak to is the examiner that failed you, they are incredibly useful for getting great advice. Put to one side the fact that your examiner is currently your most hated person, and discuss the reason why you gained a major and minors. Ask what common mistakes you made and how you can improve to avoid similar issues in the future. Your examiner is the only person who knows the definite reason as to why you failed and how to avoid repeating this, so take their advice as constructive criticism and work on improving your skills.

girl talking to examiner

3. Discuss With Your Instructor

It is more than likely that your instructor will be waiting at the test centre for you to finish, so on the way home make sure that you book in for your next driving lesson straight away. As much as you might not want to and you feel as if your confidence has been knocked, it’s important to get straight back behind the wheel. The longer you leave lessons, the harder you will find it to get back into.

Make a plan of action with your instructor on how you will go ahead with lessons. Remember, you’re not alone and it is more than likely that your instructor has had many pupils in the past who had failed for the same reason. They will have several different techniques and teaching methods to help you hit the nail on the head quickly. For more information on the major driving test mistakes and how to avoid them, take a look at our previous article.

If you are limited in the time you have to pass and ideally want to gain your licence for a specific date, you may want to consider taking extra hours each week. Discuss your instructor’s availability and whether they would be able to accommodate your needs.

We spoke to Andy Hayward who teaches driving lessons in Northampton regarding pupils who have recently failed.

“I think instructors need to be as patient and accommodating as they can when a pupil has failed their test. It causes a massive knock in confidence which can be really tricky to regain. I try to tailor lessons as much as I can to make the pupil feel at ease and praise their strengths, it’s all about practice!”

4. Look At Driving Test Centre Pass Rates

If you live in a large city, you will be lucky enough to have your choice between several different test centres. Spend some time browsing through your local test centres pass rates and whether venturing a little further may increase your chance of passing.

For example, if you are taking driving lessons in Thanet or you are with a driving instructor in Maidstone, you have many different test centres in Kent to choose from, so it is worth researching into the difference in pass rates.

For more information on the best and worst pass rates in the UK, take a look at our previous article titled Driving Test Centre Pass Rates!

woman typing on laptop

5. Book Another Test

It is entirely up to you when you opt to book another test, many learners are eager to jump straight in, and others prefer to leave themselves more time. Don’t feel as if you need to rush into booking a second test; it is only you who can decide when is best.

Unfortunately, if you are keen to re-book, it is unlikely that you will find a free slot for the next few weeks, most people have to wait months for a second test. Even if the next available test date and time is a while away, still book yourself in, so you are guaranteed a test slot. You are able to change your test date and time up to 6 times before you must completely restart the process. Although we do not recommend that you keep moving your test, it shows how much leeway you have in swapping bookings.

Pupils who want to get their next test over and done with as soon as possible are always advised to keep an eye out for cancellations. The issue with relying on cancellations is that you cannot put your name on a list to be given cancelled slots, so the only way of keeping track is to consistently check the GOV.UK website. Finding a cancellation that is better suited to you than your booked date is very much luck of the draw.


6. Keep Practicing

The most critical aspect in preparing for your next test is never to stop practising. Utilise every hour of lessons to your advantage, push your strengths and work on your weaknesses. You will know exactly why you failed and what aspects you may not be as strong in, so can ensure that this is your main focus. If you feel as if you still may struggle in a particular aspect of your practical test, make your instructor aware, so they know that they need to spend time starting from the basics on this topic.

You could even take a look into getting insured on a family member or friends car as a provisional licence holder for additional practice outside of lessons. Popular insurance companies such as MoneySupermarket, Confused.com and Admiral will all be able to arrange this for you.