Let’s consider the first test as a practice run!


So, you have failed your practical driving test?

Unfortunate as that is, you are not alone – the DVLA have found that driving tests have an average pass rate of around 46%* for the previous couple of years.

Failing a driving test, whilst annoying, is the perfect opportunity to develop your skill sets and fully get yourself prepared for a life on the road. We will show you throughout this guide what the next steps should be, and hopefully help you pass too.

With that said, let’s get started.


1. Identify why you failed

The first step in developing and honing your skills is to identify where you went wrong in the previous test – the examiner will provide you with their completed assessment, so use this as a checklist for improvement.

That flimsy piece of paper should be a guide on how to improve – ask your driving instructor or parents (if insured to learn in their vehicle) to help you practice these areas until you have fully got to grips with the problem areas.

Keep practising your parallel park, hill start, or bay parking until you are able to do it blindfolded (Don’t take that literally – make sure you can see!).

Do not get discouraged if it takes a while; driving is about learning; you are not born with an innate ability to drive, so you need to teach yourself how to drive properly.


 2. Prepare yourself mentally

When you first take your test, you are confident that you will pass with flying colours – failing can be a real shock to the system and create anxiety going into your next test.

Make sure you overcome these nerves; often these are what cause you to make mistakes behind the wheel. Easier said than done, right?

Of course. We recommend that you check out our guide for nervous drivers on all the tips and tricks to overcoming driving anxiety.


 3. Book your next test

Whether you lost concentration on the final roundabout or were one minor over the limit, you will be glad to know that the wait for your next test does not need to be long.

Fortunately, you are able to book your test one hour after you have received your score from the examiner. This will direct you to book with your local test centre; but do note that these often have long wait times, so act quickly if you feel ready to take your test again after some more practice. You will have to wait a minimum of 10 working days before your next practical test – but that’s more than enough time to squeeze in some practice beforehand.

We would recommend not trying to beat the rush and booking at a test centre or area you are unfamiliar with, choose the centre you are familiar with.


 4. Familiarise yourself with the test

You are obviously aware of the layout for your driving test – you have been there and done that!

Go back over the basics of the test, to make sure you are ready for more than just the driving element of your test. A quick reminder of the components examined for the test (according to gov.uk):

  •       Eyesight check
  •       Vehicle safety questions
  •       General driving ability
  •       Reversing your vehicle
  •       Independent driving

Check that you are confident with each of these individual elements before the test. Please do not wait until the night before, this is highly likely to increase your stress levels considerably.

Make sure you are judged on your driving ability, not for forgetting to revise for your vehicle safety questions.

You have 40 minutes to show the examiner how well you can drive, so do just that. Get behind the wheel and show them what all your practice and lessons have added up to!


5. Drive in different conditions

Driving in different conditions is vital to driving success; ensuring you are comfortable with every weather situation will help you make the transition to becoming an independent driver that much easier, and prepare you for your test.

If you are used to daylight driving, on sunny summer days, then you may be highly uncomfortable if it starts to rain during your test, so ask either your instructor or parents to get behind the wheel at varied times, to help you become a well-rounded driver.

This does not solely relate to weather and sunlight – challenging yourself by conquering roads which are inherently more scary (i.e. dual carriageways) for new drivers will mean that you go into your test with confidence, safe with the knowledge that you can handle all types of roads.

The main message behind this section is to practice!


 6. Book a ‘good’ time slot

The roads in the UK are very fickle – one minute they can be seemingly empty, and the next, full of cars.

Hopefully, you will have considered the previous section and become comfortable with all times of day, and every scenario. But there is still sense in booking a slot which avoids peak traffic times, as seen in this article on the best time to take your driving test.


7. Don’t panic if you make a mistake

On the day of your test, make sure you remain calm. Relaxation while driving is the key to giving your best performance.

But what if you make a mistake?

Hopefully the mistake will be minor, and you will be able to continue with the test as normal – according to gov.ukthe examiner will only stop your test if they think your driving is a danger to other road users.

So carry on if you know you’ve made a mistake and try to not cause yourself to panic.

Gain focus and drive your way to success.


Think of your first practical test as a trial run – improve your areas of weakness, familiarise yourself with the test, and ease your nerves to make sure the next time you leave the test centre, you are happy. . 

Driving is complicated and takes a while to learn – even after passing your test you will continue to learn. 

Purchasing telematics/ black box insurance can be a great way to review your mistakes on the road, with personalised data on how you drive; while also being a great opportunity to demonstrate how safely you drive to your insurance provider.

But ultimately, the more you drive, the more you learn – either with a learner driver sitting next to you, or when you graduate to solo driving after you’ve passed.

Good luck next time round!


*According to DVLA statistics from ‘Driving test and motorcycle test pass rates (DRT01) 2016 – 2019