Failed your driving test? Here's an 11-step
action plan to get you that pass

If you’ve recently failed your driving test, we feel your pain.


The thought of taking all those lessons and putting in so much hard work for nothing is pretty depressing, right?


But don’t chuck in the towel yet. 


For starters, realise that you’re not alone - failing a driving test is actually both perfectly normal and a very common occurrence. 


In fact, the pass rate in Britain has been hovering around 46% for the past decade. That’s right, around 1.4million people take a test every year and less than half of them pass it.


(And remember, we're talking about a general pass rate for drivers across the board. The specific rate for passing a test first time is even lower.)


Therefore, given how often this happens, the important thing is to work out why you failed, how to cope, how you can improve and precisely what you should do next.


You’ve probably got loads of questions and if you’re wondering where to go from here, don't worry - we've got your back.

This article will put your mind at rest, give you the answers you need and offer you direction.


We're going to start by running through some of the more common questions that learners ask themselves at this stage and putting things into perspective. Then we'll assemble all the info into an 11-step action plan to get you the pass you so desperately want.

If you’re still dreaming of freedom, let’s make this happen.

Why did I fail my driving test?


It’s important to remember what your examiner explained to you when your test finished.  

Hearing the awful confirmation is upsetting. But whilst you might have zoned out to your tester's summary, try to recall any feedback. You should also have a test report to look at, which will highlight the mistakes you made.

It's important to fully understand how you're actually tested.


No one drives perfectly and every time you take a test, you’ll be judged on how many faults you make. Examiners divide faults into 2 categories – minor and major faults.


Minor faults are errors that typically aren’t dangerous. Suppose you didn’t check your mirror when moving around a parked car. It's not ideal, but equally, it’s not something that will affect any other road users.


Major faults tend to be mistakes that potentially put you, the public or property in danger. Let's use the same example. Perhaps you didn’t check a mirror when moving around a parked car, but this time a cyclist was close behind.

It's the same error, but now someone's life was put in danger. This time, it's categorised as a major or serious incident.

How many errors can you make during a driving test?


On the driving test, pupils can make 15 minor faults and still pass, so it's not like you have to drive perfectly. Most people will make at least one fault during their test (last year, only 1% of UK learners passed their test with no mistakes).


However, it’s possible to make less than 15 minors and fail. It just depends on the type of minors being made. 


In other words, are they all related to same sort of thing?


For instance, consider a learner who was repeated making minor errors when it comes to checking mirrors. Even though we're talking about small faults in different scenarios, an examiner might assume a pattern of behaviour is developing and fail the pupil.


Meanwhile, it's a lot simpler at the other end of the spectrum - any major faults would automatically induce a fail. Anything serious and it's game over.

What's the most common reason for failing a driving test?


Obviously there are endless reasons why a learner driver might fail their driving test.

But whether you want reassurance or ideas of things to work on, the common reasons make for interesting reading.

In order, the top 10 reasons for UK learners failing the driving test are:

  1. Observation at junctions (11.9%)
  2. Use of mirrors (8.2%)
  3. Inappropriate speed (5.1%)
  4. Steering control (4.7%)
  5. Reversing around a corner (4.3%)
  6. Incorrect positioning (4.2%)
  7. Moving away safely (4.2%)
  8. Use of signals (4.1%)
  9. Reverse parking (3.7%)
  10. Turn in the road (3.5%)

How long do you have to wait until you can rebook your driving test?


Learners have to wait a minimum of 10 days before they can book and retake a driving course. However, some of the larger test centres have long waiting lists and you could be waiting a while.

But maybe that's not a bad thing?


Really, if you're trying to work out when you should book another driving test, you should consider the context of your previous disappointment.

In other words, did you fail just because of nerves? Or was the fail down to technical driving errors? And if so, how many errors are we talking about?


The answers to these questions will dictate the amount of extra tuition and practice you'll need in order to improve your chances of passing next time.

What happens if you fail a driving test multiple times?


In short, nothing. If you’ve failed your driving test more than once, don’t fret - there’s no maximum number of tests you can take.


Yes it’s frustrating to fail the driving test 3 times, 4 times or more (and your pride might take a hit), but it can easily happen. Again, you're not alone.


In 2017, 15,000 people took their test for the 6th time and their pass rate was a mere 38%. And in 2016, the DVSA announced that England’s worst 20 learner drivers had attempted the practical test more than 700 times between them.


And this should make you feel better:

The cheapest driving test costs £62, so if they paid that amount each time, that would equate to £43,000 spent solely on tests.


We don’t know whether any there are any world records for having the most failed driving tests, but the UK has its fair share of bad test results.


And whilst we can applaud the determination of someone who has taken 100s of tests, at some point, you have to take a step back and examine the method of instruction.


Perhaps some of these learners would have been better off with a more intensive and focused approach to driving tuition.

Why not use an intensive driving course to complete your training?


The natural urge might be to call up your previous driving instructor, tell them about your feedback, schedule in some more lessons, book another test and go again.


But are you sure that he or she can rebuild your confidence, interpret the driving test report well and bring you up to speed?


Using your previous instructor isn’t always the right thing to do. Their job is to make sure that you’re ready for your test and they previously thought you were up to standard before.

Whatever you did wrong, they essentially failed too and it might be an idea to get a fresh pair of eyes on your driving skills. 


And whilst you can always find a new instructor or choose a fresh driving school, it might be better to opt for an intensive course that’s specifically designed to complete your training and deliver a quick pass.


We offer an intensive courses that's especially for learners who’ve had lessons at other schools, failed their test and don’t want to wait ages for a pass.


Our intensives fill in any gaps and get the job done quickly.

It's a 12-hour course that's usually completed over 3 days and if you were to book yourself in, we'd arrange and pay for your test as part of the service.

But the point is, our crash course is delivered by a driving instructor who is trained to quickly ascertain what happened in your test and to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The level of sheer focus makes for a different ball game.

For us, that seems like a much better option than going back to the same driving instructor who couldn't get the job done last time.

It's also better than taking more of the same sorts of driving lessons, with no real idea whether they'll ultimately deliver what you want.

Something important to remember


Whether you return to your old instructor or not, it’s important to get back behind the wheel as soon as possible after your failed test. Just like a kid failing off a bike, you don’t want to overthink things and leave it too long.


Any extended break from driving can cause anxiety and worry to build up, which won’t help matters. Instead, see your fail for what it is… part of the journey.

Right, let's wrap all this up into something you can sink your teeth into...

How to recover and get a pass after 

failing a driving test (an 11-step action plan)


Take a w​​​​​ell-ea​rned break

There's no harm in forgetting about driving for a bit. Chill out for a day or two, put things into perspective and realise that in the UK, over 50% of people fail their driving test at any given time. What's happened is quite normal, no matter why you failed.


Examine the facts

Don't drive yourself mad thinking about what happened. Memories are imperfect

and your mind will play tricks on you. Look at your driving test report and revisit

the feedback from your examiner, because awareness is key.


Speak openly with other drivers

Again, loads of people fail driving tests. Many fail more than one. So talk about

what happened with friends and family members. Don’t bottle anything up because

that will hinder your ability to put this disappointment behind you.


Make a technical assessment

Decide the primary reason for failing. Was it nerves or was there one or more

technical issues that need working on? Either way, write it down on a piece of paper,

pin it up on a wall and be clear on what you need to improve for next time.


It's time to get driving again

Once your mini-break is over, it's important to get back behind

the wheel for a drive as soon as possible. Ask a friend or family member

to hop in a motor, even if you just go round the block.


Evaluate your previous tuition

Think about your previous driving lessons in conjunction with the errors that

caused the failure. Analyse whether your previous driving instructor is the right

person to bring you up to speed or if a fresh approach would be best.


Take some strategic action

Either call up your previous driving instructor, find a new driving school or

pick an intensive driving course that focuses on getting learners who have

previously failed a test to pass next time around.


Book another driving test

If you’re using a driving instructor, work on your skills and then book yourself

in for another driving test when you both think you’re ready. If you’re on an intensive,

don’t worry – the test will happen at the end of the crash course.


Prepare for the next test

Get ready for your next driving test by paying special attention to the areas 

where you struggled last time. Having a laser-focused approach and strengthening

your weaknesses will pay dividends when it comes to the big day.


Get your mentality right

The last time was just a blip. Think of the previous test as simply practice

and make sure you're confident. You were probably ready for your driving test

last time, but you're definitely in a much better position now.


It's time to grab that pass

Okay, it's showtime again. You have the necessary driving skills to pass

and because you've already experienced failure, you're actually in a solid position

mentally. The worst has happened before so there's nothing to fear.

Now it's over to you...


You might have failed a test, but it happens. Maybe you’ve failed more than once. It doesn’t matter. It’s time to move on and set your sights on the next target.


With us, you’re in safe hands.


You understand how many people fail tests and why. You also know what happened in your situation. And now have a logical and reliable plan to follow.

Something that will help you cope with and process what happened last time around.

Something that will give you a path to follow.

Something that's been created with just one goal in mind:


To help you pass your test.


Let’s get it done.

Are you ready for a driving course?

Let's reserve your spot today.

Ready to start?

Let's reserve you a spot on a course right away.

Need help?

Read our ultimate guide to intensive courses.

How to pass your Theory Test [2019 guide]