What to do if you fail your driving test


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If you’ve failed your driving test, that doesn’t make you a failure. In fact, overall pass rates have been hovering around 47% for several years

With over 1.4 million driving tests conducted every year, that means hundreds of people in Britain are walking away from a failed driving test every day. If you're thinking: "I failed my driving test - what now?", our quick guide is here to help you pick up the pieces and get back behind the wheel.

Cut yourself a break

Let's get one thing straight: there is absolutely nothing natural about driving a car.

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. Some people cope with nerves differently, too, and nerves are a huge influencing factor in any kind of test or exam.

So don't blame yourself; it's just part of the process. In fact, we suggest you wear it with pride: some studies indicate people who pass second time are actually the safest drivers.

Overall, more men than women tend to pass the practical test - in 2015 to 2016 there was a 44% pass rate in the practical test for women, compared to a 51% pass rate for men.

The DIA (Driving Instructors Association) said the main reason people fail is because they feel unprepared, whether this is a result of not having professional tuition or just learning the test routes and nothing else.

The association said: "This will limit their experience and exposure to more complex situations, meaning they won't be fully equipped to think for themselves and handle situations under their own steam."

Get back behind the wheel

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. The problem with this is skills fade: the longer you spend away from the car, the more you'll forget how to drive at a high standard.

Use the disappointment of failing to put fire in your belly, and go back out there fighting for the driving licence you deserve. We suggest leaving it no more than a few days before arranging your next lesson.

As we've already mentioned, driving test failures are common in the UK and those of us who fail do so for the same reasons.

Take a look at the top 10 reasons people fail their driving test and see how many you identify with; when you're preparing for your next driving test, make sure you feel completely confident with these 10 moves.

Leaving it too long also allows those nerves to creep back in which is certainly not helpful. Obviously you'll be nervous on test day no matter what, but getting in plenty of practice and as much experience of different driving situations will really help.

The DIA added: "Nerves play a massive role in a person's performance. The 'right' amount of nerves will mean the candidate will perform well. Too many nerves will mean performance drops and mistakes occur. It's important for the candidate to find this balance.

Too help you stay calm on test day we've put together this guide on how to calm those test day nerves so you can concentrate on the job at hand.

Booking another driving 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 obviously rate your chances of passing fairly highly. Therefore, it's likely they'll recommend you book your re-test fairly quickly, and you'll know how to prepare for you next driving test.

When you're booking your re-test, you need to choose a date at least 10 working days away, but may want to leave it longer. Re-booking is exactly the same process as first time around.

On the day itself, your examiner won't have a record of your previous test, so they won't be trying to catch you out. And if it's the same person, don't worry - they conduct lots of tests, and probably won't remember your previous one.

In the last year, 13,324 men had to sit their test six times or more compared to 17,685 women. so you really don't have to worry about not passing first time!

Get lots of extra practice

Chat with your driving instructor about cramming in some additional lessons before your re-test, to tackle any problem areas the examiner identified during your first attempt.

These might be about observation, control of the car or something else - you should be given a copy of your driving test report outlining where you've gone wrong. Your instructor can also provide pointers on how to overcome driving test nerves.

You can supplement your lessons with extra experience in someone else's car. Slap on some L-plates, arrange insurance (you can get instant cover with Veygo by Admiral's short-term Learner Driver Insurance) and away you go. You'll need to have an experienced driver in the car with you - this guide to supervising a learner driver contains the information you need.

How to dispute a driving test result

There are some circumstances in which you can dispute a failed driving test result, such as if you believe the examiner hasn't conducted the test in line with the regulations, or has discriminated against you. There are more details here.

Even if successful, you won't be given a pass certificate and will have to retake your test, but you could recoup any out-of-pocket expenses (like the cost of rebooking your test, and the use of your instructor's car) if the complaint rules in your favour.

If you still need a little cheering up after failing your test, take a look at people's test day stories and the reasons they didn't get to rip up those L-plates after their first go.

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