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Failing Your
Driving Test

Failing your driving test: Need to know

Failing your driving test

If you fail your driving test, it can feel completely gutting. But it’s important to remember that it’s ok to do so. In fact, statistically most people who take their driving test in the UK will fail at least once.

The best thing to do if you fail your driving test is not to take it personally. Just brush it off, get back in the driver’s seat and have another go.

Here we’ll look at why people fail their driving test, and what happens next.

How many people fail their driving test?

The Department for Transport and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) report that the pass rates in Great Britain from April 2019 to March 2020* were:

● 47.3% for driving theory tests for cars
● 45.9% for practical tests for cars

Fewer than half of attempts result in a pass, and that goes for both the theory and the practical. So if you’ve failed, there’s no reason to beat yourself up.

*At the time of writing, these aren’t the most recent statistics. But COVID-19 restrictions have meant there have been significantly fewer driving tests since March 2020. As such, the current average isn’t especially representative.

What are the most common driving theory test fails?

You can’t fail the driving theory test on just one thing – you fail by not scoring enough points. This suggests that the most common reason people fail is through lack of preparation. With this is mind, be sure you’ve revised your Highway Code thoroughly before attempting the test.

According to the DVSA, the topics which trip people up most are:

1. Questions about vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, those riding motorbikes, and elderly or younger road users.
2. Knowledge of road and traffic signs.
3. Stopping distances , thinking distances and braking distances.
4. The hazard awareness section.
5. Knowledge of motorway rules.

What are the most common practical driving test fails?

The most common reasons people fail their practical test, according to the DVSA, are as follows:

1. Observation at junctions: eg not looking properly before pulling out.
2. Improper mirror use: eg not checking mirrors before manoeuvring or changing direction.
3. Steering control: eg veering off course, or letting go of the wheel.
4. Incorrect junction positioning: eg cutting the corner while turning right.
5. Moving away unsafely: eg not checking your blind spot.
6. Response to traffic signals: eg running an amber or red light, or stopping on the area reserved for cyclists.
7. Lack of control moving off: eg leaving the handbrake on or rolling backwards.
8. Incorrect positioning while driving normally: eg cutting across lanes on roundabouts.
9. Response to road markings: eg entering a box junction while the exit isn’t clear, or driving into a road marked ‘no entry’.
10. Lack of control while reverse parking: eg performing the manoeuvre recklessly, and not checking your mirrors.

You can find out more about how driving tests are marked here.

What happens if I fail my driving test?

If you’ve just failed your driving test, don’t take it to heart. It happens (including to the author of this guide), and it’s there to be passed another day.

If you fail either part of your theory test, you will be informed on completion. Failing either section means the whole test needs to be retaken. You cannot take your practical test until you have your theory in the bag. You can reapply after three working days, but you’ll have to pay for it again.

Read our guide to the driving theory test here .

If you fail your practical driving test, your examiner will tell you back at the test centre when you’ve finished. That is, unless the test has been discontinued due to failing the eyesight test or committing a dangerous fault.

After you’ve been told you’ve failed, you’ll be given feedback. Although you might feel deflated at this point, it’s important to listen and take the feedback on board. This will hopefully save you from making the same mistake(s) on your next test.

You can apply to take another practical test after 10 working days, but you’ll have to pay for it again. Until the next test, have some more lessons and keep practising.

Good luck with it – we’re crossing our fingers for you!

Read our guide to the practical driving test here .