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Learning to drive

How to get over failing your driving test

We are all only human. You can't be on top of your game 100% of the time - no one is - and driving is really hard. So it stands to reason that, prepared as you may be, you might fail a test or 2 (or 5, in the case of more than 1 person I know) before you pass. I failed my first test. It happens.

Of course, making sure you're super prepared can help you avoid another fail, but here are some tips that focus more on the FEELS.

  1. Remember that you are essentially a monkey wearing clothes

    You weren't designed to drive a car - nobody was. If you'd told me 6 months ago that I would be able to reverse a Renault Clio through a 6 metre gap between a skip and a wall, I'd have smiled politely at your misplaced belief in my abilities.

    We take too many skills for granted. So give yourself a break and a pat on the back: you're getting good at something that is so far beyond what nature intended it's practically a super power.

  2. Get back on the horse

    So now you're a monkey on a horse? My point is this: a driving test fail can make you never want to get in a car again. But the sooner you do, the sooner you can work on the silly little mistakes and get that pass.

    Failing your driving test is just like stalling a car: it seems awful because you feel stupid and like you're holding everything up. But really, it's just mechanics - it happens all the time, and the best way to get over it is to keep calm and go on with the process.

  3. Think of the first test(s) as practice

    I know a girl who says she passed first time - she just took 2 tests first as practice. I think that's a great way to look at it because it's really hard to ace something you've never done before.

    Taking multiple tests isn't ideal, but think how much more prepared you'll be next time. You know exactly what to expect and half the battle (fearing the unexpected) is done with.

    Remember: under 50% of drivers pass their practical test first time!
  4. Book your next go

    Set your sights on when you'd next like to try - your driving instructor will be able to help you with that. Just don't lose the vibe you've built up: remember that you should have done all your learning by now and you need to stay in test prep mode.

    What you failed on will tell you where you need most practice, but don't obsess at the cost of the basics. The thing that tripped you up last time might not even come up.

  5. If you're gearing up for another go, take a look at our advice on how to pass your driving test.


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Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .