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What I learned from failing my driving test

Brogan Lawrence profile

Brogan Lawrence

September 30, 2020

Driving test Young driver stories 9 min read

Hey everyone! I’m Brogan and I recently had my first attempt at my driving test. Yes, that means unfortunately I did fail. Although I failed it, I learnt a lot from the experience, and I’ll be sharing my experience in this blog – hopefully you can learn from what I did and pass first time, for me – I’ll have to have another go!

Originally my test was booked for March but obviously that was cancelled due to lockdown; it was literally cancelled the day before I was meant to have it, so this was a huge frustration; I was feeling very confident and was very much looking forward to it. When it originally canceled, it was rescheduled for 3rd July. A couple weeks before that date I received another email letting me know my new test was cancelled too, but this time indefinitely. A few weeks later I got an email telling me that I can book my test which sounds great, but I was actually a bit concerned. I wasn’t sure if I was ready or if I had had enough lessons after lockdown to be test ready again! Nonetheless we booked it for Wednesday 9th September at 13:17. I crammed in as many driving lessons as time would allow before the test and to be truthful, in the days leading up to the test I was actually feeling quite confident and felt as if I was ready for it. Of course I was a bit nervous but I planned to look at the test as just another driving lesson, so I wouldn’t give myself any other added pressure!

The big day has arrived

The day for the test came and nerves kicked in but I still felt realy confident; in hindsight, maybe a bit over-confident. My instructor, Jason, picked me up at 12:00 and we had an hours driving lesson before heading up the test centre. In this hour before my actual test I don’t think I have ever driven so well in my life. Everything seemed to be going great, and I was driving really well, this only made me feel more confident. We then arrived at the test centre and waited outside the premises. Around 10 mins before my test was due to start we drove into the test centre and I performed an excellent reverse bay park and I was thinking in my head ‘I am so ready for this’. Eventually the examiners walked out of the test centre and one shouted my name, I walked over to him, did a quick eye sight test where I had to read a number plate 20 meters away which was fine and I was good to go. The examiner sanitised the car down and asked me a ‘tell me question’ ‘How could you check if your brake lights were working?’ I said you would put your foot on the break and get someone to check the brake lights were working, alternatively you could use the reflection from windows or doors to check they had come on. Correct! We then buckled up and were on our way.

Where the problems began

I managed to drive out the test centre and down the road all ok without a problem. The first issue came at the first big roundabout I encountered. I was instructed to go straight ahead. I was in the right lane, which is fine for this particular roundabout, but at the last minute I thought I was in the wrong lane, so attempted to rectify what I thought was a mistake, I crossed over to the left lane without adequately checking my mirrors and indicating. This was a serious fault and just like that I had failed. Normally in a driving tst if you fail, you still carry out the rest of the test, however due to the pandemic, when you fail you’re asked to go straight back to the test centre without finishing the test, so I was literally out for 10 minutes. The examiner didn’t immediately say that I had failed but I could tell that we were going back to the test centre. That feeling when I realised I had failed was horrible. I felt so upset and a bit embarrassed to be honest. We then arrived at the test centre and the examiner went through my serious fault with me and my instructor and that was it. So much build up and then in the space of a few seconds and one silly mistake it was over.

After the test, my instructor then drove me home and I felt like a failure. In such a short space of time I had went from driving really well and feeling very confident to feeling really down and like I had failed. The next morning my instructor managed to get me a test for the end of September (you need to wait at least 10 days before your next test when you fail). To be honest it was a miracle we managed to get a test in so soon after my first test. I am looking forward to my next test but I’m feeling a lot more nervous as now I’ve failed it once, I feel there is more pressure on me for my second test. We decided not to book any more lessons before my next test however we will have about 40 mins driving on the morning before my test.

What can I change for next time?

One thing I had massively underestimated was the nerves of the test environment. I had tried to keep cool and calm, and think about it as ‘just another driving lesson’ but once I started driving I got really nervous and that definitely had an impact on my driving. So here’s a few tips I would give to learner drivers with tests booked soon.

  1. Stay calm – This is really important. I was told by my instructor to just view it as another drive, similar to our lessons, because otherwise you can get too nervous and make mistakes. I tried to see it as another lesson but my confidence then took over – I didn’t find a middle ground and it went against me
  2. Make sure you know the ‘show me, tell me’ questions – Before the test you will be asked one tell me question and during the test you will be asked one show me question. You can find all of them on the GOV website or by checking out this handy video for the ‘show me questions‘ and this article for the ‘tell me questions‘. I would highly recommend going over them before your test as it’s so important you start your test on the right foot. You don’t want to fail before you even turn on the engine!
  3. Listen to the examiner – It sounds simple, but it’s really important you listen carefully to all directions by the examiner. With that being said, you won’t fail if you go the wrong way – the examiner is checking you can drive safely more than anything else
  4. Focus on road signs/markings – Make sure you are looking at all road markings and signs, I would have avoided my serious fault if I had looked at the road signs and realised I could have crossed straight ahead on the roundabout I was on in the right lane.
  5. Observations – This is especially true for me as I very easily forgot to look in my mirrors, but it is crucial you get into the habit of always looking in your mirrors before doing anything. I forget quite frequently and it’s something I really need to work on. Forgetting to check your mirrors even once can land you with a serious fault and your driving test will result in a fail
  6. Familiarise yourself with the new format of the driving tests – I would say that it’s really important you are familiar with what will happen in your driving test before you turn up. Here’s where you can see all the changes in the driving test due to COVID.

And that’s it – my first driving test experience. I am going to work super hard for my next one and I hope I can write another blog about how I passed, and give you tips on things that will help you pass, not just things to avoid you failing. Wish me luck!

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Brogan Lawrence profile

By Brogan Lawrence

'My name’s Brogan and I’m 18. I was learning how to drive when I ran out of money for lessons last year. Six months later and I am now ready to continue learning again, pass my test and not have to rely on busses, bikes or my ‘taxi-dad’ for lifts everywhere!'  See more posts by Brogan

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