What Happens Next? The Important Steps After a Failed Driving Test

Failing a Driving Test

A failed driving test is a gut-wrenching outcome.

Not only do you not get your permit or license, but you’ll need to retake the written and/or driving test.

There are some actions that’ll result in an automatic fail on your test. Oddly enough, at least you’ll know when these happen so you can fix the problems on your next attempt.


What if you’re left wondering, I failed my driving test, now what? to no answer?

Usually, you get to retake a test 3 times given you didn’t fail it spectacularly. Some states let you retake a failed road test a few hours after when the time permits. Other states have you waiting a day or more between takes so you can brush up on your knowledge and skills.

This article shares what you can do if you’ve failed a few times and are now so nervous you’re second-guessing your driving abilities. Follow these and you shouldn’t have any problems the next time you go in for a driving test.

Step 1: Review the Driving Manual

Your state’s driving manual is there to help you learn safe driving skills.

The manuals are a little clunky compared to what you can find online. But they’ve got everything you need if you’re willing to review them. Maybe it’s time to give them a second look?

Pay attention to:

  • Road signs and what they mean
  • How to react to different driving scenarios

Consider online practice tests if you’re having trouble understanding what’s in the manual. These online courses (free and paid) usually go above and beyond what’s covered. Plus, they offer videos, interactive quizzes, and other features to help you retain that driving knowledge.

Some states may require you to retake the written test if you failed the road test. If this is the case, yes, do go through and practice again. Either way, you should likely review the material anyway so you’re comfortable when getting behind-the-wheel for the driving test.

Step 2: Get More Behind-the-Wheel Experience

Maybe you had a lousy instructor teaching you how to drive. Or, maybe you got the minimum behind-the-wheel experience but didn’t have enough of a challenge to really understand road rules. Either way, it’s time to get a bit more experience so you’re comfortable when retaking the driving test.

Why do a lot of people fail their driving test? Consider the following:

  • Rolling through a stop sign
  • Making an illegal U-turn
  • Failing to parallel park
  • Failing to use signals
  • Getting distracted
  • Losing control

Don’t just practice on an empty side road in your home town. Get out on the highway and test your abilities (with adult, licensed supervision of course). Or, spend some time in a dense parking lot, testing out your ability to park, yield, and obey the signs.

Before long, driving will be second nature and when you return for the test your thoughts of whether you’ll fail the driving test will be a long, distant memory.

Step 3: Consider Driver’s Ed (Possibly Again)

Not everyone has access to a licensed adult.

This means you won’t get a lot of driving experience. Or, there are large enough gaps that you don’t ever truly become comfortable behind-the-wheel. Switching vehicles frequently can do this, too.

Many states require driver’s education but there’s a big gap between getting a learner’s permit and upgrading it to a provisional/intermediate. States include the behind-the-wheel requirements when upgrading to a provisional license most of the time but, again, we run into those problems (above).

What can you do? Try looking:

  • Local driver’s education courses
  • Online driver’s ed classes and forums
  • Private driving instruction

Driver education courses usually involve a good 20 to 40 hours of classroom experience. Plus, 5 to 10 hours of driving experience. You may be able to negotiate with some providers to take just the driving portion of their program (it wouldn’t hurt to ask).

A Failed Driving Test Isn’t the End of the World

A failed driving test isn’t the end of the world.

You’re not cut off from ever attempting to get your permit or license.

Going back into a test when you’re anxious and nervous will likely make you fail again. So, take a breather, review your skills, and clear your head. You got this!