Failing your driving test can feel like the end of world. You’ve been telling your friends and family for weeks about all the places you’re going to drive to and you may have even started to look at buying your first car. However, failing your driving test can mean waiting weeks and sometimes even months for another chance. I know, I’ve been there… four times! Yep, that’s right… I failed my driving test four times and finally passed on my fifth test. If you’re reading this then perhaps you’re also struggling to pass your driving test. In which case I suggest you continue reading about my experience to learn how to pass your driving test and why you shouldn’t give up.
DISCLOSURE: I am from the United Kingdom and now hold a full U.K. driving licence. What I discuss in this post may not be relevant to everybody.
My Driving Lessons
For as long as I could remember, I believed I would be one of those people that would be on the road only a few months into their 17th birthday. So, I began my lessons just over a week into my seventeenth year. Growing up, adults made driving look so easy. Starting my lessons, I was surprised to find that I struggled to change gears and would often lack the common sense on knowing when my car could fit through a gap or not.
For just under a year, I would have an hours lesson a week after a day at college. It wasn’t long before I booked in to take my driving theory test and I was thrilled when I passed that first time. After passing my theory I then booked in for my practical driving test and although I felt nervous for it, I wouldn’t say I felt more nervous in comparison to any other exam I had sat before.
My First Driving Test
My driving instructor recommended taking my test early in the morning, that way you don’t have time to sit around all day and worry about it. In theory this was a good idea. However, I am not a morning person and my brain doesn’t fully switch on until I’ve been awake for a good few hours.
Although I failed my first test, it wasn’t the worst test that I had done. I only failed on one silly mistake which still annoys me till this day. My road positioning was too far over onto the right side of the road when exiting a junction.
It wasn’t until I failed my first test that I realised I had really wanted to be one of these people that passed their driving test first time.
My Second Driving Test
After failing my first test, I really wanted to pass the second time around. However, this wasn’t the case because every single thing that I could have done wrong, I did.
I think I finished my second test with 5 serious/dangerous driving faults. My driving ability went extremely downhill after the first test and the reason for this is what I later know to be my little old friend… anxiety!
My Third Driving Test
When people ask me how many attempts it took me to pass my driving test, I occasionally leave my third attempt out and tell everyone that I passed on my fourth attempt. Although that isn’t strictly true, I’m not sure the day of my third driving test truly counts.
After the chaos of my second driving test I was ready to get this driving nightmare behind me. I went into the test centre with the mindset that if I failed again it didn’t matter… although I was praying to all the Gods above that it would be my ‘third time lucky’ test.
My anxiety was through the roof and I could barely hold back the tears. My legs were shaking my palms were sweating and I felt so much pressure to pass. Not only because I didn’t want to go through it all again but because I was slowly draining my fathers bank account with all these lessons.
The moment the examiner asked me to drive out of the test centre and then turn left, I stalled the car. Now this isn’t a big deal at all. It isn’t a minor fault and it isn’t a serious fault but I just froze with panic and cried until the driver examiner got my instructor to take me home.
I felt like a complete failure and I couldn’t find any solution to stop me being so panicky. Sure, everyone tells you not to worry and it’s due to worrying so much that you fail but it’s extremely difficult to turn off your emotions, trust me I’ve tried… multiple times.
My Fourth Driving Test
After the disaster of my third driving test, I decided to give learning to drive a break. I was moving to the other side of the country in a matter of months for university anyway and I didn’t fancy my chances continuing my driving lessons in Manchester.
Skip forward three years and I decided to return to my hometown in Essex. A lot happened in those three years at university involving my mental health. After seeking medical advice for my anxiety and panic disorder, I decided I might be ready to try again with my driving.
I opted to start again with a new driving instructor because if I’m being honest I was just too embarrassed after my last test to return back to my original driving instructor.
After two months of casual driving lessons with a new instructor, the day came for what I hoped would be my FINAL driving test. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case.
I received a serious driving fault for attempting to overtake a fork lift on an unsafe road. I was devastated and I thought if I couldn’t pass my test now after three years away from it, I will never be able to.
During this test, I also managed to get my nerves under control by using a combination of CBD oil and beta blocker tablets that I take for my panic disorder. Maybe it wasn’t the nerves after, maybe I am just not destined to be on the road.
My Fifth Driving Test
By the time my fifth driving test came around I was ready to give up. I hadn’t told anyone but I had agreed to myself that if I didn’t pass my driving test on my fifth attempt then I was going to give up completely. I went into my test day with the attitude that I didn’t care what happened, I just wanted to get it over and done with. I didn’t even wear makeup in anticipation for a picture with my test certificate at the end.
Believing and accepting that I was going to fail, I passed with zero driving faults. ZERO DRIVING FAULTS! It felt surreal, like it wasn’t really happening to me. Some people may not understand why I felt this way as, after all, it is only a driving licence. For me, the battle to get my driving licence was very psychological and in the process of getting it I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder.
Receiving my driving licence felt like the end of a five year long struggle with my mental health. Since receiving my licence and passing my bachelors degree, my mental health has improved significantly and I’m happier than what I’ve felt in a long time.
How to pass your driving test
One of the main reasons I decided to write my driving story is because when I couldn’t pass my test, I was constantly looking online for advice and answers. Why had all my friends passed on their first or second attempts and I was becoming a local at the test centre? How do I just stop being my panicky self for one hour? What is wrong with me?
The truth is that for some people learning to drive is a psychological game because not everyone functions well under test conditions. This is the sad truth of most educational systems. In my opinion, tests and exams are not the best way to test someones knowledge or skills however that is the society that we live in.
If you are really struggling with your nerves or anxiety then the best solution can’t be given by your friends, family or driving instructor. You need to speak to a doctor or a counsellor as for the most part, there is a reason why you feel the way that you do and understanding it can really alter your behaviour. This forms the basis of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and this therapy can be really beneficial to combat your nerves and anxiety.
It is also important to understand that failing your driving test is not the end of the world. I understand that it isn’t easy to remember but it is true. If you need to, take a break from learning to drive and come back to it when you’re ready.
Ultimately, there is nothing that you can read online that will make you pass your test. It is a mixture of – first and foremost – being a safe driver and secondly, finding your own way of combatting your nerves on the day of your driving test. Regardless, I hope reading about my journey to getting my driving licence has helped you in some way and if you have any questions then feel free to leave them in the comments section below!