We have gathered top tips from UK driving test candidates who were successful in their practical driving tests

Failed UK driving test? Top tips to pass practical driving test

Archana Venkatraman

Driving on UK roads is very different from driving in India – the weather conditions in the UK are different, the rules are different, the etiquettes are different and the test itself in the UK is more stringent than it is in India.

Failed UK driving test? Top tips to pass practical driving test
Image: Wikimedia Commons (Rick Doble)

Many newly migrated UK Indians are finding it difficult to clear UK car driving test, because they are not just having to learn to comply with UK road rules but are also having to unlearn some driving styles they use in India – such as honking or navigating on crowded city roads where pedestrians and other motorists don't follow road signs etc.

If you have failed the UK driving test more than twice, here are some tips that may help you succeed in your next test along with of course, lot of practical practice with an approved driving instructor.

  1. If it is the nerves, try taking some calming pills ahead of the test to put your mind at rest and relax so you concentrate on driving. Kalms Tablets have been known to help.
  2. Practice on the test routes for your exam centre. Each exam centre has a set list of 10 routes. Practice roundabouts, right turns, slip roads in these test routes to become familiar with the road.
  3. Choose the test time strategically. Peak office traffic (8am to 10am), school closing timings (3pm to 4pm) or lunch timings may be more difficult than quieter periods.
  4. If the examiner is making notes on his scoring sheet, it need not necessarily mean he is noting a fault. He may just be filling the time of the test or the details of the car. NEVER assume you have failed in the middle of your test and give up. You are not fail until the examiner tells you so.
  5. Your previous driving test results don't count or matter – the examiner need not necessarily know whether your test is your first or fifteenth attempt, so you don't have to worry about him or her being biased.
  6. Don't worry about minor faults too much as you are allowed up to 15 to 16 minor faults. Aim to drive safely and not make serious mistakes.
  7. Stalling is perfectly OK if you are not putting anyone at risk or holding up traffic for too long. Quickly but calmly go to neutral, do your five-point check and start again.
  8. While coasting is an error, if you are driving below 15mph and the clutch is down, it is not coasting and you will be OK.
  9. Be sure to brush up on "show me tell me techniques" just before the test.
  10. If there are no speed limit indications on the road, it may well be a 30mph road. Be sure to look at speed limit signs while entering into new roads. If there are too many speed brakers, it usually is a 20mph zone. And if there is a central reservation, it may be 40mph or 50mph. But be sure to notice the speed limits.
  11. In fast roads, keep steering straight, don't drift to left when looking at left or don’t drift to right when looking at right.
  12. Always leave lots and lots of room for a cyclist.
  13. Always let the pedestrian cross the zebra crossing fully and get on the sidewalk safely. If there is an island in the zebra crossing, be sure the pedestrian has room to wait in the island safely.
  14. Go off gas the second you spot a hazard instead of applying brakes later on; this leads to be much smoother drive. 
  15. At slow speed, clutch down first then brake, for smooth braking



  • Most UK driving test takers make a serious or dangerous error in the roundabouts or joining the main road from slip roads:
  • Always remember, when in doubt, leave it out.
  • If there are 2 lanes on the roundabout and you are taking the first exit, you should wait even if the cars on the right lanes that you see are not indicating.
  • Switch to 2nd gear at roundabouts for better control of the vehicle.


  • Take it easy, don't hurry at junctions
    Look at both left and right directions without fail even if you are turning left.
    Use the slow peep and creep techniques and approach junctions on first gear regardless of the traffic on the road.

Box Junctions:

  • Emerge out of the signal only when there is room for you to move beyond the box junction.
  • If turning right at box junction, never emerge out if you are the third car going right. Most box junctions can accommodate 2 cars. Remember, emerge into the box junction only when your right is clear.  


  • From Straight - one round is one full steer, and a little more is full lock
  • Remember - when waiting, the steering wheel should be straight

Meeting traffic at narrow roads:

  • See cars behind and also see if oncoming car has space
  • Be defensive – don't risk, meeting traffic, better to wait. Remember a minor fault is OK, you are allowed 15, but only one serious fault. 

Manoeuvre Tips:

Parallel Park: Turning points
a. left pillar (center) = outside car end
b. Remember - 2'O clock (vehicle bonnet should face 2'O Clock)
c. Kerb should disappear on left mirror, then one more foot is your last turning point on most cars 

1. at end, if kerb is not visible, probably it is the time to straighten, may be the front wheel is hitting kerb, straighten and go back

2. if back wheel hits kerb during the last turn, 2 turns to left then 1st gear and move forward, then see left mirror and reverse to align

3. at the last turn, if kerb appears too soon, and there is space between car handle and kerb (i.e you had to be closer to the kerb), then straighten, and do last turn again when in position. Position for last turn in most cars is - when kerb disappears and then 1 foot behind more

Reverse around the corner on left:
Better to move slowly and small steers and keep kerb in sight, but remember how much you have steered to straighten to finish.

Turn in the road:
Remember to look one last time at the left side before moving out, very important.

Remember, you don't necessarily have to finish the turn in the road in three turns, you can take as long and move forward and backwards as many times as you want.

All the best!

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