Failing Isn’t the End of the World: How to Pass Your Theory Test Second Time Around


Jake Burges

It happens to many of us. There’s no warning sign, no obvious flaw in your preparation and no comfort beyond an “Ah, better luck next time mate” when the time comes. We’re talking, of course, about failing your driving theory test.

When I failed my theory test years ago, I was devastated. All of my mates had passed first time, full marks on all the questions with barely a glance at the highway code. If you’ve just had a bad result on test day, you maybe feel a bit cheated. You looked at the sample questions, plus, when you think about it, the system is flawed and the questions aren’t always clear and this and that…

Excuses. The fact is, with enough practise and effort, you will pass your theory test second time around. Let’s walk through how to get back on top of your game and breezing through the next test.

How to Breeze Through Your Next Test

  1. 1

    First Things First: Book Another Test

    The last thing we want to face after failure is that enemy which just defeated us. However, your earliest slot could be anywhere from a couple days to several weeks away. If possible, give yourself two weeks: enough time to stay focused, but short enough that it shouldn’t affect your planned practical test date.

  2. 2

    Get the Best Resources

    This doesn’t mean spending £20 an hour on a Theory Test Coach (they probably don’t exist anyway) but rather:

    • Obtaining an up-to-date edition of The Highway Code, and
    • Making use of mock tests to practice.

    Using the Highway Code

    This is not a guide to the test, nor is it set out in a question-answer format. It is, however, an easy-to-read catalogue of everything you need to pass your test, and drive safely. My recommendation is to read the highway code through, once (it won’t take long) and then use it as reference material when doing your mock tests. Speaking of…

    Making the Most of Mock Tests

    There are over 17 free mock tests on our site right now. Once you’ve read your Highway Code, try one out. The most important thing here is to not be discouraged if you fail. If you knew everything already, you’d have passed without thinking the first time around.

    The best thing about our mock tests is that they give you instant feedback on your answer. Get it right, and we elaborate on the answer. Get it wrong, and we explain the correct response simply and clearly. After learning why an answer is right or wrong, you’ll be able to remember it in future.

    mock test
    The explanation is given both to correct and incorrect answers (Free Mock Tests)

  3. 3

    Get Out on the Road

    Questions are only half the battle. Hazard perception can’t be trained with a book, so you’ll need some practical experience.

    Ask your friends/parents/neighbours to let you ride shotgun while they drive. Pretend you’re behind the wheel, and try to spot potential hazards (pedestrians, vehicles, sudden traffic etc.) as you go. You won’t get immediate, tangible results like with the mock tests, but it’s incredible how quickly the brain adapts to driving and your observation improves.

  4. 4

    Enlist Examiners

    This was one of the most effective ways of testing my knowledge at the second attempt: hand someone a copy of the Highway Code and make them ask you questions. On anything. This is a brutal test, but if you’ve put in the hours studying and actively absorbing knowledge so far, you should do well.

  5. 5

    Avoid “Cramming”

    If you’ve given yourself two weeks, then 13 days of hard work is enough. Don’t spend the final day before the exam stressing and fretting, or staying up until 2am jamming stopping distances and speed limits into your tired brain.

    Instead, spend the day relaxing, playing sports or watching TV. Just keep your brain away from the test; trust me, everything you’ve learned will still be there, and it will be even more accessible when you sit down, all relaxed, for your test.

  6. 6

    Test-Day Preparation

    You’ve already sat the test once, so there’s nothing to be nervous about. You know how the day goes, how quiet the room can be, how long it’s going to take. You have an advantage over everyone else, so use it. When they are busy fretting, take a few moments to get relaxed and comfortable in your chair.

  7. 7

    A Final Word

    The key difference between test 1 and test 2, is that you know the test won’t be a walk in the park. Every time you think hmm, maybe I’ll just skip studying tonight, remember how it felt when you found those questions that panicked you.

    Put in two weeks of effort, reading the code and completing the mock tests as often as you can. When that’s done, walk confidently into the test centre, answer your questions, spot your hazards and then take your leave.

    This time though, you’ll be leaving with a piece of paper which says “Congratulations. Now book your practical test.”.

    Good luck!

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