Is It Normal to Fail Your First Driving Test?


For many young people, learning how to drive and passing the driving test is a significant life event and a symbolic transition into adulthood. However, for many people passing the driving test in South Australia is easier said than done. Despite hours of practice and preparation, some people fail their driving test on the first attempt. This can be a disheartening experience, leaving them wondering if they are alone in their struggle. This article will shed light on what to expect in your practical driving test, how many people fail their first driving test, and why as well as how to move forward if this happens to you. So, continue reading to discover if it is normal to fail your first driving test.

What to Expect on a South Australian Driving Test

After accruing 75 hours of driving experience with a qualified supervising driver, a practical method to obtain your P1 Provisional Licence:

  • Successfully pass a Vehicle on Road Test (VORT)

This assessment is designed to assess if a person can safely operate a motor vehicle, safely drive in general traffic, and successfully complete five slow-speed manoeuvres.

The VORT is a driving practical test with a qualified driving examiner to assess your skills and knowledge of driving safely and competently. This test runs for 45-55 minutes and will see you drive a complex route with changing conditions to assess your ability to apply road laws and safety whilst driving. This can include navigating:

  • various speed zones
  • obeying signs and road markings
  • turning right from on a side road onto a busy road
  • turning left
  • indicating and changing lanes or merging safely
  • navigating roundabouts
  • identifying and working through hazards
  • correctly observing traffic and driving conditions

You will also need to(4/5) demonstrate the following five slow-speed manoeuvres:

  • U-turn (this can be one of the three government standard U-turns)
  • 3-point-turn
  • Angle park
  • Reverse parallel park
  • Move off kerb.

You will be assessed on a VORT recording sheet which can be accessed on the SA MyLicence website. To pass the VORT, you must have a general driving score of 90% or above, demonstrate the five slow-speed manoeuvres and not breach any road rules. The test will be terminated, and you will be immediately failed if you breach any of the road rules. If you do not pass your practical driving test, the instructor will explain why and provide you with a copy of your VORT recording sheet.

How Many People Pass Their First Driving Test in South Australia?

So, how many people pass their driving test on the first attempt? (4/5) According to Budget Direct, 18.4% of South Australians do not pass their first attempt at the VORT. Many will go on to pass on their second attempt but there is still a small portion of people who can take extra attempts to pass!

Common Reasons Why People Fail Their Driving Test in South Australia

As the statistics above show, many people can still fail their first attempt at a driving test despite having plenty of preparation and practice. There are many reasons why this can happen, some of which can be avoided with awareness and proper preparation.

The most common reason for failing the South Australian Driving test is a lack of pre-test driving lessons. Driving lessons with other schools are considerably different and can lack teaching many of the skills and expectations required to pass the practical driving test. In fact, every week we see numerous students from metro suburbs and rural areas taking driving lessons with us because of this. Lessons for the practical driving test is not just a casual drive, it should be designed to help you pass your test on the first attempt.

When it comes to failing the actual test, failure to stop, failure to look over the shoulder, failure to indicate or signal and  speeding,were the most common mistakes resulting in a failed VORT. Interestingly, 23.1% of failures were also for “other reasons’, such as errors outlined in this article.

There are several ways you can avoid making these mistakes in your first practical driving test. These include:

  • Take high standard lessons with a driving instructor in Adelaide from a Driving Test Driving School that focuses on delivery information and skills to help you pass your test the first time, like us!
  • Undergo mock trial test training to overcome driving test failures
  • Take to learn to correct skills and knowledge for the test. It can be helpful to take a before-driving checklist so you know exactly what you want to work on with the learner instructor.
  • Learning and revising the road rules
  • Practice specific manoeuvres and skills.
  • Understand the different road situations you could encounter such as busy intersections, roundabouts and school zones in operation.

Coping with Failing Your First Driving Test

Failing your first driving test can be a difficult and discouraging experience. It is normal to feel disappointed, frustrated, and even embarrassed. However, it is important to remember that failing your first driving test is not uncommon. Many people fail their driving test on their first attempt, and it does not mean that you are a bad driver.

Once you have finished, take some time to process your emotions and reflect on your experience. Talk to your driving instructor or a trusted family member or friend about your experience and ask for their feedback and advice. The driving instructor that assessed you will also provide you with details about why you failed your VORT, which can be used to identify areas where you can improve.

If you fail a VORT, you need to wait at least 14 days before you can attempt another VORT. This gives you time to shake off your nerves and continue practicing both the skills you need to improve on as well as the ones that you passed.

Remember that persistence and practice are the keys to success, and that it’s okay to take the test again when you feel ready. With patience, determination, and a positive attitude, you can overcome the disappointment of failing your first driving test and achieve your goal of passing the SA VORT test and obtaining a P1 Provisional Licence.


Failing your first driving test in South Australia is a common experience, and it should not discourage you from continuing to practice and improve your driving skills. With proper preparation and awareness of the common mistakes that lead to test failures, you can increase your chances of passing the driving test on your next attempt. Remember that driving is a skill that requires patience, practice, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes. Whether you pass or fail your driving test, the most important thing is to remain committed to safe and responsible driving habits. By doing so, you will not only improve your chances of passing the driving test but also become a safer and more confident driver on the road.