What is a driving test fail? Majors and minors | RAC Drive (2023)

Passing your driving test isn't a totally clear cut issue as there are times when you can wrongly assume a minor mistake as a major one, making you incorrectly think you have receiveda driving test fail.

There are many occasions when a learner drivercan still rescue victory from the jaws of defeat after making a mistake during your driving test.

The key thing to understand is what makes your examiner view a mistake as a fail?

To help you understand what to avoid on your test, we look at what makes a fail and how mistakes can be identified as a major fault.

In your driving test you can receive 15 minors and still pass, only a major or three of the same minor will result in a fail. There are several driving test minor faults - however, you should try to avoid them to give yourself the best chance of passing.

Strictly speakingthere is no such thing as a major or a minor fault.

When you make a mistake an examiner will class it as one of the following:

  • A dangerous fault - this involves actual danger to you, the examiner, the public or property
  • A serious fault - something potentially dangerous
  • A driving fault - this isn’t potentially dangerous, but if you keep making the same fault, it could become a serious fault

Both dangerous and serious faults come under what people would normally refer to as a 'major' and just one of either of these faults will result in an instantfail - although you will be expected to continue the test and will only find out the examiner's decision at the end.

All driving test major faults can causehazardous situations out on the roads and motorways. Be safe, take your time, and remember what your instuctor has taught you.

What is a driving test fail? Majors and minors | RAC Drive (1)

An examiner's driving test report

Here we take a look at some common faults and whether or not they will constitute a fail, some are more clear cut than others, but utlimately it's up to the examiner's discretionto decide if a mistake constitutes a major fault.

Not checking mirrors frequently enough

Not making the necessary observations before moving off or performing a manoeuvre may only warrant a minor, so don’t fret if you feel your observations weren’t clear enough.

Like most minor vs major decisions, it depends on the situation. Again, the examiner will determine whether the lack of observation made completing the manoeuvre potentially dangerous to you, other drivers or pedestrians.

Failing to make the necessary observations at junctions is the most common cause of failing a test outright.

Stalling the car

One of most common driving test mistakes, stalling your vehicle will leave you feeling like you’ve instantly ruined your chances of passing. But in itself, it’s just a minor fault.

If it happens while you’re attempting to start the engine from parked, regain composure, place your handbrake back on and calmly start the car again after checking it is safe to do so.

Make sure to look ahead for pedestrians and other roads users, put the car in first gear, find your biting point and check your mirrors again - moving away when the road is clear.

Stalling is highly unlikely to warrant a major fault – providing it didn’t happen in a potentially dangerous situation.

So be aware that while stalling from parked at the side of a road will usually receive a mere minor, doing so at a busy junction or on a roundabout is more likely to result in a fail.

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Touching the kerb

Many learners assume that hitting the kerb while performing a manoeuvre will result in an instant fail, but again it’s not entirely true.

While mounting the kerb – or crashing into it hard – will be marked down as a major, a simple touch or clip during a manoeuvre (like turning in the road) is only classed as a minor.

Do though, be extra wary of pedestrians on the pavement.If you hit the kerb with people nearby you’ll likely sweep up that dreaded major.


If you’re unsure when to pull out of a junction, or at a roundabout, you won’t fail for not going at the first viable opportunity. Try to keep your cool and pull out the next time it’s safe to do so.

You won’t get a minor for holding up the flow of traffic if you miss the chance once, or even twice. But be aware if you miss three opportunities to safely pull out then you will likely be issued with a major.

You will also get a major if you pull out when it is deemed not safe to do so.

Using the handbrake incorrectly

As the safest thing to do, candidates often feel they’ll be penalised for not using the handbrake at every opportunity during their test. This isn’t always the case.

While the handbrake should always be applied while parked – and putting the handbrake on in most situations will make the car more secure when stopped – you won’t fail for leaving it off, providing it doesn’t affect the vehicle and cause it to roll backwards or forwards.

Crossing hands over on the wheel

Contrary to popular belief, crossing your hands on the wheel won’t result in your failure.

Examiners look for you to be in control of the vehicle and steering wheel, but this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically fail if you move your hands from the recommended position of around ‘3 and 9 o clock’.

Be aware, it’s no longer recommended to drive with hands in the ‘10 and 2 o clock’ positions – as previously advised by driving instructors. It’s now known that this can result in injury if the car’s airbags are deployed.

Driving too slowly

Naturally, examiners are looking for you to abide by the speed limit.

While many candidates drive slower than needed in a bid to convince the examiner of their safety credentials, going unnecessarily slowly can result in a minor or even a major if it endangers you or other drivers, or causes significant delays.

Driving too slowly also signals to the examiner that you aren’t aware of the speed limit, which could lead to a fail, so speed up if you’re lagging, but never exceed the speed limit.

Failing the sight test

Before you even step foot in the car you’ll be asked to read out a registration plate from 20 metres.

Some candidates wrongly think being unable to read the plate first time is an instant fail. If you can’t read the first plate, the examiner will ask you to read a second – and you won’t actually flunk your test unless you fail to read three plates in a row.

Remember, if you do fail the sight part of the test, you won’t even continue into the driving section. If you did have difficulties first time, shake it off and try not to let it affect you once you get out on the road.

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Making one of these faults once – as long as it isn’t in a dangerous situation – may not cost you your test, but repeating the same mistake multiple times will usually be classed as a serious fault.

While you can receive 15 minors and still pass, three minors for the same mistake will most likely result in a major and a fail.

How to practice for your driving theory test

There are a number of different ways topractice foryour driving theory test. From sites to apps we have outlined the best resources below so you can find the right tools to suit you.

You can take free driving theory mock tests here on the officialGovernment site.

You can also brush up on your road signs knowledge on our very ownroad signs quiz page.

As for apps,Driving Theory Test UKis a great place to start, with all necessary learning materials, hazard perception clips and Highway Code info included. You can download it here:

What is a driving test fail? Majors and minors | RAC Drive (2)What is a driving test fail? Majors and minors | RAC Drive (3)


What is a major on driving test? ›

Both dangerous and serious faults come under what people would normally refer to as a 'major' and just one of either of these faults will result in an instant fail - although you will be expected to continue the test and will only find out the examiner's decision at the end.

How many minor faults make a major? ›

① How many minors make a major? You can make up to 15 minor faults and still pass your test—as long as you don't commit any major faults. A particular number of minor faults doesn't exactly convert into a major fault, but if you rack up more than 15 of them you will fail your test.

What is a major driving fail? ›

A major fault: These are errors that could cause an accident. Major faults can be dangerous or serious. A dangerous fault is making an error whilst driving that another road user must actively act to avoid it. A serious fault is an error which could have caused an accident if someone was there.

How many majors and minors do you need to fail your driving test? ›

Both preparation and practice are essential to ensure you have the best possible chance of passing your driving test. You can make up to 15 minor faults during your driving test and still pass. However, you will get an instant fail if you make just one major fault.

How can I impress my driving examiner? ›

Your examiner isn't going to let you off just because you're mimicking the speed of other drivers, for example.
To summarise:
  1. Be confident but err on the side of caution.
  2. Don't let other road users influence you.
  3. Stick to what you know.
  4. Bring your instructor with you.

What is the difference between minor and major fault? ›

Answer: A major fault is a fault that is unable to be fixed or repaired. A minor fault is likely to be able to be fixed or repaired.

What are examples of major faults? ›

Serious fault examples
  • Not checking mirrors before turning.
  • Poor steering control.
  • Not making observations at junctions.
  • Moving off poorly.
  • Positioning at junctions.
  • Drivers disobeying traffic lights.
Feb 2, 2022

What counts as minors on a driving test? ›

What counts as a minor fault in a driving test?
  • Stalling, or the incorrect use of the clutch and handbrake.
  • Touching the kerb.
  • Driving too slowly.
  • Hesitation.
  • Incorrect signalling.
  • Lack of awareness for surroundings.
  • Not implementing safety procedures for weather conditions, such as turning on lights and windscreen wipers.
May 18, 2022

How many minor faults are you allowed? ›

You are allowed up to 15 driving faults, known as minors, and zero serious or dangerous faults, known as majors. For example, if you end your test with 5 minor faults, you'll pass. But, if you conclude with one major fault, you'll fail your driving test.

What is the most common fail in a driving test? ›

  • Rolling Stops. One of the most common mistakes to avoid during your DMV road test is making incomplete stops. ...
  • Improper Lane Changing. ...
  • Lack of Steering Control. ...
  • Distracted Driving. ...
  • Confusion at Four-Way Stops. ...
  • Improper Freeway Merging. ...
  • Driving Too Slowly. ...
  • Driving Too Fast for Conditions.

What do driving examiners look for? ›

The examiner will be looking for evidence of good driving habits, including good observations, control of the vehicle, following the road and traffic signs, appropriate positioning on the road, appropriate speed, independent driving, and effective use of signals.

What are the instant fails in a driving test? ›

Common faults: Driving too close to the left hand kerb. Driving too far out towards the middle of the road.
Some more detail:
  • Observation at junctions. ...
  • Mirrors. ...
  • Turning right. ...
  • Response to signals (traffic lights). ...
  • Poor steering. ...
  • Response to signal (traffic signs). ...
  • Response to signals (road markings).

Can you appeal a failed driving test? ›

Examiners don't want to fail candidates unless they have to, so it is unusual to appeal against the result of your driving test. However, if you do feel that the examiner didn't follow the regulations while carrying out your test, you can appeal the result.

Can you talk to the examiner on a driving test? ›

Talk with your examiner if it'll help with your nerves, but do not let it distract you. The examiner will gently let you know if you need to pipe down and focus more on the test. If you want to be quiet and just concentrate on your driving, that's fine too. The examiner will understand and will not think you're rude.

What is the best time of day for a driving test? ›

Between 9am and 11am is generally a decent time to take a driving test because it's outside of rush hour and avoids the traffic increase in the run-up to lunchtime.

How do you determine if it's major or minor? ›

The defining difference between C major and A minor is that the tonal center of C major is C and the tonal center of A minor is A. This means that, in C major, chords and melodies will tend to return to rest on the C note, whereas in A minor they will tend to resolve and rest on the A note.

What determines major or minor? ›

What Makes a Chord Minor or Major? The difference between a major and minor chord comes down to one, simple change: the 3rd in a scale. A major chord contains the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the major scale. A minor chord contains the 1st, flattened (lowered) 3rd, and 5th notes of the major scale that it's named for.

What are 3 major faults? ›

There are three main types of fault which can cause earthquakes: normal, reverse (thrust) and strike-slip.

How many major faults are on a driving test? ›

You are allowed up to 15 driving faults on a test, anything more than this will result in a fail. You can also fail your test for having too many faults in one particular element of the marking scheme, for example 'use of mirrors'.

How many mistakes can I make on a driving test? ›

Accumulating more than 15 minor driving faults

While you can amass up to 15 of these, if you keep making the same mistake, it could then be classified as a serious fault, causing you to fail your test. This happens when you receive 3 or more of the same minor driving fault.

Is Speeding on a driving test a major? ›

The short answer to this question is yes, you can fail your driving test for speeding if you go over the speed limit of the road you are driving on.

Do you fail your driving test if you get a major? ›

But if you keep making the same minor mistake, that might also get you a fail. A serious fault (or a 'major'). This is a mistake that could potentially be dangerous. If you get just one of these, you'll fail.

What is considered a major endorsement on driving Licence? ›

Major Endorsements

23.8.An endorsement which was subject to the award of four or more penalty points shall be regarded, for licensing purposes, as a major endorsement.

What is considered a minor and major in driving test? ›

Pass mark. You'll pass your driving test if you make: no more than 15 driving faults (sometimes called 'minors') no serious or dangerous faults (sometimes called 'majors')

Who has the hardest driving test? ›

The most difficult tests to pass

In China, the theory test contains 100 questions and requires you to memorise 1,000 in total. There are then two separate practical assessments, followed by a final theory test. New drivers in Croatia must attend 70-100 hours of mandatory driving school before attempting their test.

How many people pass driving test first time? ›

Where you take your test can matter. The average pass rate for a practical driving test in Great Britain is 51.6%.

How many major faults does it take to fail a driving test? ›

You are allowed up to 15 driving faults on a test, anything more than this will result in a fail. You can also fail your test for having too many faults in one particular element of the marking scheme, for example 'use of mirrors'.

Is not checking your blind spot a major? ›

It is very common to fail a driving test for failing to check a blind spot before driving off. You must always check your right hand blind spot by looking over your right shoulder before moving off.

What happens if you fail a major grade? ›

If your class is required for your major and you fail it, you will have to take it again. However, each school's policies differ in terms of retakes. Some colleges limit the number of times you can retake.

Do points come off after 3 years? ›

There is no way to remove the points from your licence once they're marked – you'll just have to wait until the points expire (after 4 years), when the DVLA will automatically remove them at the appropriate time.

How long do points stay on your license? ›

Penalty points stay on your licence record for three years. The three years will not include any period where your licence is out of date or where you are disqualified from driving because of another offence.

How long do 3 points stay on your license? ›

If you've failed to comply with traffic signs and signals you will receive 3 points on your driving licence which stays 4 years from the date of the offence.


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