Can You Fail A Motorcycle CBT?



I remember taking my very first CBT; I was incredibly excited but nervous. 

Working in a motorcycle clothing store at the time, all my colleagues had been riding big bikes for years, and I felt the pressure.

To fail would mean absolute humiliation at work.

Something about tests must hark back to being at school, which instills nerves in people, and it is a horrible feeling that even the most competent of people feel. 

I am here to save the day for all you future riders and hopefully put your mind at ease; as simply put, you cannot fail a CBT.

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Is a CBT a test?

CBT stands for Compulsory Basic Training and is not a test at all. 

Therefore, in theory, you cannot pass or fail as there is no test to begin with. 

However, you do need to complete all stages of the CBT for your instructor to deem you safe to ride on the road. 

You can read about what a CBT entails and how to get ready for it in our article CBT Test Preparation.

Why do people think you can fail a CBT?

While many people will complete their CBT in just a day, sometimes instructors will ask the participant to come back for further training at a later time. 

The instructor on the day of your CBT is the one who decides whether or not to issue you a CBT certificate. 

They will assess your riding abilities throughout the day and ensure that they feel you are competent to ride safely unaccompanied on the road. 

If they decide that you could do with some more training, they will ask you to come back for another day of riding under their instruction. 

This does not constitute you failing your CBT. 

All it means is that you need to practice a little more under supervision to nail down the basics so that you are safe and confident out on the road. 

Reasons why you may be required to do more training

There are some common reasons you may be called back to do additional training before receiving your CBT certificate.

Read: How long does a CBT take?

Machine Controls and Balance

You may not have mastered the controls of the motorcycle/scooter, whether it be an automatic or manual transmission. 

It is quite common for the new riders to start on a geared 125cc motorcycle, but for the instructor to suggest an automatic bike may be more suitable for them and switch the rider during the CBT process.

Equally, you need to have your coordination and balance to a high standard. 

A good way to know if your skills are up to par is if you know you can ride a bicycle to a high standard. 

Riding a motorcycle is very different, but the concept of coordination and balance is similar. 

If you cannot demonstrate that you can control the machine, then the instructor may require you to come back to practice some more. 

Highway Code Knowledge

When on the road riding part of the CBT, you will need to demonstrate your ability to ride safely with other road users; to do this, you will need to understand road signs, road markings, and other aspects of the highway code.

Being Late

If you arrive late to your CBT, you may find that you are immediately requested to rebook at another time. 

At the beginning of the day, you will be briefed on important knowledge that you will be expected to draw upon throughout the day, such as safety information. See the 5 key elements of CBT.

Therefore, to miss this means you are already not equipped to ride safely. 

Avoid arriving late!


The fact is that nerves are many riders’ worst nightmare. 

You can be the best, most competent rider, and then the nerves get to you, and you make daft mistakes. 

Knowing you are undertaking the CBT as a lesson should help squash the fears that you will pass or fail at the end of the day.

You are there to learn, and your instructor is there to teach you. 

There is no pressure to complete the training in one day, and if you need more time, that is perfectly okay.

The more training you have before getting out on the road unaccompanied, the better, particularly if you are nervous. 

So, do whatever you need to do to relax and put yourself in a calm state of mind and enjoy the process.

Quick Tips

Ask questions as knowledge is key.

Everybody learns differently at different paces, so if you didn’t take in all the information before an exercise, don’t be afraid to ask your instructor to repeat themselves. 

Also, once you receive your certificate, if you are still nervous, get on to the riding school and arrange some 1-1 practice; this can be done before your actual CBT as a taster session.

Find a motorcycle training school near you.

Final Thoughts

Let me tell you, I went home with my CBT certificate on that day, and instead of being elated, I cried.

I was too focused on ‘Passing’ instead of embracing the learning side of the day, so my confidence was shot, and I wasn’t sure I would ever want to ride again, and if I did, I certainly wasn’t about to do the big tests. 

Fortunately, my work buddies were quick to get me back in the saddle and learn the ropes; since then, I haven’t looked back. 

For many of you, a CBT will be your first time on two wheels; you can’t possibly expect to know it all immediately.

I wish someone had told me this:

Relax, embrace the learning, pay attention and enjoy the fact you will soon be out riding on two wheels with the wind in your hair.