UK driving test pass rates explained
We examine the latest stats on driving test pass rates to help you compare UK driving test centres
The average driving test pass rate in the 2022/23 financial year was 48.4 per cent. That’s across every driving test centre in England, Scotland and Wales, where a total of 1,688,955 driving tests were taken. That overall driving test pass rate has held relatively stable over time with a 44.2 per cent figure in 2007/08 being the lowest in the past 15 years and the 49.8 per cent figure in 2020/21 being the highest.
The 2020/21 financial years were, of course, something of an anomaly, with the Covid pandemic closing test centres across the country. Only 436,044 driving tests very carried out over the period and we’ve seen slightly suppressed numbers of tests in the years since, although 2022/23 shows a return to normal.
Average waiting times to book a driving test in the UK doubled from 7.5 weeks to 15.1 weeks between 2019/20 and 2022/23. That has involved learner drivers shopping around to try to find test centres with shorter waiting lists.
The high point for driving test passes in the UK since the available data began in 2007 was 2016/17, with 815,168 people tearing up their L-plates at a pass rate of 47.1 per cent. Since then there’s been a slow decline in the number of tests taken, with a spike in 2022/23. Those who are determined to learn to drive are under growing pressure to pass first time and as soon as possible to avoid the cost of extra lessons and another test.
So what are your chances of passing your driving test? We’ve analysed the data to find out who, where and when has the best driving test pass rates, plus how much you should expect to pay to get your full driving licence.
How much will learning to drive cost?
Prospective motorists have to shell out £50 just to get their provisional licence these days, but that’s just the start.
Driving lessons cost on average £33 per hour and the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) reckons the average number of lessons you’ll need to pass is 47. That’s £1,551 on driving lessons alone.
The theory test will set you back £23, while the practical car test costs £62 on weekdays or £75 on evenings or weekends. Added together, drivers are forking out around £1,650 for the privilege of getting behind the wheel.
Where is the best place to take my practical driving test?
Driving test pass rates vary significantly by location and test centre. According to the figures, the more rural the test centre the better your chances in the practical driving test. Remote locations in Scotland are your best bet, with Inveraray – a small village in the west of Scotland – returning a driving test pass rate of over 84 per cent, although only 89 tests were taken there in 2022/23 financial year. For an even better chance, seven people took tests on the Isle of Tiree, with an 85.7 per cent pass rate - the UK’s highest.
Clearly, travelling to remote parts of Scotland for a driving test isn’t practical so where else is best? Of the test centres that have taken over 1,000 tests in the 2022/23 financial year, Kendal has the highest pass rate at 68.3 per cent, followed by Barrow In Furness, Chichester in southern England and Pembroke Dock in Wales.
The test centre where you’re least likely to pass is Speke in Liverpool, where 71 per cent go home empty handed. That accounted for just under 6,000 would-be drivers needing to resit the test.
Is the theory part easier than the practical?
The theory test pass rate has fallen dramatically over the past few years because the DVSA has tightened up on revision guides and questioning. Back in 2007, just over 65 per cent of drivers passed the theory test, but that’s down to 47 per cent in recent years.
That’s very close to the practical driving test pass rate, despite the perception among learner drivers that the theory test is the easy part. The theory test is certainly less unpredictable than the practical exam, but still requires a degree of practice, both in memorising the relevant signage and learning the Highway Code rules. Then there's the challenge of applying your road safety knowledge to the hazard perception test.
Are men or women better at passing the driving test?
Women are better at passing the theory test while men are better at the practical, according to DVSA annual figures. For the practical driving test, the gap between men and women has narrowed in recent years. While the difference in pass rates hovered around six percentage points from 2013 to 2018, with men just over 50 per cent and women around 44 per cent, the difference was only 4 percentage points in 2022/23. It’s women drivers who seem to have improved as well, with the male pass rate at 50.2 percent and women climbing to 46.4 per cent.
The split of men and women taking the test has remained around 50-50 for both the practical and theory tests, with some variations from year to year. In total, UK drivers have taken between 1.8 and 1.5 million driving tests every year since 2007. That’s ignoring 2021 when only 436,000 tests were taken because of the Covid pandemic.
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Everything you need to know about learning to drive, getting your driving licence and choosing your first car...
Learning to drive
Passing your driving test
- Driving theory test: everything you need to know
- Hazard perception test: what to expect and how to pass
- Driving test 'show me, tell me' quesions: hints and tips
- Practical driving test: how to pass
- Driving test pass rates explained
- Driving test aids product test
- History of the UK driving test
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