Practical Test

Test centre pass rates The highs & lows

The DVSA has released the latest pass rates including tests conducted across a number of different test categories and locations. 

We've taken a look to see which areas have the highest and lowest pass rate. Now let me start by making it clear, a low pass rate doesn't mean all the driving instructors in the area are rubbish or even that the examiners are really harsh. There are lot's of reasons that can influence these stats, for example rural areas with lower volume of tests tend to have a higher pass rate than those inner city. This could be down to experience driving vehicles off road before someone can legally take to the road. We haven't looked at the number of people that have taken their test without a driving instructor either. 

That being said it makes for some interesting reading when looking at the overall pass rates for 2017/18 (Apr 17 - Mar 18).

Highest Driving Test Pass Rates in the UK

As usual some of the top numbers have come from Scotland with the top spot being bagged by Golspie on the East coast of Scotland. Incredibly from a population of just 1,650, 73 Practical tests we're conducted and 56 passes! That's a pass rate of 76.7%, people of Golspie we tip our hat to you! Let's look at some volume now and which area with over 2,000 tests came out on top? Well it's the beautiful market town that is Dorchester with 3,129 passes from 4,876 tests (64.2%). Other large areas worth a commendation here are Yeovil, Durham & Ipswich who scored 61.3%, 59.6% & 59.4% pass rates respectively.

Lowest Driving Test Pass Rates in the UK

Propping up the table we find Birmingham (the pavilion) test centre with a pass rate of 30.2% 303 from 1004 practical tests. London unsurprisingly has a large number of test centres, so it's not a huge shock to see a few represented in the bottom 5, with Erith (30.6%), Belvedere (30.6%), Wanstead (33.4%) all in. The other representative in here is Leeds with 2,469 passes from 7,413 tests (33.3%).

The full list of test centres can be found on the website or click here

So what should you do if you live in one of these areas? 

Well first of all don't worry. These stats should have no bearing on your individual success. Make sure you're working with your driving instructor to make sure you're ready for your test. Imagine an area where you and 1 other person are the only 2 people taking practical tests. If the other person takes 9 tests and fails them all but you pass first time, that makes that test centre's pass rate 10%, but yours is 100%! That's the key here focus on you! 

Practical driving test - how it works

The Practical Test - How it works

With your theory test pass in the bag, you can progress to the final stage in your quest for freedom and independence – your practical driving test. Get through this and you've got your full driving licence. As long as you've prepared correctly, there's nothing to be afraid of.

How long does the Practical Test take?

The practical driving test lasts around 40 minutes and it shouldn't contain anything to faze you. You'll need to take along your theory test pass certificate (or confirmation) if you're not exempt, and don't forget your photocard licence.

Fail to take these items along and you may be refused the opportunity to take your test – and you'll lose any money you've paid to do so. If you've lost your provisional driving licence, you'll have to apply for a replacement from the DVLA – which may mean rearranging your test.

How early should you arrive?

Clutching your various documents, get to the test centre in good time, as if you're late you'll lose your slot and you'll have to apply for another test on another date. To kick things off, your examiner will ask you to sign a declaration that your car is insured, and if you can't or won't sign the form, the test will be cancelled.

Can your Driving Instructor sit in on your Practical Test?

You'll be asked if you'd like anybody to accompany you on your test, then you'll go to your car. You should discuss this with your instructor before you arrive, but most people prefer not to.

What are the legal requirements for driving & the test?

Before getting in, you'll be asked to read a number plate. You need to be able to read a standard number plate from a distance of 20 metres. You'll get two chances to read the number plate correctly – fail both times and the examiner will give you a third chance, having measured with an official tape. Fail this third time and you've failed the test before you've even sat in the car.

What is the Show me tell me?

Next comes the tell me question, when you'll be asked to explain how you would perform a simple safety-related task, such as checking tyre pressures.

What does the on-road section of the Practical Test involve?

The examiner will check your car for damage and that your L-plates are displayed correctly, then you'll go out on your drive (we've covered this in more detail separately).

With the drive out of the way, you'll return to the test centre where you'll be told whether or not you've passed. You'll get a certificate either way. A pass certificate (DSA10) has to be signed and sent to the DVLA in Swansea, together with your provisional licence which you exchange for a full licence.

If you fail you'll be given a Statement of Failure form (DL25C) on which the examiner will have indicated why you failed your test. Along with this you'll also be given a form to apply for another test.

If you failed, the examiner will give you an opportunity to hear why. Your instructor can listen in too, or you can choose to listen in alone – of course your instructor may have been sat in the back of the car for the duration anyway.

Hopefully the examiner will give you the thumbs up, but don't get down if you fail first time. There's plenty of evidence that people who fail at first go on to be better drivers in the long run. Learn from your mistakes and come back stronger.

Can you take the test in your own car?

If you take the test in your own car it must be specifically insured for you to use for this purpose. The car you take your test in, it'll need to display L-plates. Your vehicle must also have a seatbelt and head restraint for the front passenger plus an interior mirror for the examiner's use,.

Read our guide on how to prepare for your practical test