Driving Test Pass Rates

According to statistics released by the Department for Transport, the amount of all types of driving tests being conducted has increased in the 12 months leading to September 2015. Data during that period shows an increase of 17.3% in theory tests and 4.7% in practical tests.

Theory Tests

There have been several significant changes to the driving theory test since 2007. This has resulted in a drop in the pass rate.

Recent changes to the theory test include:

  • September 2007 – The number of questions was increased from 35 to 50
  • September 2009 – Case studies were introduced. These include a single driving scenario with five related questions.
  • January 2012 – New questions are no longer published online or in practice papers.
  • January 2013 – The list of questions was updated. This resulted in most of the test questions no longer being available.
  • April 2014 – Translators and voiceovers in foreign languages are no longer allowed.

These changes have resulted in a lower percentage of students passing their theory test. The table below shows the theory pass rate slowly declining since 2007:

Annually (financial years) Conducted Passes Pass rate (%)
2007/08 1,451,348 949,431 65.4
2008/09 1,290,638 844,036 65.4
2009/10 1,347,486 859,813 63.8
2010/11 1,346,165 849,007 63.1
2011/12 1,371,494 833,930 60.8
2012/13 1,244,041 735,368 59.1
2013/14 1,541,896 795,245 51.6
2014/15 1,680,268 857,189 51.0

Data from the driver and rider testing and instructor statistics by the Department for Transport.

Practical Tests

The most common type of driving test, almost 90% in fact, is the car driving test. During July, August and September 2015, this amounted to a total of 444,232 practical driving tests.

There has been a downward trend in the number of practical tests taken in recent years, falling by 18.5% between 2007 and 2013.

Reasons suggested for this include a declining birth rate during the 1990s. As the 17-20 age group makes up the largest group of learner drivers, there is now a smaller population of young people to take the tests. Another suggested factor is the economic recession of 2008, which may have discouraged young people from taking driving lessons due to the cost involved.

However, this trend began to reverse from 2013 onwards. It has been suggested this could be due to the upturn in the economy.

Unlike theory tests, practical test pass rates have remained steady over the years. The table below shows the practical pass rates since 2007:

Annually (financial years) Conducted Passes Pass rate (%)
2007/08 1,762,148 779,207 44.2
2008/09 1,738,992 787,618 45.3
2009/10 1,533,738 703,859 45.9
2010/11 1,605,599 744,058 46.3
2011/12 1,569,069 736,158 46.9
2012/13 1,436,481 677,255 47.1
2013/14 1,477,585 695,580 47.1
2014/15 1,532,504 718,711 46.9

Data from the driver and rider testing and instructor statistics by the Department for Transport.

Whether you have recently passed your driving test, or you’re still learning to drive, contact us for a free car insurance quote. 4 Young Drivers specialises in new drivers and learner drivers.

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Released On 8th Mar 2016

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