The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

New Drivers In UK Pass Rates for Theory Test Fall To Ten Year Low

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Pass rates for learner car drivers taking theory tests have fallen to their lowest point in ten years, according to new government figures.

The Department for Transport figures reveal that of the 1,470,000 learners who took the theory test during the last 12 months, just 47 percent passed. This follows a consistent year-on-year fall from 2009-10 when 64 percent passed.

The data, released quarterly, shows 46 percent of the 1,226,000 learners who took the practical test in the last 12 months passed. Pass rates have hovered around 45 percent over the past ten years.

The figures reveal that men have outperformed women every year in the practical tests since 2009. Pass rates for males were consistently around 50 percent, whereas passes for females hovered in the low-40s, with the highest recorded pass rate of 44 percent in 2012-13.

That trend is reversed when it comes to theory tests, though, where women consistently outperform men. In the last year, 49 percent of women passed the theory, compared to 45 percent of men. However, rates have fallen year-on-year since 2009-10, when 67 percent of women and 61 of men percent passed.

Greg Wilson, founder of, a leading car insurance comparison website, said:

"While every learner driver would like to pass both their theory test and their practical test on the first attempt, the fact that pass rates are continuing to fall isn't necessarily a bad thing for other road users, because it indicates the testing process is becoming more rigorous and comprehensive each year.

"Until 2012 theory test questions and answers were published online, which made it much easier for learner drivers to pass. The number of multiple-choice questions in the theory test has also increased from 35 to 50 in recent years, and a series of questions about a hypothetical driving scenario have also been added to the theory test in order to offer the learner driver real-world context.

"While learner drivers who do fail their theory test will be understandably upset about that outcome, the falling pass rate demonstrates that the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) is determined to increase driving standards by ensuring new drivers know the rules of the road inside and out, and that's no bad thing."