Not everyone passes their practical driving test the first time - and that’s fine! 😎
Some learner drivers take a few attempts to get it right, while others never pass at all. It’s all about making sure that you get your licence only when you’re good and ready. There’s no rush when it comes to being safe on the road.
Managing your expectations can help reduce the pressure you feel in the lead-up to a test, and help you put things in perspective if you don’t pass.
To help with this, we’ve found the average pass rate for the country and broken things down further using age and gender data. We’ve also pinpointed the test centres with the highest and lowest pass rates, identified the most common errors, and found how many people pass their first (and sixth!) try.
It can be frustrating waiting for that licence, but these facts and figures should help you see that every single learning-to-drive experience is different. Good luck!
First up, the headline stat: the average pass rate for the practical driving test in Great Britain.
During the final three months of 2021, 419,742 driving tests were completed in the country. That’a a lot of L stickers and ‘good luck!’ texts! Of those, 48.1% were successful - meaning more tests were failed than passed.
For the current period of 2021/2022 (why driving data is grouped by financial year, we’ll never know! 🤷♂️), the pass rate is a little higher, at 49.6%.
That’s a lot of numbers! But the main takeaway here is that, no matter how annoyed you might feel after failing your test, you’re in the majority. More tests are failed than passed.
Let’s break things down further, by age, gender and attempt number.
There’s not much difference between men and women when it comes to pass rates in the driving test, despite some lazy stereotypes and tedious routines from comedy dinosaurs down the pub.
Last December, our research shows that 34,805 men and 66,313 women took their driving tests. Men passed 49.6% of the time, and women passed 45.6% of the time - a difference of only a few dozen per every 1000 tests.
Basically, no matter your gender, the recent driving test data shows that you’re slightly more likely to fail than pass your test. Sorry!
Unlike gender, things are way more varied when it comes to age.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the high premium rates they receive, the youngest drivers have the highest pass rates.
For the period of April 2020 to March 2021, in-between all that COVID-19 self-isolating and those endless Zoom quizzes, 437,352 tests were carried out.
The youngest age group was also the age group with the highest pass rate: those aged 17 years and under passed an incredible 63.5% of the time.
Tests involving those aged 18 were also passed a majority of the time, with a 53.7% success rate. The kids are alright!
The trend continued with those aged 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25. While a majority of those age groups narrowly failed, these applicant demographics all saw at least 48% of tests pass.
As the age groups rose, however, the pass rate continued to drop. Those aged 26, 27 and 28 are the last group with a pass rate of at least 45%, while 37 is the cut-off for a pass rate of 40%. From there, it gets lower and lower.
No age group in the 40s has a pass rate of more than 37.9%, no age group in the 50s has a pass rate of more than 35.5%. Over the age of 60, the pass rate drops to 32.7%.
So, in simple terms: the younger you are, the more likely you are to pass.
But what about test attempts?
Luckily there’s plenty of data out there on that too.
Looking at the figures from March 2020 to April 2021, we can see a very clear pattern emerge:
|Test attempt||Number of tests||Pass rate|
|Sixth and on||6,337||38.8%|
If you’re taking your first or second test, you’re more likely to pass than fail. Even if you’re taking your third or fourth attempt, you’re only slightly more likely to fail than pass.
By the fifth attempt, the pass rate drops to 44.3%. Attempts from sixth onwards are grouped together. At this point the pass rate drops to a nervy 38.8%.
But even if you’ve failed the first few times, don’t give up hope just yet. Every year, thousands of learner drivers pass after the sixth-attempt mark - so there’s hope for everyone so long as you keep practising and improving!
First, a little explainer on driving test faults.
Faults, put simply, are mistakes you make during the test. There are three types:
Now that we've got that out of the way, let’s take a look at how many people passed their first attempt without making a single error. The gold standard of driving tests! 💯
In 2018/2019 (the last ‘normal’ year before the COVID-19 lockdowns and backlogs), 733,167 first-attempt tests were taken. Of these, 341,394 (46.6%) people passed. Of these, an extremely talented 10,247 people passed without a single error - 1.4% of the total.
Don’t put extra pressure on yourself by trying to achieve a perfect score - but it’s interesting to see just how many people do so.
If you’re wondering about what errors in particular catch people out, we’ve got a separate guide on the 10 most common driving test faults.
We wrote a special guide last year about the driving test centres with the highest and lowest pass rates - and it’s proved to be one of the most popular pieces of content we’ve ever produced. 💁♂️
It’s not hard to see why, with a 54.3% difference in pass rate between the easiest and the hardest test centres.
The hardest places to pass tend to be in busy cities, with test centres in London, Liverpool and Birmingham making up the top 5 with the lowest success rates.
And the easiest places are generally rural areas with less road traffic, with the top 5 highest pass rates found in the Scottish countryside.
Regardless of the location, however, you will never pass your test if you don’t put in the hard yards and get that practice done. So don’t try to game the system by taking your test at an ‘easier’ centre - if you aren’t ready, you won’t pass.
We can talk about stats all we like, but when it comes to learning to drive there is one golden rule: you must be insured before you hit the road.
Driving without insurance is a major issue, and it could even result in a court appearance and an unlimited fine. Don’t risk it, it’s just not worth it.
Cuvva's learner driver insurance is perfect for lessons and practice. Borrow a friend or family member’s car and only pay for what you need, with policies from one hour. Lesson overrun? No problem, just extend it in the app.
Whatever you’re after, you can get a quote in minutes.
Good luck, and happy driving! 🚗