Average results for driving theory test by age, gender and location

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What is the theory test?
Current pass rate
By gender
By test centre

Wondering how easy (or hard) it is to pass your driving theory test? Seems like someone always knows someone who passed first time without studying, like, at all 🙄.

But the reality is, failing a theory test is pretty common. So don’t be downhearted if you don’t ace it first time round. You’re far from alone – as you’re about to learn from these stats 👇

What’s a theory test and why do learner drivers take one?

Quick recap, before we get to the stats. Learner drivers need to take two tests to get their full UK driving licence – a theory test and a practical test.

Your practical test is the actual driving bit, whereas you’ll do your theory test on a computer at a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) test centre.

Driving theory tests are designed to test your knowledge of driving-related stuff. Like what road signs mean and what the rules of the roads are. They have two parts:

  • A multiple choice quiz – you need to get 43 out of 50 questions right to pass.
  • A virtual hazard perception test – you need to score 44 out of 75 to pass.

You can take your driving theory test as soon as you turn 17. You have to pass it to be able to get your licence.

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An example of some UK road signs you’ll need to know for your theory test
An example of some UK road signs you’ll need to know for your theory test

What’s the current theory test pass rate?

The most recent pass rate recorded for driving theory tests in the UK (for the year ending 2021) is 55.7%.

That means almost half of people fail 😰 – all the more reason to scrub up your knowledge with our top tips for passing your theory test!

Has the theory test pass rate changed much over the years?

Yep – there’s been quite a big change in the theory test pass rate over the past decade or so. In fact, in the years between 2008 – 2020 it gradually fell from 65.7% to 47.1%.

It jumped back up 55.7% in 2021, though.

There’ve been quite a few changes to the driving theory test over the years that might have made it harder to pass.

For example, there used to be just 35 multiple choice questions to answer, but that was raised to 50 in 2007.

Also, you used to be able to look at questions and answers on practice papers. But these were removed in 2012, making it harder to know what you might get asked.

Here’s a break down of the pass rate since 2008:

  • 2007/2008 – 65.4%
  • 2008/2009 – 65.4%
  • 2009/2010 – 63.8%
  • 2010/2011 – 63.1%
  • 2011/2012 – 60.8%
  • 2012/2013 – 59.1%
  • 2013/2014 – 51.6%
  • 2014/2015 – 51%
  • 2015/2016 – 49.3%
  • 2016/2017 – 48.7%
  • 2017/2018 – 48.7%
  • 2018/2019 – 47.3%
  • 2019/2020 – 47.1%
  • 2020/2021 – 55.7%
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We've also crunched the numbers for the practical exam. Find out more

What’s the theory test pass rate by gender?

Simply put: women have a slightly better pass rate than men.

In the year ending 2021, the female pass rate was 58.3% and the male pass rate was 53.4%.

Here’s a breakdown of pass rate by gender since 2008:

The average theory test pass rate by gender
The average theory test pass rate by gender
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Driving theory test results by test centre – best and worst pass rates

The theory test pass rate varies quite a lot from one test centre to another.

The top three and worst three test centres for pass rates in 2021 were:

Top 3 test centres with highest pass rates

  1. Edinburgh – 66%
  2. Greenock – 65%
  3. Guildford – 64.6%

Bottom 3 test centres with lowest pass rates

  1. Leicester – 46.9%
  2. Bradford – 47.7%
  3. Boston – 47.6%

I’ve passed my theory test - what next?

Congrats! 🥳 Now it’s time to start focusing on the practical driving test. You might find this practical driving test checklist useful!

We have a list of the average UK results for practical driving tests, too, as well as a breakdown of the driving test centres with the highest and lowest pass rates.

Don’t forget, once you actually hit the road you must be insured. And once you pass your test, you’ll need to sort insurance for your full licence. Whatever you’re after, you can get a quick quote in just minutes.

Updated on 23rd September 2022