Number of learner drivers passing theory test drops to lowest level in 10 years

Motors | Published:

Just 47.4 per cent of learner drivers managed to pass the theory test last year

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The number of learner drivers passing the theory test has dropped below 50 per cent after the exam was made more difficult.

Department for Transport figures show that the pass rate for the theory test has steadily declined over the past 10 years, from a peak of 68 per cent in the 2008/2009 financial year to just 47.4 per cent in 2018/2019.

The figures also show that women are more likely to pass than men, with 49.2 per cent of the 649,418 tests taken by female learners passing in 2018/2019, compared with 45.7 per cent of the 695,077 male learners.

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Over the past 10 years, more multiple choice questions have been added and the hazard perception section has been expanded as part of attempts to make the exam more difficult. In 2009, a case study section was added, with candidates answering five questions on a hypothetical driving scenario.

Furthermore, from 2012 the answers were no longer published online to stop learners from memorising them.

Mark Winn, chief driving examiner at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), said: “DVSA’s priority is to help everyone through a lifetime of safe driving.


“Britain’s roads are amongst the safest in the world, but all road users must make sure their skills and knowledge are up to date.

“The Highway Code is essential reading for all road users – not just those who are learning to drive. It’s easier than ever to keep up to date with the Highway Code and the rules of the road online.”

Despite the declining pass rate for people taking the theory test, figures show that the pass rate for the practical test has remained consistent, averaging 46.3 per cent over the past 12 years. The figure for 2018/2019 was 45.7 per cent, compared with 44.7 per cent in 2007/2008.

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