First time pass rates

£100 offThe DVSA is actively looking at ways of increasing the first time pass rates for driving tests. The current “first time pass rate” figure is 21% [Source: ADI NJC] as shown in the November BIG TOM Learner blog update HERE. More people fail their first driving test, than pass it.

As previously reported on this blog, official preliminary findings of the new driving test trials that are being undertaken across the UK now and in 2016 suggest that the new driving test has got a 10% higher pass rate than the current test.

But the DVSA are looking to do more.

They are proposing to offer a cashback of some of the driving test fee (£62 Mon-Fri, £75 Saturdays), should the candidate pass the driving test first time. It is intended to be an incentive to encourage Learners to gain driving experience and only attempt the driving test when they are properly ready to realistically pass it. The current evidence suggests, as is being stated by the DVSA, that the majority of people who currently are going for the driving test, are not ready to pass it.

Remember that in this country, the public are allowed to go to test at any time they choose – they can go to test in their own car, without having had any formal driving lessons with a driving instructor at all. As a result of this fact, the DVSA are limited in how they can control and monitor the responsibility of when a driving instructor advises a customer to go to test. Even if Learners do use a driving instructor for formal driving lessons, they can choose to ignore the advice of a driving instructor when it comes to the timing of taking the driving test, because they have every right to simply take the test in their own car if one is available.

At BIG TOM Driving School our current first time pass rates are 87% for customer who take the traditional pay as you go driving lessons. For our intensive driving course customers, that first time pass rate is 64% – these are both significantly higher than the average rates published by the DVSA for the whole of the country.

In our experience, one of the primary causes for low pass rates is when Learners only focus on the standard expected, and content of the driving test only. Rather than attempting to build up a bank of driving experience that will make them feel confident and able to drive in the variety of driving conditions and roads that will be presented after passing the test, many Learners fall into the natural and understandable trap of only considering what happens on the actual driving test. This has many flaws; driving tests are not undertaken in the dark, they are not undertaken in adverse weather, they do not include motorways, the difficulty of the test is determined by the location of the test centre (hence the huge variety of test pass statistics across the country).

In effect, many Learners are limiting the extent of their driving training because they enter the learning process with a pre-determined, conscious, limiting mindset based on the standard of the driving test only, and that will subsequently lower the outcome i.e. the standard of driving once the perceived goal has been reached. It is due to this fact, that BIG TOM Driving School has significant reservations for the preliminary findings of the new driving test trials. Without any additional training, no requirement for added driving time for increasing driving experience, and with the same quality of driving instructors, the pass rate of the new driving test appears (currently) to be producing a higher pass rate. If that means that the driving test standard is actually lowering, then when Learners who enter the process of learning to drive only with achieving that standard in mind, our concern is that the driving training industry is actually lowering standards. Whilst it remains in this country that a driving instructor is not given the responsibility by being provided with the ability to control the standard of candidate going to test, there is no possibility of raising standards.

The right to learn to drive has never been about intellect or affordability. The DVSA throughout history has attempted to ensure that all members of the public with no discrimination, is afforded the possibility to benefit from being a full licence holder. Even in this DVSA video, you will hear how they are attempting to appeal to Learners to gain more driving experience before going to test, but adding how that does not necessarily have to result in more driving lessons with a driving instructor – they are keen to give a message that more driving experience does not have to mean higher costs to the consumer. However, not all Learners have the opportunity to practise outside of their driving lessons with a driving instructor. Whilst this proposal doesn’t at this stage give an amount for the cashback being provided for a first time test pass, with average hourly driving lessons costing around £25 it is open to debate how effective will be this “cashback” incentive.

The official DVSA video HERE will provide you with the links available to offer your opinion of this proposal.


BIG TOM Driving School   Bookings: 0800 689 4174