Driving test pass rates in an automatic

A common question that we get asked here at BIG TOM is whether it is easier to pass a driving test in an automatic rather than a manual car. Let’s take a deep dive into the current overall figures that have just been released by the DVSA and compare them specifically to automatic driving test pass rates in 2019 – 2020.

The following are official statistics that are widely available for free to the public. I have summarised the data that is relevant to the driving test centres where BIG TOM currently has a presence using the sources of DVSA0201(20-21ytd), 1202(19-20), 1204 (19-20).

Firstly, let’s look at the overall tests and pass rates given for 2020/2021, and you will see in some cases that there is precise timing given due to the lockdowns that occurred last year.
There have been 194,784 driving tests conducted so far in 2020-2021 and 97,946 test passes which give an overall pass rate of 50.3%. This is slightly increased on historical data which tended to have a pass rate of 45-50%. Whether this is due to increased effort due to the restricted availability is not clear, but given the fact that driving test slots have been harder to come by, it is a possible reason.

Looking at Boston driving test centre, between April and June 2020 there were 26 tests, and 17 passes giving a pass rate of 65%. In July 2020 there were 497 tests with 291 passes giving a 58.6% pass rate. Contrast that pass rate with the pass rate in automatics only for 2019-2020, which was 54%.

In the same time periods for Grantham, it was 21, 12 and 57% pass rate followed by 641, 380 and 59% pass rate. The automatic pass rate was just 47%.

Same again for Lincoln which had no data for the period of April to June 2020, but for July 2020 it was 684, 340 and 50% pass rate. The automatic pass rate is even less than Grantham at 41%.

Next up, Peterborough. 64, 40 and 63% pass rate, followed by 1447, 724 and 50% pass rate. Contrast those with the automatic pass rate of 41%, just like Lincoln.

Lastly, we have Melton Mowbray that only has September 2020 data provided of, 224, 125 and 56% pass rate. Comparing with an automatic pass rate of 66% which you will notice tends to go against the trend of the previous data.

Perhaps surprisingly, the data for driving test pass rates in an automatic suggest that a person stands more chance of passing in a manual.

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BIG TOM video Harry driving on rural roads

In this video, you will see Harry driving on rural roads and it will help you to recognise some of the key skills needed to drive safely on country roads.

Harry has decided to practise driving on rural roads in and around Spalding having had an initial practice in Grantham the previous day of his 5 star, all-inclusive BIG TOM intensive driving course.  You can see him navigating his way around twisty roads with farmland either side of the road.  The video goes on to explain some of the characteristics present when driving on these types of roads.  Often the class of road differs from A roads, the quality of the road surface may not be so good, driving in the dark is more difficult due to no white line markings on the road or street lights or cats eyes.  Visibility ahead is often compromised.

With country roads come horses, pedestrians, tractors, dogs, pheasants, deer, foxes, cows, motorbikes and very often hills and bends.  So driving on these kinds of roads needs practice of being able to anticipate increased risk factors, and then plan for the appropriate driving actions depending ont he circumstances.  When newly qualified drivers have not had enough experience of driving on these roads, they may fall short of being able to safely drive independently in what can be quite challenging driving conditions.  The design of the roads is different to other types of driving, the users and animals are different and when you also factor in poor weather or light levels, then you can begin to realise how important it is to ensure you are properly prepared for driving on these roads.

Later in the video, you see Harry transitioning from the rural road to a faster moving “A” road.  And this is also an important skill to develop.  It comes in many different forms.  Sometimes drivers may have driven on a motorway for some time and then pull off at services and within 30 seconds of travelling on a motorway, then find they need to do a parking manoeuvre.  Likewise, you may need to transition from town driving with a maximum speed limit of 20 or 30 and then in the space of about a minute, you find yourself merging on to a faster moving dual carriageway.  Appreciating what kind of driving conditions you are in and crucially, soon to be in, does require some practice and our intensive course is ideal at making that possible.  Our customers get the opportunity of driving in different towns and cities on different days of the course.  This helps them practise real-life driving of planning a route, navigating on unfamiliar roads, adapting to differing driving conditions and this is all accomplished in a safe learning environment.   It helps them to recognise which types of driving they feel more or less confident and gives them the opportunity to assess their strengths or weaknesses.

The DfT reported on 30/09/2020 for road casualties in Great Britain in 2019.  In that report it is shown that the vast majority of fatalities occur on rural roads (57%) with urban (37%) and motorway (6%).  As it shows that 43% of traffic is carried on rural roads it is vitally important that pupils learning to drive are given the opportunity to clock up hours of practice.  The report indicates that there continues to be improved road safety on Great British roads with lower levels of casualties of all severities – in fact at the lowest level since 1979 which is quite some achievement considering the increased volume of traffic since that time.  While it is pleasing to see that there were fewer young fatalities (aged 17-24) in 2019 than the previous year, we recognise at BIG TOM the importance of developing competent and confident drivers by offering the best quality driving training.  As you can see from Ben’s driving training experience here, BIG TOM has been methodically ensuring our driving training is fit for purpose for many years.

We are taking bookings: 0749 836 4211



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Are crash courses any good?

image of an apple and pear

In this blog, we will be offering you contrasting methods for learning to drive, so that you can better answer the question are crash courses any good?

A crash course or perhaps more commonly referred to as intensive driving course is broadly speaking an accelerated learning programme. The opportunity that it provides is primarily related to the decreased time taken to learn. This method of learning is in high demand as it appeals to people who have a specific time-sensitive goal. One common example is related to starting university and needing to be able to drive. But often having a full driving licence can be a requirement for a new job. In our experience of providing these courses over many years, they tend to appeal to customers who are returning to learning to drive a bit later in their life. These customers may have started the process in their teens, but for one reason or another, their eye was taken off the ball, and so they find that they return to it 10 years later. And those types of customers tend to have a high chance of success because they are slightly older and have the benefit of knowing how they learn (more on this later), but also, they are highly motivated and effective in their organisation.

“I’ve had many driving instructors over the years and I can safely say that Tom is the best I’ve found” James Baldwin from Peterborough

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s first of all describe what the ordinary process is for learning to drive. Independent DVSA research conducted across the UK informs us that it will take the average person about 45 hours driving training with a registered driving instructor PLUS 20 hours doing private practice with Mum or Dad. So the bit that most people tend to ignore with that factual research is that the combined time is on average 65 hours. It is important to recognise that point, as not everyone has access to private lessons. Private lessons in the main offer a wonderful opportunity to reinforce learning that occurs with a driving instructor.  

“I didn’t think I would be able to learn to drive so quick but you proved me wrong”  Ben Parker from Bourne

So what anyone needs to be mindful about is signing up to an accelerated learning programme that has a pre-determined, fixed number of hours. To avoid a disappointing outcome, it will be necessary to have the number of hours that is needed for your personal number of previous hours training, based on the DVSA research.  

“I could feel myself progressing as the days went on and as I was told about different ways of learning and developing new skills which is very good for confidence while driving especially as a learner” Billy Brooks from Castle Bytham

Let me give you some examples:

Pupil A has done 20 hours with two driving instructors previously and 12 hours practising with Mum. So, this pupil has about 25 hours remaining with a driving instructor and 8 on private practice. We must always be careful when we refer to the time it takes to learn because different people can learn at very different rates – but here we are talking about averages.  

Pupil B has no experience of driving on roads. She has done a little bit of driving with Dad off-road so has a basic idea of things, but it has only been in total about 3 hours. This pupil would do well to calculate needing about 45 hours with a driving instructor and about 20 private practice. 

“I would recommend an intensive course to anybody. Same amount of hours over a shorter space of time which in my opinion is better than spread out over what can sometimes end up as months!!” Sarah Shepherd from Pointon

Once you know roughly how many hours are needed, the beauty with some crash course providers is that they are able to accommodate precisely what is needed; no waste of time/money taking hours you do not need and also enough training to give you a realistic chance of passing a driving test. Crucially, they will offer you timescales of completing those training hours in far shorter periods of time than traditional driving lessons. The DVSA have also discovered that it takes people on average, 7 months to learn to drive. So if you flick through the blog here at BIG TOM, you’ll notice that customers are passing their driving test within just 4 weeks of booking up their course.

“I can’t thank BIG TOM enough and for someone like me, who has unpleasant experiences with driving/Instructors over the years, I couldn’t recommend BIG TOM enough!!” Abbie Scott-Brown from Ruskington

So in terms of timescales, you can begin to see why this way of training does appeal to many people. But one question that you may be wondering is whether the reduced period taken to learn has detrimental outcomes to the quality of learning. If a training provider, regardless of what timescales they work to, only teaches pupils to pass a driving test e.g. only practising on test routes, then there is a case that the ability of those learners to drive independently, anywhere is compromised. But that risk is equally with the traditional pay as you go driving lessons as it is with crash courses. At BIG TOM our customers are encouraged to drive to different towns and cities, across county borders so as to develop a variety of driving experience. In other words, we recognise the importance of the quality of training as being a higher priority than only driving around in one town/city for an hour or two.  

“I learnt so much in such a short space of time and am very happy with the progress I made” Paris Padley from Boston 

When someone learns a new practical skill or set of skills, you want them to remember the details. When you learn to ski, for example, you take lessons each day, and you recall the important details and reflect on how you found the previous session. These are important techniques that we use with driving training as well. Indeed, one of the limitations of having a driving lesson once per week is that it is sometimes hard for pupils to remember the key details from the week before. On a BIG TOM intensive driving course, however, your training is as frequent as you want it to be, but generally speaking, occurs more frequently than once per week. The technical details are fresh in your mind, as are your reflections on how you are doing. You receive instant feedback on how you are doing, and because of the regularity, this feedback tends to “stick” easier than receiving feedback once per week.   

“I would definitely recommend this course for anyone, whether that be learning to drive for the first time or practicing techniques you’ve already learnt”

Emily Ashcroft from Cranwell

So what has been outlined above are the pros and cons of learning using different techniques. It is an inescapable fact that some pupils will remain highly motivated and able to focus on an intensive course whereas others would quite happily plod along with a lesson a week for 7 months.

“In my opinion more useful than 1 hour lessons” Ben Robinson from Bourne

The choice, as ever, is entirely yours.  Want to check if a crash course is suitable for you?  Click here for an immediate no-obligation assessment



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Guaranteed pass on intensive driving course

guarantee seal of approval

Over 93% of BIG TOM customers who go on to take their driving test pass on their first or second attempt.

This is why we offer our golden Two Test Guarantee AS STANDARD. In other words, here at BIG TOM, you don’t have to keep adding up more costs to the course price that is quoted. The price you see is the price you pay – no hidden extras.

We train our customers to become safe, competent drivers who have the confidence to drive on their own.

This is why we have devised a dynamic, flexible training programme that is able to adapt to the needs of each customer. In other words, here at BIG TOM, we don’t treat everybody the same. This means that you are offered the experience of driving in the dark, or poor weather or different times of the day. It also means you take your driving test feeling confident of a pass.

Browse through the feedback we have collected over the years from our customers, and you will see that we have helped learners pass the driving test who have suffered from high anxiety issues or sometimes loss of self-confidence. As we don’t treat all customers the same, we are able to offer a bespoke service. The great news for you is that you don’t have to pay a premium to receive this higher level of service. There are loads of reasons why customers flock to BIG TOM, and having the confidence of receiving a personal service is just one of them.

Learning to drive is a once-only event, and we know how much our customers rely on and trust our guidance that we give when it comes to deciding the correct length of an intensive course. Too short and a customer does not feel confident, but too long and it incurs wasted time and money. We have been providing these courses for several years and know how to help you.

But we take nothing for granted; pupils arrive on our courses with differing previous experiences. We have devised a very handy traffic light assessment which is freely available for any person who is considering an intensive course versus pay as you go driving lessons. Follow this link here and get an immediate response to help you on your way – completely free.



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Help intensive driving course

Meet Sally, our virtual customer. See her diary entries for deciding on how to learn to drive.

4th Jan Fed up with driving lessons. Done 18 now, it’s taking so long and I’m getting bored with it. Why does it have to take this long? Is this normal? I get on ok with the instructor, kind of, he is pleasant enough, but I don’t get the impression that he really knows why I’m learning to drive. I need wheels fast! I’m 24, searching around for jobs like crazy, and as soon as they realise I don’t have a licence, that’s it…the end. But it has taken four months just to get where I am now. It is so infuriatingly slow. I’m also sick and tired of getting on buses and trains, I feel like I’m just asking to catch covid again.

8th Jan Been googling stuff because a friend mentioned to me about intensive driving courses. Never heard of them but sure enough, there are a few places that do them. There’s one that caught my eye, the first one that came up as it happens, big tom. I like some of the reviews, looks like people just like me. Need to do more digging. Meanwhile, got a driving lesson tomorrow.

10th Jan Have just filled out a little questionnaire on the big tom site – apparently they help me to decide if I should continue with my driving lessons or think about intensive. So much for my driving lesson yesterday… instructor cancelled again – childcare…again.

11th Jan Got the green light from big tom! They gave me some brilliant feedback. It’s obvious that they have been doing this a while, they know what they are talking about. I’d love to do it, but need to speak to Dad. Dad will then speak to Mum, and then I will speak to Mum. That’s the plan, it’s all about the timing (which funnily enough is what big tom mentioned too). I know what she’s like though, she will want me to check things out properly. Need to dig some more…. where’s my diggy thing…. SPADE! Where’s my spade? {feeling excited}

15th Jan Ok got some info together for Mum in particular. Dad will be easy. This is all about Operation Smothermother (with facts). Been collecting some:
big tom gives you two tests as standard, I like that.
Saw this review which I thought Mum might like – “you will not be disappointed and is well worth the money”
I do like the idea that big tom mentions about avoiding slow driving lessons which is exactly how I feel – it is just taking too long. They have their own goal to turn things around within four weeks of Mum booking it in – like the positive thinking – she WILL be booking me on this course…FACT
Sounds small but actually, they do come and pick me up which considering I’m trying to avoid buses is quite a big deal considering where I live!
I’m looking at some of the results that this company gets – incredible…
“bagged the 20 hour daytime course last week and passed her driving test on the first attempt just 3 days later”
“started training on the 12/08/2020 where we organised the travel arrangements to take a theory test and he passed his practical driving test today just 13 days later. ”
“Thank you! I didn’t get any of this stuff from my last instructor!”
“purchased the BIG TOM weekend intensive driving course on the 14/02/2020 and has got his driving licence less than four weeks later”
So excited….. I can just tell this is for me.

19th Jan Didn’t quite go as I was hoping with Mum. Dad was a breeze (no surprise there…. good old Dad). Mum asked a few awkward questions that I couldn’t answer which is a bit frustrating seeing as I knew she would ask questions. I need to get back to big tom…. good thing is, they really respond fast to my emails.

20th Jan Asked my instructor today how long he thinks these driving lessons are going to take. “Good question” he said. Yea, and the answer? “These things take as long as it takes”. OMG! Is he kidding me?! On the positive side of things though, emailing big tom is so helpful…. they are fast but don’t put any pressure on me {I like that}

21st Jan Just read about a big tom customer who had 6 previous goes at the driving test and failed. She goes with big tom and after the course passes first time. What? Whaaaattttt?! {crazyworldwelivein}

23rd Jan I think I need to get Mum to look at the big tom customer reviews. So many customers say that they’ve been with others and wish they’d gone with big tom earlier. I need Mum to see these, there are too many people saying the same thing.

24th Jan Turns out Mum has been looking at the big tom website – I had a really great chat with Mum today. I think I can bin these crap driving lessons soon – Mum smiled at me today… I think I’ve done good finding big tom!

28th Jan I like the amount of stuff you receive before booking. I’ve now got a plan of how many hours to do the big tom intensive course, and they give flexible days and times, so it fits my diary perfectly. Can answer all Mum’s questions now! {veryhappy}

When you get in touch with us to seek help about an intensive driving course for you, we will create a bespoke package, ideally suited to your particular needs.



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All Inclusive Deal

Welcome to the BIG TOM 5 star All Inclusive Deal

This is the premier league of intensive driving course deals.  Look at all the benefits you receive on this deal that is packed with value and eliminates hassle:

Tailored for all abilities, we have an open door policy for anyone looking to get their driving licence quicker.  We can adapt the course to suit your individual needs.  Absolute beginner? No problem.

Unlimited remote theory study support.  We go the extra mile to give you every chance of passing your theory test.

Our immediate start course means just that, you start straight away.  Our goal is for you to pass your driving test within 4 weeks of booking your course…. and yes we will measure our performance.

Two test guarantee.  When you purchase a BIG TOM intensive course, you get not one but two practical test fees as standard.  Think of it as a safety net.

BIG TOM Driving Success Programme ©   A unique programme of driving training, centred around you, that gets results.  Don’t take our word for it, see what our customers say.

Bin the slow motion driving lessons, if you need a full driving licence for work or home as soon as possible then treat yourself to the BIG TOM 5 star all inclusive deal. We pick you up from home every day! Bookings: 0749 836 4211



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Is an intensive driving course right for me?

Try our free questionnaire – 10 simple questions to check if an intensive driving course is right for you

We offer all customers an opportunity to benefit from our experience of providing intensive courses to a wide range of pupils with differing abilities for many years.  This service is free, without obligation and is intended to help you decide if it would be the right way for you to learn to drive.  Try it, you have absolutely nothing to lose.

  1.  Do you get bored or lose motivation when things take too long?

  2. Do you have a goal in mind to get your full driving licence by a certain date?

  3. Do you suffer with any anxiety or self-confidence issues?

  4. Do you enjoy travelling in a car?

  5. How many hours have you driven with a DVSA driving instructor?

  6. How well can you multi-task physically (hand and feet co-ordination) and mentally (listen to something while you are doing something else)?

  7. Is there any aspect of driving that makes you feel nervous?

  8. How many hours have you practised driving with parents or friends?

  9. Have you ever suffered a traumatic experience in a vehicle?

  10. Do you have any pressures on you (personally or by others) to pass your driving test in a certain timescale

Email your answers to Tom on and standby for the first key step to learning to drive – be sure to check out our Data Policy (we take the protection of your personal data very seriously)


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Driving training pause for lockdown 3

The Government has announced a further lockdown 3.0 and the DVSA have informed all driving schools that there is no driving training and no theory/practical tests.

BIG TOM Driving School is keeping all customers up to date with the very latest.  We would like to thank all customers for their patience, we can appreciate how frustrating this must be for you all.  

Rest assured that we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that delays are kept to a minimum. 

As was the case with previous lockdowns, we continue to offer our customers 1:1 online theory study support at no extra cost.  This is an ideal use of this downtime to make sure you are properly prepared for your theory test.  The DVSA has stated that should the two year theory pass period expire as a result of these lockdowns, then the theory test will need to be taken again.  The rationale they give for their policy is that it is important that newly qualified drivers who drive on public roads have got recent knowledge of the rules of the road.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to contact us on the above twitter link and we will be happy to help.



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Data Privacy for Customers

This policy (together with our terms of use in the BIG TOM Privacy Policy) set out the basis on which any personal data we collect from you, or that you provide to us, will be processed by us. Please read the following carefully to understand our views and practices regarding your personal data and how we will treat it.

BIG TOM Driving School is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. The rules on the processing of personal data are set out in the General Data Protection Regulation.

Who are we?

Tom Ingram (Owner of BIG TOM Driving School) is the data controller and registered with the ICO: 00015322626). This means we decide how your personal data is processed and for what purposes. Contact:

The purpose of processing your personal data – booking of driving training

We use your personal data for the following purposes:

Purchasing driving training reservations

Booking of practical and theory tests with the DVSA

Digital access to provisional licence details

Delivery of in-car training by BIG TOM Franchisee

Maintain our accounts and records

Manage our franchise

To inform individuals of test passes/course information

Subscription to a theory study app

Sourcing of an express practical test slot

You may give us information about you by filling in the “CONTACT” form on the website (see BIG TOM Privacy Policy) or by corresponding with us by phone, email, text or otherwise.

The categories of personal data concerned

The personal data you give us may include your name, address, email address, phone number, drivers licence, theory pass certificate, credit card information, test pass photograph, customer survey.

You will also be allocated unique DVSA test booking reference numbers which are handled on your behalf. After taking a driving test, the DVSA will send us your test report, which we collect on your behalf and forward to you.

Personal data

Consent of data subject

Processing necessary for the performance of a service contract (or to take steps to enter into a contract) – providing theory study and/or in-car driving training, purchasing process

Processing necessary for compliance with a legal obligation – eyesight test prior to driving training, fitness to drive (including Covid)

Processing necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller – verification of provisional driving licence entitlement

Processing necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests of the data controller – any specific needs required for the taking of DVSA tests

Sharing your personal data

Your personal data will be treated as strictly confidential and will be shared only with BIG TOM Administrative personnel and BIG TOM franchisees, DVSA bookings, theory study app provider.

How long do we keep your personal data?

We keep your personal data for no longer than reasonably necessary for a period of 30 days after the formal completion of your driving training in case of any legal claim/complaint. In the case of credit card data for processing payments, we do not record, store or retain ANY data for any period of time once the payment has been processed.

Providing us with your personal data

You are under no obligation to provide us with your personal data, but failure to do so will prevent us from creating bookings for you, ensuring driving training is legal and our ability to book DVSA tests.

Your rights and your personal data

Unless subject to an exemption under the data protection laws, you have the following rights with respect to your personal data:

to request a copy of it, to request we correct any inaccurate or out of date data, to request it be deleted where it is no longer necessary to retain such data, to withdraw your consent to the processing of it at any time.

In addition to the above rights:

to request we provide you with your personal data, when there is a dispute in relation to accuracy or processing to request a restriction is placed on further processing, to object to our processing of personal data, where applicable

If you wish to exercise any of the rights set out above, please contact with subject heading “FAO: Data Controller”. We will try to respond to all legitimate requests within one month. There is no fee. If the request is clearly unfounded, repetitive or excessive then we may refuse to comply with your request in these circumstances. We may need to request specific information from you to help us confirm your identity and ensure your right to access your personal data (or to exercise any of your other rights). This is a security measure to ensure that personal data is not disclosed to any person who has no right to receive it.

Please keep us informed if your personal data changes during your relationship with us. It is important that the personal data we hold about you is accurate and current.

Queries/Requests/Concerns – In the first instance contact the Data Controller via If this does not resolve your complaint to your satisfaction, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the ICO on 0303 123 1113 or

Any changes we may make to our privacy policies in the future will be posted on this (and other pages) and, where appropriate, notified to you by email.  

This version was last updated 06/01/2021



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First time pass in Sleaford

Kitty from Sleaford has passed her driving test this morning in Grantham on her first attempt

Kitty booked up her BIG TOM intensive driving course on 17/10/20, and even with lockdown 2 interrupting things, she has still managed to get her full driving licence in quick fast time.  On her course she experienced driving in a variety of places including going over to Boston, driving north and south on the A1, and plenty of practice on country roads.  A feature of her course was the varied weather that occurred, ranging from snow, fog, rain and bright sunshine!

She enjoyed her experience and said that she had wished she had started off originally with BIG TOM on the intensive course.



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