Which Test Centres Had the Best and Worst Pass Rates in 2017/18?

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Here at PassMeFast, we’re firm believers that your test results come down to you—not the stats. Nonetheless, road conditions—and, thus, test conditions—do vary across the country. It’s for this reason that many of us wonder where our local area stands in comparison to others. But where exactly are the best and worst test centre pass rates?

The answer, in fact, changes all the time. Old test centres close down each year, making way for new ones. Meanwhile, existing test centres with a poor run of form may suddenly become more favourable due to changing local roads—or vice versa! As such, each annual pass rate update attracts plenty of attention.

In July 2018, the DVSA finally released the complete figures for driving test pass rates in 2017/18. Which test centres came out on top, and which were left floundering? It’s time to take a look at the best and worst test centre pass rates in the UK. Let’s begin!


The Best

We’re not fans of starting with the bad news—so let’s kick off with the test centres with the highest pass rates in 2017/18.

If you’ve ever kept up with pass rate statistics over time, you might have a mental picture of which test centres will feature here. Scotland has a history of dominating pass rate statistics, while rural areas outperform the big cities. Did the pattern hold up in 2017/18? Let’s take a look at the top 20 to find out.

1 Golspie 76.7%
2 Pitlochry 73.6%
3 Duns 72.7%
4 Inveraray 72.2%
5 Llandrindod Wells 72.2%
6 Mallaig 71.4%
7 Islay Island 71.4%
8 Orkney 70.7%
9 Rothesay 69.5%
10 Gairloch 69.4%
11 Huntly 68.9%
12 Isle of Skye (Portree) 68.4%
13 Malton 68.0%
14 Forfar 68.0%
15 Lairg 67.9%
16 Montrose (Broomfield Industrial Estate) 67.4%
17 Crieff 67.4%
18 Campbeltown 67.2%
19 Isles of Scilly 66.7%
20 Lerwick 66.3%

If you’re familiar with the locations in the list above, you’ll be able to discern an obvious trend. If you need a bit more of a hint, though, then check out the map below.

This confirms what we’d suspected all along: Scotland continues to lead the way in terms of driving test pass rates. In fact, no fewer than seventeen of the top 20 test centres in the country are Scottish. Golspie in the Highlands tops the list with a hugely impressive 76.7% pass rate: the only place in the country where more than three quarters of tests resulted in a pass.

Rural test centres, naturally, perform well on this list, with no large towns or cities present in the top 20. The UK’s outlying islands also make their presence felt, with Islay Island, Orkney, Rothesay, Isle of Skye, Isles of Scilly and Lerwick test centres all making the cut.

In addition to quieter conditions at these centres, they also saw relatively few tests conducted in 2017/18. Fewer than 5,000 tests took place across these 20 centres in 2017/18, with just nine tests conducted on the Isles of Scilly.

While Scotland takes top honours here, it’s worth giving some well-earned shout-outs to the top performers in England and Wales: respectively, Malton test centre in North Yorkshire and Llandrindod Wells in Powys.


The Worst

Ready to brace yourself? After the highs must come the lows—so let’s cast our attention to the test centres with the lowest pass rates in the UK in 2017/18. Here’s the list:

1 Yeading (London) 25.0%
2 Birmingham (The Pavilion) 30.2%
3 Erith (London) 30.6%
4 Belvedere (London) 32.9%
5 Leeds 33.3%
6 Wanstead (London) 33.4%
7 Luton 33.5%
8 Chadderton 33.6%
9 Cheetham Hill (Manchester) 33.7%
10 Birmingham (South Yardley) 34.1%
11 Barking (Tanner Street) 34.3%
12 Failsworth 35.1%
13 Chingford (London) 35.4%
14 Basildon 35.6%
15 Enfield (Innova Business Park) 36.1%
16 Leicester (Cannock Street) 36.5%
17 Bradford (Manningham) 36.9%
18 Birmingham (Kingstanding) 36.9%
19 Wednesbury 37.0%
20 Barking (Town Quay) 37.1%

Names of some of England’s biggest cities immediately jump out at you: London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. The picture becomes even clearer when viewing the map…

No one who’s ever attempted to brave the traffic in these cities will be too shocked to learn that learners found driving there challenging. The list’s eight London test centres, for example, prove the difficulty of taking to the roads in the nation’s capital.

Though there’s a notable collection of east London test centres in the bottom 20, the worst-performing centre is actually in west London. In fact, it’s Yeading test centre that takes this dubious honour, with a pass rate of just 25.0%.

Yeading’s small saving grace is that it conducted only a small number of tests in 2017/18. The same cannot, however, be said for many other test centres in the bottom 20. Across town, the Chingford test centre was home to 16,435 tests—and a staggering 10,616 fails, with just 5,819 passes.

There’s some cheer for learners, though: the aptly named Failsworth test centre is now closed, as is the Manningham test centre in Bradford, West Yorkshire. They may not prove a sad loss to many!


Best and Worst Test Centre Pass Rates by Region

So far in this article, we’ve highlighted the major differences across the UK. However, it’s also worth noting that huge differences exist even across small distances. Not every test centre in Scotland, for example, aces it—and there are even centres in London that beat the national average! Take a look at the table below to see the variations in each British region.

Best and worst test centre pass rates by region
Region Highest pass rate Lowest pass rate
East Midlands Wellingborough (59.3%) Leicester (Cannock Street) (36.5%)
East of England Ipswich (59.4%) Luton (33.5%)
London West Wickham (London) (50.7%) Yeading (London) (25.0%)
North East Berwick-on-Tweed (64.3%) Gateshead (41.8%)
North West Kendal (Oxenholme Road) (62.6%) Chadderton (33.6%)
Scotland Golspie (76.7%) Glasgow (Knightswood) (37.5%)
South East Farnborough (55.3%) Crawley (41.6%)
South West Isles of Scilly (66.7%) Plymouth (40.5%)
Wales Llandrindod Wells (72.2%) Wrexham (42.8%)
West Midlands Burton-on-Trent (51.3%) Birmingham (The Pavilion) (30.2%)
Yorkshire and the Humber Malton (68.0%) Leeds (33.3%)

Automatic vs Manual

Though most cars on the UK’s roads have always been (and continue to be) manual, automatic cars are growing in popularity. Consequently, the automatic vs manual debate continues to rage. Inner-city drivers often swear by automatic cars, which reduce traffic jam frustration by cutting down on gear changes. Many drivers, however, simply couldn’t imagine owning anything other than a manual, which offers greater control and a more interactive experience.

One thing that can’t be disputed, however, is the disparity in pass rates. Manual pass rates sit well above those of automatic cars; in 2018, automatic pass rates were just 38.9%. Interestingly, however, the best and worst test centre pass rates in automatic cars differ quite substantially from the overall rates.

HIGHEST AUTOMATIC PASS RATES

  • Fraserburgh (85.7%)
  • Berwick-on-Tweed (83.3%)
  • Hexham (81.8%)
  • Crieff (80.0%)
  • Castle Douglas (75.0%)
  • Cannock (70.6%)
  • Chorley (70.3%)
  • Banff (66.7%)
  • Campbeltown (66.7%)
  • Galashiels (66.7%)
LOWEST AUTOMATIC PASS RATES

  • Yeading (London) (16.7%)
  • Birmingham (The Pavilion) (19.2%)
  • Oban (20.0%)
  • Ludlow (25.6%)
  • Erith (London) (26.9%)
  • Chadderton (27.1%)
  • Enfield (Brancroft Way) (27.3%)
  • Rochdale (Manchester) (27.6%)
  • Leicester (Cannock Street) (27.9%)
  • Bradford (Manningham) (27.9%)

With smaller numbers of automatic tests taking place, conditions are ripe for dramatic highs and lows in terms of pass rates. Indeed, this is borne out in the results: two test centres see pass rates below 20%, while four have pass rates of 80% and above.

This comes some way to explaining the surprising presence of Oban and Ludlow in the bottom 10, alongside a host of urban test centres. It also explains why Golspie, the overall #1, only managed a 50% automatic pass rate!


Behind the Stats

Practical test

Based on everything you’ve read so far, you might be unable to believe your luck if you live in rural Scotland. Live in a big city, though, and you might already be planning your escape route. But hold up before you start heading for the hills (or, well, the Highlands).

Local road conditions certainly will affect the way you drive. However, your test result ultimately comes down to one thing: the quality of your driving. As such, the most important move you can make is to find an instructor who can help you to achieve your goals and become a safe, confident, skilled driver.

Luckily, here at PassMeFast, we have plenty of instructors who can help you to do exactly that. They’ll help you look past the stats and create your own pass story. Before you know it, you’ll be joining our many happy PassMeFast alumni—just like some of our June 2018 passers!

Take a look at our ultimate course rundown to find the right option for your needs, or give us a call on 0333 123 4949 to speak to the team.

By Andy Boardman

Andy fell in love with driving while road tripping around Iceland. He'll provide you with plenty of useful motoring advice, helping you to get the most out of every trip. When he's not writing here, you're most likely to find Andy on his way to the next destination.