Welcome to this instalment of PassMeFast’s Essential Guides! In this series, we’re working our way around the UK county-by-county, introducing every test centre in the country. This time, we’re focusing on the driving test centres in Berkshire.
There are three different test centres for learners to choose from here: Newbury in the west, Slough in the east, and Reading in the middle of the county. We’ll give you advice on what to expect when attending any of these test centres, plus useful information such as pass rates and parking information. Let’s go!
|Newbury (Hambridge Lane)|
Newbury (Hambridge Lane)
|NEWBURY (HAMBRIDGE LANE) FACT FILE|
|Parking?||Yes: Keep to the one way system. Park in designated car park area. You’re not allowed to practice on the site.|
|Toilets?||Yes: male and female|
|Disabled access?||No information|
|2018/19 pass rate||51.4%|
We start off our tour around the test centres of Berkshire in Newbury, in the western part of the county. Though this part of the world may be nationally known for its racecourse, we’re interested in travelling on four wheels rather than four legs here at the PassMeFast Blog! So, what can learners at Newbury’s Hambridge Lane driving test centre expect?
Well, let’s start with some great news: Newbury has the highest pass rate in the county! In fact, with more than half of all tests resulting in a pass, the Hambridge Lane test centre smashes the national average by more than 5 percentage points. This doesn’t mean you can bank on a guaranteed pass, though: you’ll need to get to know the area first!
As is common, the test centre itself is situated on the outskirts of Newbury, around halfway to the nearby town of Thatcham. With this in mind, roads in both towns may appear on test routes starting from Hambridge Lane, as well as heading south towards Greenham. Drivers will need to be aware of features such as a double roundabout on the A339.
This is the only test centre in this half of the county, meaning that it’s not only the obvious choice for those in the Newbury area itself, but also for candidates from across West Berkshire.
|READING FACT FILE|
|Address||220 Elgar Road South
|Parking?||Yes: don’t enter the test centre car park until 5 minutes before your test time as parking space is limited|
|Toilets?||Yes: male and female|
|Disabled access?||Arrangements will be made at this test centre if you have a disability|
|2018/19 pass rate||46.4%|
Given its convenient location in the centre of Berkshire, and the fact that it’s the county’s largest town, it’s no surprise to learn that Reading has its own driving test centre. It’s one of just three test centres in the county as a whole, so as well as serving Reading itself, this is also the closest option for candidates from Bracknell and Wokingham.
To reach the Reading driving test centre, you’ll need to travel to the Katesgrove area, to the south of the town centre. If you’re unfamiliar with the location, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s easily accessible from across the local area thanks to the presence of several nearby A roads.
Meanwhile, those same A roads—the A33, A327 and A329—are highly likely to make an appearance on the test itself. Test routes here will generally stick to southern and central parts of Reading. During your lessons, you may also venture out further into nearby rural areas.
In 2018/19, Reading was the busiest test centre in Berkshire, with just over six thousand tests taking place here. Candidates here earned 2,932 licences over the same time period, for a pass rate of 48.7%—outpacing the national average!
|SLOUGH FACT FILE|
|Address||Driving Test Centre Slough
12 Waterside Drive
|Parking?||Yes: Arrive no more than 10 minutes before your appointment time. Please park in the bays dedicated to DVSA and report to the waiting room. Access to the site is only available to those candidates attending for test; you won’t be allowed to use this site for practice|
|Disabled access?||You can get into the test centre in a wheelchair|
|2018/19 pass rate||43.7%|
Last and furthest east (but certainly not least) on our list is Slough. This test centre lies just a few miles to the west of the Greater London boundary, and the DVSA even officially named this test centre ‘Slough (London)’. However, those living in the capital are best served by the West London test centres on the other side of the nearby M25. This test centre instead serves the Slough area, alongside other areas in eastern Berkshire, such as Maidenhead.
As noted, this test centre lies close to the London Orbital, as well as to another major motorway: the M4. This means that you’ll have the opportunity to get in plenty of practice with motorway driving with your instructor. Of course, these roads won’t feature on your practical test itself!
Test routes here tend to stick to the Slough and Langley areas, and it’s not uncommon for examiners to ask candidates to drive through the bustling town centre. You’ll encounter no end of diverse road types during your drive, from six-lane dual carriageways to quiet residential streets.
Given its proximity to London and high density, it shouldn’t come as too much of a shock to learn that the roads of Slough can make for a tricky drive. Pass rates here stood slightly below the national average for 2018/19, at 42.3%—though this still represented 2,180 new licences earned. Great news!
We’re all done with our tour of the Berkshire driving test centres! Of course, if you know anything about PassMeFast, you’ll know that we cover counties across the UK. Take a look at the test centres in some other parts of the country by following the links below.
We’re adding new Essential Guides all the time, so if you don’t see your local area yet, check back soon!