Driving Test Pass Rates by Area

UK map aerial view

Everyone learns to drive differently, but we all have the same end goal: passing the practical test. In an ideal world, we’d all have the same chance of passing, regardless of any external factors. However, in reality, it’s not quite so simple. We’ve all seen plenty of articles online and in newspapers covering where it’s easiest (or hardest) to pass your test. But what’s the pass rate like in your local area? In this article we’ll provide a comprehensive rundown of the best and the worst pass rates across the UK. Better still, we’ll also provide some handy hints on how to pass first time—regardless of what the stats say.

The national picture

Let’s start with the basics: the overall pass rate. Taking into account all 1.7 million practical tests taken across England, Scotland and Wales in 2016/17, the average pass rate is 47.1%. This means that, between April 2016 and March 2017, 815,168 people passed their test. However, you may still be wondering how this breaks down across the nations of the UK. Luckily, we’ve done the maths and worked out those figures too.

Pass rate by nation. England: 46.6%; Scotland: 49.7%; Wales: 52.1%; Northern Ireland: 53.7%

Learners in England had the lowest pass rates of any of the UK’s four nations, coming in at 46.6%. However, English readers need not be too alarmed by these figures. For starters, this score is very similar to the overall UK average. Secondly, as the largest of the UK’s four countries, there’s a lot of variation across England—as we’ll cover later on.

Scottish and Welsh learners both outperformed the overall national average. Scotland’s pass rate stood at 49.7% in 2015/16, while Wales’ was even better, at 52.1%. However, Northern Irish learners did best of all, with 53.7% of tests there resulting in a pass. It’s worth noting, however, that the DVSA doesn’t operate tests in Northern Ireland. As such, it’s difficult to draw exact comparisons between Northern Irish learners and those on mainland Britain. Nonetheless, the facts don’t lie: the luck of the (Northern) Irish definitely holds true when it comes to driving!

Regional breakdown

Of course, breaking down the pass rates by nation is only the beginning. We’ve also put together a handy table showing the pass rates across the nine English regions.

South West 51.3%
North East 51.1%
East Midlands 49.8%
East of England 48.4%
South East 47.5%
Yorkshire and the Humber 47.0%
North West 46.4%
West Midlands 44.1%
London 41.5%

As you can see, it’s the South West leading the way, with a stellar pass rate of 51.3%. Meanwhile, it’s the capital that brings up the rear, as London‘s pass rate is a low 41.5%. This isn’t too surprising, however. As an almost exclusively urban region, Londoners face some of the busiest and most unpredictable road conditions in the country.

Not detailed enough for you? Want information about pass rates in your local area? No problem. We’ve created an interactive map showing you the pass rate in every county. You can find the breakdown by English or Northern Irish county, Welsh principal area, or Scottish council area in the map below.

You’ll find plenty of interesting and surprising stats when exploring the map. Did you know, for example, that the Orkney Islands have the highest pass rate of any area in the UK? At 71.3%, it’s true! Meanwhile, the West Midlands have somewhat redder faces, as they come dead last, on 39.9%. The urban/rural split also becomes even clearer here. The top ten areas include the Western Isles, Powys and Highland, whilst the bottom ten include West Yorkshire, Greater London and Essex.

You can also help settle a few debates here:  Edinburgh (49.3%) finishes ahead of Glasgow (42.2%), and Cornwall (51.4%) beats Devon (48.4%). Sadly, we can’t separate Liverpool and Manchester: both Merseyside and Greater Manchester finish in a dead heat, with overall pass rates for both counties standing at 44.2%

Which test centres have the highest and lowest pass rates?

It’s fascinating learning about the variation in pass rates across different regions in the UK. However, for many learners, there will be one key question: which test centre has the best pass rate? Luckily, we have the answers for you. Check out our table below with the best and worst test centres in Great Britain.


  • Golspie (82.1%)
  • Mallaig (77.8%)
  • Ullapool (74.5%)
  • Kyle of Lochalsh (72.0%)
  • Rothesay (71.8%)
  • Llandrindod Wells (71.6%)
  • Thurso (71.6%)
  • Orkney (71.3%)
  • Ballater (71.0%)
  • Whitby (71.0%)

  • Belvedere (London) (28.3%)
  • Erith (London) (31.8%)
  • Garston (Liverpool) (32.1%)
  • Cheetham Hill (Manchester) (32.2%)
  • Wanstead (London (32.4%)
  • Barnet (London) (33.5%)
  • Wednesbury (33.6%)
  • Birmingham (South Yardley) (33.7%)
  • Leeds (33.9%)
  • Salford (Fire Station) (34.2%)

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that the bottom ten test centres are all in inner cities. Meanwhile, rural Scotland dominates the list, accounting for eight of the top ten test centres. Meanwhile, England and Wales each get one entry in the top ten, courtesy of Whitby and Llandrindod Wells. No Scottish or Welsh test centres feature in the bottom ten—but, if you’re curious, Scotland’s worst performing test centre is Glasgow (Shieldhall), with a pass rate of just 39.7%, whilst the lowest pass rate in Wales (43.2%) can be found at Wrexham.

Of course, it’s not all about the extremes. Most test centres in the UK have pass rates close to the national average. Curious which test centre is the “most normal” of all? It’s St Helens test centre in Merseyside, with a pass rate of 47.1%—the same as the UK average. If you do want to learn more about the factors behind some of the major differences, then our article on why pass rates vary by test centre is essential reading.

How to beat the stats

Driver with P plate

If you live in one of the country’s more urban areas, then some of these stats may make for unhappy reading. But before you jump on a 10-hour-long train to the Highlands, take a minute to pause.

First off, it’s worth noting that no driving test is impossible. Even in areas with the lowest pass rate, you still have a chance. Whilst other drivers’ behaviour and difficult road conditions are important, the key factor is your own driving ability.

Secondly, the point of practical tests (and driving tuition in general) is to prepare you for real life driving. There’s little point in learning to drive in a quiet, rural area if you live in an inner city. That’s because your tuition needs to prepare you for the conditions on the road that you’ll need to face every day. So, if you live in a big city, learn to drive there. You’ll have to take to the urban roads eventually, and it’s better to be ready for them!

Finally, the way that you learn to drive matters. Too many people end up failing because they’re taking the wrong kind of driving lessons. Traditionally, lessons have tended to be spaced apart, with only one hour per week, and months-long waiting times for practical tests. But it doesn’t have to be that way. PassMeFast‘s intensive courses can help you to pass in as little as a few days. Our tuition is intensive, meaning you won’t lose any vital knowledge between lessons, and will gradually build up your skills and confidence.

There’s a PassMeFast course for all learners, from those starting from scratch through to those who simply need a refresher course. And if you’re not sure what your needs are, we offer course assessments too. We’ve already helped hundreds of learners to get their licence (both manual and automatic), as our favourite pass photos and top customer reviews reveal. If you’d like to be our next happy PassMeFast graduate, simply give us a call on 0333 123 4949, or book your course online.

By Andy Boardman

Andy has been part of the PassMeFast Blog team from the very beginning. 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 the way to his next destination.

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