DVSA Discloses Surprising Theory Test Fail Stats — How Do You Compare?

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None of us really enjoy exams. However, if you’re learning to drive in the UK, you’ll have to grin and bear it, because you’ll sit TWO driving tests before becoming a fully qualified driver. The first of these is the theory test, consisting of multiple choice questions and hazard perception clips.

Once passed, you’ll take the practical test in which you’ll be judged on your actual driving ability. All fairly simple, right?

What’s the average number of theory test attempts and fails?

Sign outside a driving theory test centre. Sign reads PEARSON Professional Centres. Theory Test Centre'
Photo © David Hillas (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Passing the theory test might not be as straightforward as it sounds. In fact, the 2019/20 pass rate was 47.7%, meaning that more than 1 in 2 candidates didn’t reach the pass mark on either one or both sections. Most people pass within 2-3 attempts and, with the DVSA charging £23 for each test, your wallet will be rooting for you to pass in the fewest goes possible.

But some people find the theory test very tricky and, as a result, have shelled out for several theory tests. 

Recently, Select Car Leasing submitted a Freedom of Information request to the DVSA and asked for the theory test statistics. The data released is eye-opening, to say the least! Some learners have forked out so much they’d be best ditching the dinner fork for a pitchfork…

Ouch! Most DVSA theory test attempts revealed

One learner driver sat the theory test a whopping 158 times before passing at age 42, costing him an even more whopping £3,634. Here’s the full table of the most theory test attempts:

1. 158 attempts £3,634 42-year-old male
2. 117 attempts £2,691 34-year-old female
3. 94 attempts £2,162 32-year-old male
4. 94 attempts £2,162 48-year-old female
5. 92 attempts £2,116 35-year-old male
6. 87 attempts £2,001 33-year-old male
7. 86 attempts £1,978 30-year-old male
8. 80 attempts £1,840 41-year-old male
9. 78 attempts £1,794 43-year-old male
10. 77 attempts £1,771 42-year-old male

(Source: DVSA via FOI request by Select Car Leasing. Test attempts and ages correct as of January 2021. Total cost of attempts based on standard DVSA theory test fee of £23.)

“I’ve failed my theory test — should I quit learning to drive?”

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Image source: Ahmad Gunnaivi (via Unsplash)

Absolutely not—no matter how many attempts it takes! Everybody learns differently and you might be more of a ‘doer’ than a ‘reader’. Some people who took several attempts to pass the theory will find the practical test a walk (or drive?) in the park, so stick at it!

Even if you don’t quite make the grade on your first (or hundredth!) attempt, passing certainly isn’t impossible. If you’re struggling with the theory test, check out our definitive list of theory test resources and check our tips on how to bounce back from a disappointing theory test result. From revision materials to mock tests, we’ve got everything you need to pass.

Want to have a laugh while you learn? We’ve made some games to help you with your theory test revision. (Warning: These games can be seriously addictive!)

Want all the support you can get?

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PassMeFast are intensive driving course specialists. We know how to help learners pass both their driving tests, and pass them quickly. They don’t call us PassMeFast for nothing!

Give our team a call on 0333 123 4949 to book your fast-tracked driving course today. You’ll be given a dedicated Customer Experience Adviser who will take care of all the fiddly admin and booking work, so you can focus 100% on passing your tests.

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Not sure if an intensive course is right for you? Or maybe you’re unsure how many hours you’ll need? Take our Course Recommender for a quick spin to help make a decision.

By Sam Plant

Sam spent the first 2 years of his PassMeFast career with the Customer Experience team, and now he’s sharing his driving experience with the rest of the world! When not writing, you can find Sam reading, playing games, or watching his football team lose (Port Vale...).

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