It’s even tougher for learners to pass the theory driving test

Statistics from the Department for Transport (DfT) show the number of learner drivers passing the theory driving test has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade - just 47 per cent passed the test during the past 12 months.

It’s getting tougher for learner drivers to pass the theory driving test, the latest figures have revealed.

Statistics from the Department for Transport (DfT) show the number of learner drivers passing the theory driving test has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade – just 47 per cent passed the test during the past 12 months.

theory driving test

The theory driving test changes

The fall in pass rates follows moves by the DfT to make the test tougher for learners.

In September 2007 the number of multiple choice questions increased from 35 to 50, and in 2009 a “case study” was introduced, with five questions relating to a specific scenario. Three years later the publication of test questions in advance online ceased to prevent people memorising them before sitting the exam.

A year later the bank of multiple choice questions posed for test candidates was refreshed and toughened up – learners must correctly answer 43 of the 50 questions while in hazard perception they need to get 44 out of 75 right.

Learners must pass the theory driving test before sitting the practical test.

DfT figures show 1.34 million learner drivers sat the theory test during the past year, with 47.4 per cent passing, this was down from 48.7 per cent during the previous year (2017-2018).

Before the theory driving test shake-up in 2007-2008 the pass rate stood at 65.4 per cent.

theory driving test

Women better than men at theory test

Women fared a little better than men on their theory driving test with 49.2 passing compared to 45.7 men.

A small minority of people have been so desperate to get their hands on a driving licence that they have enlisted the help of impersonators to take a test for them.

According to new data published by Transport Minister Andrew Jones 209 people were convicted from 2012/13 to 2016/17 for attempting to acquire a driving licence without having sat the required tests.

A further 111 people were convicted of taking the practical or theory tests on behalf of others in the same period.

theory driving test

Cheats ‘put innocent lives at risk’

Andy Rice, the DVSA’s head of counter-fraud, said: “The driving test is there to ensure that all drivers have the skills and knowledge to use the roads safely and responsibly.

“Anyone who tries to circumvent this process is putting innocent road users at risk.

“Driving test fraud is a serious offence and is dealt with accordingly. We have stringent measures in place to detect fraudulent activity and work closely with the police to bring all offenders to justice.”

If convicted, impersonators and people who use them, face imprisonment, a driving ban, an order to carry out unpaid work or an order to pay court and prosecution costs.

Adrian Flux specialises in insurance cover for learner drivers – costs start from as little as 85 pence per day – and says there is no substitute for practice and plenty of it.

The length of time spent learning to drive varies but the latest figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) suggests people typically pass their test after 45 hours of professional tuition alongside 22 hours of private tuition with family or friends.

That combines with a great deal of time spent swatting up on the Highway Code in preparation for the theory driving test and the chance to even take the DfT’s mock theory driving test.

What’s it like learning to drive? One learner’s experience