Driving test centres with the highest and lowest first-time pass rates

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With all driving tests suspended until 20 June 2020 due to coronavirus, there’ll be a backlog of learners desperate to take their practical test come the summer.

If the lockdown has lifted by then, test bookings are expected to be choc-a-bloc for weeks. 

But should learners be going to their nearest test centre or hand-picking a location with a high success rate? Official figures from the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency show there’s a huge difference in first-time passes by area…

Best and worst test centres to pass a driving test first time: DVSA records show these are the 20 UK test centres with the highest and lowest first-time pass rates in 2018-19

With the Government announcing that all tests arranged for three months from 20 March are suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of learners are chomping at the bit to upgrade their provisional licence into a full one. 

Instead of growing frustrated about not being able to drive, these budding motorists could use this time in lockdown to research where might be best place to take their test once the Government gives centres the green light to go ahead with driving exams.

Comparison site GoCompare has been able to name the test centres with the highest first-time pass rates.

DVSA data shows that some 1.6million first-time tests were undertaken in 2018-19 at 324 centres around the country.

Of these, just under 682,000 learners passed at the first go, which is an average success rate of 47 per cent.

This data allows us to rank the nation’s best and worst centres for first-time pass rates.

But we’ve also exclusively provided the full list of locations in a table below so that learners can work out which examination centres nearest to them will increase their chances of passing first time, and which nearby locations might hinder their chances of getting behind the wheel.

The biggest factor in this isn’t the test centre or examiners themselves, but surrounding roads around centres where invigilators will ask learners to drive.

Some centres are in easy reach of complicated junctions and busy routes, while others will have fewer roundabouts to navigate and less traffic to deal with – which explains why the highest pass rates are in rural parts of the country.

A 20-mile journey can separate a driving test centre with a very high first-time pass rate from one with an exceptionally low success rate for learners, the data shows

A 20-mile journey can separate a driving test centre with a very high first-time pass rate from one with an exceptionally low success rate for learners, the data shows

But the difference between a high first-time pass rate and an exceptionally low one could be separated by just 20 miles or less. 

For instance, the Hyde test centre on the outskirts of Manchester has a 57.2 per cent first-time pass rate, while Bury and Rochdale – both within an 18-mile drive – have some of the lowest first-go success rates, at 32.5 per cent and 32.7 per cent respectively. 

Learners in London might also benefit from taking a test in Essex rather than the capital, with Brentwood’s test centre having a 55.6 per cent first-time pass rate.

That compares to a 34.1 per cent success rate in Barnet, North London, and 32 per cent first-time pass rates south of the River Thames in Erith and Belvedere.

The study found that the places with the best chance of passing are based in Scotland, Wales, Northumberland and Yorkshire.

With GoCompare calculating that the average cost to pass a test first time – including 22 lessons and the price of a theory test – is £647, learners could save themselves some cash if they chose a centre with a higher average pass rate.

These are the 10 test centres with the highest pass rates in the previous 12 months, according to the DVSA

These are the 10 test centres with the highest pass rates in the previous 12 months, according to the DVSA

The biggest factor differentiating a test centre with a high pass rate from one with a low success rate for learners isn't the test centre or examiners themselves, but surrounding roads around centres where invigilators will ask learners to drive

The biggest factor differentiating a test centre with a high pass rate from one with a low success rate for learners isn’t the test centre or examiners themselves, but surrounding roads around centres where invigilators will ask learners to drive

The data shows that Llandrindod Wells in Powys, Wales is the test centre with the highest first-time pass rate of 76.3 per cent, as three out of four people taking their test in the town received their licence straightaway. 

Crieff in Perthshire is a close second as 74.5 per cent passed at the first attempt.

For those in Yorkshire, the report reveals that Malton is the best place to take your test with a 66 per cent first-time pass rate overall.  

Unsurprisingly, the areas with the lowest first-time pass rates are big cities with lots of congestion, busy junctions and a bounty of roundabouts and intersections.

Birmingham, London and Manchester all have test centres with the lowest pass rates, it DVSA data shows,

The Pavillion in Birmingham is the hardest in the UK with just a 29.3 per cent pass rate at the first go. 

South Yardley, a busier centre also based in Birmingham placed second as 1850 learners failed their test. 

These metropolitan areas are full of hazards that can put off even a well-seasoned driver during rush hour, so they are best to avoid if you’re looking for a quick win.

These are the 11 UK test centres with the lowest pass rates for first-time practical driving tests (Barnet and Speke in joint 10th with the same pass rate percentage)

These are the 11 UK test centres with the lowest pass rates for first-time practical driving tests (Barnet and Speke in joint 10th with the same pass rate percentage)

Learners could use this time in lockdown with all tests suspended until 20 June to work out which test centres nearest to them give them the best chance of getting their hands on a licence at the first time of asking

Learners could use this time in lockdown with all tests suspended until 20 June to work out which test centres nearest to them give them the best chance of getting their hands on a licence at the first time of asking

The good news for lockdown learners is that pass rates, in general, have been increasing in recent years. 

In December 2017, a number of changes were introduced to driving tests which corresponded with a 14 per cent decrease in first-time pass rates from June 2017 to 2018. 

Within a year of these new measures being introduced, there was a 116 per cent increase in first-rate passes. 

Matt Oliver, senior partner development manager from GoCompare, said: ‘Preparation is always the key when it comes to tackling any challenge. But there’s no harm in looking at extra ways to boost your chances, and choosing a quieter route can keep your nerves at a minimum.

‘The most common reason for failure in driving tests is responding incorrectly at lights. 

‘At busy junctions, it’s easy to lose your concentration when surrounded by different distractions – choosing a quieter location is a good way to limit this risk.  

‘Once you’ve chosen your test centre, drive the routes as often as possible, so you can get used to the trickier roads.’ 

Learners can find their nearest driving test centres in the full list below. They call also test their theory test skills in our quiz at the bottom of this page. 

 

ALL 324 UK DRIVING TEST CENTRES AND THE FIRST-TIME PASS RATES IN 2018-19 
TEST CENTRE NUMBER OF FIRST ATTEMPTS  PASSES ON FIRST ATTEMPT  FIRST TIME PASS RATE (%) 
Aberdeen North 1928 1081 56.1
Aberdeen South (Cove) 1749 910 52
Abergavenny 1989 1181 59.4
Aberystwyth (Park Avenue) 438 210 47.9
Airdrie 1604 704 43.9
Alness 455 251 55.2
Alnwick 449 296 65.9
Arbroath 409 274 67
Ashfield 4009 2356 58.8
Ashford (Kent) 1649 745 45.2
Ashford (London Middlesex) 2896 1481 51.1
Atherton (Manchester) 3219 1638 50.9
Aylesbury 2089 1001 47.9
Ayr 940 417 44.4
Bala 313 153 48.9
Ballater 100 72 72
Banbury 2523 1372 54.4
Banff 153 99 64.7
Bangor 2105 1081 51.4
Barking (Tanner Street) 2133 704 33
Barking (Town Quay) 1280 454 35.5
Barnet (London) 2496 851 34.1
Barnsley 2471 1249 50.5
Barnstaple 1381 699 50.6
Barrow In Furness 999 521 52.2
Barry 1248 741 59.4
Basildon 2925 1198 41
Basingstoke 2102 1069 50.9
Belvedere (London) 1900 615 32.4
Berwick-On-Tweed 297 208 70
Birmingham (Cocks Moors Woods) 1282 493 38.5
Birmingham (Garretts Green) 4721 1799 38.1
Birmingham (Kings Heath) 2228 852 38.2
Birmingham (Kingstanding) 3204 1220 38.1
Birmingham (Shirley) 1869 844 45.2
Birmingham (South Yardley) 2730 880 32.2
Birmingham (Sutton Coldfield) 2095 861 41.1
Birmingham (The Pavilion) 952 279 29.3
Birmingham (Wyndley) 1314 601 45.7
Bishopbriggs 2537 1218 48
Bishops Stortford 2969 1292 43.5
Blackburn with Darwen 3119 1347 43.2
Blackpool 3116 1392 44.7
Bletchley 3989 1737 43.5
Blyth 2853 1651 57.9
Bodmin 1796 645 35.9
Bolton (Manchester) 4586 2434 53.1
Borehamwood (London) 2024 1035 51.1
Boston 1781 921 51.7
Bournemouth 3185 1712 53.8
Bradford (Heaton) 3348 1341 40.1
Bradford (Thornbury) 2000 772 38.6
Brecon 664 415 62.5
Bredbury (Manchester) 1709 734 42.9
Brentwood (London) 1259 692 55
Bridgend 2047 1076 52.6
Bridlington 964 540 56
Bristol (Avonmouth) 2320 1225 52.8
Bristol (Brislington) 3007 1215 40.4
Bristol (Kingswood) 2614 1294 49.5
Bristol (Southmead) 2124 1061 50
Buckie 160 93 58.1
Burgess Hill 3634 1464 40.3
Burton on Trent 2507 1332 53.1
Bury (Manchester) 2283 742 32.5
Bury St Edmunds 2417 1009 41.7
Buxton 1974 877 44.4
Callander 164 79 48.2
Camborne 1871 760 40.6
Cambridge (Brookmount Court) 4253 2119 49.8
Cambridge (Cowley Road) 1365 704 51.6
Cannock 712 351 49.3
Canterbury 1434 691 48.2
Cardiff (Llanishen) 4911 2545 51.8
Cardigan 519 280 53.9
Cardington 2884 1178 40.8
Carlisle 1584 626 39.5
Carmarthen 762 414 54.3
Carshalton (Tolworth) 565 276 48.8
Castle Douglas 172 83 48.3
Chadderton 3591 1548 43.1
Cheadle(Fire Station) 1003 593 59.1
Cheetham Hill (Manchester) 3836 1424 37.1
Chelmsford (Hanbury Road) 2808 1270 45.2
Chelmsford (Hoffmans Way) 960 378 39.4
Cheltenham 2661 1117 42
Chertsey (London) 3307 1718 52
Chester 3108 1268 40.8
Chesterfield 1618 745 46
Chichester 2519 1318 52.3
Chingford (London) 4234 1634 38.6
Chippenham 2308 998 43.2
Chorley 1711 978 57.2
Clacton-on-Sea 1460 737 50.5
Club Langley(Bromley) 1951 737 37.8
Colchester 2787 1142 41
Coventry 2858 1147 40.1
Crawley 2598 1015 39.1
Crewe 1857 924 49.8
Crieff 110 82 74.5
Croydon (London) 2544 1055 41.5
Cumnock 556 325 58.5
Darlington 1558 785 50.4
Derby (Alvaston) 3907 1869 47.8
Doncaster 3338 1442 43.2
Dorchester 2474 1548 62.6
Dudley 4589 2159 47
Dumbarton 829 395 47.6
Dumfries 736 354 48.1
Dundee 2452 1371 55.9
Dunfermline 1449 658 45.4
Dunoon 131 75 57.3
Durham 4249 2566 60.4
East Kilbride 774 297 38.4
Eastbourne 2312 1141 49.4
Edinburgh (Currie) 3173 1580 49.8
Edinburgh (Musselburgh) 3292 1488 45.2
Elgin 918 436 47.5
Elswick 2225 996 44.8
Enfield (Innova Business Park) 3434 1346 39.2
Erith (London) 1955 631 32.3
Exeter 3157 1505 47.7
Farnborough 5629 3095 55
Featherstone 2693 1048 38.9
Folkestone 1711 708 41.4
Forfar 344 222 64.5
Fort William 217 122 56.2
Fraserburgh 274 159 58
Galashiels 499 275 55.1
Garston (Speke – Crowne Plaza) 296 118 39.9
Gateshead 1272 583 45.8
Gillingham 4703 2164 46
Girvan 139 77 55.4
Glasgow (Anniesland) 3654 1457 39.9
Glasgow (Baillieston) 2721 1084 39.8
Glasgow (Shieldhall) 2300 801 34.8
Gloucester 3294 1401 42.5
Goodmayes (London) 11253 4105 36.5
Gosforth 2510 1136 45.3
Grangemouth 1868 993 53.2
Grantham (Somerby) 2004 996 49.7
Greenford (Horsenden Lane) 2929 1120 38.2
Greenford (Whitton Ave East) 784 296 37.8
Greenock 855 354 41.4
Grimsby Coldwater 1972 793 40.2
Guildford 3387 1663 49.1
Haddington 666 413 62
Halifax 1945 669 34.4
Hamilton 2361 1103 46.7
Hartlepool 2583 1397 54.1
Hastings (Ore) 1647 679 41.2
Hawick 190 119 62.6
Hayes (London) 2327 939 40.4
Heckmondwike 2691 1098 40.8
Hemel Hempstead (Fire Station) 688 331 48.1
Hendon (London) 4859 2027 41.7
Hereford 1528 864 56.5
Herne Bay 3279 1466 44.7
Hexham 543 308 56.7
Heysham 1464 720 49.2
High Wycombe 2710 1354 50
Hinckley 1408 557 39.6
Hither Green (London) 5881 2937 49.9
Hornchurch (London) 3661 1681 45.9
Horsforth 4248 1993 46.9
Huddersfield 3073 1411 45.9
Hull 4836 2321 48
Huntly 196 120 61.2
Hyde (Manchester) 3767 2154 57.2
Inverness (Cradlehall Business Park) 898 425 47.3
Inverness (Seafield Road) 144 60 41.7
Inverurie 533 345 64.7
Ipswich 4286 2624 61.2
Irvine 2249 1235 54.9
Isleworth (Fleming Way) 6312 2740 43.4
Kelso 139 79 56.8
Kendal (Oxenholme Road) 1297 826 63.7
Kettering 3804 1892 49.7
Kings Lynn 2582 1258 48.7
Kirkcaldy 2284 1198 52.5
Knaresborough 1920 990 51.6
Lampeter 324 180 55.6
Lanark 886 505 57
Lancing 3703 1843 49.8
Launceston 1130 559 49.5
Lee On The Solent 2825 1649 58.4
Leeds 2584 907 35.1
Leicester (Cannock Street) 4014 1324 33
Leicester (Wigston) 4351 1865 42.9
Leighton Buzzard (Stanbridge Road) 2824 1321 46.8
Lerwick 277 186 67.1
Letchworth 2166 990 45.7
Lichfield 3492 1781 51
Lincoln 2738 1317 48.1
Livingston 1904 805 42.3
Llandrindod Wells 346 264 76.3
Llanelli 1606 769 47.9
Llantrisant 1414 780 55.2
Loughborough 2664 1317 49.4
Loughton (London) 2381 1096 46
Louth 452 246 54.4
Lowestoft(Mobbs Way) 2213 1050 47.4
Ludlow 1090 550 50.5
Luton 3414 1122 32.9
Macclesfield 1600 754 47.1
Maidstone 2759 1226 44.4
Malton 553 367 66.4
Melton Mowbray 1122 648 57.8
Merthyr Tydfil 2272 1192 52.5
Middlesbrough 4742 2419 51
Mill Hill (London) 3680 1611 43.8
Mitcham (London) 3776 1556 41.2
Monmouth 1269 686 54.1
Montrose (Broomfield Ind Estate) 393 280 71.2
Morden (London) 8468 4103 48.5
National Totals 733167 341394 46.6
Nelson 2562 1290 50.4
Newbury (Hambridge Lane) 2417 1245 51.5
Newport (Gwent) 2695 1229 45.6
Newport IOW (Innovation Centre) 1272 681 53.5
Newton Abbot 2715 1329 49
Newtown 684 403 58.9
Norris Green (Liverpool) 5246 2151 41
Northallerton 1430 876 61.3
Northampton 4219 2082 49.3
Northwich 1692 817 48.3
Norwich (Jupiter Road) 1172 579 49.4
Norwich (Peachman Way) 4851 2531 52.2
Nottingham (Chilwell) 2086 928 44.5
Nottingham (Colwick) 3888 1873 48.2
Nuneaton 2134 1108 51.9
Oban 183 108 59
Orkney 181 117 64.6
Oswestry 681 304 44.6
Oxford (Cowley) 4769 2345 49.2
Paisley 2564 1170 45.6
Peebles 167 102 61.1
Pembroke Dock 1159 602 51.9
Penzance 741 347 46.8
Perth (Arran Road) 1097 610 55.6
Peterborough 4548 2077 45.7
Peterhead 543 338 62.2
Pinner (London) 6702 2807 41.9
Plymouth 3238 1109 34.2
Pontefract 2434 928 38.1
Pontypridd 594 292 49.2
Poole 2491 1431 57.4
Portsmouth 3420 1478 43.2
Preston 4034 2228 55.2
Pwllheli 436 259 59.4
Reading 5332 2502 46.9
Redditch 2261 1001 44.3
Redhill Aerodrome 2204 947 43
Rhyl 1680 770 45.8
Rochdale (Manchester) 2606 851 32.7
Rotherham 2608 1186 45.5
Rugby 1660 732 44.1
Sale (Manchester) 4149 2154 51.9
Salisbury 1893 1110 58.6
Scarborough 983 483 49.1
Scunthorpe 2277 1032 45.3
Sevenoaks 2520 1281 50.8
Sheffield (Handsworth) 3597 1577 43.8
Sheffield (Middlewood Road) 3647 1570 43
Shrewsbury 1277 588 46
Sidcup (London) 3826 1723 45
Skegness 708 383 54.1
Skipton 1273 600 47.1
Slough (London) 4368 1967 45
South Shields 1943 892 45.9
Southall (London) 2235 897 40.1
Southampton (Forest Hills) 2411 1134 47
Southampton (Maybush) 3296 1524 46.2
Southend-on-Sea 2898 1300 44.9
Southport (Liverpool) 2631 1292 49.1
Speke (Liverpool) 2374 809 34.1
St Albans 3238 1414 43.7
St Helens (Liverpool) 2649 1278 48.2
Stafford 1357 671 49.4
Steeton 1318 577 43.8
Stevenage 2324 1114 47.9
Stirling 1500 601 40.1
Stoke-On-Trent (Cobridge) 2316 870 37.6
Stoke-on-Trent (Newcastle-Under-Lyme) 2594 1074 41.4
Stornoway 192 108 56.3
Stranraer 168 101 60.1
Sunderland 2814 1194 42.4
Swansea 3396 1727 50.9
Swindon 4075 2106 51.7
Taunton 3396 1828 53.8
Telford 2302 928 40.3
Thurso 127 79 62.2
Tilbury 2108 875 41.5
Tolworth (London) 3918 2009 51.3
Tottenham 1454 554 38.1
Trowbridge 647 299 46.2
Tunbridge Wells 2333 1087 46.6
Upton 3082 1448 47
Uxbridge (London) 2103 1016 48.3
Wakefield 3290 1572 47.8
Wallasey 783 313 40
Wanstead (London) 3832 1395 36.4
Warrington 2709 1449 53.5
Warwick (Wedgenock House) 4086 1948 47.7
Watford 2619 1220 46.6
Watnall 2603 1290 49.6
Wednesbury 2535 939 37
Wellingborough 758 464 61.2
West Didsbury (Manchester) 5694 2562 45
West Wickham (London) 5015 2425 48.4
Westbury 685 336 49.1
Weston-super-Mare 2148 1173 54.6
Whitby 306 201 65.7
Whitchurch 686 327 47.7
Wick 181 101 55.8
Widnes 1754 724 41.3
Winchester 1700 876 51.5
Wolverhampton 3316 1157 34.9
Wood Green (London) 3075 1206 39.2
Worcester 3606 1688 46.8
Workington 1349 666 49.4
Worksop 2127 1199 56.4
Wrexham 1637 600 36.7
Yeovil 2875 1801 62.6
York 3390 1829 54
TOTAL  1464941  681,890  46.5 
Source: GoCompare review of DVSA data

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