Teaching methods
10th December 2023
Achieving more in 2024
29th December 2023

Why have the national driving test pass rates not gone up

In August 2021 the DVSA CEO announced that the regulator has been monitoring what happens on driving tests for the previous 12 months and will continue to. This came as somewhat of a surprise to driving instructors because they hadn’t been told. The test pass rates and errors made on test were being closely scrutinised. The idea was to “raise standards”. 

You might have thought that with the passing of two years, the national driving test pass rates would have increased – not so. There has been no increase at all. In fact, from the DVSA figures between July – September 2023, the theory pass rate is declining from historical achievements now down at 46.1% and the practical test pass rate remains under 50% at 48.9% Incidentally, the ADI qualifying pass rates tell a similar story where Part 2 pass rates are now at 52.3% and Part 3 still sitting in the 30% marker, now at 34.5% 

What is going on? 

Not a great deal different is the answer. Only a fool would expect improvement by continuing to do the same thing that has always been done; and with driving training, that appears to be precisely what is happening. In business, seldom does the fact that a process starts to get monitored closely and performance measures put in place, result in an improvement on the performance. To improve on a process, it does require a change in the way you do it. 

The old phrase about weighing a pig doesn’t result in it getting any fatter springs to mind. 

And yet, the amount of driving instructors being recalled by the DVSA having triggered the parameters is doubling each year. The bitterness and resentment in the industry appears to be at an all-time low and this is reflected by the decline in the driving instructor register – despite thousands of newcomers coming onto the register. 

In the DVSA 2023 driving instructor survey, only 35.3% of ADI’s agree or strongly agreed with the statement: 

I have the opportunity to contribute my views to DVSA before decisions are made that affect me 


At the time of the survey there were 39,550 ADI’s but only 5,795 responded to it. So one would have to question the figure given that 90.8% of ADI’s agree the role gives them a sense of personal accomplishment – conveniently placed under the headline of “Job Satisfaction”. This degree of smokescreen tactics would be quite funny if it were not so serious with very real consequences to driving instructors’ lives. 

Part of the reason why the national pass rate remains as low as it is, sits quite naturally with how the driving training is delivered. If the DVSA statistic that it takes on average 7 months to pass a driving test is still accurate, then this alone might be a rather big clue as to what is going on. There is no efficiency in the process – a point that the owner of the BIG TOM Franchise regularly makes in the Franchise video channel. When training an individual, there is a delicate balance of effort and engagement required by the participant and smart content delivery by the training provider. The fact that the national pass rate refuses to go above 50% should be a large enough trigger in itself to suggest a change in the delivery is needed.  

[At the time of writing the BIG TOM Driving School pass rate is 79%]