7 Expert Tips to Pass Your Driving Test First Time

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With driving tests hopefully about to recommence, Moneyshake decided to uncover the stats on the UK’s pass rates. All those teens who are begging for the 3rd lockdown to end in order to sit their driving tests, well, we have some great news for them, according to our findings.

Top findings

  • 17-year-olds are the most likely to pass their driving test
  • Females are more likely to pass their UK driving theory test
  • Males have a higher pass rate than females for the UK practical driving test
  • Gen Zs are passing at a higher rate than our millennial learners

Which gender is most likely to pass their practical test first time?

Analysing all previous years of DVLA data, we can see that on average in the last 14 years, males have a much higher percentage pass rate for their car practical driving test. Males are 50% likely to pass their practical, whereas females are more likely to fail with a pass rate of only 43%. 

In 2020, the average pass rate for both genders was 52%. This has increased 6% in the last decade, suggesting our Gen Zs are passing at a higher rate than our millennial learners.

The best and worst ages to pass your practical test

No surprise here that those aged 17 and under are most likely to pass their test first time according to recent data (2019/20). We found that 17-year-olds have a pass rate of 55.8%.

Interestingly though, if you are male and aged 26 you are the second-best age to pass your driving test first time after 17 years of age. However, for females, this is aged 18.

Those aged 60 years of age are the least likely to pass their test with a pass rate of 31.3%

Which age/gender is most likely to pass their theory test first time?

Again, if you’re 17 years old the stats are in your favour, with the highest UK pass rate of 52%.

Those aged 23 are in second place with a straight 50/50 chance of passing this theory test.

Males may be ahead of the game when it comes to car practical pass rates, but the ladies take the lead when it comes to the theory exam. Women have a theory pass rate of 49% and males fall behind at 45%.


7 expert tips to pass your test

The UK driving test can be a daunting prospect, particularly if it’s your first time taking it. Months of practice leads you to test day, and you want to do everything you can in your power to pass.

We want to give you all the best chance of passing your tests when the lockdown is lifted, so here’s our top 7 tips to get a pass when the time comes.

1. Choose the right driving instructor/school

There’s a whole host of individual driving instructors and schools up and down the country. So, you’ll have endless options to choose from when it comes to deciding who’ll teach you to drive.

This can be as difficult a process as learning to drive, especially if it’s your first time. However, Rather than spending hours of your time online searching through reviews of instructors and schools in your area, why not start with your peers?

Ask any of your friends if they have passed or are still learning what their experience is/was like. If they can recommend a particular individual or company, you’re already on the path to narrowing down your search.

For starters, make sure the person or school you choose is approved by the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency). You can do this by checking a database which shows you the approved instructors and schools near you.

Remember: instructors and schools choose whether or not they want to be listed on the DVSA’s database. However, you can still check the approval status of an individual or organisation who isn’t on the list. All you need to do is contact the DVSA and quote the name and ADI number of the person or centre.

2. Get the right amount of lessons

The ‘right amount’ is difficult to gauge. Everyone learns at different rates, so deciding what constitutes enough lessons in order for you to pass is what we want to help you with.

Let’s start with what the industry recommends as a ballpark figure for the average number of lessons needed for learner drivers.

The DVSA state a minimum average of 47 hours. Going over this amount is commonplace, but from it you can get a rough indication of how many lessons you’ll need before going for your test.

For example, a single driving lesson may be two hours long. Therefore, based on the DVSA’s recommendations, anywhere between 23-30 lessons can be your margin for what can be considered the right amount of lessons.

Pass Plus

3. Practice outside of lessons

As well as the recommended 47 hours practice with an instructor, the DVSA also suggests an average of 22 hours practice outside of your paid lessons. You can seek the help of family and friends here, provided they are over 21 years old and have had a full UK driving licence for at least three years.

A good way to do this is to take out temporary insurance on their cars, which you can do for a month at a time. However, be careful not to use a car that is completely different to the one you practice in with your instructor, as this could confuse your learning.

Once you have temporary insurance set in place, we recommend liaising with your instructor to find out areas which they think you need more practice on. Doing this will likely speed up the process, as you can apply what you have learned in your lessons by having ‘homework’ test drives in another person’s car.

4. Practice mock test routes

A mock test is a great way of simulating the environment of the real thing. Most instructors will get you to do at least one, if not more, once they’re confident you can drive to test standard. If you’re particularly nervous about test day, requesting another mock test is likely to help you pass on the day.

Even though your instructor may say you’re ready for your driving test, another mock test 24-48 hours before your test can be what gives you the extra confidence to pass with flying colours.

Your instructor should be aware of all the test routes that could crop up on your test day. Practising these test routes when you’re learning or doing a mock test will undoubtedly ease them pre-test nerves.

5. Learn the ‘show me, tell me’ questions

Another way of getting out the blocks early on your driving test is to practice the ‘show me, tell me’ questions which form a part of the test.

You’ll only be asked one question from ‘show me’ and one from ‘tell me’ on your test. But it’s important to memorise all the answers to each question, as any one of them can crop up.

There are 14 ‘tell me’ questions and seven ‘show me’ questions. While this may sound daunting, both rely on a basic knowledge of your car’s functions that your instructor will make sure you have while you’re learning.

The full list of questions are as follows:

Show me

  • “When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how to operate the horn?”
  • “When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the rear windscreen?”
  • “When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you wash and clean the front windscreen?”
  • “When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d switch on your dipped headlights?”
  • “When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d set the rear demister?”
  • “When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d open and close the side window?”
  • “When it’s safe to do so, can you show me how you’d demist the front windscreen?”

Tell me

  • “Tell me how you’d check the brake lights are working on this car.”
  • “Tell me where you’d find the information for the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how tyre pressures should be checked.”
  • “Tell me how you make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so it provides the best protection in the event of a crash.”
  • “Tell me how you’d check the tyres to ensure that they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road.”
  • “Tell me how you’d check that the headlights and tail lights are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.”
  • “Tell me how you’d know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system.”
  • “Tell me how you’d check the direction indicators are working. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.”
  • “Tell me how you’d check the power-assisted steering is working before starting a journey.”
  • “Tell me how you’d switch on the rear fog light(s) and explain when you’d use it/them. You don’t need to exit the vehicle.”
  • “Tell me how you switch your headlight from dipped to main beam and explain how you’d know the main beam is on.”
  • “Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient oil.”
  • “Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that the engine has sufficient coolant.”
  • “Open the bonnet and tell me how you’d check that you have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.”

6. Understand what major and minor mistakes are

Examiners will calculate whether you have passed or failed your driving test by assessing every decision you make against a set of criteria which fall into one of two categories: a major or a minor. The latter is considered a driving fault which isn’t potentially dangerous, while the former is a serious or dangerous fault.

In order to pass your driving test, you need to have a score of less than 15 minors and no majors. Remember that on the ‘show me, tell me questions’ before getting behind the wheel, answering one or both questions incorrect will cost you one minor, so be sure to study the full list of potential questions beforehand.

7. Know which documents you need

Last but certainly not the least, ensure you have all the necessary documents to hand when going to the test centre.

These are:

  • Driving licence
  • Theory test pass certificate

It sounds ridiculous. But every year there are thousands of cases of tests being cancelled because people forgot one or both of these documents.

To add insult to injury, you won’t get a refund…what a waste of £62!

New to car leasing and want some quick tips on how to get started with a lease car? Check out our guide on first time car lease tips.

Looking to save on your first car after your test? Moneyshake finds you the best car lease deals on some of the best models available on the market.

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