Which areas of the UK have the shortest wait times for practical and theory driving tests, and which have the highest pass rates?
Learning to drive is an exciting and rewarding process. On average, it takes 52 hours of driving lessons to qualify and gain your independence, however practical and theory tests have been harder to come by. In recent years, waiting times for tests have become increasingly longer, as more and more drivers hit the road.
In 2022, it was reported that the average driving test wait time in the UK was around 13 weeks, but for some areas, this was considerably longer. So, where are learner drivers waiting longest for a driving test slot, and once you’ve got one, which areas of the country are you most likely to pass in?
For our latest research, we analysed data and revealed the UK areas with the longest theory and practical test wait times, as well as the areas which have the highest driving test pass rates.
By investigating these data points, we’ll reveal the best places to pass your test based on these factors, and reveal the ideal areas to take your theory so you won’t be left waiting too long for your chance to pass your practical driving test with your chosen driving school.
Norwich has been named the best place to pass your practical driving test, with a test centre score of 8.43/10
We analysed all 319 of the UK’s practical driving test centres on their pass rates, waiting times for tests and slots available to find the best areas for learners to drive.
- Norwich (Peachman Way) Centre, England
Test Centre Score: 8.43 out of 10
Norwich’s Peachman Way driving test centre scored impressively across all factors and topped our ranking with a score of 8.43 out of 10. The test centre in Norwich is close to local businesses, so heavy traffic is expected during work hours. Peachman Way has a pass rate of 58.8%, which is 25% above the national average of 47%.
The waiting time for taking a practical test in Norwich stands at four weeks, with 24 free slots, meaning there’s only a short wait to get booked in.
- Farnborough Test Centre, England
Test Centre Score: 8.13 out of 10
Farnborough scored in second place for the best areas to learn how to drive, with a score of 8.13 out of 10. The Farnborough test centre is based in a local business park about 15 minutes away from the town centre, making it easy enough for learners to reach who live in and around Hampshire.
Farnborough only had a two-week waiting period for practical driving tests, with 19 slots available. The average pass rate between April 2022 and December 2022 was 55.3%, with 3,722 passed tests recorded.
- Ipswich Test Centre, England
Test Centre Score: 7.86 out of 10
The test centre in Ipswich, which is based 15 minutes from the town centre has a pass rate of 62.3%, which is over 32% above the national average of 47%. The test centre is close to the busy A14 which, in addition to the numerous local businesses nearby, means learners are likely to face heavy traffic during rush hour.
The waiting time for taking a practical test in Ipswich stood at five weeks, with 12 free slots, meaning there’s not too long to get booked in. There were 4,311 passed tests recorded in nine months.
With a test centre score of 1.24/10, Belvedere (London) has the longest wait times for practical tests
We also investigated the areas with the longest waiting times for learners to take their practical driving test, as well as their pass rates and the centres with the most limited number of slots available.
- Belvedere (London) Test Centre, England
Test Centre Score: 1.24 out of 10
The Belvedere London test centre in England had the longest waiting times for practical tests, scoring in first place with a score of 1.24 out of 10. The centre, located on the outskirts of London, is close to a few pubs and a local park. The building is surrounded by difficult road conditions and certainly puts learners through their paces.
The Belvedere driving centre, unfortunately, had a 24-week waiting period for its practical driving tests, which is the maximum time to wait, with no slots available for booking. Pass rates were also below the national average at 36%, causing it to fall to the bottom of our list.
- Wallasey Test Centre, England
Test Centre Score: 1.87 out of 10
In second place is Wallasey, another test centre within England, with a score of 1.87 out of 10. Wallasey, a town in Merseyside, England, has its test centre on King Street, near local shops and a medical centre. Though small in size, the building oversees a large number of driving tests each month.
Wallasey test centre had a 20-week waiting period for practical tests with two slots available at the time of recording. The pass rate for practical driving tests is 38.7%, with 802 passes in the last year.
- Kingussie Test Centre, Scotland
Test Centre Score: 2.04 out of 10
Kingussie is a small town in the Badenoch and Strathspey ward of the Highland council area of Scotland and is home to its practical driving test centre. The centre came in third place with a score of 2.04 out of 10.
Situated in Kingussie Shinty Club near the town centre, the driving centre had a 24-week waiting list for practical driving tests with zero slots available. Although, the test centre in Scotland has pass rates of 51.1%, but recorded just 48 passes in the eight months.
The best areas to take your theory test
There were 21 theory test centres with just a one-week wait for theory tests, ensuring that learners can prepare and get their theoretical knowledge up to scratch before going for their practical driving test.
The centres included; Aylesbury, Bangor, Cardiff, Chesterfield, Dundee, Eastbourne, Exeter, Ilford, Mile End A and Mile End B within the City of London, Northampton, Oxford, Plymouth, Redditch, Sheffield, Southampton, Sutton, Coldfield, Torquay, Weymouth, Wigan, Dundee, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea.
The areas waiting the longest for theory tests
Cromer theory test centre had the longest theory test waiting times, causing the centre to top our list with an eighteen-week waiting period for theory tests.
Dumfries in Scotland, and both Ely and Workington in England, had the second-highest waiting time for theory tests at seventeen weeks. For learners wishing to get behind the wheel fast, these theory test centres are not a great choice, as waiting times are long compared to other centres in the country.
The practical driving test waiting times were collected from the DVSA on 15/08/22. As the maximum test booking slot window is 24 weeks, data was only available to show the test centres which were up to the maximum.
The official waiting time is based on the first week when 10% of slots or more are available to book. Slots are generated 24 weeks in advance. Also, the principle is applied that if no slots are available (or weeks fall below 10%) then that centre also defaults to 24 weeks.
The theory waiting times were collected from Driving Theory 4 All, using the current waiting time available. This data is accurate as of 30/03/23.
The driving test pass rates by centre were collected from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency using the Car pass rates by gender, month and test centre document, which was collected between April 2022 and December 2022. Only data for the car tests were collected.