When is the best time of year to take your driving test?

Ready to ditch your L-plates? To give yourself the best possible chance of passing your driving test, is there a specific month and time when you’re more likely to succeed? Let’s look at the evidence…

Ready to ditch your L-plates? To give yourself the best possible chance of passing your driving test, is there a specific month and time when you’re more likely to succeed? Let’s look at the evidence…

Daniel Hutson
Motor insurance expert
5
minute read
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Posted 25 JANUARY 2022 Last Updated 25 JANUARY 2022

What are the stats on driving test pass rates?

To find out whether the time of year you take your practical driving test can improve your chances of passing, we’ve taken a look at pass rate data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). We’ve used 2019 as a sample year because this is before the Covid lockdowns skewed the figures.

Month

Pass rate

January

46.7%

February

45.2%

March

46%

April

46.8%

May

46.4%

June

46%

July

46.1%

August

46.4%

September

46%

October

46%

November

44.9%

December

44.9%

Interestingly, the data shows that April and January have the highest pass rates, while November and December have the lowest. But it’s pretty marginal, and there’s only a 1.9% difference between the best and worst-performing months. You might expect the summer months to have a higher pass rate given the better weather conditions, but there’s no real evidence that this makes a difference.

Male and female pass rates by month

Taking the same year, we can also break down pass rates by gender to analyse whether there’s a difference in the best time to take a driving test for men and women.

Month

Men

Women

January

50.5%

43.1%

February

49.1%

41.7%

March

49.9%

42.5%

April

50.6%

43.5%

May

50.2%

43.1%

June

49.7%

42.6%

July

49.9%

42.8%

August

50%

43.3%

September

49.3%

43%

October

49.6%

42.7%

November

48.7%

41.5%

December

48.7%

41.5%

As well as the obvious differences between male and female pass rates, you’ll notice that for men, the most successful months are April and January, while women peak in April and August. For both genders, the biggest dips are in November and December.

When is the best time of day for a driving test?

Examiners usually schedule seven tests a day, but is it easier to pass your test in the morning, afternoon or evening? Here’s what you can expect on the roads at various times of the day.

Early morning driving tests

Early driving test times between 7am and 9am will see you taking to the road during rush hour. There are pros and cons to this. The advantages are that you’ll get the test over with nice and early so you’re not stressing about it all day. There might also be less driving to do if you get stuck in traffic, although the examiner will usually know the area well so will choose routes that are less likely to be congested. 

The downside is that you’re more likely to encounter commuter traffic, the school run and extra hazards from cyclists and pedestrians.

Mid-morning driving tests

Between 9am and 11am is generally a decent time to take a driving test because it’s outside of rush hour and avoids the traffic increase in the run-up to lunchtime. The examiner will be able to take you across a wide range of road types, including dual carriageways and narrow back streets lined with parked cars. 

You may also be more alert during a driving test in the morning, compared with the ‘afternoon slump’.

Late afternoon and evening driving tests

A late afternoon test might stretch into school home times and rush hour, so may not be ideal. But one benefit of a later test is that during the winter months, there’s less chance of the test being cancelled because of icy roads.

Evening tests in summer can be good, especially after 7pm, because of the quieter roads after rush hour. And many people feel naturally calmer at this time of day. But not all test centres offer evening tests and, for those that do, they’re more expensive.

Weekend driving tests

It’s possible to arrange your driving test for the weekend instead of a weekday, if that’s more convenient for you. Perhaps you work full-time or you’re at college or university during the week. 

Also, if the area around the test centre is usually quieter on a Saturday or Sunday, it can be worth paying a bit extra to book a weekend driving test, although these aren’t always available. Weekend tests cost £75 compared with a weekday cost of £62 (correct as of December 2021).

Winter driving tests

During the colder weather, driving tests are often cancelled because of icy roads. Even if the main roads have been gritted and are clear, you’ll need to use residential streets for manoeuvres, which could be hazardous. If you do book a test in the winter months, it can be better to arrange it for the afternoon. That’s because ice often thaws out as the day goes on, allowing tests to still go ahead.

Did you know?

It’s a myth that examiners only pass a set number of people each day, week or month. It’s also untrue that nobody ever passes on a Friday because examiners have already filled their quota for the week.

How long is the driving test backlog?

You’ll need to be patient when booking your practical driving test because you could be in for a long wait. According to the DVSA, the average national waiting time for a car driving test is around 15 weeks. In the worst affected areas, it’s at least 24 weeks.

The main reason for the backlog is – yes, you’ve guessed it – the pandemic, with driving tests unable to take place during lockdowns. DVSA statistics show that the number of tests carried out between April 2020 and March 2021 fell by 73% compared with the previous 12 months. 

But it looks like the problem has been exacerbated by examiner shortages. This has led to soaring waiting times, meaning it could be at least four months before you can take your driving test. It’s important you’re aware of the situation before you book your test so you don’t have unrealistic expectations.

Is there really a best time to take your practical driving test?

Before anyone starts obsessing that they absolutely must take their driving test at 10.14am on the first Monday in April otherwise they’re bound to fail, it’s worth putting things into perspective.  

Any differences in pass rates are so minimal that it shouldn’t be something you worry about too much. While it’s certainly interesting to assess how the time of day and month of the test might affect pass rates, it’s not going to make a massive difference in the grand scheme of things. And, in the current climate, it’s just good to get a test when you can.

What really matters is how well prepared you are and how you handle the pressure on the day. Driving instructors would say have confidence in your own ability and try to stay calm whatever happens. 

Remember, you’ll need learner driver car insurance when learning to drive, then new driver car insurance once you’ve passed your test. You can use our car insurance comparison service to compare deals.

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