Theory Test Pass Rates Are Plummeting – Here’s Why

by Brady Myles - 2 Min Read

New research reveals that the pass rate for the theory test has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade – so what’s gone wrong?

The figures are startling – only 47% of learners have passed their theory test in the last 12 months. Compare this to 2007-2008 where the pass rate was 65% and it represents a fall of a quarter in just over 10 years.

The fall
The reason for such a crash in pass rates is simple – the theory test, introduced in 1996, has become a lot tougher in the past decade. For instance:

• In 2007, the test saw the introduction of 50 multiple choice questions that required answering instead of the previous 35.

• In 2009, the case study element of the test was brought in, asking you to answer five questions about the portrayed scenario.

• In 2012, the theory test questions and answers were stopped from being posted online or featured in practice papers; previously, this allowed you to memorise all the answers before taking the test.

• In 2013, the entire theory test question bank was refreshed.

• In 2014, voiceovers and interpreters were no longer allowed to be used in the theory or practical driving tests.

Perfect storm
Combined, it means that you are now facing the toughest test on record. Because the difficulty has been cranked up over the past 10 years, it has subsequently lead to the lowering of pass rates.

This increase in difficulty – while essential for producing the next generation of safer, better drivers (i.e. you!) – hasn’t been wholeheartedly embraced by some.

For instance, the AA’s Edmund King told The Times newspaper that, “some of the questions are actually quite obscure. The test is obviously very necessary but perhaps part of it could be a bit more mainstream and relevant to the reality of driving.”

Tough learning
Examples of some of the more challenging theory test questions that have flummoxed test takers include:

1. Following a car collision, someone has suffered a burn. The burn needs to be cooled. Given that one of the below is correct, what’s the shortest time it should be cooled for?

a) 5 minutes
b) 10 minutes
c) 15 minutes
d) 20 minutes.

2. You intend to turn left from a main road into a minor road. What should you do as you approach it?

a) Keep just left of the middle of the road
b) Keep well to the left of the road
c) Keep in the middle of the road
d) Swing out to the right just before turning.

3. Given that one of the below is correct, what colour are the reflective studs between a motorway and its slip road?

a) Amber
b) White
c) Green
d) Red.

• Answers below.

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Answers: 1 (b); 2 (b); 3 (c)

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