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Are More Learner Drivers Struggling with the Driving Test?

Reading a very interesting article about driving test pass rates in Glasgow recently, the Book Theory Test Today blogger asks, are learners struggling more than ever to pass the UK driving test or are examiners getting stricter?

The Book Theory Test Today blogger says: “It’s always disappointing to read about declining driving test pass rates in the UK, and research for this week’s blog uncovered another decline in the city of Glasgow. It got me thinking. Are driving tests getting harder or are instructors getting stricter?

It took me four attempts to pass my driving test, just one attempt at the theory test if you’re curious, and my first three tests were conducted by men. However, on my fourth exam, a breakthrough, I had a female instructor and passed with just two minor faults.

Until I began blogging about learner drivers, I never really thought anything of this. But now, is it a coincidence that I passed while under the watchful eye of a female invigilator? Who knows, but I certainly feel that exam invigilators do have a fail rate quota.”

Back in Glasgow, data released to the Glasgow Evening Times following a Freedom of Information request, uncovered something interesting – basically a ‘postcode lottery’.

With DVSA test centres in Anniesland, Baillieston, Springburn and Shieldhall, each of these centres were among those with the lowest pass rates in the West of Scotland over the last five years. Over a third of those failures have occurred at Shieldhall.

Is this because tests are harder, or because examiners are coerced into failing candidates?

Book Theory Test Today says: “There is evidence that exists to support the idea that examiners are expected to fail a certain number of students. In 2010, a former examiner at Shieldhall claims he was sacked because his theory test and practical exam pass rates were too high.

In a statement from the DVSA at the time, they said: “The examiner’s sacking is in no way linked to any variation in theory test or practical exam pass rates.”

It’s worth noting that no explanation was given as to why the examiner was actually removed from his position.

In a statement from Alex Johnstone, the Scottish Conservative transport spokesman, he said: “These figures raise questions over the varying standards set in test centres across Scotland. It appears to be the case that the guidelines are being more strictly enforced in some places than others.

There has always been suspicion among learner drivers in Scotland’s cities that those in rural areas have it easier when it comes to their practical test. But, it has to be considered that people in rural Scotland, where the transport network is nothing like it is in urban settings, are considerably more dependent on their car.”

It’s estimated that between 3,000 and 4,000 tests are overseen across Glasgow’s four theory test and practical exam centres every year.

The so called ‘postcode lottery’ exists because the pass rate is higher in more rural locations than in urban areas, leading many driving school owners to claim that there’s a lack of consistency. Rural drivers allegedly have it easier.

A number of commentators have dismissed that there’s a conspiracy theory about pass rates for the theory test or practical exam, saying that pass rates vary for a variety of reasons. For example, some candidates are just better prepared for the tests.

In a statement from Neil Greig, Director of Research & Policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, he said: “I urge the DVSA to do more to make sure tests are consistent across the country.”

He added: “Driving test pass rates will always vary for a variety of reasons, but it is vital that the DVSA continues to monitor trends and address any issues around the standards of tuition and testing to ensure consistency.”

What’s your view? Do you think examiners have a quota or is the test just harder to pass?

Book Theory Test Today offers an intermediary service assisting clients with booking a UK theory test, or practical test, at test centres across the nation. The service also supplies resources to help you prepare for your theory test – Ready to take your theory test? Book your theory test online today…




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