The pass rate for the driving theory test has dropped by almost a third from 70 per cent to just 50 per cent over the last six years, according to new figures, the BBC reports.
Key factors contributing to the drop are the number of changes that have been made to the test format over this period. The total number of multiple choice questions jumped from 35 to 50 in 2007 with a new “case study” element featuring five questions around a specific scenario introduced in 2009.
Further changes were made in 2012 when new theory test questions were no longer published online or as part of practice papers. The bank of questions was also changed in 2013 meaning that those taking the test could find few real-life questions to test themselves on. Additional updates in early 2014 saw the banning of interpreters and foreign-language voiceovers.
This fall in pass rate is a continuation of a reduced pass rate following the changes to questions in January 2013.
All of these changes have lead to the pass rate falling from a peak of 70.6 per cent in August 2008 to a low of just 49.1 per cent in March 2014. The most recent figures to be published show a pass rate of 50.7 per cent for the period from April to June this year – down 1.5 per cent on the same dates in 2013.
The Department for Transport wrote in a paper: “This fall in pass rate is a continuation of a reduced pass rate following the changes to questions in January 2013.” However, while the theory test pass rate has been declining, the proportion of people passing their practical test has increased since 2007-08 from 44.2 per cent to 47.1 per cent.
A spokesperson for the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency which sets the test said: The theory test requires candidates to demonstrate they have a good knowledge of the rules of the road and the theory behind safe driving.
"In January 2012 we stopped publishing the theory test questions to make sure that candidates understand the theory behind safe driving, rather than simply learning answers by rote."
Currently males are six per cent more likely to pass the practical test than females, while females are six per cent more likely to pass the theory test. Theory test prices cost £31 though the price will fall to £25 in October this year, and to £23 in October 2015.