It should be a low cost initiation into the driving experience, in theory.

However, the Theory Test and proving particularly challenging to some candidates, both on mind and wallet.

National novices

Driving theory test candidates at ten test centres spent more than £1,000 each getting their pass certificate.

The shocking facts come as the result of a Freedom of Information request to the DVSA.

AA Driving School has now revealed that the most spent on theory test attempts before passing was £1,380 at Redditch theory test centre. This equates to 60 attempts of the £23 test.

Eighty-four driving theory test centres saw candidates shell out more than £500 each. Twenty two attempts each were required to achieve a pass certificate.

Further more, half of driving theory test centres (125 centres) saw at least one candidate spend £345 to take the test 15 times before they were successful.

Scoring highs

Number of theory test attempts prior to passing by candidate(s) Cost to individual Theory Test Centre
60 £1,380 Redditch
58 £1,334 Hull
56 £1,288 Guildford
54 £1,242 Royal Tunbridge Wells
52 £1,196 Bristol
48 £1,104 Birmingham
48 £1,104 Chelmsford
48 £1,104 Sidcup
48 £1,104 Sutton Coldfield
47 £1,081 Taunton

Theoretical sense

A written theory test was introduced for learner drivers in 1996. Today, the theory test is made up of two parts.

The first is a 57 minute session to answer 50 multiple choice questions. These are based on the Highway Code.

Secondly comes the Hazard Perception test. Candidates are asked to spot hazards in videos in a timely fashion.

Candidates must pass both the multiple choice (43 out of 50) and Hazard Perception test (44 out of 75) before they can book their practical driving test.


Recent research by AA Driving School shows that the Theory Test pass rate has fallen to its lowest rate in recorded history. Just 44.2% are currently passing the test, compared to 65.4% in 2007/08.

To help improve learning, AA Driving School amongst many other providers, have launched a new theory test app.

“Passing your theory test is the first stage to getting on the road,” comments  Camilla Benitz, AA Driving School managing director.

“There’s no doubt it’s a tough test and these learners’ commitment to passing is amazing, but, with the right tools, it really shouldn’t need to cost this much to be successful.

“Nerves can undoubtedly play a part, as well as making sure you understand what the test will involve before you get there. It’s quite easy to underestimate the theory test and assume that you’ll be able to pass without any effort at all but that’s not the case.

“Revision is the key to success”.

AA Driving School has launched its own Theory Test App, find out more here.