A new ranking system has named the best and worst places in Britain for learner drivers to sit their test.
Combining information on pass rates as well as waiting times and cancellations, the research compared every test centre in England, Scotland and Wales to come up with a scoring system to indentify the most learner-friendy locations.
According to the analysis by lease comparison service Moneyshake, Portree on the Isle of Skye is the best place to sit your test thanks to pass rates well above the national average, short waiting times and minimal cancellations.
Other learner-friendly locations were scattered throughout Scotland, England and Wales, while the majority of the worst locations were concentrated in London and Birmingham, where poor pass rates, long waiting times and frequent test cancellations make for a tougher experience.
In Portree 68.7% of learners passed their test - compared with a national average of 53% during the period studied - and 70.59% scored a first-time pass. Candidates also currently face an average two-week waiting time to book a test slot, compared with a 19-week national average. In the period between April and December 2021, only one test had to be cancelled, although with just 115 tests conducted, the Scottish centre is one of the country’s quietest.
Just behind it is the Newtown test centre in Powys, Wales. Out of the 666 tests conducted, candidates achieved a 75.98% pass rate, with 64.21% passing first time. Only two tests were cancelled over the nine-month period covered by the study and learners face an average three-week wait for a test.
Third place Chichester conducted 2,581 tests over the nine months, with an overall pass rate of 66.87% and a first-time pass rate of 60.98% first time pass rate. It cancelled far more tests - 107 (4%) but countered this with a waiting time of just one week.
All of the top-ranked locations scored highly for waiting times in the comparison as well as being above average in almost every other category.
In contrast, the worst places for learners ranked badly on every element, with particularly poor performance on waiting times and test availability. Most of the worst ranked locations were far busier and saw candidates face busy city centre test routes, which may partly explain their poor pass rates.
Belvedere in London was determined to be the worst place for learners overall. The site is routinely among those with the lowest annual pass rates and its success rate of just 30.99% in the period from April to September reflects that. Of the 3,307 tests taken, just 33.89% of candidates passed first time, compared with the national average of 53% over the same period. The test centre also had 518 cancellations across the nine months and at the time of looking, there were no driving tests available.
Erith, also in London, was rated second-worst for learners. Pass rates there were even worse - 28.30% overall and 30.25% first-time - and there were no tests available at the time of looking. Only fewer cancellations - 300 from 3,484 tests - kept it above Belvedere.
In third was Birmingham’s busy South Yardley test centre, with two other Birmingham test centres also in the bottom ten. Out of the 5,804 tests taken, only 36.41% of candidates passed and its first-time pass rate was just 36.72%. The centre also cancelled 768 tests during the nine-month period and had no driving tests available to book.
Eben Lovatt, CEO of Moneyshake commented: “With long delays for driving tests across Great Britain, it is important to be as well prepared as possible to avoid having to wait potentially months for a second attempt. Ensure you have had enough lessons to feel confident driving, as well as practicing the mock test routes at your test centre.”
The DVSA has proposed a number of measures to discourage learners from booking a test before they are ready, including extending the waiting period before they can book a retest and lengthening the notice period required to cancel a test.