Driving Test Pass Limits?

Learning to pass a driving test, what it takes.

People ask me various questions on the driving tests as I have been an “Approved Driving Instructor” since 1996. One such question which I regularly come across is whether a driving instructor can allow a certain number of people to pass the tests in a week? I remember that 26 years ago I had also asked my instructor the same question. A simple answer in the affirmative or a dissenting one may not be quite enough for convincing you entirely. To understand the answer you have to know the facts.

In the US about 45 to 50 percent overall of the students pass a driving test from the centers. The heavy traffic and bad road conditions around the test centers may be responsible for this figure. The affluent people can also impact the number as they can afford to take more lessons before taking any driving test.


driving test

If there were any pass limit for the driving tests, then wouldn’t the figure of students passing the test be the same? A personal incident that I experienced recently during the early part of 2009 showed that most of the groups of 10 students were able to pass the test at the first shot. Then suddenly one student failed followed by two who passed. If the local test center had any fixed pass rate, then wouldn’t some of the students in the group of 10 have failed as per the national average?


Difference of opinion

On the other hand, like always, there may be some truth behind the apparent pass limits for driving tests. Suppose you are a driving examiner who gives about 45 to 50 percent of the students over a period of a week, month or even year. You may also be passing more than the national average as a matter of fact. Your senior examiners as well as you may start wondering if the marks given for the tests by you are different from the marks given by other examiners at other test centers. You may think that you are becoming too lenient and may adjust the marking to be tougher. You should not assume that you have failed someone who should have passed the test. Instead, you should think that you have been stricter with a driving fault committed by the student, or the student has a serious driving problem.

Keep in mind that this is my opinion which I have gained from the experience of sitting at the back of the car while the test was going on and from the hundreds of debriefings after driving tests ended. So what are the gray areas that I am talking about and how to prevent them from happening? The gray areas are the difference of opinion between different persons or examiners about the learner about getting too close to a car on the road or a parked car. This perception is entirely the individual reviewer’s opinion and varies from one person to another.

Additionally, the critical area to identify is the reviewer’s opinion of the learner’s attitude.  Other difficulties include his driving capabilities and the consideration he shows to other people using the road. If the learner makes a mistake, then there is a better chance that the examiner will overlook the error if the learner has been driving well, making correct decisions beforehand and respecting the decisions of other drivers.

It can be concluded that the learner will invariably pass the driving test irrespective of what the past limits say. Learners showing better driving skills will surely pass the tests.