Where in Scotland is it Easiest to Pass a Driving Test?

​Anyone who has been through the process of achieving their driving licence in Scotland knows it can be quite a rigorous - and lengthy - process. From taking your first lesson, studying for your theory, going out for a dreaded home-style lesson in your car with a parent who doesn’t quite have the same patience as your driving instructor, right through to passing your practical examination. 

While there are countless factors that go into passing your driving test, such as confidence, weather, road conditions, and time of day - does where you sit your driving test in Scotland matter? 

We’ve analysed data from the Government’s DVSA site to uncover which regions in Scotland have had the highest, and lowest, overall pass rates from April 2022 - June 2023, the most common reasons to fail your driving test, top tips on how to pass your driving test, and what to expect when sitting your driving test.

The Scottish Regions with the Highest - and Lowest - Pass Rates (since April 2022) ​

A map of Scotland with all regions and how they rank for their learner driver test pass rate.

Scotland has the highest pass rate of any country in the UK, according to previous country-wide analysis of the DVSA pass rate data. However, in which Scottish regions are there the highest overall pass rates? 

Our analysis found that the region of Angus*, which includes test centres Arbroath (74.8%), Dundee (62.9%), Forfar (75%) and Montrose (72.55%), had the highest overall pass rate since April 2022 compared to any other region, with roughly 7 in 10 (71.3%) driving tests in the region resulting in a pass. 

Argyll & Bute followed, with 70.7% of tests passing. Then the Scottish Borders with 69%. 

Interestingly, two of Scotland’s most populous islands, Shetland and Orkney, made the top 10. 

When it came to the regions with the lowest pass rates since the beginning of 2022, Inverclyde took the top spot. The only test centre in Inverclyde is in Greenock, with an average of around 2 in 5 (40%) of tests passing in the past year. 

Following Inverclyde was Glasgow, with an average of just 42% of tests passing over the city-region’s three test centres. Moray followed with a 46% pass rate. 

Interestingly, most of the regions with the lowest pass rate since the beginning of 2022 reside on Scotland’s central belt, suggesting venturing out to the less populated areas of the country might help secure you a pass. 

*The Western Isles did have the highest average pass rate but Barra had less than 30 tests each year for the 22-24 period, and Benbecula had less than 30 in one, therefore, this region was deemed not to have a statistically significant average. 

Black Audi E-tron shot from behind overlooking the River Tay

The Most Common Reasons for Failing Your Driving Test

No one is perfect when it comes to driving. In fact, just 3.92% of learner drivers in the UK passed their texts without any faults in the latest figures, compared to the 1.6 million people who sat a test over the same period.

While the average number of minor faults on passed tests in the UK is around 5 or 6, you can get up to 15 ‘minors’ or 3 of the same one, until you’ll fail your test.

Historically, less than half of people who sit their test every year pass, so don’t be too disheartened if you don’t pass on your first try. But what are the most common* ‘major’ faults causing people to fail?

1. Not making effective observations at junctions - In order to avoid failing on this, drivers should ensure that they make careful observations before moving into a new road and always ensure it is safe before proceeding

2. Not using mirrors correctly when changing direction - This second-most common fault can happen by not checking mirrors when exiting a roundabout or by causing another vehicle to slow down when changing lanes on a dual carriageway. To avoid this, always ensure that you make full and effective use of your mirrors during your test. Stick to a mirrors-first approach before making any manoeuvres.

3. Not moving off safely - This can happen when moving off from behind a parked vehicle into the path of an oncoming one or by not making any rear observations when moving off from an emergency stop, amongst others. Always ensure your surroundings are clear before moving off.

4. Incorrect positioning when turning right at junctions - A common reason to fail your driving test on this fault is by positioning in the left-hand lane when turning right at a roundabout. Using this lane isn’t appropriate, so always try to be one step ahead of your instructor and keep yourself alert for their directions.

5. Not having proper control of the steering - You must be able to steer the car as smoothly as possible at all points in your test, while also ensuring that you do so at the appropriate time. If in doubt, always remember hands at 9 and 3, and think about feeding the wheel through your hands as you must always maintain grip with both hands.

6. Not responding appropriately to traffic lights - Traffic lights aren’t fun for anyone, especially if you’re stuck at a red one for more than a couple of minutes! While it may be easy to lose focus at a lengthy traffic light wait, it’s crucial that you do keep it. Failing to react to a red light, or not going ahead when the light is green, can both result in test fails.

7. Not responding correctly to traffic signs - Traffic signs are an important part of your driving test, so you must ensure that you keep yourself aware of any along your test route. For example, if you fail to full stop the vehicle at a ‘stop’ sign, then you will fail your test. The vehicle must be completely stationary before you set off again.

8. Poor positioning on the road during normal driving - You can fail your driving test on this fault if you: repeatedly drive too close to the kerb (which puts pedestrians in danger), unnecessarily driving in the right-hand (or outside) lane of a dual carriageway, or by cutting across the normal road position when you go ahead at a roundabout with no lane markings.

9. Not responding correctly to road markings - Obeying all rules of the road is crucial to passing your driving test, and that includes obeying the road markings. Be careful not to straddle across two lanes on a roundabout or cross double white lines where the line nearer to you is solid.

10. Not keeping control of the vehicle during reverse parking - Reverse parking can be a daunting manoeuvre for any learner driver, but if you have this on your test, be sure to take your time and remember all the hints and tips your driving instructor has taught you.

*from the latest DVSA article at time of writing (April 2022-March 2023 period).

White Nissan Qashqai Kuro parked next to the water at Cove Bay, Aberdeen

Top Tips on How to Pass Your Driving Test

While driving tests in Scotland follow the same format for everyone sitting them, no two driving tests will ever be the same.

1. Look out for signs that you’re actually ready to sit your driving test

While it can be tempting to sit your practical driving test at the soonest opportunity, this may be your downfall. Some tell-tale signs to look out for that you’re actually ready to sit your driving test include:

  • Not needing prompts when driving from your instructor.
  • You’re passing mock driving tests with your instructor.
  • Your driving instructor has indicated that you’re ready.
  • You aren’t making any serious or dangerous mistakes when you’re driving.
  • You know how to manage your nerves.

2. Have a lesson before your test

Taking a driving lesson directly before your test time is recommended. This lets you refresh your memory on any tricky manoeuvres with your instructor and ask for any clarification on last-minute questions you may have. It may also help to calm your nerves and get you into the right frame of mind for driving, keeping you free of distractions.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask your examiner to repeat any instructions

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for clarification on anything your driving test examiner has said. If you don’t hear them properly, keep calm and simply ask them to repeat it. It is far better to do this than assuming what they’ve said and winding up getting it wrong.

4. Over exaggerate your mirror checks

It may feel a little silly and overly-animated, but not checking mirrors properly is one of the most common minor faults learner drivers make - even if you’re certain that you did. While driving instructors are trained to look out for you checking your mirrors, a simple movement of your eye might not be enough. Instead, ensure to move your head towards the mirror you’re checking. Being over the top with your checking won’t do any harm.

5. Drive in different weather and road conditions

Driving in areas unknown to you, or when the weather is harsh, is daunting but there’s no guarantee that this won’t happen to you on your driving test, so it’s crucial to prepare yourself for everything. You never know what could happen on your test day. To prepare, challenge yourself to get out practising in harsher weather conditions or ask your instructor to run you through all the possible driving test routes from your chosen test centre.


What to Expect on Your Driving Test

If you take formal driving lessons, your driving instructor probably already has you clued up on what to expect when your driving test day comes. But as a quick reminder, you can expect the following things to happen:

  • An eyesight test - If you wear glasses, ensure you wear them before you start your driving test. Driving without prescription glasses is illegal.
  • ‘Show me, tell me’ safety questions - These questions were put in place to test you on your essential knowledge on the basics required to be a safe driver. Each of the scenarios given to you in these questions are meant to mirror real life situations that could happen while driving.
  • One of the reversing manoeuvres - You’ll be expected to perform at least one reversing manoeuvre during your driving test. These include: forward bay parking (and reversing out), reversing into a parking bay or pulling up on the right-hand side of the road and reversing two car lengths.
  • Following directions from a sat nav.
  • 20 minutes of independent driving.


You can view the DVSA’s official video guide of what to expect on your driving test below:

A driving instructor pointing towards a car and traffic cone with his student driver


All data for this research was pulled from the DVSA’s latest (June 2023) driving test pass rate figures.

We isolated each of the Scottish test centres within the DVSA’s datasets after pulling the yearly averages from April 2022 onwards (most recent figures, dated June 2023). From here, we were able to determine the average annual overall pass rates for each test centre.

We then categorised each of the Scottish driving test centres into regions so that we could determine average overall driving test pass rates regionally for the nation.