Study shows an alarming trend: academic tests take a backseat to driving tests for 66% of drivers

Young girl taking lessons for driving on the road with examiner using clipboard.

Earlier this week it was revealed that learner drivers are spending more than £45 million a year on driving test resits, with more than 50,000 sitting their test for at LEAST the sixth time last year.

With this in mind, the driving experts at Vanamara have surveyed 1,000 Brits to uncover how long drivers spent revising their theory and practical tests in comparison to academic tests (GCSEs, A-Levels and more depending on when they were at school).

After surveying Brits, they found that:

  • Almost a quarter (23.19%) of drivers revised for their driving tests MORE than their academic tests
  • More than two-fifths (42.34%) of divers revised the SAME for their driving tests as their academic tests
  • This means that only a little more than a third (34.48%) prioritised their academic tests more than their driving tests
  • Women take their academic tests more seriously with 40.33% having prioritised them over their driving tests, compared to just 28.85% of men

The same survey found that it was drivers in Brighton who were most likely to spend more time revising for their theory and practical driving tests than A-levels and university exams. Almost a quarter (24%) of respondents from Brighton selected that answer compared to one in eight (8%) of respondents from Brighton who said they would revise for academic tests more.

Plymouth, however, had the lowest percentage of drivers who would revise for their practical and theory tests more than A-levels and university exams with just one in 25 (4%) of respondents from Plymouth agreeing with the statement.

10 vital don’ts to ensure you pass your driving test the first time

To help students manage the workload of juggling driving tests and academic tests at the same time, Vanarama has given 10 expert tips to help you pass your driving and theory test the first time.

1. Don’t underestimate TikTok, follow driving examiners on there

In 2022, people in the UK spent on average 27.18 hours on TikTok per month according to research from Statista. TikTok could help you pass your driving test the first time! Many driving instructors upload TikToks of their students’ mock exams and lessons for people learning to take tips from.

2. Don’t book the test centre with the shortest wait time (unless it’s your local one)

In 2023, learner drivers are still being affected by the waiting list backlog from when driving test centres were shut during the Covid-19 lockdowns. As a result, it can be tempting to book a practical test in a city you’ve never even been to before, never mind having driven there, to pass your test sooner.

However, this could hinder your chances of passing the first time. Not only will it add to nerves but it’s an advantage to know the driving test routes before taking your practical. If you take your test in the city you learned to drive in, it’s likely you’re going to have driven the route you’re taken on for your test before the actual event.

3. Don’t take your eyes off the road

It can be tempting to glance over at your examiner whilst taking your practical driving test to try and gauge what they’re thinking and noting down. However, this could result in you failing your driving test for not concentrating on the road which could, in turn, cause you to veer off track and potentially cause an accident.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask your examiner to repeat themselves

Your nerves will most likely be running high throughout your practical exam so if you mishear or aren’t sure what the examiner has asked you to do, don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat. Rather than panicking and potentially making a mistake, this could be the difference between getting a major or passing your test.

5. Don’t immediately assume you’ve failed after a minor mistake

Overthinking and being self-critical in your practical test will cause you more harm than good. Sometimes you can be aware of a driving mistake you have made straight after doing it and assume you’ve failed your test causing you to take the rest of the test less seriously and making further errors. However, the initial mistake may have just been a minor or not a fault at all, resulting in you self-sabotaging your test.

6. Don’t underestimate theory-driving apps

Finding time to revise your theory amongst academic test revision can be difficult. However, if you download a theory test revision app, you can revise on the go. For example, if you take a train or bus as part of your daily routine, use that journey time to take mock tests on the app and save home revision time for academic tests.

7. Don’t forget to practice in the passenger seat

Although the theory test is taken on a computer, you can use your time as a passenger of a vehicle, whether it’s a friend or family member’s car or a bus, to test your knowledge on road signs you’re driving past and spot hazards on the road. If you’re with someone, you can ask them to test you using real-life scenarios happening on the road.

8. Don’t take a wild guess, flag difficult questions instead

If you come across a difficult question whilst taking your theory test, don’t take a wild guess or spend too much time trying to think of the answer, flag the question instead so you can come back to it at the end. It could be that one of the questions following it will jog your memory or, if you have spare time at the end, you can think more about it to make a more educated guess.

9. Don’t waste your 15 minutes of practice time

Before your test officially begins, you get 15 minutes of practice time to ensure you can fix any potential problems before you start. Although this is optional, we highly recommend you take this time. Once the test begins, you won’t be able to ask for any help.

10. Don’t forget your provisional licence

Last but not least, don’t forget your provisional license. If you don’t bring this with you for your test, you will not be able to sit the exam and lose your deposit. You will also need to rebook your test which, depending on the waiting list times, could be weeks or months.

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