According to experts at Independent Advisor Car Insurance, April and August are the best months for passing your practical driving test - with Carmarthen and Cardigan in Wales having the shortest waiting list periods.

A huge backlog of driving tests is putting pressure on aspiring drivers to pass the first time around.

This time last year, if you failed your driving test you’d be waiting a minimum period of 10 days before re-booking - now learners must wait a minimum of 28 days due to DVSA changes[1] and lengthy waiting lists.

As of 16th October 2023, the average national car driving test waiting time was around 133 days or 19 weeks.

While students may be keen to gain their driving independence, recent data can reveal that March is among the worst months for test pass rates (48%).

As such, Connor Campbell, expert at Independent Advisor Car Insurance stresses the importance of being ‘test ready’ before booking and offers his tips to get around driving test waiting times, as well as the months you’re most likely to pass.

Where to take your test for the shortest waiting period

If you’re able to be flexible with where you pass your test, the following driving test centres have the shortest waiting list times in the UK. All of these have a waiting list period that is at least 189% less than the national average. Note: the below data is based on 2023 waiting times (most recent update).

While you’re waiting

“Ensure your theory test is still valid: The lengthy waiting lists for practical driving exams ultimately have a knock on effect on theory tests too, as the test certificate is only valid for two years. If you passed your theory test early in your learning journey, and you’ve been delayed in securing a practical test, your theory certificate may have expired. Be sure to check and resit if needed.

“Don’t take your foot off the gas: If you have to wait the national average of 19 weeks to take your test, it's easy to get complacent. If you have access to a car for additional practice, or can find the time for extra lessons, practise in the areas you need more work. If you don’t have access to either of these, you can keep your driving awareness fresh by ‘practising as a passenger’, mentally running through scenarios to work through how you would respond.”

With the driving test waiting periods being so high, it’s easy for students’ anxiety to run rampant as they put increasing pressure upon themselves to pass the first time and gain their independence.

James Roy, Mental Health Expert at Brainworks Neurotherapy, advises: “Driving test anxiety is completely normal, but with average wait times as high as they are, those feelings are likely to be made worse by increased pressures to pass, or risk hanging on for months for another attempt. For some, the pressures of driving itself can be a trigger for nervousness and sleepless nights.

“It's important to reassure yourself and build confidence by taking driving lessons, asking about anything you're unsure about, and doing the necessary research around the test. But if you're prone to anxiety, there may be some other considerations to make to give yourself the best odds of feeling relaxed for your test:

“First of all, avoid caffeine the night before, and the day of your driving test. Not only will it make sleeping more difficult, but it can increase your heart-rate and trigger anxiety. Secondly, make sure to be hydrated and to eat healthily in the days up to your exam. Doing so will give your body the best chance at keeping calm on test day.

“Finally, if there are any practices you know from experience can help your mental health, whether they be exercise, yoga, meditation, or something else, find a suitable time to do these before the test and help keep yourself calm.”

Interestingly, the data reveals that those taking their test in April or August were much more likely to pass than those taking their test in October. With wait lists as long as they are, aspiring drivers may have missed the boat for taking their test in April, but scheduling for July or August could allow you to get that coveted first-time pass.

Getting Around Driving Test Waiting Times

• Stay alert for cancellations: Subscribing to apps like Testi allows you to receive notifications in real time for cancellation slots at your preferred driving test centres, which then automatically updates your slot with the DVSA. But don’t rush yourself - it’s better to wait and be fully equipped to pass, than to try to speed up the process and possibly fail if you’re unprepared.”

• Prevention is key: Driving test waiting times are even more frustrating if you have to take the exam multiple times. Being ‘test ready’ on your first attempt dramatically shortens the time between supervised and independent driving. Ensure you’re only booking your test when you’re confident, self-assured, and can demonstrate all facets of the driving test confidently.”

• Consider taking your test elsewhere: Alternate driving test centres may have shorter waiting list periods, and being flexible with where you take your test can shave days or even weeks off of your wait time. While this may seem less appealing due to being less familiar with the roads and speed limits, you can often negotiate with your instructor to have a familiarisation period prior to your test to get a feel for the local roads and test routes.”

Visit Independent Advisor Car Insurance for more insights from their expert editorial team.