A Guide to Choosing the Best Time for Your Driving Test​ -

A Guide to Choosing the Best Time for Your Driving Test

Taking your practical driving test is the final step towards finding your freedom on the road and gaining confidence as an independent driver. By passing your test, you can open up a world of opportunities for future careers, fulfil your aspirations to travel or simply be able to get yourself from A to B without the worry of public transport.

You’ve dedicated time and money, countless hours of studying and managed to fit lessons around your life; it’s no wonder that you might be feeling the pressure to make sure everything is right on the day.

So, at this point, you feel prepared and you’re ready to book your driving test, but there is one final question that may be on your mind…

What is the best time of day to take a driving test?

The answer to this question honestly varies depending on personal preferences, location and how prepared you are in different scenarios. There is data to suggest that early mornings are the best time of day to take your test, although this does vary between test centres across the UK. The DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standard Agency) try not to promote UK wide statistics on time of day pass rates as there are too many external factors that can skew the data.

You may instead want to draw from your own experience as a learner driver and base your test time on road and traffic conditions you are used to driving in. In this guide, we will focus less on the statistics and more on the considerations you should take into account when booking your driving test time, with some helpful tips to make your decision easier.

Statistics Vs Experience

Here is a great example of why you should trust your experience and preferences over the statistics. According to analysis of pass rate data taken from the DVSA from 2022-2023, the best month to pass your driving test is April, with a 49.6% pass rate. The problem with saying that April is the “best” month is that the margins between best and worst are simply quite narrow! February has a pass rate of 46.2%, with the months in between carrying averages of 47-48% pass rates.

Factually, there is no real science behind why different months vary, but it could have something to do with the seasonal changes at different times of the year. Visibility may be better in spring and summer months and road conditions may be a little more difficult to navigate in winter months.

What this means for you is it will be important to think about the practice you have had in different weather conditions and times of day. A 4pm lesson in July looks completely different to 4pm in December!

If you have taken your lessons throughout summer and autumn and are due to take your test in winter, it would be advisable to get some further practice when it may not be so light outside and even in more adverse weather conditions like rain, sleet or even snow. This is not only going to give you more confidence in taking your test if bad weather is unfortunately on your side, but it will be invaluable to have the experience for when you have passed your test.

It is important to note that if the weather conditions are particularly bad due to high winds or snow, your test may be cancelled or rescheduled.

 

Rush Hour

It goes without saying that rush hour is a tricky time of day to drive even for the most experienced driver. Getting stuck in traffic, constant stop/starts, not getting to your destination on time, it’s all part of the package when you are on the road at busier times of day.

Between the hours of 8-9am and 5-6pm on weekdays may be seen as the worst times of the day to take a driving test, but there are times when this can play in your favour.

Driving lessons during rush hour – Think about when you take your driving lessons, are you used to driving at one particular time of day? It may be unavoidable to take your lessons during rush hour if this is what your weekly schedule allows, in which case, you will be used to driving on busy roads and navigating traffic. It could therefore be at your advantage to take your driving test during one of these times.

Test availability – As you may already know, there can be a long wait for driving tests and time slots can get quickly booked as they become available. Where some driving students may prefer the quieter times and days, you may be able to get a quicker test if you are less particular about the time of day you take it.

Learning valuable skills – It is one thing to know how to drive a car to pass your test, but it is another thing entirely to learn how to interact with other cars on the road at busy junctions, roundabouts or even while sitting in heavy traffic. Taking some lessons and even your test during these times can give you more confidence in hazard perception and definitely a lot more patience for when you are road ready!

Early Morning Vs Late Afternoon

Are you a morning person? Do you like to complete your personal tasks before you start your day? Or are you more focused in the afternoons after having plenty of time to complete your tasks at your own pace?

When it comes to your driving test you may want to get it over and done with first thing in the morning and there can be some advantages to this.

More alert – As a general rule, we tend to be more alert in the morning as opposed to the afternoon. Think about being at work or college and getting that mid-afternoon slump after a busy morning and perhaps a big lunch. It happens to us all and is why we tend to be more productive in the morning before our bodies and minds have had a chance to wind down. The same could apply to your driving test day. If your concentrations levels will be at their peak first thing, it could be a good time of day to take the test.

Less time to feel anxious – Most people do experience some levels of anxiety before their driving test. It is completely normal to worry about it, but it can be detrimental to let the anxiety build, especially if you are feeling nervous. By getting the test done in the morning, you won’t be waiting around allowing yourself to feel panic as the day goes on.

Minimal disruptions to your own schedule – Taking your driving test can sometimes mean booking time off work or away from education and family commitments. If you can schedule your test in the evening, you may be able to beat this disruption, but evening tests tend to cost more, and some test centres don’t have availability for this time of day. The way around this is to take an early morning test, giving you the ability to continue with your responsibilities as normal afterward.

If you are less of a morning person and more drawn to an afternoon or evening driving test, this can have its positives too.

Time to rest – You would be forgiven for losing a little sleep the night before the driving test, although it would certainly help you to get a full 8 hours! If you are particularly nervous, it can give you that buffer by booking a later test, allowing you to get a little more rest and relaxation before getting into the car.

Potentially less traffic – Between rush hour and school hours, the practical test can be an enjoyable experience when you are able to go further distances and get a feel for driving to speed limits. It won’t always be the case as disruptions can always occur, but it can be a less stressful event.

Cancellations due to adverse weather may be avoided – This isn’t a definitive rule, however first thing in the morning tends to be when ice and snow are at their worst. A driving test could be cancelled due to this, so as the weather thaws and the roads have cleared later in the day, it could mean that your test could go ahead if this was the case.

An argument could be made for all times of day, and it really does just come down to how prepared you are to drive in different scenarios and where you will feel more comfortable on the day of your test. When the day comes around, make sure you stay well rested and get as much sleep as you can the night before, eat a healthy breakfast or lunch that will make you feel alert and not sluggish, and stay hydrated throughout.

Above all, remember that you have reached this point through skill and practice and no matter what time of day you take your driving test, your confidence is the one thing that will drive you forward!