How Much Does it Cost to Learn to Drive? – Student’s Guide for 2024

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Many people, no matter their age, find learning how to drive an especially exciting prospect, and although it may seem like a distant dream, it is one that can be made a reality fairly quickly. However there is a price, and this article will go over the main costs involved, the costs to retake while also providing you with some useful tips and tricks to keep the cost inexpensive and affordable for everyone. So without further ado, let’s jump in!

Learning how to drive comes with three main costs: the expense of driving lessons and the respective fees surrounding both the driving theory and practical tests. With driving lessons costing an average of £23 an hour, the theory test costing £23 and the practical test costing between £62 and £72, we have concluded that the average total cost of learning how to drive for someone in the United Kingdom is £1097. This is based on the average person requiring 44 hours of driving lessons. It is important to note that some people will take fewer driving lessons than the national average, and some will take more – adjusting the number of hours in lessons will inevitably alter the cost of learning how to drive. 

Many different factors all come into play when talking about the costs that come with learning to drive, and this article will go over them in thorough detail, as well as providing you with helpful tips to keep the cost within budget levels.

How Much Do Driving Lessons Cost?

Before anyone can receive their licence, it is required by law that they take a driving test, and before executing the driving test they must first take lessons to learn how to drive. Some people take countless lessons, whereas others take very few; it all depends on your general skill as a driver, your determination, your learning pace and your instructor. The cost of driving lessons depends on two main variables- how many driving lessons you take, and the company that provides them.

This makes it nearly impossible to put a singular price on the cost of all driving lessons, however, we can provide you with the national average. In the UK, an average hourly driving lesson costs £23, but this price can quickly stack up when you multiply that cost to the total of all the driving lessons you will take. The average person in the UK spends 44 hours in driving lessons, and if each lesson were an hour long, it will take the total cost up to a humungous £1012! However, as previously mentioned, this cost is subject to the two chief factors, meaning the cost could be much lower, yet also much higher.

Firstly, the primary variable- how many driving lessons you take. The more lessons you take, the more expensive the total will become– so taking the least number of lessons possible is going to be favourable if you don’t want to spend as much money.

Although it may be a bit of a stretch, it is possible to learn how to drive in a week, but you would need a very experienced instructor, and you would need to be assiduous and show a fair bit of determination to learn at the rapid pace that would be necessary. You would also likely need to dedicate a lot of time during that week to learn all the material required.

Now onto the second variable- the company that offers them. You will find that in your local area alone there will be an abundance of driving schools offering lessons to nearby residents. Prices will vary between them, so in order to get the best value for money it is recommended you conduct some research into each to find out the prices, ratings etc. You could ask some friends or your parents who have the ability to drive where they went, their experience, and the cost to get a general idea of what to expect from each.

On the UK government website, they offer a service in which you type in your postcode, and it will output approved driving instructors in your local area, their phone numbers, their distance from you plus their email, rendering it a fantastic tool to operate if you’re struggling to find a school in close proximity to you.

Some of the instructors also have ratings which can be extremely useful to find out which would provide you with the best quality available. On the website Trustpilot, some of the top rated driving schools in the UK include: System Driving School in Essex, CAT Driving Training Ltd. in Cranfield and M 4 Motoring Driving School Ltd in Newport, so if any of those are in your range perhaps consider attending. If they are not, then do not worry, as many of these schools have expanded across the country, and perhaps there could now be one near you! You can see the rest of the list here.

An alternative option to regular driving lessons is an intensive course. Intensive courses are targeted towards those who would like to learn to drive more promptly (in about 1 or 2 weeks). Intensive courses differ from standard driving lessons in that lessons are much longer, more frequent, and cost a great deal more. An average intensive course driving lesson would last about 2-5 hours, depending on company, and you will be required to attend at least once a day.

The price is costly too, and can range from £1000-£2000 per week, so think wisely about whether the amount of money is going to be worth learning to drive faster than you perhaps normally would. The cost of an intensive course is often priced as the total cost for the course, not on singular lessons. Sometimes, the cost can be cheaper than driving lessons, and then in addition you received your licence more promptly- which would be a fantastic bonus- but it could also be the opposite too, so tread carefully.

Intensive driving courses also don’t work for everyone– as the name implies, it will be intense, so perseverance, commitment and determination are all qualities that are vital to success and are traits you must ensure you have. A huge benefit is that intensive courses tend to be more successful than average driving lessons- they have an 88% pass rate, compared to the normal 47%. On the flip side, if you would prefer a more laid back experience, then regular driving lessons may better suit you.

If you would like to find out more about the different places and methods that you can use to learn how to drive, you may want to have a read of this useful article, which discusses the different options you have for where you can learn how to drive.

How Much Does the Practical Test Cost?

Driving students will participate in the practical test once they- and usually their instructor- feels their skills and knowledge of the road are up to the required standard. In a typical driving test, you will be tested by an examiner for around 40 minutes on your driving skills, your knowledge of safety whilst in the vehicle and so on. The practical test must be booked via the UK government website, on this page.

The price of the driving test is subject to change depending on what type of vehicle you drive and what time and day you wish to take part. If you drive a car, the test will cost you £62 on a weekday, and £75 for evenings, bank holidays and weekends. A car with a trailer will cost you £115 on a weekday and £141 on an evening, weekend or bank holiday. 

If you drive another vehicle, such as a motorcycle or moped, the test is structured slightly differently, and different costs then come onto the table. You can see the full price list for all vehicles here.

When booking a driving test, a common question that pops up is: “Are there any additional fees I don’t know about?”. Fortunately, the answer is no- there isn’t currently a booking fee, and there are no extra costs involvedunless you choose to take the test in your own car, in which you would have to pay for the fuel. 

In the duration of your driving test, you can request for someone to accompany you– this is actually highly recommended. They can aid you with moral support, and assist you in feeling a little more relaxed, as feelings of nervousness could be enhanced whilst sat in a car alone with an examiner you’ve never met! There is no extra fee for this.

If you do decide to take an intensive course, you may be wondering what this means for your test. Do you still take the same test? Do you have to take the test? Will it cost you more, less or the same? When it comes to the compulsory government tests, intensive courses work in the same way any other driving school would, in that you take the same tests at the same prices.

Some intensive driving school courses offer for you to have your test your test on the final day of your course; however, this is not a guarantee, and depends on the waiting list in the government system. It may well be on the last day of your course- but it could also be months away, since the government has to provide and cater for thousands upon thousands of drivers of all ages all over England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It may be wise to book your test in advance to ensure you are given your desired date– but this can also put pressure on you to be ready when the day rolls along, so choose your dates meticulously.

A necessary disclaimer- your driving school is not obligated to pay any of the fee. The full price of the fee must be provided by you, and driving schools are not compelled to supply any amount of the fee, whether that be partial or full.

The majority of people pass by their 5th attempt at the driving practical test, although it can take many more or many less attempts. The further times you take the test, the more the cost is going to build, so attempting to take the test a minimal amount of times is recommended. There is no limit to how many times you can retake your driving test, however we will speak more on retakes later.

Since it is not always possible for everyone to pass their driving practical test first time around, you may be wondering whether the price is changed when you undergo a retake- is it higher, is it waivered…? There is more on retakes and prices down below, in the section ‘How Much Does It Cost to Retake a Practical Test?’.

How Much Does the Theory Test Cost?

The theory test is another mandatory test that comes in the package of learning to drive. It is a test which is taken on a computer at a DVSA centre (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, a government agency), and consists of two individual exams- the first is a multiple choice based on the highway code, and the second is a hazard perception test. Both are to be completed on the same day, and the average completion time is 90 minutes. They come as a collective cost, and not two separate charges.

The theory test price varies among different vehicles. If you drive a car or motorcycle, it will cost you £23. If you drive a lorry or bus, the test is split into different sections, each with individual costs. You can find out more by scrolling down on this article.

If you have taken an intensive course, the price remains the same as it does for everyone. There is, like the practical test, no booking fee and no other additional costs when it comes to taking your theory test.

You must book to take this test on the government website, just as you would the practical test. You will need to pass your theory test before you can book your practical exam. You can book your theory test here. In some cases, you do not need to take a theory test. You do not need to take a theory test if you are taking a taxi driving test or a tractor driving test. 

Asking your driving instructor to incorporate some theory into your lessons could be ideal, as people often remark that real-life examples helped them to pass their theory faster, therefore reducing the cost for you.

In 2019/20, the pass rate was just 47.7%, so it is a possibility you will have to resit them. In order to prevent this, revising is recommended prior to the exam. There is also numerous different tools to help you prepare, such as apps like the ‘Official DVSA Theory Test Kit’, which is an app generated by the government, which will test you on your knowledge and inform you of all the knowledge you will require for the test.

The percentage of people who passed first time was just 27%; further suggesting the likely possibility of a retake, but the right amount of preparation prior to the exam can help to reduce this possibility. There are over 700 questions you could be asked, so planning and revision is the key to success. A quick search online will relieve a multitude of different practise theory tests which are perfect to help you get a rough idea of what the test is going to be like. Click here to take the official government practise test.

The pass mark is currently 86%, or 43/50 marks for the multiple choice test. For the hazard perception it is 44 out of 75, which is about 59%.  This means the pass mark could be considered a high mark, so again, reiterating what has been said, preparation is absolutely essential to pass this test, and reduce the cost.

If you wish, it is possible to take your theory test before you even start your driving lessons. This could end up being very beneficial, as it will give you a bit of an idea about what to expect, for example you will understand what to do in situations that would otherwise have been unknown and new to you, and will just have a good, general idea of what the rules are, and what different things (e.g. signs) mean.

You will, effectively, have more experience, which you can use to your advantage, and it may also mean, because of your deeper understanding, you pass your tests quicker.

How Much Does It Cost to Retake a Practical Test?

Many people have to retake their practical test, as it is a difficult feat to pass on your first time. It can take years to learn how to drive, and many people can find themselves retaking the test over 6 or 7 times, so don’t feel disheartened if you do not pass the first time.

You may have guessed by now that it is possible to retake your driving test- in fact, the limit to how many times you retake does not exist. You book a retake in the same way you would book a normal driving test. The same fees apply, and nothing changes- you still have to pay the full price, even if you have taken the driving test previously.

The more you retake, the increased likelihood there is of you succeeding since you have obtained a deeper understanding of the system, how it works, and what is expected of you, and perhaps your nerves will decrease, and you will feel more comfortable in the driving seat.

The only scenario in which things would change is if you have been disqualified from driving by court. This could happen if you get 12 or more penalty points in 3 years or have been found guilty of a driving offence (e.g. drug driving, drink driving etc.).

You will be obliged to go to court and the court may disqualify you from driving, and if they do so you will, depending on the severity of what you did, have to face a prohibition from driving for either 6 months, 12 months or 2 years. The court may order you to receive another driving test after the prohibition period has ended. 

If so, this test will cost you a significant amount more than the average driving practical test would. It will cost you £124 on weekdays, and on evenings, weekends and bank holidays it will cost £150 if you drive a car. For a motorcycle, it will cost you £150 on weekdays and £177 on weekends, evenings and bank holidays.

You do not have to retake any driving lessons when retaking your practical– however, the law states you must wait at least 10 working days. You could use this time to prepare and get as much practise in as possible for the big day. However, if you feel waiting longer than this and perhaps taking some more driving lessons would be beneficial to you, then you are more than welcome.

Only 47.5% of learners pass their test first time around– and that number stays relatively the same no matter how many times you retake. Second timers have a pass rate of 48.4%, whereas third timers have gained a pass rate of 46.1%. There are lots of different statistics that suggest that different factors can have an effect on success rates; for example, 16 and 17 years olds have the highest pass rates in the country- 17 year olds have a pass rate at approximately 56%.

Contrastingly, 40 year olds have a pass rate of about just 36%. Furthermore, if you live in the North-West, your area has a pass rate of 47.2%, while Wales has a success rate of 52.4%. These statistics, however, should not affect your chances– just because you live in London (who have the lowest average pass rate- 40.8%) and are 70 years old doesn’t mean your almost automatically guaranteed to fail- no matter where you live or your age, everyone has an equal chance, and hard work is key to defy the statistics and gain your licence. All statistics aforementioned can be found in this article.

Retaking a minimal amount of times can help to reduce the cost greatly– and although it is unlikely you will pass first time round, it is a real possibility. Hard work to achieve your goals is imperative to ensure you pass your driving test as soon as possible!

How Much Does It Cost to Retake a Theory Exam?

Passing your theory exam is essential, as without it you will not be allowed to continue on to take the driving practical test. The majority of students find themselves having to retake, and only 49.5% of driving students passed their theory exam, leaving the remaining 50.5% to retake. This elucidates how common it is for people to retake the theory exam, and that it is not something that you should be ashamed of, since it’s something that almost everyone who has learnt how to drive experiences.

There is no difference in fee to retake your theory test- it still costs £23 if you drive a car, motorcycle or moped. For lorries and buses, the test is structured differently, and you can find more information here

If you are a disqualified driver, or were, there is no separate cost for the theory test, dissimilar to the practical. The price is not waivered if you have retaken a certain number of times, nor is it any different if you take an intensive course.

When retaking your theory, it is not mandatory to retake driving lessons in addition, which is extremely convenient as it helps to keep the cost down, however you are not prevented from retaking some driving lessons if you wish. You also do not have to retake the practical if you passed previously, which is convenient for the aforementioned reason.

There is no limit to how many times you can retake your theory, but to keep the cost down you would want to try and aim to keep the number of times you retake as low as possible, so to repeat what has been mentioned beforehand, preparation is absolutely key when it comes down to success or failure.

Similar to retaking your practical, there is a period of time in which you are required by law to wait until you take another test. For the theory, this time period lasts 72 hours (3 working days), which is significantly shorter than the practical. You could use this time to revise and prepare and go over anything you missed. Once your theory exam has concluded, if you have failed, you will be given a letter showing the marks you gained plus the ones you dropped, which can be incredibly helpful when it comes to knowing and understanding the gaps in your knowledge.

No matter how many times you have to retake, it is vital you never lose hope– you are able and competent, and even if the amount of times you have to retake becomes unbearable, you will profit in the long run if gaining your licence is a passionate goal of yours. A woman in the UK once had to retake her theory 113 times before she passed- it all boils down to your resilience, perseverance and determination, and the mental test will help you to come out a stronger person as a whole.

Once you have passed your theory and gained your certificate, you are required to take your practical driving test at a maximum of 2 years after this date. If you still have not taken the test by the time this date arrives, you will be required to retake the theory test and pay the same charges.

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