Are your learner drivers making this mistake?

Driving instructors, are your learner drivers making the same mistake?

I'm referring here to the theory test. They've been working hard, possibly using Theory Test Pro so you know how well they've been doing. They book their test and you are hopeful they will pass. Sadly they contact you, totally gutted, because they failed by just one mark!

But do you let them know that this actually means they got 8 questions wrong?

I had this conversation recently, not with one of my own pupils (although that has also happened - see below) but with the trainee hairdresser washing my hair. She told me how upset she was to have failed her theory test, for the 4th time, by just 3 marks. I sympathised but then reminded her this meant she had got 10 questions wrong. She was shocked!  "No", she said," I only got 3 wrong!"  

It took quite a lot of explaining that the pass mark of 43 is out of 50! She knew there were 50 questions but hadn't made the connection with the pass mark! She even asked me how many she would have to get right to get 100%!

You could argue that this was an isolated case, but I had a similar conversation with one of my pupils. I know her schooling background, how she struggled and was overlooked quite a lot in class by her teachers (she's dyslexic but never diagnosed at school!). She seemed to have got herself into the belief that the pass mark was the highest you could score so I had to put her right when she failed by just one mark. It came as a surprise to her too that she actually got 8 questions wrong!

So, are your learner drivers also making the same mistake?

I believe that, pass or fail, the report the candidates are given at the end of the test should show exactly which questions they got wrong - not the answers, just the questions. This way, with our help, we might stand a chance of putting novice drivers on the road who actually understand all the rules! What is the point of letting people pass such an important test, where they may have got up to 7 questions wrong, and yet they have no idea which ones? 

The best learning opportunities come out of recognising mistakes that have been made, so why can't this be applied to the theory test?


  1. Linda Murray

    I agree that the candidates MUST be told which questions they got wrong, otherwise how else will they know. They will go through their driving lives not knowing half the rules. I once contacted the DVSA about this and they gave some ridiculous reason about them needing to work out for themselves!! How can they work out for themselves when they don't know what they got wrong!! Any help from you would be great!! Thanks Linda Murray ADI.

  2. Jeff Tuck

    I can never understand at the theory test centre why the candidates are never given or explained the questions they got wrong! Even if they passed by say, 48 out of 50 why there is no feedback as to the two questions thay got wrong! Why the big secret? Why don't they tell them so that at least they would have better knowlege and understanding?

  3. Jackie Willis

    Thank you Linda and Jeff for your comments. Rosemary Thew was asked this question in a conference last year but she just kept on about learners learning the questions and answers off by heart! She didn't listen to the question! The ADI concerned tried to clarify for her, but still she gave her stock answer! As I said in my blog, every mistake is a learning opportunity, but if you don't know where you made the mistake, how can you learn?! 

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