Chances of getting a driver’s license differ greatly per examiner

This is evident from figures from the CBR that research editors of RTL Nieuws have investigated. 10 percent of all examiners have higher or lower pass rates than you might expect.

In brief

RTL Nieuws analyzed more than 435,000 exam results from 2018 and 2019. This shows that there are huge differences between the pass rates of examiners. Success rates range from 17 to 79 percent.

Gender Matters

It is striking that for a number of examiners there are large differences between the success rates of male and female candidates.

An outlier is an examiner for whom 67 percent of all male candidates obtain their driver’s license in one go. If you come to this examiner as a woman, the chance of passing is considerably lower, namely 45 percent.

But this also happens the other way around: with another examiner, 52 percent of the female candidates passed the test in one go, but only 33 percent of the men passed the driver’s license in one go.

38 examiners deviate

A difference between the pass rates of men and women does not necessarily mean that an examiner is biased. To rule out the possibility that this difference arose by chance, RTL Nieuws asked three professors to look at the data. They establish that there are at least 38 examiners for whom there are indications that they disadvantage students on the basis of their gender.

Of these 38 examiners, 17 are stricter for men and 21 stricter for women. “These examiners stand out because they deviate extremely from what you would expect,” says Casper Albers, professor of statistics at the University of Groningen.

According to Martijn Meeter, professor of educational science at the VU University Amsterdam, there may be an examiner among whom there is a case of coincidence. “But a large proportion of those examiners have, probably unconsciously, a bias that leads to a slightly higher chance of success for men or women.”

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Men are more likely to succeed nationally

There are also national differences between the success rates of men and women. In the Netherlands, 51 percent of men pass the driving test in one go. In women this is 48 percent. That may not seem like a big difference. But in 1000 exams, 30 women fail more than men. “The chance that this is due to chance is really microscopic,” says Albers.

This difference is difficult to explain. “We see that there is a gender bias in all parts of society. We know that the bar is often set higher for women than for men. Or maybe male candidates are more into cars and driving.” According to Albers, we cannot determine the cause from these figures.

Worse off in Rotterdam

In one region you have a better chance of passing your driving test than in the other region. In Almelo, South Limburg and Heerlen, more than 60 percent of the candidates succeed in one go. But are you driving off in Rotterdam? Then you are less lucky. Here it is only 35 percent. View the success rates of the CBR region where you live on the map below.

According to Meeter, the regional differences can be explained by the differences in population, the quality of the driving schools in the region and the types of roads used. This varies by region.

But according to Meeter, who has analyzed the figures from RTL Nieuws, the region is not the only explanation for deviating success rates. “The analysis shows that whether you have a strict or flexible examiner has more effect on your chance of passing than the location where you drive.”

Response CBR

The CBR says in a response that the quality of exams is paramount. “We’re doing this as uniformly and objectively as possible in a human assessment.” To find out whether an examiner deviates, the CBR uses a monitoring system in which it looks at 18 different factors, for example the age of the candidate and whether he has passed the interim test.

In its own analysis of the figures, the CBR also finds examiners whose pass percentages differ significantly. In 2018 there were 70 examiners and in 2019 there were 74. For 20 and 25 of these examiners, this was related to the gender of the candidate.

“If we see a deviation in an examiner, we find out why that difference is there,” says the CBR. Adjustments are then made with the help of conversations, coaching and, where necessary, additional or retraining.


RTL Nieuws analyzed all results of the practical exam B from 2018 and 2019. The analysis was carried out in collaboration with three professors: Martijn Meeter, Casper Albers and Rens van de Schoot. In the analysis we did not include any re-examinations and only examiners who examined at least 100 men and at least 100 women.

To determine how many examiners the gender of the candidate plays a role, we looked at the extent to which the differences in pass rates differ from the national difference between men and women.

We also investigated which factors (such as region and age) play a role in the success rate. Because the examiners and candidates are anonymised, we were unable to check whether, for example, the candidate’s origin or education level also played a role.

RTL Nieuws analyzed the data over two years. The CBR looked at the data per year. We do not know whether there is an overlap between the examiners who were designated as deviant in 2018 and 2019 by the CBR.

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