If you are thinking of taking your theory test soon or have your test booked for tomorrow, there is no doubt you feel slightly nervous about it. As if it isn’t irritating enough that you have to do a practical driving test, before you even get to that bit, you have to take a theory based exam. Don’t worry we have put together a comprehensive list of essential driving theory test tips for you below to help you get through it with ease!
The DVSA have created a video that explains both parts of the theory test and provides a few valuable driving theory test tips:
About The Driving Theory Test
This section is dedicated to all those questions you have before you book and take your theory exam. If you have any other queries, please feel free to ask us, either on Twitter (@ContactDVLA) or via Facebook. You can also email us at email@example.com.
Our 61 Driving Theory Test Tips:
1. When Was The Theory Test Introduced?
The driving written theory test was introduced in the summer of 1996 as a written test. Then, in 2000, it was updated to be based on a computer.
The hazard perception part of the exam was introduced in the November of 2002 and this was updated to include CGI images in place of the real life videos in January 2015.
2. How Old Do I Have To Be Before I Can Take My Theory Test?
To take your driving theory test in the UK, you will need to be over the age of 17.
3. Do I Need A Provisional Licence Before Booking My Theory Test?
Yes, you will need to have your provisional driving licence before you take your driving theory test. You can’t take your theory test before you apply for your provisional licence, which you can apply for from the age of 16.
If you are looking to find more advice about applying for your licence, we have a handy guide here.
4. Why Do I Need To Take A Driving Theory Test?
You need to sit and pass your driving theory test in order to take your practical driving test. You are not allowed to sit your practical exam until you have successfully completed and passed the theory test first.
You are also required to take a theory test if you want to be able to drive a new category of vehicle. An example would be if you want to get a motorcycle licence, but currently only hold a car licence, you will have to complete the appropriate theory test to do so.
5. Can I Take My Practical Driving Test Before My Theory Part?
You are not allowed to take your practical driving test before your theory exam. This was implemented back in January 1997, when it became a requirement to pass your theory test successfully before being able to book a practical test.
6. Do I Need To Take Or Pass My Theory Test Before I Have Any Driving Lessons?
There are no requirements to take or pass your theory test before taking any driving lessons.
Most driving instructors/schools will recommend taking driving lessons before taking your theory exam as it gives you “real world” experience of some areas of the theory test, such as stopping distances and road signs.
7. Who Sets The Questions?
8. How Much Is The Exam Fee?
The cost of the theory test will change for different vehicle types that you can sit the exam for. As of 8th June 2015, the correct costs for driving theory test are as follows:
- Car £25
- Car abridged £19
- Motorcycle- £25
At the moment, there is no extra charge for taking a theory test in the evening or at the weekend, although it is possible this may change in the future.
9. What Is An ‘Abridged’ Car Theory Test?
You are able to have the option of taking an abridged car theory test if you are in process of learning to drive and have obtained at “Safe Road User Award”.
The main difference, aside from the price (see the above question) is that you will only have 35 multiple choice questions to answer, as opposed to the usual 50. You will need 30 correct answers to pass.
You will still have to sit the hazard perception part of the exam, which will still consist of 14 clips.
If you want to take the abridged car theory test, you will need to do this within the 3 years of obtaining your Safe Road User Award. You can book it in the same way you would book a normal theory test.
10. Will I Get A Confirmation Letter When I Have Booked My Test?
If you opt to book your theory test online, you will not get a physical confirmation letter through the post. A confirmation email should get sent to the email address you entered when booking your test.
If you made the arrangements for your theory test over the phone and didn’t give an email address, you should still receive a letter through the post.
There is no need for you to bring your letter or an email print out to your test session, just your provisional driving licence.
If you have not got an email or a letter, you should ring the DVSA as soon as you can to check that your booking was successfully completed.
11. Where Are The Theory Test Centres?
This service is not available for those who reside in Northern Ireland, they should visit this link instead.
12. What Should I Do If I Have Lost My Provisional Driving Licence?
You will need to sort out a replacement provisional driving licence before you can book or sit either your theory or practical driving test.
We have a useful guide to help you replace a lost licence that you can find here.
13. How Do I Know If I Am Ready To Take My Driving Theory Test?
It is different for everyone when they feel they will be ready to take their theory test. Some people want to get the ball rolling as fast as they can when it comes to learning to drive and take their theory test pretty quickly, whereas others may wait a little longer so they can feel more confident about their abilities.
Generally, it is recommended that you have some driving lessons before taking your theory test so you can have a chance to see elements of the exam in real life conditions, such as warning signs and driving situations. However, this isn’t a requirement and it all comes down to personal preference. Your driving instructor can also give you pointers about when would be best for you to take your theory test, although most of the work and preparation is down to you to complete.
The most common way to determine how ready you are to sit your driving theory test is usually by doing some mock exams to see how close you are to getting the required pass mark. This can be a good way to gauge your knowledge and if you are initially getting results less than the pass mark, you know you need more practice to get your skill level up.
14. What Is The Structure Of The Test?
The test is split into two parts, which are the multiple choice part and the hazard perception section. The multiple choice part is made up of 50 questions that could include case studies and questions that need more than one answer and lasts for 57 minutes. You will have the option to flag any questions you are unsure about and then you can return to these at the end.
The hazard perception part of the test lasts for 20 minutes and you are shown 14 clips. You can find out more details here.
15. What Sort Of Questions Will I Have To Answer?
On the multiple choice part of the theory test you will be given 50 questions that have between 4 and 6 options as possible answers. Some questions may require more than one answer; make sure you look out for these as you can lose points simply by just selecting 1 answer when you were asked for 3.
The questions will be based on the Highway Code as well as other sorts of road safety issues. There are 12 topics that will be covered by the test including:
- Driver attitude
- Traffic signs
- The impact of alcohol, drugs and fatigue
- Environmental aspects of driving and vehicles
You will need to select your answer by touching the box or boxes along the side of your chosen statement.
You can flag questions so you can come back to them at the end if you are unsure or want to double-check your answer after completing the test. Some people may prefer to answer all the questions they feel they definitely know the answer to first and then go back to spend longer on the ones they found to be more difficult, but this will ultimately come down to personal preference.
You may find yourself presented with a case study, which will consist of a short story and then you will get given 5 questions based on this. The point of the case studies is to give you real life examples and possible experiences that you may encounter while driving.
After the multiple choice section is complete, you will need to do the hazard perception part.
16. How Do I Book My Theory Test?
You can book your theory test online, as well as also being able to do it over the phone if you want to.
We have some extra information about booking your theory test on this page that you can use to answer any other questions you might have about arranging your exam.
17. What Languages Can I Take My Driving Theory Test In?
As of April 2014, you can only take the driving theory test in English or Welsh.
18. Can I Get Any Special Assistance If I Have Certain Requirements When Sitting My Driving Theory Exam?
In the majority of cases, special arrangements can be made to cater to those who feel they need them. You will need to speak to the DVSA to discuss any sort of special needs requirements before making your test booking and you can do this via phone, email or letter. Details of the appropriate contact methods are:
DVSA Theory Test Enquiries
PO BOX 381
0844 453 0122
For those with reading difficulties, such as dyslexia, you can ask for a voiceover in either English or Welsh. This enables you to hear the questions through headphones and there is no limit on how many times you can repeat the questions and potential answers. You can also ask for more time to complete the multiple choice part of the test, if you feel you would benefit from this.
In order to get these arrangements made, you will need to send the DVSA evidence of your reading difficulty. This can be a letter from a teacher or other educational professional or a doctor or other sort of medical professional. The DVSA may also consider a letter from someone independent, but aware of your reading abilities, such as an employer.
19. I Have Hearing Troubles, Can I Get Any Help Sitting My Theory Test?
Yes, you can. If you have difficulty hearing or are deaf, it is possible to sit your theory test in British Sign Language (also known as BSL).
The interpretation will run alongside the usual standard questions and possible answers. You will need to make arrangements with the DVSA if you wish to bring your own interpreter to the test centre if you don’t use BSL. You can do this by letter, email or phone number:
DVSA Theory Test Enquiries
PO BOX 381
0844 453 0122
There are no additional charges for the use either of these services.
20. Can I Take My Theory Test If I Am In A Wheelchair?
The majority of theory test centres are equipped with wheelchair access, so yes you can.
However, if you find that your local test centre does not have wheelchair access, you may be asked to take your test at another centre. Under special circumstances, it is possible to arrange for the theory test to be taken at home. The best thing to do is to speak to the DVSA, which you can do via letter, email or phone number:
DVSA Theory Test Enquiries
PO BOX 381
0844 453 0122
21. How Long Does The Test Take?
The multiple choice part of the theory test lasts for 57 minutes. The hazard perception is 20 minutes long, meaning that the overall time of the test lasts for around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
If you are trying to arrange a test around things such as work, school, college or other commitments, you should give yourself a window of at least 2 hours, not including travel time. This is because you are given a 15 minute window to arrive in and you cannot take the test if you arrive late, then you will need to collect your results after finishing the test.
22. How Will I Know How Long I Have Left To Complete The Exam?
In the right hand corner of the screen, there will be a timer showing how long you have left. When you have only 5 minutes remaining, it will flash to make you more aware of how close you are to the end.
23. What Times Can I Take The Test?
You can take the test during the hours that your local theory test centre operates. The majority of test centres are open during in the day and early evening as well as weekends, although this will vary from centre to centre so it is best to check.
24. What Measures Are In Place To Stop Cheating?
It is against the law to impersonate someone to take a theory test. This applies to those who want someone else to take the test on their behalf and the person who does the impersonation.
In the past, people have been taken to court and even sent to prison for this, both the people who used them and the impersonators themselves. If there is any reason to suspect that you are impersonating or being impersonated, it will be investigated in a very thorough manner.
If someone makes an offer to impersonate you and take your theory test on your behalf, you can and should report them to the DVSA.
Theory test centres try to reduce the cases of this happening by asking each and every candidate to present their driving licence before taking the exam. This check can also be used to help make sure you are taking the correct type of test for the licence you hold.
When you enter the exam room, you will have to leave all bags, coats, mobile devices and written notes at the back of the room.
25. Will I Take The Theory Test On A Computer?
Yes, as of January 2000, all theory tests are completed on a computer rather than the old-fashioned paper method.
The computer has a touchscreen and is easy to use. If you find yourself having any difficulties, there will be staff members around to help you out.
Each question will appear on the screen individually and you have the option of moving forwards and backwards through the questions if you wish to do so. If you need to, you can also flag any questions you are unsure about and come back to these later and change your answer if you want to.
26. How Hard Is The Exam?
The driving theory test is as easy or as difficult as you make it for yourself. It is not an exam you will be able to pass without any revision or preparation, so attempting to do so will make it feel much harder than it actually is. If you are willing to spend the time learning the areas of theory and practicing the official test questions, you should find it easier.
It all comes down to your personal abilities not only in terms of driving theory knowledge but how you react under exam conditions. If you are someone who tends to panic when put under pressure, the chances are you will find it much harder than those who don’t.
The only way to make the exam easier for yourself is to adequately prepare and practice as much as you can. There are more than 1,000 possible questions you could be asked, but you will only be asked 50. So making sure you try to answer as many practice questions as you can and knowing where you went wrong when making an incorrect choice is key.
27. Where Will I Sit Whilst I Do My Test?
You will sit in a room in your local test centre. You cannot have any items such as coats, bags, mobile devices or notes with you when you are at your desk and you will have a computer in front of you to answer the questions on.
28. Will I Sit In A Room Alone To Take My Theory Test?
No, you will not be sitting alone when completing your theory test. You be under exam conditions and there could be up to 30 people taking the test in one room. There will be a member of staff supervising and available for any assistance you require.
Each candidate will be seated a minimum of 1.25 metres apart from other people in the room and any people who shared adjacent desks will probably get different exam papers. It is possible that each computer screen and candidate will have a totally different set of questions, in a bid to reduce the likelihood of copying.
29. Can I Cancel My Driving Theory Test?
Yes you can. You will only get a refund if you give 3 clear working days notice so it is very important to inform the DVSA as soon as you know you can’t take the test. You can make the cancellation online or over the phone; you will need to ring the DVSA not the DVLA.
If it is less than 3 full working days before your scheduled test time you will lose your fee. It is important to remember that Sundays and public holidays are not counted as working days.
30. How Can I Fail My Theory Test?
Obviously there are not many people who wish to fail their driving theory test but most credit their lack of preparation as being the reason they failed their first exam.
Some people will put their failure down to simply “having a bad day” or “bad luck”, both of which are understandable if there are situations beyond your control that arise. However, it is important to try to take your theory test with a clear head and if something happens that you can’t help, such as death in your family, the best solution may be to move your test. If you can give 3 whole working days notice to making a change to your test date, you won’t lose out on your original fee.
31. What Is The Hazard Perception Test?
The hazard perception test is the second part of the theory test. We have some driving theory test tips and information about it here.
32. How Many Questions Make Up The Exam?
The multiple choice part is made up of 50 questions and you are shown 14 clips that are worth 75 points in total for the hazard perception section.
33. What Is The Pass Mark?
For the multiple choice part of the exam, you need to get 43 or more questions correct out the 50 you are presented with. This has been the case since September 2007 and is constantly reviewed to make sure that only those who are well prepared and knowledgeable about driving theory will pass.
For the hazard perception part of the exam you need to get at least 44 points out of a possible 75. You can find more information about this on our hazard perception test tips page.
34. Will I Get My Test Results On The Same Day?
Yes you will get your results on the same day. You can collect them after finishing your test and this is when you will know if you have passed or failed.
35. How Many Driving Lessons Should I Have Before Booking My Theory Test?
There is no requirement for a certain number of driving lessons to have been completed in order to take the driving theory test. It is totally down to personal preference and how much time you are willing to dedicate to improving your knowledge of the areas that are tested in the exam.
It is recommended that you take driving lessons before sitting the test but this isn’t required either. If you spent time learning about the theory element of driving before you got your provisional driving licence, then opted to take the theory test once you have your licence, this is perfectly acceptable, if you wished to do so. However, many people find that taking driving lessons is useful as it allows them to experience first hand a number of different driving situations and environments that could be tested on the exam.
Revision For The Driving Theory Exam
These questions are centred around revising for your theory test. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask us, either on Twitter (@ContactDVLA) or via Facebook. You can also email us for more information.
36. How Do I Revise For My Driving Theory Test?
There are many ways you can revise for your driving theory test and it will come down to how you find best. Some people are better with pictures and videos, others need audio and some may prefer written notes.
However it has been found that when it comes to the driving theory exam the majority of people get the most out of revising with the official driving theory test that you can get in a variety of formats:
- Mobile apps (from the Apple App Store)
It is important to ensure you are using the official DVSA programs and publications as other versions could give you different answers for questions that are worded ever-so-slightly differently.
For more information about the test supplies the DVSA offers, you can visit this page.
37. How Many Hours Should I Spend Revising?
This varies from person to person as some people may need more revision than others. It also depends on how confident you feel about your knowledge of the areas that are tested. The DSA recommends a minimum of 20 hours, but this will change for each individual. We recommend around 12 hours if you are well prepared and organised with your revision (as you will be if you have read or driving theory test tips).
Some people might be able to have a quick glance over their CD the night before and still pass, but this will not be enough for most people. If you are serious about wanting to pass first time, you should set a certain amount of time, such as an hour, aside each week or night or whatever works for your schedule and spend that time working through the practice tests and looking at the highway code.
Remember that the official DVSA theory test publications and programs have copies of the exact questions, meaning that they will be identical to the questions you get on the day. This makes it easier to check you are getting the right answers and to rectify any answers you are constantly getting wrong.
38. Should I Do A Mock Test?
It is your choice when it come to how you find best to revise but most people have said they benefitted the most from taking a mock theory test.
Your theory test will be made up of questions picked at random, meaning you should feel confident to answer any of the 1,000 possible ones you could be asked.
If you decide you want to take a mock test, you are best to use the official DVSA theory test materials as these will ask you the same questions as you will be given in the exam. Please be aware that there are a large number of other versions of the theory test and these may not use the same wording or provide the same answers, which could confuse you in your real exam.
39. How Can I Take A Mock Test?
There are a number of methods you can use to take a mock theory test as it is offered in a variety of different formats. You can purchase official DVSA theory test as:
- Online Downloads
As for what format is best, it all comes down to your personal preference and how you find the best way to revise. It is also important how you can remember the correct information, as some people prefer a visual aid where others would rather read words or listen to audio.
40. Do I Need To Read The Whole Of The Highway Code?
It is not a requirement for you to read the entire highway code to do your theory test. However, by being aware of the rules and regulations that are laid out in the highway code, it should:
- Make it easier for you to take and pass your driving theory test confidently
- Let you learn about the rules of the road before you start to regularly drive (which should, in theory, reduce the number of angry drivers you encounter)
- Make you a safer driver
41. Are There Any Apps I Can Use?
Yes there are a number of apps you can use for practising your driving theory test knowledge and taking the mock exams. There is only 1 official DVSA app that is available exclusively on the Apple App Store, there is no equivalent on the Google Play Store at the moment. However, this could change in the future.
For more information about the apps available for you revising for your driving theory test, check this out.
On The Day Of Your Test
These are questions you might ask on the day you take your theory test. If you have any others, please feel free to ask us, either on Twitter (@ContactDVLA) or via Facebook. You can also email us for more information.
42. What Do I Need To Take To My Theory Driving Test?
This will depend on what type of driving licence you have.
If you have a photocard and paper counterpart
You will just need your photo card. As of the 8th June 2015, there is no need for you to take your paper counterpart, you can read more about this here.
If you have an old paper licence (with no photo)
You will need to take your paper licence along with a valid passport. It has to be a passport, no other form of photographic ID will be accepted.
If you don’t take the correct documents, you will not be able to sit your test and will lose your fee.
43. What Should I Take If I Only Have An Old-Style Driving Licence?
If you only have an old style paper driving licence, which consists of one paper document without your photo on, you will need to bring this along with your valid passport.
It must be a valid passport as no other form of photographic identification will be accepted.
44. What Time Should I Arrive?
You are given a 15 minute window to get to the theory test centre in. As long as you arrive during this, you will be able to sit the test. Generally, it is best to arrive as early as you can in your 15 minute time frame as this gives you time to hand your licence in and ask any questions you might have.
45. Can I Sit The Test If I Arrive Late?
If you arrive outside your 15 minute time frame, you will not be able to sit your test. This is because your late arrival could distract the other candidates.
You will also lose your fee if you arrive late as you will not be able to get a refund.
46. What Should I Do If I Miss My Test Time?
If you miss your test slot, you will not be able to get a refund and you will need to rebook your test for another day.
47. Can I Sit The Test Without My Paper Counterpart?
As of 8th June 2015 you can sit your driving theory test without your paper counterpart. For more information about this change, visit this page.
48. Do I Get Time To Practice?
Yes, you are given 15 minutes at the start of your test to practice. This is so you can used to the touch screen functions and layout of the questions you will be asked.
Make sure you take your time with the practice time and if you think something isn’t working right, inform the member of staff before your test begins.
49. How Long Do I Have To Complete The Test?
You will have 57 minutes to answer 50 multiple choice questions. There will be a clock on the screen to tell you how long you have left.
50. How Many Questions Are There?
There are 50 multiple choice questions. You need to get a minimum of 43 correct to pass the first part of your theory test.
51. Can I Mark Questions To Go Back To At The End?
Yes, you can flag questions to go over again later on if you wish to do so. Some people prefer to complete the test several times over, answering the questions they are sure of the first time and leaving out the questions they are unsure of till the end.
You can flag both unanswered and answered questions, so if you have selected an answer you are unsure about, you can still go and check it again.
52. Do I Get A Break Between The First & Second Part Of The Test?
Yes, you are given a 3 minute break between the multiple choice and hazard perception parts of the test.
When you get this break, you are best to have a quick stretch at your desk and get your focus back to complete the hazard perception section.
After Completing The Test
You might want to know the answers to these questions after you have taken you exam. Please feel free to ask us, either on Twitter (@ContactDVLA) or via Facebook if you have any other questions. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
53. What Will Happen If I Pass?
If you pass, congratulations! You will be given your pass certificate, which will say “Congratulations” rather than “Pass”.
54. What Will Happen If I Fail?
If you fail, you will not be given a certificate. On average, 37% of people fail their driving theory test first time and the most common reasons are bringing the wrong documents or none at all and forgetting the rules of the road.
55. How Do I Know If I Have Passed?
You will get a certificate that says “Congratulations”.
56. What Happens If I Pass One Part But Not The Other?
If you pass the multiple choice part, but fail the hazard perception part, you will not have passed your theory test. The same applies if you fail your multiple choice part but fail the hazard perception part.
57. What Happens If You Repeatedly Fail Your Theory Test?
Nothing. You will simply have to pay for each test you take. Although if you find yourself taking your theory test more than a few times, maybe you should look at the areas you are failing to work out what the issue is. Make sure you have a good read through the driving theory test tips here and we are confident you will not repeatedly fail.
It is also recommended that you don’t sit your theory test until you feel you are ready, there is no point in rushing in, unprepared, as this will end up costing you in the long-term.
There was a lady who failed her theory test 105 times, spending £3,000, which worked out at the same cost of buying a decent second-hand car.
58. Can I Resit My Driving Theory Exam?
Yes you can. You have to give 3 clear working days after your failed driving test and you will need to pay the £31 fee again too.
For more information about booking your theory test online, check out our guide.
59. How Long Is My Theory Test Certificate Valid For?
Your driving theory test certificate is valid for 2 years from the day you pass. This means that you need to pass your practical test in the 2 year time frame or you will have to resit your theory test again.
60. What Should I Do If I Have Lost My Theory Test Certificate?
If you have lost your theory test certificate you will need to speak to the DVSA. They cannot give you another certificate, but they will send you a letter with your certificate number, which is what you will need to book your practical test.
When contacting the DVSA, you will need to have your name and driving licence number to hand, as they will need this information.
61. Can I Book My Practical Test Without My Theory Certificate?
You can book your practical test without your actual theory test certificate, but you will need your theory test certificate number.
If you have lost your theory test certificate you will need to contact the DVSA, so they can send you your certificate number.
Were our Driving Theory Test Tips Useful?
We hope you found these driving theory test tips useful, we wish you every success in your test, and do let us know how you got on in your test by emailing us at email@example.com.