A simples guide

The Driving Theory Test – all you need to know

If you’re going to drive on UK roads, you need to have passed your driving test. The driving test is broken into two parts, a driving theory test and a practical driving test.

Before you can do either of these tests, you need to have a provisional driving licence. Though you won’t actually be able to start driving a car until you’re 17, you can apply for a provisional licence as soon as you’re 15 years and 9 months old.

Before you can book your practical driving test, you need to have been awarded a theory test certificate first. You get one of these when you pass the driving theory test.

What’s in the driving theory test?

There are two parts to the theory test:

1) The multiple choice part

2) The hazard perception part

Both parts are taken on the same day and you have to pass both parts to be awarded the certificate.

driving theory test guide

How should I prepare?

For the multiple choice test, all the questions come from one of three books:

  • The Official Highway Code
  • The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essentials skills
  • Know Your Traffic Signs

You’ll need to have a good look at all three before your test. There are plenty of other guides to passing your test on the market, but be sure they cover all the elements if you’re going to use one of them.

Your preparation for the hazard perception test really comes down to having learned what might present a hazard on the road. It’s then a case of applying this practical information in a ‘real life’ scenario.

new driver badge

What actually happens on the day?

It will probably feel like you’re back at school taking your exams, so try to stay calm and keep your mind nice and clear.

Multiple Choice Part

In the multiple choice section you’ll be given the chance to do a few practice questions and once they’re over with, it's on with the test. You have just under an hour to answer 50 questions.

You can probably work out that that’s about a minute for each question. That might not seem a lot but remember, it’s multiple choice so you don’t have to spend any time writing out answers.

The test also allows you to ‘flag’ questions you’re unsure of so you can return to them later. This is well worth doing if you need to as it saves you guessing or rushing and making a silly mistake.

You’ll then be offered a three-minute breather in between the multiple-choice section and the hazard perception test. Do take advantage of this, get away from the screen and refresh your mind ahead of the next section.

Hazard Perception Part

Before you start the hazard perception part, you’ll be shown a short video clip about how it works. Then it’s time to get started.

You’ll then be shown a series of 14 video clips on a computer screen. They’ll be everyday road scenes that you’d expect to see as a driver. There will be at least one ‘developing hazard’ in each clip but some will have more than one.

A developing hazard is anything that would make you change speed or direction.

The earlier you notice the hazard and make a response, the more you will score.

Don’t be tempted to click randomly or multiple times, you’ll score zero on that clip if you do.

I passed what next?

Congratulations! Now get that practical test booked. You might find there is a wait at some test centres so it pays to enquire early. Your theory test certificate lasts for two years so if you don’t book and pass your practical test in that time, you’d have to go through both theory tests again.

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