Everything you need to know about the driving theory test

Learning to drive

Learning to drive can be a stressful experience, especially when you’re trying to cram in as many lessons as you can while also studying and maybe even fulfilling your part-time job commitments.

Here’s a guide to help take the stress out of the driving theory test when you’re first beginning to learn, by ensuring you know everything about this essential part of the experience:

How old do I need to be to sit the theory test?

You can take the theory test as soon as you turn 17 years old, although this is reduced to 16 if you receive or have applied for the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

How much do I need to pay for a theory test?

Learn to drive a car and you will need to pay £23* to sit the theory test, regardless of whether this is taken on a weekday, throughout the weekend or on a bank holiday. You can reduce the cost to £18* though if you have a Safe Road User Award, whereby you can sit an abridged theory test.

Can multiple theory tests be booked?

Multiple theory tests cannot be booked; you can only re-book your theory test if you have failed the original test, and the date of the re-sit must be at least three working days after the booking date.

You can, however, change the date of your solitary theory test appointment if one of the following applies:

  • you can find an earlier date for your theory test
  • you can move your theory test to a later date
  • you can change the test centre where you would like to sit your theory test.

Is the waiting time for the theory test long?

A report by Book Theory Test Today has underlined that the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) aims to achieve a target of 95% for driving theory test candidates to receive an appointment for their test within two weeks of their preferred date.

Can I take my theory test online?

No, you must attend a theory test centre to sit a theory test. Only a mock test of the multiple-choice part of the test is available via the GOV.UK site — try it out, as it’s free of charge and you can never have enough preparation for an exam.

How does the theory test work?

There are two parts to every theory test:

For the first part, you will be given a set of 50 multiple-choice questions, some of which will be presented in a case study whereby:

  • a short story is shown and then five questions will be given based on this
  • a real-life situation that you could come across while driving will be detailed.

For the second part, you will be given a hazard perception test which consists of 14 separate video clips.

A score of at least 43 out of 50 is required for the multiple-choice questions and 44 out of a possible 75 points is needed for the hazard perception test in order for you to pass.

Will the multiple-choice questions in a theory test always be the same?

There will be different questions from one theory test to the next, though they will all be based on the following three books:

How does the hazard perception test scoring system work?

You can score up to five points for each developing hazard shown within the hazard perception test — the sooner you click your computer mouse to indicate that you are aware a hazard is developing, the higher the score you’ll achieve.

You will not lose points if you click your mouse and get the timing of the hazard developing wrong, though you’ll receive no points if you are found to be continuously clicking the mouse or in a manner that is perceived to indicate a pattern.

How much time do I need to put aside for a theory test?

You have up to 57 minutes to work through all the multiple-choice questions in a theory test, though additional time can be requested if you have reading difficulties. Proof of this must be sent to the DVSA in the form of an email or a letter that is supplied from:

  • a doctor or medical professional
  • an independent party who is aware of your reading difficulty — your employer, for example
  • a teacher or other educational professional.

This proof should also be sent:

  • by email to customercare@pearson.com
  • by post to DVSA Theory Test Enquiries, PO Box 1286, Warrington WA1 9GN.

After the multiple-choice part of the test, you can take up to three minutes out as a break before proceeding with the hazard perception test.

There is no time limit for the hazard perception test though, simply because this is based on how long it takes for all 14 video clips to be shown.

What happens after I’ve passed my theory test?

First, congratulations are in order! You’ll receive a letter after passing your theory test — keep this safe, as it contains your pass certificate number which you’ll need when booking and taking your practical driving test.

However, this number only lasts for two years from the date that it is produced — if you fail to pass your practical driving test within this timeframe than you’ll need to pass your theory test again.

Are there scenarios when I don’t need to sit a theory test?

You don’t need to sit the theory test if you’re booking:

  • a driving test to upgrade a car licence
  • a driving test to upgrade a motorcycle licence that you’ve held for a minimum of two years
  • a driving test to upgrade a lorry or bus licence
  • a taxi driving test
  • a tractor driving test.

This article was provided by Pass ‘N’ Go,  a provider of driving lessons in Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Durham and Sunderland.

*Prices correct at time of publishing. Image credit: Stockbroker/123RF

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