- 1 About the test
- 1.1 What is the theory test?
- 1.2 When can I take my theory test?
- 1.3 Can I take the theory test before starting driving lessons?
- 1.4 Can I take the practical test before the theory test?
- 1.5 Who sets the theory test?
- 1.6 What’s the pass mark?
- 1.7 How long does a theory test last?
- 1.8 What is in the multiple-choice theory test?
- 1.9 What is the hazard perception test?
- 1.10 How difficult is the theory test?
- 2 Preparing for the test
- 3 Booking the test
- 4 At the Test Centre
- 5 After the Test
About the test
What is the theory test?
The theory test comprises two different parts, both of which have to be completed on the same day. The first section has 50 multiple-choice questions, followed by the second section which is a video-based hazard perception test. Both tests are computer-based and test your knowledge of safe driving practices, the rules of the road and driving theory.
When can I take my theory test?
You are allowed to take the theory test from your 17th birthday onwards.
Can I take the theory test before starting driving lessons?
It is possible to take the test before having taken any lessons, although it is recommended that you take your theory test after gaining some driving experience.
Can I take the practical test before the theory test?
No. You must pass your theory test before you can book your practical test.
Who sets the theory test?
The theory test is set by the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), a government body that is responsible for driver education. They shouldn’t be confused with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), a slightly different organisation which has responsibilities such as supplying provisional driving licences.
What’s the pass mark?
The pass mark for the multiple-choice section of the theory test is 43 out of 50, and for the hazard perception test, 44 out of 75. This is the same for motorcycle theory test candidates.
For those wishing to become qualified bus or lorry drivers, the theory test consists of 100 multiple-choice questions which has a pass mark of 85, while the hazard perception test has 19 videos requiring a score of 67 out of 100.
How long does a theory test last?
The two tests will take just under two hours to complete in total. Before the start of the test, you can opt for a practice session lasting 15 minutes, before spending 57 minutes to complete the multiple-choice section. You will then have a three minute break before taking on the hazard perception test which will take about 20 minutes, including the introduction video. This is the same for motorcycle theory test candidates.
Bus and lorry drivers have one hour and 55 minutes to complete the multiple-choice questions, followed by the hazard perception test of 19 videos lasting 60 seconds each.
What is in the multiple-choice theory test?
The first part of the theory test is the multiple-choice section, comprising of 50 questions, randomly selected from a bank of 900 questions. Each question will have four possible options, with only one of those being correct. Questions and answers may include diagrams and photographs.
Towards the end of the multiple-choice questions, there will be five case studies, each one centred on a single driving experience. A scenario will be presented on the left-hand side of the test screen, with a multiple choice question on the right-hand side. The same situation will be shown for each of the five questions. You can view the official DVSA sample case study questions here.
The multiple-choice test has questions from 14 different categories, so you need to ensure your knowledge covers all these topics to be sure of a pass. These categories include:
- Hazard Awareness
- Incidents, Accidents and Emergencies
- Motorway Rules
- Other Types of Vehicle
- Road and Traffic Signs
- Rules of the Road
- Safety and Your Vehicle
- Safety Margins
- Vehicle Handling
- Vehicle Loading
- Vulnerable Road Users
What is the hazard perception test?
The hazard perception test measures your ability to recognise and react to developing hazards. Developing hazards are situations on the pavement or road which cause you to take action such as change speed or direction. The test itself comprises 14 silent video clips containing 15 developing hazards in total, each clip lasting 60 seconds. One clip will contain two developing hazards.
How difficult is the theory test?
About 50% of people who take the theory test fail, indicating that the test is fairly difficult. However, you can increase your chances of success by preparing effectively and knowing how to pass the theory test. The hazard perception test, the second part of the theory test, is considered to be more difficult than the multiple choice section, so you should make sure you spend a generous amount of time preparing for this part of the test.
Preparing for the test
How can I prepare for the theory test?
Before having a go at the mocks tests, you should read our revision notes for each theory test topic. There are 14 topics in total. You should also consult the Highway Code, which the theory test draws its questions from.
After you have gained a decent understanding, you can start taking mock tests. We have a number of mock tests which contain every single question from the official DVSA question bank. We have also provided mock tests specific to each topic. Keep doing these mock tests until you rarely, if ever, fail.
On top of the work you’re putting in at home, build on your knowledge whilst on the road by taking advice from your driving instructor.
Will I come across any trick questions?
Rest assured that you won’t come across any trick questions. The test itself is just a straightforward examination of your knowledge and understanding. However, some questions require more consideration and must be read carefully to ensure the correct answer is chosen. An example of this is misunderstanding the difference between braking distance and stopping distance (braking distance excludes the distance travelled in the reaction time, whereas the stopping distance includes the distance travelled in the reaction time).
Is theory test based on knowledge or understanding?
The test includes questions that cover both knowledge and understanding, although in reality, you only need to learn a relatively small number of laws, policies and critical facts. The knowledge questions, for the most part, can be answered by applying a bit of common sense and understanding. There are a some questions that require you to memorise information such as stopping distances or road signs, although these are few and far between.
Do I have to learn every single question and answer?
Unless you’re blessed with a brilliant memory, it would prove very challenging to learn the entire question bank. However, learning every single question really isn’t required. Providing you have memorised and understood the basics, you will find that you can work out the answers to the vast majority of questions.
When do I know I’m ready for my theory test?
After you feel you have prepared sufficiently, take a few mock tests. If you find yourself passing the vast majority, if not all of these mock tests, you should be well prepared to sit your official test. You may also want to have a discussion with your driving instructor about your readiness to sit the theory test.
Booking the test
How do I apply for the theory test?
You can book your theory test online or by telephone.
Online – To book online, go to www.gov.uk/book-theory-test and register your details. You will need:
- your UK driving licence number
- a credit or debit card
- an e-mail address to receive your booking confirmation (you will have to book by phone if you don’t have one)
If you live in Northern Ireland, book the test here.
After booking your test, you will receive a confirmation e-mail on the same day with details of your test date and booking reference number.
Telephone – To book by phone, you need to call DVSA theory test booking support on 0300 200 1122 (0845 600 6700 for Northern Ireland), or if you’re a Welsh speaker, call 0300 200 1133. Phone lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.
If you have speech or hearing difficulties and use a minicom machine, call 0300 200 1166.
If your booking was made over the telephone and you don’t have an e-mail address, you’ll receive an appointment letter in the post within 10 days.
Does everyone have to take the theory test?
Most learner drivers in the UK will have to take the theory test, with a few exceptions:
If you are upgrading in the same category, e.g. from B (car) to B+E (car with trailer), you do not need to take the theory test.
You do not need to take the theory test if you already have a full category B1 entitlement, i.e. You have a full motorcycle licence issued before 1 February 2001. Please note, this does not apply in Northern Ireland.
If you are unsure as to whether you need to take a theory test, you can ask the DVSA for advice by calling 0300 200 1122 or emailing [email protected].
If you hold a foreign licence issued outside the EC/EEA, you must check with the DVLA (Telephone 0300 790 6801 or, for Northern Ireland, call 0300 200 7861), to see whether you are allowed to exchange your driving licence. If this isn’t possible, you will need to apply for a provisional licence, take a theory test, followed by a practical driving test.
How much does it cost to book the test?
The fee for the theory test depends on which type of vehicle you’re pursuing a license for. Ensure you select the correct vehicle when booking your test. The following test fees apply:
- Car – £23
- Motorcycle – £23
- LGV – £26 (Multiple Choice Test) + £11 (Hazard Perception Test) + £23 (Case Studies)
- ADI Part 1 – £81
Where can I take the test?
With over 150 theory test centres throughout England, Scotland and Wales, and six in Northern Ireland, there should be one within 20 miles of your home. You can find your nearest test centre here by entering your post code.
What should I do if I don’t receive an acknowledgement?
If you book online or by telephone, you should receive a confirmation email immediately. If you are expecting confirmation by post, you should receive a letter within ten days. If you don’t receive acknowledgement of your appointment, you should contact the booking office on 0300 200 1122 or email [email protected]. Please bear in mind that if you miss your appointment, the fee won’t be refunded.
When are test centres open?
Theory test centres are usually open on weekdays, some evenings and some Saturdays, although this varies from centre to centre.
How do I cancel or postpone my test?
You can cancel or postpone your theory test online at www.gov.uk/cancel-theory-test, or by calling DVSA theory test booking support on 0300 200 1122 from Monday to Friday, between 8am and 4pm. Cancellations must be made at least three clear working days before the date of your test or you will lose your fee. Sundays and public holidays aren’t regarded as working days.
Short-notice cancellations are only allowed in the following circumstances:
- If you are ill or injured and have a medical certificate to prove this
- If you have been affected by a bereavement
- If you are sitting school examinations
Under these circumstances, you can rebook your test at no extra cost although refunds won’t be issued.
At the Test Centre
What should I bring to the test centre?
You will need to bring your photocard driving licence to the test centre. If you have an old-style paper driving licence, you will also need to bring a valid passport.
How long will I spend at the test centre?
You will spend between two and three hours at the test centre. It is suggested that you arrive at the test centre at least 30 minutes before the start of your test, which will give you time to register and compose yourself before your test. Following the initial practice test which lasts 15 minutes, you will be given from 57 minutes to complete the multiple-choice section. Additionally, you will have to complete the hazard perception test following a three-minute break, which takes about 20 minutes. You can expect to receive your result after 10 minutes of finishing the theory test.
Can I bring visitors/guests?
Only authorised visitors may be admitted to the test centre. These include:
- Visitors sent by Pearson or an exam sponsor (including employees, auditors and consultants)
- Assistive personnel
- Maintenance vendors, law enforcement, property management and emergency personnel
There may be a waiting area for other visitors; you will need to check with the reception desk at the test centre.
Can I get extra support?
If you need extra support because you have reading difficulties, a health condition or a disability, you need to notify DVSA at the time of booking your test. Every effort will be made to ensure all candidates can take the test with support as required. See the government website for more information.
After the Test
What happens if I pass?
If you have passed your theory test, you will receive a pass certificate within 10 minutes of completing the test.
How long is the theory test certificate/letter valid for?
The theory test certificate is valid for two years from the date of issue. You will need to take your practical test within this timeframe.
If I fail, when can I take the test again?
You will have to wait a minimum of three clear working days before you can retake the test. You should ensure you are fully prepared for the next test.
I’ve lost my theory test certificate, what should I do?
If you have lost your theory test certificate, you’ll be able to retrieve your theory test pass certificate number via the government website. You won’t be provided with a replacement certificate however. You’ll need to input your name, date of birth and driving licence number in order to find your pass certificate number.