The Theory and Driving Test

The theory test explained

The theory test is made up of a multiple choice part and a hazard perception part. You can start preparing for the tests as soon as you like and take the test any time after your 17th birthday. Books such as the Highway Code and the Driving Manual will help you prepare for the multiple choice part and there are CD's available to practice the hazard perception part. You can start driving lessons before passing the theory; however you will need to pass this part before being able to book a driving test.


The Driving Standards Agency You Tube video

Click here to view a video about your theory test.

Taking your theory test

The multiple choice part is delivered using a touch screen computer and the hazard perception part records your responses through the use of a computer mouse button.

If you pass one part and fail the other you’ll fail the whole test, and you’ll need to take both parts again.

Part one – 50 multiple choice questions

Before the test starts you’ll be given instructions on how the test works.

You can also choose to go through a practice session to get used to the layout of the test. At the end of the practice session the real test will begin.

A question and several answer options will appear onscreen and you have to select the correct answer to the question by touching the screen. Some questions may require more than one answer.

You can navigate between questions and ‘flag’ questions that you want to come back to later in the test. You have up to 57 minutes to complete the multiple choice questions, so if you find there is time left, consider going over the questions that have been flagged. To pass you will need at least 43 out of 50.

After the multiple choice part you can choose to have a break of up to three minutes before the hazard perception part starts.

Part two – hazard perception

After the break you’ll then be shown a short tutorial video clip about how the hazard perception part works.

The hazard perception part is also delivered on a computer but you respond by clicking a button on the mouse. You’ll be presented with a total of 14 video clips which feature every day road scenes. In each clip there’ll be at least one developing hazard, but one of the clips will feature two developing hazards.

To achieve a high score you’ll need to respond to the developing hazard during the early part of its development. The maximum you can score on each hazard is five and the pass mark is 44 out of 75.

You won’t be able to review your answers to the hazard perception test; as on the road, you’ll only have one chance to respond to the developing hazard.

Useful links:

Mock Theory Test

Book your theory driving test online

Apply online for a first provisional driving licence

The Highway Code

Know your traffic signs

The facts about the driving test:

If you have had plenty of practice driving on all types of roads and carrying out the different manoeuvres, ideally with a good instructor, then this should work hand in hand to give you the best chance of success on the driving test itself. In order to make sure you have the best chance of passing on your first attempt, this section will help give a guide for:

Are you ready?

Can you drive on all types of roads without being prompted too much by your instructor/supervisor?

Can you carry out all manoeuvres accurately with good observation?

Has your Instructor confirmed readiness for test? They will know best and could carry out a mock test to give you a good idea of how close you are to test standard.

Can you to read a number plate from a distance of around 20.5 metres which is tested on the test?  If you need glasses bring them with you for test.

Do you understand how to carry out the "show me – tell me" part of the test?

Do you have both parts of your licence and your theory certificate safe to bring with you on test?

When booking your practical test there is often a waiting time of around 5 weeks for an appointment, therefore, consider if you could answer all of the above by the time the test day arrived.  Ask your driving instructor if there are any areas included on test which would be good to practice, like any complicated roundabouts or areas where people are often making mistakes.

Booking your practical test.

0300 200 1122 or 0300 200 1133 (Welsh) and listen to the options.

Check approval from your driving instructor and obtain their ADI number to ensure their availability.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) You Tube video on the driving test.

Click here to view a video about the Driving Test which includes  ’Independent driving’.

What to expect on the day of your driving test.

Most driving schools would pick you up an hour before your test is due to start, this will allow you to have a warm up drive and possibly go over some manoeuvres. You may also like time to go through the "show me – tell me" exercise if necessary.


  • Do you have both parts of your licence to take with you to show the examiner?

The green counterpart will be required along with the photo card, if your current address isn't on your licence then simply write your current address on the bottom of the green counterpart ready for test.

  • Bring along your theory certificate and appointment sheet (double check time and date).
  • Is the car your using (ideally your instructors) in good order, insured and tax disk valid (the examiner will check) as well as nice and clean including the windows? Ideally check all bulbs are working so there is time well before test commences to change if necessary or your test may not go ahead. If the model car has needed a recall from the manufacturer at any point – you will need to bring proof it has been checked by an approved garage.

At the test centres:

You should drive into the test centre around 5 minutes before your test time, however due to not being able to enter the test centre much earlier, it would be recommended that you are close to the test centre in good time ready to enter on time. If you arrive more than 5 minutes late your test may not go ahead. When entering the test centre there will usually have parking bays reserved for test candidates. You will need to reverse into an available bay ready to drive out forwards when your test begins, however if you're running late you may want to allow your instructor/ supervisor to park whilst you enter the test centre waiting room. Most test centres will have toilets that you may want to use first.

You will go into the waiting room in the test centre with your instructor/ supervisor and wait until your name is called out by the examiner who will be taking you on test. They will ask to see both parts of your licence and get you to sign an insurance and residency (Confirm you are a UK resident) declaration on your test sheet (DL25). They will give their name and ask what you would like them to call you during test and will ask if you would like your instructor/ supervisor to sit in on the test. This is your choice, although you may just want them to listen in at the end of the test to how you got on.

Pre drive:

Your driving test will begin with an eyesight check –reading a number plate from around 20.5 metres and then carrying out the "Show me – Tell me" exercise where the examiner will ask some basic vehicle safety checks. As well as the basic vehicle checks, make sure you know how to use all functions of the vehicle used for test – windscreen wipers, de-misters, etc.

Your examiner will explain how the test will last around 40 – 45 minutes and you will be required to follow the road ahead at all times unless directed otherwise or following road signs. From October 4th 2010 there is part of the test that includes about 10 minutes of independent driving. This will be either following road signs, following verbal directions or a combination of both with the possibility you will be shown a diagram to support the verbal directions. It won’t matter if you go the wrong way by accident as long as you do so safely, although you must avoid joining any motorways which are prohibited for learner drivers.

On Test:

From October 4th you may only need to carry out one manoeuvre. During the test it is likely the examiner will ask you to pull over somewhere convenient several times, requiring you to move of safely when you get the chance. On your way out of the test centre car park be aware of your road position, often your exit will be narrow. You should watch the kerb when turning left and keep to the correct side when turning right.

Returning to the test centre:

The examiner will tell you whether to reverse park into a bay or simply drive in forwards. They will add up any driving faults and tell you whether you have passed or failed. You can ask for your instructor/supervisor to listen to the feedback from the examiner.

Good Luck

P.S. When you’ve passed your test, tell your facebook friends and recommend your driving instructor!