Passing your driving test is a huge step towards gaining some freedom as a teenager but one of the first obstacles to overcome before getting your full licence is the driving theory test.
The practical driving test can only be taken once the theory test has been passed, so it’s important to know what to expect and how you can pass with flying colours first time around.
The driving theory test is made up of two components – the multiple-choice section and the hazard perception test. These are taken in the same sitting and you need to pass both sections to pass the full theory test.
What is the driving theory test?
The UK driving theory test is the first part of gaining your full driving licence. It must be taken before the practical test and aims to test your knowledge of the Highway Code and driving in the UK. Questions are based on official DVSA guides: The Official Highway Code, Know Your Traffic Signs and The Official DVSA Guide To Driving.
There are plenty of mock theory tests available online, the majority of which are free, so it’s a good idea to take a practice theory test to get used to the structure of the test and know what to expect.
To take a theory test, you must book in advance at an approved driving theory test centre. At the end of the test, you will receive your results and, if you pass, a certificate, which is valid for two years. If you do not pass your practical driving test within two years of passing your theory, you will have to retake the theory test again.
Driving theory test fees stand at £25 for a standard car theory test but as of October 2015, it will be reduced to £23.
At the test centre, you will need both parts of your driving licence – your signed photocard licence and paper counterpart – otherwise your test will be cancelled.
In terms of pass rates, the driving theory test currently sits at 50.7 per cent, a figure that’s decreased consistently in recent years.
Driving theory test: how it works and how to pass
To pass the driving theory test, you will need to pass the multiple choice question section and hazard perception test in one go.
For the multiple-choice section, you will be required to answer fifty questions in 57 minutes. These are selected at random from a bank of nearly 1,000 questions – so you could be asked anything! To pass, a minimum score of 43 out of 50 is required. You will receive your score at the end of your test with (if you pass) a certificate.
If you have a Safe Road User Award, an ‘abridged’ theory test can be taken. This costs less at £19 and requires the candidate to pass 30 out of 35 questions correctly. The hazard perception part is the same as the standard theory test.
While most questions are multiple-choice, some come in the form of a case study whereby you will be given a particular situation and then required to answer five questions following it. These will focus on real-life situations that a driver could come across when driving.
How to pass your theory test: official DVSA video
Driving theory test: sample questions
Here are three example questions that represent what you can expect to find in the UK driving theory test, taken from an official online theory test practice:
1) You get a puncture on the motorway. You manage to get your vehicle onto the hard shoulder. You should:
a) Only change the wheel if you have a passenger to help you,
b) Change the wheel yourself immediately,
c) Try to wave down another vehicle for help,
d) Use the emergency telephone and call for assistance
2) You want to reverse into a side road. You are not sure that the area behind your car is clear. What should you do?
a) Check the mirrors only,
b) Carry on, assuming it is clear,
c) Look through the rear window only,
d) Get out and check
3) You wish to park facing downhill. Which TWO of the following should you do?
a) Put the handbrake on firmly,
b) Park close to the bumper of another car,
c) Turn the steering wheel away from the kerb,
d) Park with two wheels on the kerb,
e) Turn the steering wheel towards the kerb
In the test you will be asked to select an answer. In some cases (as above) you will be required to select more than one answer, which will be indicated to you clearly and in capitals. You can skip questions you’re unsure of and come back to them once you’ve answered the rest.
Driving theory test: our five top tips
• Take a practice test before the real thing – there are plenty online
• Remember both parts of your driving licence – you’ll have to do the test another time and pay for it again
• Be mindful of time limits – this applies to both multiple choice and hazard perception sections
• Know what kinds of question you may be asked – question styles and responses can vary
• READ the questions more than once – you don’t want to misunderstand what’s being asked and lose marks
Driving theory test: what happens next?
Following the multiple choice section of the driving theory test is the hazard perception test. In short, it aims to test a driver’s ability to be aware of dangers and potential risks whilst driving. You are allowed a three-minute break in between these two, or you can just go straight on to the hazard perception test.
Once you’ve passed the theory test, you’re only a practical driving test away from a lifetime on the road…
First Cars on Auto Express…
Everything you need to know about learning to drive, getting your driving licence and choosing your first car…