Driving theory test: everything you need to know

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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