The Driving Theory Test is set by the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA); a government body responsible for driver education. It is a computer-based test that assesses your knowledge of the rules of the road, traffic signs, and safe driving practices.
If you’re a learner driver, you must pass the theory test before you can book your practical driving test.
The driving theory test consists of two sections: a multiple-choice test and a hazard perception section. You will need to pass both parts of the test to pass.
The multiple-choice section includes 50 questions about the Highway Code. Before this part of the test you will receive instructions on how the test works and be given the chance to do a practice question.
The hazard perception section of the test features 14 video clips including a variety of different road scenes. In each clip, you will need to identify developing hazards as quickly as possible using the click of a mouse. A developing hazard is defined as something that would cause you to take action such as changing speed or direction e.g. a person stepping into the road. There are 15 hazards in total and you can score five points for each if you click the mouse as soon as the hazard starts to develop. Before this part of the test begins you will be shown a video with instructions on how it works.
If you fail one part of the test, then unfortunately you’ll have to retake both parts. You’ll also need to wait 3 working days before you can take another test.
You will have 57 minutes to answer the multiple choice questions and a further 20 minutes to complete the hazard perception test. You can take a short break of up to 3 minutes between the two sections of the test.
It’s best to allow at least 2 hours for the test from start to finish to give yourself plenty of time to sign in, complete the practice questions and wait for your results.
If you have any special needs, the DVSA can arrange more time for the multiple-choice questions or other reasonable adjustments. You’ll have to mention what your needs are during the driving theory test online booking and you’ll need to give the DVSA proof.
It costs £23 to take the driving theory test. You’ll also need to own a provisional licence to book the theory test, which costs £34 to apply online. You can also apply by post by filling in a D1 form in your local post office, which will cost £43.
Yes! You can take your theory test anytime after you turn 17 and a lot of people actually choose to take it before taking practical lessons. This helps boost confidence and ensures a better understanding of the rules of the road. At RED we recommend taking your theory test as soon as possible. However, it’s worth noting that you must have your provisional licence to book the theory test. You can apply for your provisional licence up to 3 months before you turn 17 – you can find more information on applying for provisional licences here.
A lot of people think the theory test is easy. However, pass rates have steadily fallen in recent years and the overall pass rate is probably lower than you might expect. In 2022, more than 50% of the theory tests taken resulted in failure, meaning lots of wasted time and money for learner drivers!
That’s why it’s so important to get plenty of theory test practice to give yourself the best chance of passing first time.
Our friendly instructors will help you with your theory training during your lessons and ensure you have the knowledge to pass.
Also, be sure to read The Highway Code, which can be found online, or study ‘The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – The Essential Skills’, which is available in most good bookshops.
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You should aim to arrive at the test centre around 15 minutes before the start of your test. You will be asked to present your provisional driving licence to sign in and you will be provided with a designed locker to store your (switched off) mobile phone.
Please take care to remember your provisional licence. If you can’t present this at the test centre, you won’t be allowed to sit the test and you’ll lose your fee.
Once you’ve signed in, you will be shown a document outlining the rules of the test. When you indicate you’re happy with how the test works you will take a seat at an assigned computer and be given the option to take part in a 15 minute practice session. We recommend taking this practice opportunity as it will give you the chance to get used to the computer and settle into the test centre environment comfortably.
After completing the practice questions, the test will commence. Starting with the multiple choice questions, you will be asked to select the right answer from several possible answers on the screen. If you aren’t sure of a question you will have the option to ‘flag’ the question and come back to it later. You can also go back to questions to review and change your answers if you wish.
Once you’ve completed the multiple-choice section, you will move on to the hazard perception part of the test where you will be asked to indicate developing hazards using your mouse. You will only get one attempt at each video and unlike the previous section, you will not be able to go back and review or change your answers.
And that’s it! When you’ve completed all of the questions you will find out whether you’ve passed at the test centre.
If you’re sitting your theory test soon, we wish you the best of luck!
Preparation is everything. At RED we recommend studying for around 8 weeks prior to your theory test since there is lots of content to cover. Starting early gives you the opportunity to break your learning up into manageable chunks and enables you to complete the training in just a few minutes each day.
Start early and save yourself the stress of cramming later down the line!
The length of revision truly varies depending on individual learning styles and prior knowledge. However, here’s a general guideline for a balanced approach:
Start Early: Aim to start your revision at least 8-10 weeks before your planned test date. This ensures you have sufficient time to delve into topics without feeling pressed for time.
Daily Dedication: Commit a set amount of time each day, ideally 20-30 minutes. This consistent approach promotes retention and minimises last-minute stress. However, even 15 minutes per day is enough to make progress if you start early enough.
Mock Test Assessments: After 4 weeks, undertake a mock test to assess your readiness. This will highlight areas needing more emphasis.
The driving theory test is the first step towards obtaining your driving licence. Success requires a mix of timely revision, practice, and using the right strategies.
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Understand the Syllabus: Familiarise yourself with the topics, such as road signs, safety measures, hazard perception, etc.
Consistent Practice: Regularly take mock tests to become accustomed to the test format. This also helps pinpoint your strengths and areas that require more focus.
The Highway Code and ‘The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – The Essential Skills’ are the backbone of learning resources. However whilst these offer the exact content you’ll be asked, other apps and websites are especially designed to help you pass.
Importantly our RED app is science based in its approach. It is specifically designed to tailor your learning to spend more time covering topics you’re less comfortable with along with mock tests to reinforce your knowledge.
Flashcards: These are great for memorising road signs and rules. Write the name/sign on one side and its explanation or meaning on the reverse. The RED Complete Driving Theory app contains a flashcard section if you’d prefer a digital version.
Discuss concepts with your friends, family and driving instructor to improve your understanding.
Don’t forget the hazard perception section! Engage regularly with hazard perception clips. These hone your reflexes and judgement, and prepare you for real world experiences on the road.
Practise the format of the hazard perception test so that you’re learning when to respond to hazards, and importantly, not over clicking.
Study little and often: Even 15 minutes per day is enough to make good progress over time.
Plan weekly reviews of what you’ve learnt. This consolidates information and enhances memory retention.
When you pass your theory test you will be given a pass certificate number at the test centre. This is valid for 2 years from the date of your test. It’s important to note that you will need to pass your practical driving test within this time, otherwise you will have to pass your theory test again.
It’s time to get out and put your knowledge into practice! If you haven’t already done so, book your driving lessons with RED.
The DVSA states that, on average, it takes 45 hours of professional instruction and 22 hours of private practice to learn to drive. RED’s Learner insurance is a great way to gain those extra recommended hours.