How does the theory test work?

The theory test for car drivers is made up of two parts which are taken at the same time. One is a multiple choice part and the other is a hazard perception part. The current fee for the theory test is £23.

When booking your theory test you should do this directly through the government website. Some sites may offer to do this for you but they often charge extra. They may even offer free retakes should you fail but very few people actually qualify. Make sure you pay the correct amount and book through the official site which can be found here.

You need to pass both parts of the test to pass the theory test.

When you enter the test room you will not be allowed to take any personal items in to the room with you. Lockers are provided at the test centre so that you can safely store any of your personal items while you take the theory test.

Once you have entered the test room you are not allowed to talk or distract any of the other candidates.

You need to take both parts of your driving licence with you to the theory test, that is the photocard and the paper counterpart. If you have an old style driving licence then you need to take your signed driving licence along with your passport. No other form of photographic identification will be accepted.

The multiple choice part

Before starting the test you will be given instructions on how the test works. You will also be given the option to do a practice session to allow you to get familiar with the layout of the questions. Once you have completed the practice session the real test will begin.

You will be asked a series of questions and each question will have a number of possible answers. You have to select the correct answer from those given. You may need to select more than one answer for some questions. You can move between questions and you can flag any questions you want to review later in the test. Some of the questions may be given as a case study, this will show a short story which 5 questions will be based on. The case study will focus on real life situations you may encounter when you’re driving.

The multiple choice part of the theory test lasts for 57 minutes, during which you will be asked 50 questions.  The pass mark for the multiple choice part is 43 out of 50.

Once the multiple choice part is complete you may take a short break before starting the hazard perception part.

The hazard perception part

You will be shown a short video clip at the start of this part of the theory test to explain how it works. Once this introductory clip has completed you will then be shown a series of 14 video clips. These clips will feature everyday road scenes and they will each contain at least 1 developing hazard. One of the clips will contain 2 developing hazards. You respond to the developing hazard by clicking your mouse button.

A ‘developing hazard’ is a situation that will require you to take some form of action such as changing speed or direction.

Scoring the hazard perception part

The earlier you notice a developing hazard then the more points you score, with 5 points being the most you can score for each developing hazard. To get a high score in this part of the theory test you need to react as soon as you see the developing hazard starting.

If you continually click the mouse button during a video clip or respond in a pattern then you will receive a message at the end of the clip. The message will tell you that you have scored 0 points on that clip.

The pass mark for the hazard perception part is 44 out of 75.

You can read more about the hazard perception part here.

The test result

You will be given your theory test result at the test centre once you have completed it. When you pass your theory test you’ll be given a certificate. You will need this certificate when you book and take your practical driving test.

The theory test pass certificate is valid for two years. You’ll need to take and pass the theory test again if you do not pass your practical driving test within that time.