Theory Test Explained

theory test explained

If you are a learner driver you must take and pass your theory test before you book your practical test. However, if you already have a full driving licence you may not have to take another theory test if you want to start driving a different vehicle.

If you are a GB driving licence holder you must bring your valid signed GB photocard licence showing your provisional entitlement, and a printed summary (dated within a week of your test date) of your driving licence record from link opens in a new window / tab). If your GB photocard licence does not show your provisional entitlement, you must obtain written confirmation from the DVLA of your provisional entitlement.


At the test centre

You are advised to arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled time of your test.

On arrival at the centre you will be asked your name and both parts of your licence will be checked.

You will be asked to store any belongings you have in a locker. You can keep the key with you during the test. All mobile phones must be switched off. You will be given a copy of the test procedures and given a few minutes to read over them.

The invigilator staff will then check you in by signing a registration log and confirming your details. You will be shown into the testing room and allocated an individual booth to sit your test. Check the details on the screen and if they are correct press ‘Start’ on the screen to commence your test.

Should you have any problems in the testing room, raise your hand and a member of staff will come to you.

On completion of the test you are free to quietly leave the testing room. Staff will ask you to sign out and collect any belongings from the locker. You can take a seat in the waiting room to await your results.


Personal belongings

Personal items are not allowed into the testing room and must be placed in a locker. Personal items include, but are not limited to:

  • mobile phones
  • ear pieces/ear phones
  • laptops/hand-held computers/Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and other electronic devices
  • pagers
  • handbags
  • purses
  • wallets
  • hats
  • bags
  • coats
  • books
  • revision notes
  • dictionaries
  • note paper
  • pens
  • watches
  • food and drink

If you are found with any of the above prohibited items in the testing room, your test will be stopped, you will be asked to leave the premises and you will lose your test fee.

Theory test candidate impersonation

Please be aware that having someone impersonate you for the driving or riding theory test is an offence, which carries a fine of up to £2,500.


Taking the test – cars and motorcycle drivers

The theory test for car and motorcycle drivers is made up of two parts taken at the same time – multiple choice and hazard perception. You must pass both parts of the test to get a test certificate.

Delivery of the test

Your responses to the multiple choice and hazard perception parts of the test are recorded through the use of a computer mouse button.

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

When you take the theory test, you will be asked some specific questions about the particular category of test being taken (motorcycles or cars), as well as questions that apply to all road users.

Part one – multiple choice

Before the test starts you’ll be given instructions on how the test works. You can also choose to go through a practice session of the multiple choice questions 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 right answer to the question by touching the screen. Some questions may require more than one answer.

Car drivers and motorcyclists will be asked 50 questions and the pass mark is 43 out of 50. You will have just under an hour to answer the questions. If you have reading problems, you can apply for additional time, and have just less than two hours to answer the questions.

Some of the multiple choice questions will be presented to you in the form of a case study. A case study shows a scenario on which five questions will be based. The subject of the scenario will focus on real life examples and experiences that you might meet when driving.

DVSA publications ‘The Official Theory Test for Motorcyclists’ and ‘The Official Theory Test for Car Drivers’ have been updated to show an example case study.

Part two – hazard perception

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

The pass mark for the car and motorcycle hazard perception part of the theory test is 44 out of 75.


Theory Test Pro in partnership with FiveDrive