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Special Needs and the Theory Test – what help is available and how do you book it

When you book your Theory Test you should say if you’ve got special needs. In many cases, special arrangements can be made to help you during the test.

Special needs arrangements available when taking the theory test – If you have learning difficulties, problems with reading or writing, or have required additional help with schoolwork or taking examinations at school or college, then you may be able to get help with the Multiple Choice Theory Test; this may be:

  • Computer voiceover, (English or Welsh spoken test using a head set is available for any test candidate, no proof of special needs is required but this must be booked in advance – tick the box when booking the test).
  • Extra time to take the test (up to double the normal time).
  • “Translator kit” (reader only or reader/recorder), The reader or reader/recorder is in a separate room and communicates with the candidate via an earphone microphone headset. This has been introduced as a safer alternative to the face to face reader/recorder as an additional COVID-19 precaution.
  • The previous option of a face to face reader/recorder is still available but may be more difficult to arrange – this is where a person, provided by Pearson VUE (the company that administers the theory test), will read the questions on the computer screen word for word and then record the answer given by the candidate (they are not permitted to explain the meaning of the English language). Additional COVID-19 precautions will include a transparent screen between the candidate and the reader.
  • Oral Language Modification (OLM) – in exceptional cases, where the candidate has severe difficulty understanding the meaning of the language used for the test, the reader can explain the meaning rewording the questions to make them easier to understand; technical terms (e.g. anti-lock braking system) may not be reworded.
  • Private environment / separate room may also be available on request.

The only special allowance made when taking the Hazard Perception Test is the facility to pause the test between clips for people who suffer with motion sickness.

To apply for Special Needs Theory Test – if extra time is needed, if a face to face reader/recorder is needed or if an OLM test is required – the easiest way is to email your details to “DVSA/Pearson VUE Customer Care Team” (name, address, contact phone no, and driver number – from licence) and request a Special Needs Test. Attach proof of the Special Needs – a letter from School / College (stating what Special Needs provision was made when taking tests/exams) or from GP (detailing the medical condition and Special Needs requirements) on headed paper should be sufficient.

DVSA have confirmed that they will also accept the Dyslexia+ Profiler (from Do-IT Solutions), available through the British Dyslexia Association website (, as proof of Special Needs – this would be suitable for those out of education or those who have not been formally diagnosed. (Agreement confirmed by DVSA – 24.05.2019).

For OLM tests evidence of severe difficulties in language comprehension will be required. This evidence would normally state that OLM has been required when taking exams at school or college and would take the form of a statement of educational needs from an educational professional or a report showing comprehension scores (which would need to equate to below 8 years of age) to warrant the service. For those out of formal education a report from any educational establishment attended or from a medical professional explaining the severe difficulties in language comprehension will be considered.

DVSA/Pearson VUE will consider the application and will then confirm back in writing that they have agreed to the request, this letter will give a reference number that must be quoted when booking the test. The best way to book the test is to contact the Customer Care Team by phone, quoting the reference and requesting extra time, a reader/recorder or an OLM test, whichever is needed.

If a reader/recorder or OLM test is needed the test will take place in a side room so that there is no interference or distraction from other people taking the test and so they are not distracted. If no side room is available then the test centre could be closed off for the duration of the test, in this case the waiting time may be longer. Side rooms are available at most test centres; please contact the Customer Care Team to confirm.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, unfortunately many of the side rooms are too small to allow for social distancing so cannot be used at present, if a reader/recorder (either “translator kit” or face to face) or an OLM test is needed this mean a complete site closure will be required; this will lead to an increase in waiting times for these tests

If any specific requirements are needed due to physical disability (e.g. wheelchair access to the building, a height adjustable desk or if a bespoke design of computer mouse is needed) these should be arranged when booking the test.

It is advised that the Special Needs request is made as soon as tuition commences. Once they reply with the reference the test can be booked, quoting the reference, whenever you are ready, there is no time limit. It is also advised that you book the test in plenty of time especially if a complete site closure is required.

DVSA/Pearson VUE Customer Care Team:

Tel: 0300 200 1188    Fax: 0300 200 1177    email:

British Dyslexia Association:

Tel: 0845 251 9003    Fax: 0845 251 9005    web:

Updated 05.12.2020