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The driving theory test

Before you can book or take a practical driving test you must have passed a driving theory test. The theory test has two parts, the first part is a series of multiple choice questions and this is followed by a hazard perception test. Both parts have to be taken at the same sitting and both have to be passed together; if you fail one part you need to take and pass both parts again.

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

When you take your Theory Test you can get additional help if you have a reading difficulty, disability or health condition. In many cases, extra support may be available to help you during the test; for details of the additional help, how to request it and how to book the test see: Special needs and the theory test

Please note that you can only take the theory test in English, Welsh or, for Deaf candidates, British Sign Language. Additional support is not provided in any other language.

Multiple-choice questions

You have 57 minutes to answer 50 multiple-choice questions.

You will sit in an individual booth and take the test using a computer operated by a standard computer mouse. Touch screen computers are normally only offered for special needs tests for those that cannot operate a computer mouse; they need to be booked in advance.

Before the test starts you’ll get:

  • instructions on how the test works
  • the chance to do some practice questions to get used to the screens

How the test works

A question and several possible answers appear on a screen. You have to select the right answer.

Three of the questions are about a short video. It will show a normal driving situation, such as:

  • driving through a town centre
  • driving on a country road

The video is silent. You can watch it as many times as you like during the test.

Leaving a question

You can ‘flag’ questions that you want to come back to later.

Changing your answers

You can go back to any question to review and change your answer at any point.

When you’ve finished

You can finish the multiple-choice questions part when you’ve answered all of the questions. You do not have to use the full 57 minutes.

You can have a break of up to 3 minutes before the hazard perception test starts.

Hazard perception test

Before you start the hazard perception test, you’ll be shown a video about how it works.

You’ll then watch 14 video clips. The clips:

  • feature everyday road scenes
  • contain at least one ‘developing hazard’ – but one of the clips features 2 developing hazards

You get points for spotting the developing hazards as soon as they start to happen.

What a ‘developing hazard’ is

A developing hazard is something that would cause you to take action, like changing speed or direction.

ExampleA car is parked at the side of the road and is not doing anything. It would not cause you to take action, so it’s not a developing hazard.

When you get closer, the car’s right-hand indicator starts to flash and it starts to move away. You’d need to slow down, so it’s now a developing hazard.

How the scoring works

You can score up to 5 points for each developing hazard.

To get a high score, click the mouse as soon as you see the hazard starting to develop.

You do not lose points if you click and get it wrong. However, you will not score anything if you click continuously or in a pattern.

You only get one attempt at each clip. You cannot review or change your responses.

Pass mark and test result

You’ll get the result at the test centre after taking the theory test. You must pass both parts to pass the test.

Pass mark  Points available
Multiple-choice questions         43              50
Hazard perception         44              75

If you pass

You’ll get a letter with a pass certificate number at the test centre. You need this when you book and take your driving test.

Your pass certificate number lasts for 2 years. You must pass your driving test in that time, otherwise you’ll have to pass the theory test again.

If you fail

You’ll get a letter at the test centre. It’ll tell you which parts you did not score enough points on so you know what to practise.

You must book and take the full test again, even if you passed one part this time.

You have to wait at least 3 working days before taking your test again.

Updated 10.01.2021