How to pass your theory test
Here’s how to prepare and what to expect so you can nail your theory test.
Every keen learner driver knows that the first step to getting that pink license is passing your theory test. You can’t book your practical test until you’ve passed your driving theory test, so it’s best to get it under your belt as soon as possible. You’ll be tested on skills and knowledge that every driver needs to be safe on the roads.
So, you want to know how to pass your theory test? The key is to be prepared. We’re going to run through what to expect, how to prepare and answer some commonly asked questions about the driving theory test.
What’s the format of the theory test questions?
The theory test is split into two sections: multiple choice and hazard perception. Although it varies from person to person, you can expect to be at the test centre for around 90 minutes in total.
Theory test multiple choice questions
- You’ll have 57 minutes to complete 50 multiple choice questions
- A question will appear on the screen and you can choose from several possible answers
- If you’re unsure about an answer, you can ‘flag’ the question and come back to it later
- 3 of the questions will include a short silent video
- You can watch the video as many times as you like during the test
- There are over 700 possible questions that you could be asked… we know that sounds like a scary number but you’ll be surprised by how quickly you pick it up
- You can go back to any question and change the answer during the 57 minutes
- You don’t have to use the full 57 minutes and can finish the test whenever you’re ready
What’s the theory test pass mark?
The pass mark is 86% so you’ll need to answer 43 out of 50 questions correctly to pass your theory test.
Top tip: Read the question twice. You get over a minute per question so take your time and make sure you’ve understood the question. Some road signs look quite similar so it’s easy to slip up if you’re not careful.
How to revise for your theory test?
- There are loads of resources out there to help you revise for your theory test. But in our opinion theory test apps are the easiest way to make sure you cover everything. The better ones do come at a price, but it’s an easy way to learn and practice. We’ve reviewed the top 5 theory test appsto help you decide which to download.
- There are also some great online resources that offer revision and practice tests such as this one by Driving Test Success. You’ll be doing your theory test on a computer so you might find it helpful to practice in the same way.
- Hit the books! If you’re going to buy books our top 2 suggestions are the highway codeand the official DVSA theory test for car drivers.
- Make sure you know your road traffic signs. This free ebook‘know your traffic signs’ is a really useful tool on the government website.
- Practice, practice, practice! A lot of people find just practicing questions over and over is an effective way of revising. The more you do, the more questions you’ll have covered.
- Make sure you’ve done (and passed) a mock test before the real thing. You can find practice tests herebut they’re also available on various theory test apps.
You could also have a go at our right of way quiz to make sure you’re up to speed on who has the right of way and who has to give way.
Plus, we’ve got an article on taking the theory test with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with more tips for preparation and information on accessibility.
Hazard perception test
You’ll get a 3 minute break between your multiple-choice theory test and your hazard perception. Take a breather and get ready for the next section.
- You’ll be shown 14 video clips for your hazard perception test
- Each video clip is roughly 1 minute long
- Once each clip ends there will be a countdown timer of roughly 10 seconds until the next video
- 13 of the clips will include 1 ‘developing hazard’ and 1 of the clips will have 2 developing hazards
- A developing hazard is something that would cause you to take action, like change your speed or direction
- You’ll be asked to click as soon as you see a developing hazard
- You can score up to 5 points for each developing hazard
- The hazard perception test is all about reactions, so the sooner you click the higher your score will be
- Good news…you won’t lose points if you click and get it wrong
- Bad news…if you click in a continuous pattern instead of reacting you won’t get any points
- You get one attempt at each video clip and there’s no option to change your answers
Hazard perception example
A pedestrian is walking alongside the road, let’s call him Bob.
Bob is strolling down the pavement on his way to the shop. Bob’s not causing you as a driver to take any action, so he’s not a developing hazard, he’s a potential hazard.
Bob sees his mate on the other side of the road and turns to cross the street. Bob just became a developing hazard and you’ll need to slow down, which in your hazard perception test, means you’ll need to click.
There’s no harm in clicking when you see a potential hazard. Even if it doesn’t turn into a developing hazard, you won’t lose any marks.
How to pass hazard perception?
The hazard perception test is quite challenging but it’s a really important part of your driving theory test. As we mentioned earlier, there’s a potential of 5 marks per hazard. You’ll need to get 44 out of 75 to pass.
The window of time to react to a hazard is split into 5 equal segments. If you click your mouse in the first segment you’ll get 5 points, but if you wait until you’re close to the hazard (in the 5th segment) you’ll get 1 point.
It’s a good idea to click the mouse when you see a potential hazard. This could be a car parked on the side of the road for example. Keep an eye on the potential hazard; if it starts to develop, like indicate to pull out, click your mouse straight away.
It can be hard to tell when a potential hazard turns into a developing hazard. To be safe, we’d suggest clicking multiple times as the hazard develops. If you click multiple times during the window, your highest score will be taken.
There are lots of theory test apps and resources where you can practice your hazard perception test online. But one easy (and free!) way to practice is just to look out for potential and developing hazards whenever you’re in a car. You’ll get used to the kinds of hazards drivers face on the road everyday.
How long does it take to prepare for your theory test?
The DVSA recommends 20 hours of revision to make sure you’re fully prepared for your theory test. But when you get to the point where you’re consistently passing your practice tests…you’re probably ready. This may take less time for some people and longer for others.
How much does a theory test cost?
Taking the driving theory test for cars costs £23.
When can I book my theory test?
You can book your theory test once you turn 15. Bear in mind that it will expire within 2 years so you need to make sure you can commit to taking your practical test.
What do I need to take to my theory test?
- Your UK photocard driving license (which is your provisional license)
- If you only have a paper license, you’ll also need to bring a valid passport
- If your license is from Northern Ireland, you’ll need to take both your photocard and paper counterpart license
- At the moment a face mask is also required
DVSA mean business with these rules so if you don’t come prepared, your test will be cancelled, and you won’t get your money back.
How long does a theory test last?
If you pass your theory test, your certificate is valid for two years. If you don’t pass your practical driving test within this time, your theory test will expire and you’ll have to do it again.
Learning to drive?
If you’re learning to drive and want to speed up the process of passing your driving test, it may be helpful to do some practice outside of your lessons. Just make sure you’re insured first. With our learner driver insurance you can practice in a friend or family member’s car from 2 hours right up to 90 days. You could offer to drive when your parents are nipping out on essential shopping trips to get driving test ready. Just keep an eye on your local guidelines in case things change.