Here we cover what you need to know for booking your theory and practical tests.
In this article:
- When can I book my theory test?
- How to book a theory test
- Can I book my theory and practical at the same time?
- Can I change my theory test booking?
- Can I cancel my theory test booking?
- What happens if my theory test has expired?
- How does the coronavirus affect my theory test?
- When can I book my practical test?
- Where's the best place to book a practical driving test?
- How to book a practical driving test
- How much is a practical driving test?
- How long is a practical driving test?
- How often are driving test slots released?
- Is practical driving test harder than theory?
- Can I change my practical test booking?
- Can I cancel my practical test booking?
- How does the coronavirus affect my practical test?
When can I book my theory test?
As soon as you’ve turned 17, you can take the driving theory test.
In fact, you can take it after you turn 16 if you receive the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
There are a few conditions for taking the theory test. You need to have lived in England, Wales or Scotland for at least 185 days in the last 12 months before the day you take your theory test.
You can only apply for a theory test when you have your provisional licence. If you don't have one, you can apply for a provisional licence on the GOV.UK website.
You can also find the minimum eyesight rules here.
Please note: During the pandemic, restrictions applied to taking driving tests. While these have resumed in full, there’s also a backlog, which potentially means a long wait for tests. For this reason, it’s a good idea to get your theory test booking in early.
What time is best to book a driving test?
There’s only so strategic you can be when timing your driving test. For example, if you’re going by month, figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) for 2022 show that April has the highest pass rate at 49.6%. However, it may not be practical to book then – especially if you’re test-ready in May.
When it comes to time of day, an early morning test means you’ve got it out of the way. However, if you hit rush hour, there are more likely to be hazards such as more vulnerable road users – such as cyclists and pedestrians – and traffic for work and the school run.
Mid-morning and early afternoon driving tests are likely to see quieter roads, which can be less stressful. It also gives you a better opportunity to try various different types of roads, rather than being stuck in traffic.
In the summer, you might benefit from taking the test after rush hour, while the roads are quiet and it’s still light. However, not all test centres offer evening tests, and they’re more expensive if taken after 4.30pm.
The best time to take the test ultimately boils down to when suits you. If you’re concerned that you’ll worry all day until you take it, then it may be best to book early. But if you want to get a load of practice in first, perhaps book later. Think about what best suits your schedule and natural rhythm.
How to book a theory test
You'll need your driving licence number from your provisional licence. You’ll also need a credit or debit card to pay £23 for the test.
If you don’t have an email address, you’ll need to book over the phone:
Call 0300 200 1122 - Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm
If you live in Northern Ireland, call 0345 600 6700 - Monday to Friday, 8am to 12pm
Can I book my theory and practical at the same time?
No, you can’t book both tests at the same time. You need to have passed your theory test before you can move on to booking the practical test.
Can I change my theory test booking?
Yes, you can change the date of your theory test. You'll need your provisional licence to do this.
You also need to give at least 3 working days' notice before your test date to avoid losing the fee of £23.
Can I cancel my theory test booking?
Yes, you can cancel your theory test if you no longer need it. You'll need your provisional licence to cancel your booking.
Again, you need to give at least 3 working days’ notice prior to the test date, otherwise you’ll lose your fee.
If you live in Northern Ireland use the nidirect website to change your theory test.
What happens if my theory test has expired?
To take most types of driving tests, you need to have passed a theory test in the last 2 years.
If your theory test certificate has expired, you'll need to book another test to carry on with learning how to drive.
It’s worth noting that theory test certificates which expired in the pandemic won't be extended.
This was a government decision. It was intended as a safety measure, so your driving knowledge is at its best before resuming driving lessons and taking your practical test.
How does the coronavirus affect my theory test?
Theory tests have fully resumed in the UK, and no coronavirus restrictions apply.
However, you shouldn’t attend a test if you’ve tested positive for COVID-19. If you need to cancel within 3 days of the test date, you can apply for a refund. You’ll need to provide evidence of the illness, such as a medical certificate from your GP.
It’s also worth noting that, since the pandemic, there’s been a backlog for driving tests – meaning there can be a long wait before your theory test date. For this reason, it’s a good idea to apply early.
Prep for a pass, with The AA Driving Theory app
Available now for Android and iOS devices
When can I book my practical test?
You can book your practical driving test if you're at least 17, have a valid provisional licence, and you've passed your theory test. On passing the theory test, you’ll receive a certificate number which lasts 2 years. This means you must pass your practical within this time, or you’ll have to do your theory test again.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) states there’s no minimum number of lessons needed before you can book a practical driving test. But as a guide, the average is 45 hours of driving lessons with 22 hours of extra practice too.
Read all about the practical driving test here.
Where's the best place to book a practical driving test?
Most people taking their practical driving test will use their local test centre.
Check which driving test centre you can use and you can find out:
- What type of tests you can take there
- Its Google Maps location
- Driving test waiting times at the centre
- Facilities and special instructions for using the centre
You can also find Northern Ireland test centres. Plus you see the centre’s location on Google Maps, and the type of tests available.
How to book a practical driving test
To book a practical driving test, you'll need to have passed your theory test in the last 2 years.
You must have lived in England, Wales or Scotland for at least 185 days in the last 12 months before the day you take your practical test.
You'll also need a credit or debit card to pay for the test. See below for practical driving test prices.
Some pupils prefer to drive with their instructors before their test to calm their nerves, or get in some last-minute practice. If you do this, just remember you'll need to pay your instructor for that lesson as well as your test.
Practical driving tests are subject to availability and can often get booked up quickly.
Make sure you discuss with your instructor a date when you want to be test-ready, so you can work towards that goal.
If you live in Northern Ireland, go to nidirect to book your practical driving test.
How much is a practical driving test?
You can find a full list of driving test prices at GOV.UK – but practical driving tests in a car usually cost £62, or £75 on evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
How long is a practical driving test?
The practical driving test should take under an hour. This includes an eyesight check, ‘show me, tell me’ questions and about 40 minutes of driving – about 20 minutes of which is independent driving. When you return, your examiner will either pass or fail you, and then give you feedback.
Note that if you take the extended test because you were banned from driving, you’ll be on the road for about 70 minutes.
How often are driving test slots released?
Driving test slots are released on a Monday by the DVSA, and cover the following 24-week period. It’s worth noting that availability will vary across driving test centres. As such, if you have more than one within a reasonable distance, it’s worth checking them all to ensure you get a slot.
Is practical driving test harder than theory?
According to DVSA statistics for 2022/23, the pass rate for the theory test was 44.2%, while for the practical driving test it was 48.4%. So purely from a statistical point of view, the theory test is harder to pass.
But it’s worth bearing in mind that everybody has different strengths and weaknesses. For instance, if you’re comfortable with taking theory exams but nervous behind the wheel, you may perform better in the theory. As long as you study and get plenty of practice, you’ll get there!
Can I change my practical test booking?
Yes, you can change your practical driving test date up to 10 times if you give at least 3 clear working days' notice.
Being test-ready is important, so you may want to bring your test forward if you and your instructor think you'll have a better chance of passing. If you need to change your practical driving test to an earlier date, check for cancellations and get an earlier test at GOV.UK.
Can I cancel my practical test booking?
Yes, you can cancel your practical driving test at GOV.UK. But you'll only get a full refund if you give at least 3 clear working days' notice.
How does the coronavirus affect my practical test?
Driving tests resumed in England from 1 March 2022, with Scotland and Wales following suit. The current guidance is:
- Face coverings are a personal choice for theory and practical test candidates and examiners.
- Driving tests no longer end early, unless the candidate’s driving constitutes a dangerous fault.
- Instructors and accompanying drivers can sit in on driving tests. Again, face coverings are a personal choice.
You’re no longer required to self-isolate if you have COVID-19. However, we think it’s always best to rearrange your test if you feel unwell for any reason. If you need to do this within 3 working days of the test, you can apply for a refund. You’ll need to provide evidence of the illness, such as a certificate from a GP.