Theory driving test

What to expect in your theory test

Before you can book your practical driving test, you have to pass the theory test.

Here's everything you need to know about taking the test - from booking yourself in to the things you'll be tested on. 

When can I take the theory test?

You can take your theory test from the day you turn 17, once your provisional licence becomes valid.

You can take it from the day you turn 16 if you've applied for, or have, the enhanced rate of the mobility section of the Personal Independence Payment.

How to book your theory test

The easiest way to book your theory test is online.

You'll need the following in order to book it:

  • Your provisional UK driving licence number.
  • A valid email address - if you don't have one, book by phone. You can contact the DVSA on 0300 200 1122.
  • A valid credit or debit card.

What do I need to bring to my theory test?

You'll need to bring your photocard driving licence with you. You won't be allowed to take the test if you don't bring along the right form of ID, and you'll lose your booking fee.

If you only have the old paper licence, you'll also need to bring along your signed driving licence and a valid passport.

How the theory test works

There are 2 parts to the theory test:

  • Part 1 – a series of multiple choice questions.
  • Part 2 – a hazard perception test.

Multiple choice questions

The 50 multiple choice questions test your knowledge of the Highway Code and official DVSA guidance on driving skills. The questions are continually updated so they reflect current legislation.

There are 45 multiple choice questions and 5 questions that relate to a case study.

The case study is presented as a short story which is based on a potential real-life situation. To pass, you need to answer at least 43 of those questions correctly within 57 minutes.

You can skip questions you aren't sure about and come back to them before the 57 minutes are up. Once you're happy with your answers, carefully check the test and then submit it.

Hazard perception test

The hazard perception test helps drivers develop their scanning skills and learn how to spot hazards early. The pass mark for this section is 44 out of 75 points.

Before you begin, you'll be shown a short explanatory video. You'll then watch 14 video clips of everyday road scenes. Each video scene has at least one 'developing hazard'. This is something that would cause you to take action - like changing your speed or direction. One video clip will contain 2 hazards.

You score points for spotting hazards as soon as they develop. For each hazard, you can score up to 5 points. The sooner you spot the hazard, the higher your score. However, don't assume you can cheat the system. You'll automatically score zero if you continuously click the screen in attempt to blindly 'find' the hazard.

Also, unlike part 1 of the test, you only get 1 attempt at each clip, and you can't go back to review or change your responses.

How long does the theory test take?

You've got 1 hour and 20 minutes (57 minutes for the multiple choice questions) to complete your driving theory test, although some people finish it sooner.

Once you've submitted the first part, you can either have a 3 minute break or carry straight on with the hazard perception test, which takes 20 minutes. 

Why is the hazard perception test part of the driving test?

Simply put, hazard perception makes the roads safer. In 2014, TRL estimated that the introduction of the hazard perception test could have contributed to an 11% reduction in crashes, and savings of £89.5 million each year in damage costs.

Theory test tips

  • Wait until you're ready or ask your instructor when you should apply.
  • Don't rely on your lessons to pick up knowledge – put aside time to study relevant resources.
  • Check your answers carefully before you submit your test - you might've hit the wrong choice by accident.
  • Bring the right documentation on the day.

Getting your theory test results

You’ll be given your results at the test centre in a printed letter shortly after you’ve finished.

If you pass, you’ll get a letter with your pass certificate number on it. Keep this in a safe place because you’ll need the number when you book your practical test. If you lose it, you can find your pass certificate number on GOV.UK.

Passing your test is great news but the hard work doesn't stop there. You'll need to apply the knowledge you've built through your theory study during your practical driving test, and maintain it throughout your driving life.

If you don’t pass, you’ll need to wait at least 3 working days before you can retake the test.

How long does a theory pass certificate last?

Your theory pass certificate is valid for 2 years. If you don’t pass your practical test within this time, you’ll have to retake your theory before you can book your practical test.