The driving theory test is the first big test of your driving knowledge. Whether you’ve already started taking driving lessons or not, the theory test is one of the key elements on your journey to driving success.
The theory test is a dual-part exam which challenges your knowledge of the Highway Code, road health and safety, and other theoretical aspects of driving. The first part is a set of 50 multiple-choice theory questions dealing with common driving facts and data; stopping distances in normal and icy conditions; the amount of tread a standard car tyre is expected to have; the appropriate signals for various manoeuvres. The pass score for this part of the test is 43/50 but despite this, it is generally considered to be the easier section of the exam.
The second section, hazard perception, is video-based and consists of 14 short videos in which you are the driver of a car. Various hazards appear as you drive along (on average 1 per video), and you, as the examinee, are expected to click as soon as you spot one of these ‘potential’ hazards. Not on the actual danger, of course – that, as one of our team researchers found out the other day, is nigh on impossible; just a simple click of your mouse will suffice. You get more points the sooner you spot the hazard, and less points if you only notice it when you’re about to hit it; but don’t be fooled into thinking you can just click with wild abandon. You don’t get any points if you click when there isn’t a hazard present, and you could even be penalised (and fail) if you click too much. Everything in moderation, after all.
The pass score for the hazard perception test is a much more reasonable 44/75, but despite this most learner drivers find the hazard perception test much trickier than the multiple-choice. Even if you’re confident of success, having a go at one or two practice hazard perception tests won’t go amiss – trust us!
Booking your theory test is, thankfully, a lot simpler than the test itself. There are hundreds of test centres around the UK where you can take your test, and you don’t need to have any driving experience beforehand.
The multiple-choice is the first part of the theory test. It’s scored out of 50, and tests you on theory knowledge of the Highway Code. You get just under an hour to do it, which is usually more than enough time, and you can always go back and double check or change your answers, so don’t rush it – take your time, and get it right. You need to get 43 questions right out of the 50, and you’re only halfway to passing the full theory test – there’s still the hazard perception to overcome.
The second part of the theory test, the hazard perception test is based around 14 situational videos which show potential or developing hazards that you have to spot. There are 15 hazards in total, with points being awarded on a first-see, first-click basis – the sooner you see the danger, the more points you get. 44 points out of 75 are needed to pass this part of the test, and you have to pass both the hazard and multiple choice sections to pass your theory test.
There are 158 test centres in the UK where you can take your theory test, and you can book your test online, making this one of the simplest driving processes. If you use the official Direct Gov website www.direct.gov.uk to book, you don’t need to pay any administration fees, and you can search for your nearest test centres. You can even choose the day and the time you’d like to take your test, at no additional cost.
The current price for the car and motorcycle theory tests is £31.00, so if you’re paying more than that then you’re paying for unnecessary administration fees. You pay the cost of the test at the time of booking, and you can get this money back if you have to cancel your test at a later date. You can also change your test at any time, but you need to give at least 3 days’ notice, otherwise you could lose your money.
On the day of your test, all you need to take is your provisional license – both parts. That means both your paper license and your photocard. If you don’t have them, the test might not go ahead. You’re also not allowed to take anything into the test room with you, so there are lockers to store your belongings.