Simple guide for understanding how the Theory Test works in the UK


You’ve decided you want to begin driving – perhaps you want more freedom? Need to commute? Or any of the million other reasons people start to learn to drive.

But, the next steps can be a little confusing, especially if you have never looked into it before.

That’s where we can help. Over the past decade, we have helped over a million of drivers take to the road – many of whom are young or inexperienced drivers. We understand that learning to drive can be daunting, and you may need a little extra help with the next steps you need to take to become a full licence holder.

So, we’ve put together a quick guide, based on some of the most common questions – dedicated to everything you’ll need to know before taking your Theory Test.


What is a Theory Test?

On your journey to becoming a fully-fledged driver, capable of exploring new shores, you will first have to prove that you can drive.

The first step towards this is taking, and passing your Theory Test.

But what exactly does it look at?

Well, this is commonly separated into two sections – the first will be a multiple-choice test, and take a look at your understanding of the rules of the road. The second part is a hazard perception test, designed to locate common hazards and react to them in a timely manner.

Don’t worry – we’ll explain a little more in the sections below.


Multiple-Choice Test

As the name would suggest, this section asks you to select an answer out of a few possible options.

The questions will be centered on your knowledge of the road – asking questions about road signs, speed limits, what to do in certain scenarios, and more.

It’s unlikely that you can pass this section without any practicing or learning – many of the questions may seem a little obscure, so you need a good working knowledge of the road.

So, we recommend not only doing plenty of research, but also trying to stay vigilant in your driving lessons. Much of what you find in your test can be acquired from just driving around – whether it’s identifying certain signs, or just picking up on certain rules of the road, and how to drive.

But, what is the structure of the test going to be like?

Before it starts, you’ll get some simple instructions, and a chance to take some practice questions, to help get you comfortable with the style of questions – use this time wisely, and try to remain relaxed.

Unless you are granted extra time due to medical grounds, you will have a total of 57 minutes to complete the test. To pass this section, you need a minimum of 43 right answers, out of a possible 50. Each question has one correct answer, and typically 4 answers to pick from.

To help in your preparation, take this official DVSA mock test, click here.


Hazard Perception Test

Once you have finished the first part of the test, you will be taken to do your hazard perception test. Here they will show you 14 hazard video clips, which are approximately 1 minute long – with a total of 15 hazard to find.

Sounds easy, right? Well, not quite.

So, we know that we have 14 questions and 15 hazards, so that means that each video will contain 1 hazard, at least. But, in one of the videos, you will have to identify the 2 potential hazards.

Try and put yourself in the position of the driver (that’s the view you’ll get on the video), and see what could potentially be dangerous to either you as a driver, or pedestrians.

Then once, you’ve found 1 or more hazards, click the mouse – your score is actually determined on how quick you react to these hazards, so don’t waste too much time, or over-think this part.

But how does the scoring work?

There is an exact science to it, you’ll be glad to hear.

It all comes down to timing. So, it will look at the time from when the hazards could potentially be seen on the screen, to the moment the vehicle arrives at the hazard.

You will be scored from 0 – 5 points on each video, with a possible maximum score of 75 overall; to pass this section, you will need to get at least 44 points.

So, to put it simply, if you identify the hazard straight away you are likely to get the maximum (5 points), but the longer you wait, the less points you will gain – unless you miss the hazard altogether.

Don’t be scared of clicking the mouse whenever you see a potential hazard, you won’t get penalized for clicking multiple times – but you will be capped at the amount of times you can click on a certain video (indicated with red flags at the bottom of your screen).


Applying for your Theory Test

Firstly, you cannot take a Theory Test without a provisional driving licence. To be eligible for this type of licence, you will need to fit certain criteria:

  • Must be at least 15 years and 9 months old.
  • Must be able to read a number plate from 20m away.
  • Able to pay the £34 fee associated with the licence.

Once you have received your provisional driving licence in the post, and it has become valid – what this means is having to wait until you are 17 years old before applying to take the test, you will be able to book your Theory Test.

You will need to do this through, the official Government website – click here.

It will cost you £23 overall, and prompt you to choose a date and location that suit you.


How can you prepare for your theory test?

Luckily, it’s never been easier to practice for your theory test.

You can either use free apps, learn using the internet, or you can pay for official resources from the DVSA.

Whichever method you choose, make sure the information is up-to-date, and you read it thoroughly, so that you can gain a good understanding for the rules of the road.

Check out the official DVSA resources, here.

If you are ever confused, or simply want more clarity around a certain subject or rule, why not ask your driving instructor to help clear it up. An officially certified instructor will be well-versed in the rules of the road, and probably the best person to ask in this situation.


Can you learn to drive before taking your theory test?

The simple answer is yes.

Once you have got your provisional licence, and are at least 17 years old, you will be able to drive.

Well, technically you are – but first, you will need to either get driving lessons, or take out insurance to drive with a friend or family member. Although it’s important to note that there are strict conditions surrounding privately driving with a provisional licence (including the use of L plates).

To find out more about who can teach you to drive, click here.

If you need insurance, why not consider our telematics car insurance, perfect for young and inexperienced drivers in the UK. We provide immediate cover, and reward our drivers for simply being safe on the road.

To find out more, or get a quote, make sure you click the button below.


Taking your theory test may seem like a daunting task, but make sure you are properly prepared, and well-versed in how the test works, to give you the best chance of success.

If you don’t pass on the first go, then don’t worry, you can take it an unlimited amount of times while your provisional licence is valid – really!

Just remember that you’ll need to pass your Theory Test before you can take your practical test, so make sure you give yourself enough time to get through both of these elements.

We’re sure you’ll do great. Good luck!