If you are just playing for fun, this test should take you 15 minutes or so. Like the official DSA theory test you will have 57 minutes to complete it. To pass, you need to get at least 43 out of 50 correct. Please note that this test is not endorsed by the DSA, although we do use an almost identical question bank. If you can regularly pass our test, you will be able to pass the real one.
Your Theory Test: Everything You Need to Know
It’s easy to get so caught up thinking about the practical side of your driving test, that you forget all about the “theory” aspect of learning to drive. However, the laws of the road in the UK dictate that no learner driver will be permitted to take their practical driving test before they have first completed a successful theory examination with a registered testing group.
Today, car accidents are the biggest killer of women and men under that age of 24. Unfortunately, while there are many safe drivers out there, one in five drivers with a new license will be involved in some manner of accidents within six months or less of passing their exam. While teenage drivers represent a very small portion of the UK motor pool at approximately 1.5%, they’re also responsible for approximately 12% of all the accidents causing serious injury on English roads.
It’s important to know exactly what you can expect from your theory test in 2018 if you’re heading into an examination this year, as the theory is the first hurdle you will face before you can get out onto the road independently.
Although there is a lot to learn before you’ll have what it takes to be part of the growing quantity of drivers on the road today, the more you know about what’s expected from you, the easier it is to prepare for the questions ahead. To help you prepare for your theory exam, we’re going to cover some of the things you can do to improve your confidence and increase your chances of a successful test.
Defining the UK Driving Theory Test
First, let’s discuss what the driving theory test in the UK actually is, and what it covers for a would-be driver. The theory test is one half of the process that you will need to complete to earn your UK driver’s license. Where a practical test covers what you can accomplish and do within a car when you’re on the road, a theory test covers what you know about the rules of the road.
Theory examinations look at all the various things that you need to know to drive safely on the roads of the UK, including what a hazard looks like, when you need to respond to it, and how you can read the various signs on the motorways and roads around England.
The theory test for driving in the UK was originally introduced in 1996 as a way of improving the driving standards for people in this country. The idea was that by testing the knowledge that drivers have about the roads, the government could reduce the number of people driving without a full understanding of the law.
The driver theory test is managed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, and it’s made up of two parts – a multiple-choice question test that includes fifty questions, and a hazard-perception test which asks you to respond to video clips on a digital program.
Before your theory test takes place, it’s worth noting that the person who is running your exam will give you a full rundown of the instructions you need to do know to complete the test successfully. Listen carefully to make sure that you know how to respond to the challenges ahead. Remember that you will also have an opportunity to go through a practice session where you will see some of the kinds of questions you need to answer.
If you’re feeling nervous, it may be helpful to do the practice test questions first, as this will help you to come to terms with how you’re going to answer the questions using the computer program.
How Does the Theory Test Work?
In a practical test, you will use the car that you have been learning in to show an examiner that you are capable of following instructions and making manoeuvres critical to your driving experience. In a driving theory test, you’re likely to find that the experience is a similar to completing a test at school. In the past, the original theory test was presented entirely as a written exam. To make the test more accurate and convenient, it was made into a digital process in 2000, and you will now use a computer to complete the exam.
The theory test will be available to take from a local driving theory test centre. You can either ask your driving instructor where they recommend that you should take your test, or you could consider looking online for the nearest location. As mentioned above, the test will be structured in two distinct parts that are both intended to help the examination body analyse the full extent of your skills and knowledge in the motoring world.
Both of the tests will be marked separately, however, you will need to receive a passing grade on both parts of the theory test to move to the next stage of your driver examination – the practical test.
To take your theory test, you will generally sit at a computer which has been separated from any surrounding or neighbouring screens by a partition. This helps to reduce the risk of cheating. As mentioned above, you won’t have to worry about jumping straight into the exam, as you do have fifteen minutes available where you can practice answering questions if you like. You are not required to use the practice session if you don’t want to.
The First Part of the Theory Test: Multiple Choice
When the practice session is over, the real part of the test will begin with the initial stage: a multiple-choice question sheet. There will be fifty multiple choice questions for you to answer, and these are chosen from a selection of around 1,000 relevant questions. The wide range of question ensures that people can’t simply memorise the answers to the questions they know they’re going to receive as part of their theory test.
You will have a total of 57 minutes to answer all the questions available in the multiple-choice section. It may not take you the full 57 minutes to answer your questions, but it’s important not to rush through the process. Take your time and think carefully about your answers. It may be helpful to read the question through several times before you provide an answer. Remember, you should attempt to answer every question you’re given, even if you’re not sure. You will need at least 43 out of the 50 answers you give to be correct to move onto the next stage of your test.
Give yourself at least a minute for each question, as this should hopefully give you some time at the end of the exam to go back and check any answers that you feel uncomfortable about. Remember that you are free to go back and change the answers that you give at any time, so don’t feel as though you’re locked into a question.
The driver theory program also comes with an option to “flag” questions that you don’t feel certain about, so you can find them quickly at the end of your test. If you’re struggling to find the right answer to a difficult question, it may be helpful to tag it and return to it at a later stage in the test. Some questions will be presented in a case study format. This simply means that you will read the question as a short story based on potential driving situations.
Once you’re comfortable with all the answers you have given, you can choose to end the test. This means that you can finish your test early, although it’s often best to use the time if you can. You will be entitled to a three-minute break after you have completed your test before you move onto the next stage of the theory exam. It is a good idea to take this break and refresh your eyes before you return to the screen for the hazard exam.
What Kind of Questions Should You Expect
There is a total of 14 different categories of multiple-choice questions available within the theory test. Giving yourself the best chance of passing means making sure that you familiarise yourself with all the different kinds of questions that you might need to answer in each category. You will be able to find websites online that offer practice questions for you to try. The fourteen different theory test categories available for your multiple-choice questions include:
- Car insurance
- Hazard knowledge
- Motor rules
- Vehicle types
- Road and traffic signs
- Road rules
- Vehicle safety
- Safety margins
- Handling a vehicle
- Vehicle loading
- Vulnerable road users
What to Study When Preparing for Your Multiple-Choice Questions
Ideally, you should gather as much information as possible about driver theory tests in the UK before you take your driving test. To prepare for the multiple-choice section of the test, you can take official practice tests, and read up on important literature. For instance, many driving instructors recommend that their students become familiar with the highway code.
As a would-be driver, it’s crucial to become familiar with the highway code, as the rules in the code are often legal requirements that you can get into a lot of trouble for disobeying. Failing to understand the rules outlined in the highway code could mean that you are given penalty points on your licence, or that you’re disqualified from driving altogether. In serious cases you could also be hurt, you may hurt another person, or you could even be sent to prison.
You should also make sure that you know as many of your traffic signs as possible – as these are often some of the problems that people have the most trouble with in their theory test. Traffic signs play a critical role in informing and controlling the traffic on the UK roads. To make the roads as a safe as possible, you need to do your part in understanding what each sign means. There are three different basic types of traffic sign, including those that warn of dangers, those that provide information, and those that give warning.
Every unique sign comes with their own shape and colour. Be aware of every element of the most essential traffic signs before you go into your theory test.
Are DVSA Essential Skills Books Helpful?
If you feel that you need additional assistance beyond the information that you can find online and, on the websites, that your driving instructor directs you to, then you can consider books. The Driver and Vehicle standards agency, otherwise known as the DVSA publishes books in their “essential skills” selection that provide a guide to everything you need to know about safe driving. Make sure that you get the latest version of the book to ensure that you’re getting the information most relevant to your test. The books available from DVSA can contain:
- Information for motorcyclists looking to pass their own specialist theory test – this will not be relevant for those passing a standard driving test for cars.
- Questions and answers you can use to revise for your standard driving theory test. This also includes practice options for case studies.
- The complete explanations for all revision questions as provided by the DVSA – this could help you to give more complete answers to your test’s questions.
With DVSA books you can study the background information you need to know for each topic and category that you may be asked questions about. You’ll also be able to customise your practice and adapt your learning strategy according to what you feel the most nervous about. You can buy the essential skills range from many different stores both online and offline.
The Second Stage of the Driving Theory Test: Hazard Perception
The second stage of the theory test for your driver examination is the part known as the “Hazard Perception” test. The second part of the test begins after you’ve answered the 50 multiple-choice questions as we noted above, and you’ve had your three-minute break. The hazard perception part of the test begins automatically, though there will often be a countdown clock, so you know when to expect it to start.
During the Hazard Perception test, you will see a total of 14 clips played on your computer screen for you. Remember that you must pay very close attention to these clips as you will not be able to review or re-do them once they are finished. Every clip will feature at least one developing hazards, but most will feature more types of hazard too. There are three kinds of hazard to watch for:
- Potential hazards
- Developing hazards
- Actual hazards
Be cautious with your clicks. A child walking on the pavement next to the road that you are driving on has the potential to become a hazard, but they will not become a developing or actual hazard until they walk into the road. Each developing hazard represents an environment in which you might need to respond with a preventative action, such as hitting the brakes or adjusting your direction.
The hazard perception test asks you to simply click on the computer screen when the potential hazard becomes a developing or actual hazard. The key is to click the mouse as soon as you can, but do not click after the hazard has already passed.
How to Get the Best Results on the Hazard Perception Test
As with the multiple-choice question part of the theory test, the best thing you can do when you’re preparing for the hazard perception test is practice. There are websites online and discs that you can buy that allow you to practice with the same software the examination uses to test your hazard perception.
The Hazard perception test was added to the theory test for drivers in 2002 because the government realised that being able to recognise and respond quickly to possible dangers was and is a critical factor in safe driving. You will find that you become quicker at recognising potential hazards and responding to them the more time you spend on the road. In fact, there are a lot of advanced driver strategies and lessons available today that work on improving hazard perception, even after someone has gotten their license.
Being aware of the hazards around you can save your life. Remember that your hazard perception scores during a theory test will need to reach a certain standard, or you will fail the test- even if you got every question right on the multiple-choice part of the exam. Although it might be tempting to start clicking rapidly from the moment the video starts playing to increase your chances of getting a good score, this will make your score worse.
Clicking too often can count against you, as the program will think that you’re trying to trick the system. Unfortunately, not clicking enough will also reduce your score, because it will show the system that you’re not aware of every possible hazard. The hazard perception test can be a complicated part of your theory exam, and it requires a lot of preparation and practice. For each clip, remember that the key is to attempt to notice the hazard as early as possible. The earlier you notice the problem, the higher your score.
For each hazard, you will be able to earn a maximum of 5 points. To pass the hazard perception test, you will need at least a score of 44 out of 75. This might seem easily achievable, but it can be more complicated than you would think.
How Hazard Perception Tests are Scored
As mentioned above, the maximum point value you will be able to get for any developing hazard is five points. You will need to respond rapidly by hitting the mouse button as soon as you see the danger to get this five-point score. The longer it takes for you to respond, the more your points go down. The idea is that people who can respond quickly will be more able to take action before the developing hazard turns into an accident.
Importantly, although it might be nice to go back and learn from your mistakes if you don’t pass your hazard perception test, you will not be able to review your answers. You only have one chance to respond to a developing hazard, and you will need to concentrate very hard as you go through each clip. If you react inappropriately during the clip, then a pop-up box may appear on the screen telling you that you have received a score of zero for clicking too often.
Booking your Theory Test: What to Expect
At the first part of your driving test, a theory exam is highly affordable. The theory test costs a flat fee of £23, regardless of where you get your exam. However, if you have previously gotten the Safe Road User award, then you might be able to take a test with fewer questions, which only costs £18. The shorter test is designed for those who have already proven their efficiency on the road, and it only includes 35 multiple choice questions instead of the full 50. To take this test, you will need to apply for your theory exam within a certain time frame after you receive your safe road user award.
When you decide to book your theory test, it’s important to make sure that you feel confident in your ability to answer the questions correctly. Do not jump into taking the test before you feel that you have gathered enough experience on the road, and make sure that you have practiced the exam questions and perception tests multiple times.
The process of booking a theory test is generally quite easy. You should be able to do it online by visiting the DVLA website. However, you will need to make sure that you have your provisional driving license to hand, and a valid address to receive booking confirmation. The address you give can either be an email address or a physical home address. You will also need a credit or debit card that you can use to pay for your test.
You will be able to cancel and change the time or date of your test, but you should provide the examination office with a notice period of three working days. If you do not give that notice, then you may still need to pay for the test even if you cannot attend. Remember that you do not need to take the theory part of your driving test again if you are simply upgrading your driving license from an automatic license to a manual, or if you are requesting permission to tow a trailer.
There can be a short waiting time before your local driving test venue is available to take your booking, so make sure that you don’t leave it too late.
What to Expect When You Arrive for the Test
As mentioned above, you will be able to take your theory test wherever you like, and whenever you like, provided that you are at least seventeen years old. You will also need to have a valid provisional license so that you can take the test. Some people prefer to take the theory test before they start learning to drive, but we recommend at least trying a few lessons first, as this will help you to better understand the nature of the road.
Once you have booked your theory test and paid the amount required for the exam, you will need to follow a certain procedure upon arriving at the examination office. When you arrive at the test centre, you will be asked to present your provisional licence, so make sure that you have it on hand before you go. You should also:
- Expect the staff at the test centre to make sure that you don’t have anything on-hand that you could use to cheat in the test – such as a cheat sheet, or a phone that you can use to get answers to questions. You may be asked to place your phone in a locker for the test.
- Place any personal belongings that you either don’t want to take the exam or aren’t permitted to take with you into a locker.
- Go into the test room without speaking to any other candidate that might be taking their test. Remember to walk directly to your workstation and sit down.
- Listen carefully when the person issuing your examination will give you instructions to follow on how to take the test. You should be able to ask questions at this time if you have any.
How to Find Out the Results of your Theory Test
The fact that the theory test is now issued on a digital basis means that it’s much easier to get your mark back as fast as possible. In fact, your examiner should be able to provide you with an insight into whether you have passed on the day of the exam. If you fail the test, you will also receive a letter that explains what you did wrong on the test.
Even if you are eager to jump back into the test, you will need to wait at least 72 hours before you try again. This gives you time to revise and work on the areas where you had trouble. Because many test centres are very busy, you might need to wait even longer before you can get another time slot.
According to the statistics revealed by the government between 2017 and 2018, the national pass rate for theory tests this year was approximately 49.5%. This means that the rate of passes has gone down somewhat since ten years ago when the rate of passing was 65.4%.
You will only be able to move onwards into the next stage of your test when you have passed your theory exam. The test centre will give you a pass number that you will be able to provide when you are booking the practical part of your test.
Quick Ways to Boost your Mark in a Theory Test
Ultimately, the best way to increase your chances of passing your theory test is to practice as much as possible, both on your hazard perception test and multiple-choice questions. During the examination itself, make sure that you:
- Read through every question carefully, multiple times if necessary to make sure that you understand them. There are no trick questions in a theory test, but you may find that you misunderstand what is asked of you if you try to answer too quickly.
- Flag questions that you’re uncertain about and come back to it towards the end of the test. There’s a lot of pressure associated with the multiple-choice part of the theory test, so it’s important to make sure that you answer questions cautiously, without simply writing anything down so you can move onto the next section. The flag feature allows you to move on and come back to questions that you struggle with when you have more time to focus on them.
- Use your time carefully: You will have 57 minutes in total to complete your multiple-choice questions, make sure that you use that time to your full advantage, and check over your answers as many times as you need to. This is the section where you will be able to go back and amend your answers if you need to. Try to allocate time towards the end of your exam where you can go back and check for any mistakes you might have made.
- Take the three-minute break to recharge your mind. You can have a short break in between the two parts of the theory test, and we recommend that you take advantage of it. This will help you to clear your head before you move into the next stage.
- Stock up on the materials the tests are based around. Make sure that you study the traffic signs, highway code, and essential skills books before your test, as this covers all the information you need for the exam.
- Take mock tests: The mock tests available online and in disc or paper form can help you to improve your confidence before you take your theory test. There are various tests available for both the hazard perception part of the exam and the multiple-choice question segment. There are even online tests available that allow you to see what kind of pass you would receive if you were to go immediately into a test environment today. You will also be able to use your practice tests to find out where you’ve gone wrong, and where you need to improve your knowledge.
Make sure that you time yourself when you’re taking your practice tests, so you can practice answering the questions given to you in the allotted time.
Revising for a Theory Test
Practice makes perfect for your theory test, just as you’ll find that you feel more confident in your practical test after more lessons with your teacher. To practice for your theory test, you can take mock examinations, and revise the information you need to know about the rules of the road.
Remember, though some people tell themselves that they need to buy as many different revision books and materials as possible, there is only a small selection of revision resources you need. The best thing you can do is invest in an official book or DVD guide from the DVSA for both parts of your driving theory test. The rest of the information you need, including various practice tests, should be available for free online too.
For those who feel comfortable using their phone to revise for their theory exam, there are also official applications that you can download to test your knowledge. However, it’s worth noting that for more advanced resources, you may need to invest in official test kits and in-app purchases.
Of course, there’s more to a successful revision strategy than simply making sure that you have the right resources and books available. You’ll also need to make sure that you:
- Set a schedule for revision and stick to it based on how much extra time you think you need to prepare for your exam.
- Commit to learning as much as you can and improving your test scores before you go into the exam.
- In the week running up to your test, try spending around an hour a day on your practice materials and revision applications.
- Seek out hazard perception tests that you can use online and attempt to complete mock tests using exam conditions.
Remember that the hazard perception element of your test will generally only take about 15 minutes, so make sure that you give yourself that amount of time during a practice exam.
Remember to Practice Theory When Driving Too
Remember, although the theory part of your driving test will be separate from the practical aspect, you shouldn’t treat the two parts of the exam as separate entities. Both parts of the exam have been designed to help you achieve more in your journey from becoming a novice learner, to being an expert driver.
Have a quick glance at the practice materials that you are using to revise and prepare for your theory test before you get into the car for a driving lesson. This will help you to associate the knowledge that you’re learning with the actual practice of driving. You can also ask the driving instructor that you’re working with to help you understand any parts of the theory that you may be confused about.
If you’re preparing for your theory test and you feel comfortable enough in the car, you can even ask your driving instructor to quiz you on small things, like what certain signs on the road mean. This may help you to feel more comfortable when you go into the theory test.
Approach your Test with the Right Attitude
One of the worst things that you can do when you’re preparing for a driving test – regardless of whether it’s a practical or theory exam, is walk into the experience feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. Even if you think that it’s very important that you pass your test this time, placing too much pressure on yourself can make it harder for you to achieve your goals. Remember that there are plenty of people out there who have never learned to drive, as well as those who had to take their test several different times.
Don’t worry about failing your test, even if it’s not the first time you take it. Just remember to learn from your mistakes and work harder the next time around. You can always improve the amount of studying you do the next time you try to take the test, so you feel more comfortable next time around. It’s also worth reminding yourself that only around 50% of people pass their test, so you won’t be the only one who doesn’t get the grade.
If possible, it’s also worth making sure that you get a good night’s sleep before you take the test, so your mind is clear and ready for action. You should also try and eat something before your exam – even if you’re nervous. A hungry stomach can be a serious distraction, and the test takes around an hour and a half in total, so you won’t be able to snack for a while.
If you do pass your test, then you can celebrate right there, as you’ll know before you leave the centre. You will also be given a letter that comes with your pass certificate digits printed onto it. Remember to keep this notice with you, as you will need it when you book your practical driving exam. There is a two-year time limit for taking your practical test after your theory, so don’t leave it too late.
If you do not pass your practical exam within two years, you will need to take your theory test again.
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