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DVSA Theory Test for Car Drivers

As a learner preparing for your car theory test, you may be looking for answers to some common questions, such as when can you book the two tests and what should you take with you?

You may also be wondering... what happens during the multiple-choice questions and hazard perception? Find out everything you need to know about taking the official DVSA theory test for car drivers.

Car Theory Test Guide

When to Book Your Car Theory Test

If you have already completed the provisional driving licence application you can book and manage the theory test. The two (2) parts of the driving theory test for car drivers are:

  • Multiple-choice questions (set within a time limit).
  • Hazard perception (a video test about spotting hazards on the road).

Even though there are two separate parts you will book them, and take them, as one single test. You will need to get a passing score on both modules to pass the theory test.

The earliest you can take the theory test to learn to ride a moped (up to 50cc) is the day you turn sixteen (16) years old. You need to be seventeen (17) to take a theory test for a motorcycle.

Note: If you are getting the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment benefits (PIP) you can take it from the age of sixteen (16).

Who Needs to Sit the Theory Test?

Most learner drivers will need to pass the driving theory test before they can get a full car driving licence. But, it would not be necessary:

If You Have a Non-GB Licence

What if your driver’s licence was not issued in Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales)? In this case, you should check the rules on driving in Great Britain on a non-GB licence (GB) without having to take a theory and a driving test.

How to Change or Check Test Details

How to Rebook the Test

To resit, you would need to wait a minimum of three (3) working days before you rebook the theory test after failing it.

Note: You will need to pass a car theory test before taking the car driving test if you have a moped or a motorcycle licence.

Car Theory Revision and Practice

There are several ways to achieve meaningful theory test revision and practice, such as using government publications, books, and free computer software.

Revising for Multiple-choice Questions

The DVSA car theory test contains fifty (50) multiple-choice questions based on these three books:

Note: Using these study books will help you revise the driving rules and skills that you will be tested on.

Taking an Online Practice Test

You can take a practice theory test online to check how much you remember about the two parts. They are NOT the actual questions used in the official DVSA theory test. But, they do cover the same topics.

Revising for Hazard Perception Test

You can buy ‘The Official DVSA Guide to Hazard Perception‘ to help you prepare for this particular test. The guide is also for sale in these two other formats:

  • App for Apple phones and tablets (DVSA Hazard Perception)
  • App for Android phones and tablets (Official DVSA Theory Test Kit)

Note: It is also available as an interactive DVD from most online book shops and reputable high street stores.

Materials Translated into Foreign Languages

Some approved organisations translate official DVSA learning to drive material (e.g. books and software) into other languages.

Note: Keep in mind that you can only take the theory and the practical driving test for cars in English, in Welsh, or in British Sign Language.

Things You Must Take to a Theory Test

The documents that you need to take along to your theoretical examination, include:

  • Your United Kingdom photocard driving licence.
  • The photocard and paper counterpart (for licences from Northern Ireland).

Note: Failing to bring the correct things to your theory test can result in a cancellation. In this case, you would not get a refund of the money.

If You Lose Your Driver’s Licence

You can replace a provisional licence online with the DVLA if yours is lost, damaged, or stolen. But, keep in mind that it can take up to two (2) weeks to get a replacement driving licence.

Take a valid passport with you, along with your paper licence, if you do not have the photocard type. But, you would need to get a photocard licence if you do not have a valid passport.

Note: It would be necessary to change your theory test date if the new licence does not arrive in time.

Taking Personal Belongings to the Test

The examiners will not allow you to take personal items into the test room. The personal possessions that you must store in a locker, includes:

  • Bags
  • Earphones
  • Mobile phones
  • Wrist watches

The staff members at the test centre staff will check to see whether you have anything with you that may be used to cheat the result. Not allowing them to check means your test would not go ahead as planned.

Cheating in the car theory test is illegal and can result in a prison sentence and a ban from driving.

How Multiple Choice Questions Work

Learner drivers will use a computer to answer fifty (50) multiple-choice questions. The maximum time you can take to answer all 50 questions is 57 minutes (a little less than one hour).

Before you begin answering any of the questions, you will get:

  • Full instructions on how the driving theory test works.
  • An opportunity to have a go at some practice questions (e.g. to get used to the computer screen).

During the actual exam, a question and several possible answers will appear on a computer screen in front of you. Your task is to use the ‘mouse’ to select the correct answer.

You will also watch a video clip about normal driving situations and then answer three (3) questions about what you saw, such as:

  • Driving along a country road.
  • Driving through a busy town centre.

The video clip that you watch will be silent (no volume) to help make the theory test more accessible to people with reading or learning difficulties. There is no limit on how many times you can watch the video during the actual test.

Important: Starting from the 28th of September 2020, anyone taking the car theory test will be using the new video clips instead of the old version of written case studies.

Flagging a Question

You can choose to leave a question if you are unsure about which answer to select. It means you can ‘flag’ the question and return to it later (if you have time).

Changing the Answers

Providing there is enough time, you will have an opportunity to go back to any question. You will then be able to review and change the answer at that point.

After Finishing Multiple-choice Questions

The multiple choice test finishes when you have answered all fifty questions (or the time runs out). There is no need to use all 57 minutes if you finish beforehand.

Note: You can take a short break after finishing the multiple choice questions (up to three minutes) before moving on to the start of the hazard perception test.

Driving Theory Hazard Perception Test

You will get an opportunity to watch a video explaining how the hazard perception test works before you start. Then, you will watch fourteen (14) video clips that:

  • Feature typical road scenes seen on a daily basis.
  • Contain at least one ‘developing hazard’ (one of the video clips features two).

Note: You receive points for identifying developing hazards as soon as they start to happen in the videos.

Example of a ‘Developing Hazard’

Note: The short DVSA video [1:26 seconds] shows an example of a developing hazard (e.g. something that would cause you to take action while driving, such as changing direction or speed).

The Way Scoring Works

Each developing hazard you spot can earn you up to five (5) points. So, you should get a higher score by clicking the mouse as soon as you identify the hazard beginning to develop.

Note: You will only get one (1) attempt to spot the hazards on each clip (you cannot review or change responses). You will not lose any points for clicking and getting it wrong. But, you will score nothing for continuous clicks or clicking in a pattern.

The Pass Mark and Result

As soon as you finish the two parts of the theory test at the test centre you will get your result. You need to pass both parts to get a pass mark on the combined tests.

  • Test Part Multiple-choice Questions: Pass mark is 43 with a total of 50 points available.
  • Test Part Hazard Perception: Pass mark is 44 with a total of 75 points available.
What Happens If You Pass?

After passing the driving theory exam, the test centre will present you with a letter and a pass certificate number. You need the certificate number to book and take your practical driving test.

Note: Pass certificate numbers stay valid for two (2) years. You would need to pass the theory test again if you do not take your driving test in the two year period.

What Happens If You Fail?

After failing the car theory exam, the test centre will give you a letter informing you which parts you failed to score enough points on. Thus, you would know which parts to revise and practice for next time.

You would need to book your theory test again (and pay the fee again) even if you passed one of the parts on this particular occasion. You would need to wait at least three (3) working days before resitting it.

Adjustments for People with Disabilities

After booking the DVSA car theory test, you should let the testing centre know if you have:

  • A disability
  • A health condition
  • A reading difficulty

If You Have Reading Difficulties

When you make the booking, you can make a request to hear the test questions through headphones (in English or Welsh). They will allow you to listen to the questions, and the possible answers, as many times as necessary.

Other Support Available

People with reading difficulties can also get certain other types of support during the theory test. But, you would need to send some proof (e.g. an email, a letter, or a report from a teacher, a doctor, or a medical professional)

The support you can get includes:

  • Some extra time to complete the questions (e.g. the multiple choice test).
  • Someone to read out what is on the computer screen and then record your answers.
  • Someone to reword the questions to make them easier to understand.

Note: The staff member will not change the technical language that you should already be aware of. But, they will be able to change some non-technical words and phrases and the order of the sentence. Even so, you must give an answer to each question by yourself.

You would be able to choose what kind of support suits you best. If not, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will select it for you.

DVSA Theory Test Enquiries
Email: [email protected]

PO Box 1286

Learner Drivers who are Deaf

It is possible to take the DVSA car theory test in British Sign Language (BSL). A BSL video would appear on the screen next to the questions and answers for people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment.

Using a BSL Interpreter

You can also choose to have a BSL interpreter with you while you sit the test. You should contact the DVSA beforehand so they can arrange it (there is no extra charge for using a BSL interpreter).

DVSA Theory Test Enquiries
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 0300 200 1122
Textphone: 0300 200 1166
Monday to Friday: 8am to 4pm
Information on phone call charges.

Hearing Loop and Lip Speakers

The DVSA can arrange for you to have a lip speaker at the testing centre or use a hearing loop (a listening aid). You must let the DVSA know in advance if you need to use either of these services.

Note: Contact the customer care department at the DVSA to discuss any other disability issues or health conditions before booking the test.

Do You Have a Safe Road User Award?

You would be able to take an ‘abridged theory test’ (shortened version) if you earned the Safe Road User Award within the last three (3) years.

It has less multiple-choice questions to answer (35 instead of 50) and the pass mark is 30 from a total of 35. The testing on 14 hazard perception clips remains unchanged.

How to Book the Abridged Theory Test

You would have to book the abridged theory test by phone (not online). You need your Safe Road User Award certificate number, and:

  • Your UK provisional driving licence number.
  • A method of payment (e.g. credit or debit card).

DVSA Theory Test Booking Support
Telephone: 0300 200 11 22
Monday to Friday: 8am to 4pm

Theory Test Explained for Learner Drivers in United Kingdom