How long does a theory test last UK & NI? Driving theory test

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How long does the theory test last UK?

How long is a theory test? It is one of the most googled questions when searching the theory test online so let us clarify this first.

There are two parts to the car theory test:

  • the multiple-choice 50 questions in 57 minutes (you don’t have to use the full 57 minutes) and,
  • the hazard perception has 14 videos, each about a minute long.

You’ll receive an optional three-minute break after you complete the multiple-choice part of the theory test.

Now let’s take you through what to expect on the day of your car theory test.

Infographic – what happens on the DVSA theory test?

What to expect when you arrive for your car theory test?

Before you go in

Make sure you arrive at the driving theory test centre with plenty of time, giving you a chance to feel comfortable with your surroundings. Being late will only make you more stressed.

And do try not to be nervous. If you’ve studied well, you should have no problem passing. What’s more, if you don’t pass this time, you can always retake it!

At reception

From here, it’ll be just 90 minutes until it’s all over.

You’ll need to show your provisional driving licence at the desk to prove your identity. Make sure you don’t forget it! You won’t be able to take the test without it and won’t get a refund.

However, you won’t need to show the DVSA theory booking confirmation on the test day; this is just for your information.

Admin will check your details and confirm you have a theory test exam.

You will need to sign a digital display and receive a locker key to store your belongings.

You’ll also be asked to leave any personal items in a locker outside the test room, including coats, bags and mobile phones. You must turn mobiles off.

Next, you will receive a Rules document to read and hand back.

Then, you’ll take a seat and wait to get the call into the test room.

Entering the test room

You’ll be allocated a booth and theory test computer on entering the test room. Remember, you cannot talk to or distract any other candidates.

Make sure you are sitting comfortably (we recommend bringing a water bottle!). Then, check your details on the screen are correct. Click ‘Start’ and begin your driver theory test if you’re happy.

There are two parts to the driving theory test multiple-choice and hazard perception

The car theory test is in two parts:

  • Multiple-choice
  • Hazard perception

The questions cover topics that include alertness, attitude, safety, road signs and more.

There are more than 700 questions in the official question bank, so you need to do your revision.

You must score a pass in both sections of the theory test to pass the overall exam!

Passing only the multiple-choice or hazard perception part and failing the other section is recorded as a Fail!

Multiple choice (50 questions – 57 minutes)

50 Questions (3 are video clips)

  • You will have the option to try a practice question first.
  • You can ‘flag’ questions as you go and come back to them later.
  • You can change your answer to a question at any point.
  • Bear in mind that some questions might require more than one answer

The 3 Video clip questions

  • In this section, you’ll watch one short, silent video clip.
  • There will be three multiple-choice questions about what you saw. Each question will have four possible answers.
  • You can replay the video as many times as you like while answering the questions. Don’t worry. It’s not a short term memory test.

Time allowed between multiple-choice and hazard perception parts.
When you finish the 50 multiple-choice questions, you’ll receive an optional three-minute break before continuing to the hazard perception part of the theory test.

Multiple-choice example questions

Hazard perception (14 video tasks – 20 minutes)

This section of the driver theory test tests your awareness of potential hazards on the road.

It comprises 14 one-minute video clips. Each video has one hazard that you need to identify, except one video that will have two, that’s a total of 15 risks.

Here’s how the scoring works:

  • You must score at least 44 out of a possible 75 marks to pass. You can score up to five points for each hazard.
  • The faster you spot a hazard, the more points you get.
  • How does the hazard perception test work?

In the hazard perception test, you need to identify any potential dangers that would cause you to:

  • Unexpectedly change speed
  • Alter your direction
  • Stop

Before you begin, you’ll get an example video and the opportunity to do some practice questions.

  • When you identify a hazard, click the mouse to show you’ve seen it.
  • If you click too often, you’ll receive a warning message and get zero points for that video.
  • Once the clip has ended, there’ll be a ten-second count-down before the next video starts.

Compare learner driver insurance

Learner Driver Insurance also is known as provisional insurance allows you to practice in your parents or a friend’s car without risking the owners No Claims Bonus

L plate

Learner driver Insurance (for practice with parents or friends)

What is learner driver insurance, and why might I need it?

The more driving practice you can get. The better your chances of passing the driving theory and practical tests. That is why DVSA, the people who set the tests, advise practice between your driving lessons.

You can drive a car belonging to someone else with learner driver insurance, such as a parent or friend. And receive supervised driving practice when you drive.

You can take out learner driver insurance in your name rather than drive on the car owner’s policy as a learner driver. Some owners will put you on their policy, but many prefer not to.

The great advantage of taking out learner driver insurance is protecting the car owner’s No Claim Bonus.

Something to be aware of is that although the legal age to supervise someone is 21, most learner driver insurance policies will require this person to be 25 plus.


Underestimate the car theory test at your peril! Many believe the theory test is the hardest part of learning to drive statistics back that up, with 54% failing their theory at the first attempt.

Source: DVSA, 2020

When do you get your theory test results?

Phew, it’s all over! Now return to the reception desk to get your driving theory test results. Before you are allowed to see them, you will be required to show your provisional licence, so make sure you keep it.

Hopefully, all that’s left is to celebrate!

When you pass!

Well done – the revision paid off! You’ll receive a letter with a pass certificate number at the test centre. Try not to lose this as you’ll need it to book and take your driving test (if you can’t find it, you can retrieve a lost pass certificate number here.

If you fail!

Bad luck! But don’t worry, there’s always next time. The staff will give you a letter outlining what you didn’t get right, so you know where you need to improve.

You’ll have to wait three days before you can retake your test, but don’t let your results get you down. Make sure you rebook your next test as soon as possible.

How long do you have to wait to retake theory test?

3 Working Days
You’ll need to wait at least three working days before retaking the test. Use this time for some more preparation.

How long is the theory test valid for?

Your driving theory test certificate is valid for two years. You need to pass your practical test in that time, or you’ll have to retake the theory test.

Can I retake my theory test before it expires?

Yes. You can book the car theory test 6 months before the expiry date of the existing certificate.

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