Driving theory test - what happens on the day?

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Taking your theory test can be a nerve-wracking experience. But remember, you should have nothing to worry about if you prepare well


While you may not be in the car, there’s always something daunting about sitting an exam. That’s why it’s essential you know what to expect and are ready for the different parts of the driving theory test.

Here we’ll run over everything you’ll be doing on the day of your theory test.


Before you go in

Make sure you arrive at the 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. Remember, 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. At the desk, you’ll need to show your provisional driving licence 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.

You’ll also be requested to leave any personal items in a locker outside the test room, including large coats, bags and mobile phones.

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

Entering the test room

On entering the test room, you’ll be allocated an individual booth and theory test computer. Remember, you are not allowed to talk to or distract any of the other candidates.

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

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Taking the driving theory test

The theory test is in two parts – Multiple Choice and Hazard Perception.

Multiple choice (50 questions – 57 minutes)
You’ll start by taking a multiple-choice exam made up of 50 questions, with 57 minutes to complete it.

To pass, you must answer at least 43 questions correctly.

The 50 questions are split into two stages:

First stage – 45 independent questions

  • A series of questions to test your knowledge of the rules of the road.
  • 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 go back and change your answer to a question at any point.
  • Bear in mind that some questions might require more than one answer.

Second stage – Five case study questions You will have an example of a real-life situation that a driver could face while driving.

The aim is to determine your understanding of road safety issues in the context of driving, rather than just your knowledge of the rules.

When you finish the 50 questions, you’ll receive an optional three-minute break before you continue to the next part.

Hazard perception (14 video tasks – 20 minutes)
This section of the theory test is to test your awareness of potential hazards on the road.

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

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 the 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 identified 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.

What happens when you finish your theory test?

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

Hopefully, all that’s left is to celebrate!

If you pass!

Well done – the revision paid off! You’ll receive a pass certificate along 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. However, you’ll need the letter on the day of your practical test).

Your pass certificate number lasts for two years, so you must pass your driving test within that time. Otherwise, you’ll have to retake your theory test.

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 quite get right, so you know the areas you need to brush up on.

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 ring up and book your next test as soon as you can.


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