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DVLA GUIDE - Unofficial Guide to the DVLA Theory Test

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  Jump to:   Theory Text Explained   Hazard Perception Test   How to Book a Theory Test

Do You Need to Take the Theory Test?

A learner driver must take and pass your theory test before you book your practical test. If you already have a driving licence you might not have to take another theory test if you want to start driving a different vehicle.

You will need to take a theory test if you want a licence for a new category of vehicle, for example, if you have a car licence and you want a motorcycle licence you will need to take a theory test.

If you want to upgrade within a vehicle category you will not normally need to take a theory test, for example, if you have a full automatic car licence and you want a manual car licence you will not have to take a theory test.

Normally, for car drivers, the earliest date your provisional licence can become valid is your 17th birthday, but you can apply for the licence up to three months before your 17th birthday. So, if you apply for your provisional licence before you are 17 you will still have to wait until your birthday before you can take your theory test.

Book a Theory Test Online

Take a Mock Theory Test Online

Foreign Licence Holders

If you hold a valid Community licence and you are visiting Great Britain, you can drive any vehicle for as long as your licence remains valid. The appropriate full entitlement for the vehicle you wish to drive must be shown on your licence.

The EEA countries are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Outside Europe

If you have a full driving licence issued outside the EEA it may be possible to exchange it for an equivalent British licence. You should contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to find out if you can exchange your foreign licence. If you cannot exchange your foreign licence you will have to apply for a British provisional licence and take a theory and practical test.

Theory Text Explained

The theory test is made up of two parts; the multiple choice part and the hazard perception part. You need to pass both parts to pass the theory test. Once you have passed the theory test you can then apply to take your practical driving test.

Taking the Theory Test

The multiple choice part uses a touch screen computer and the hazard perception part records your responses through the use of a computer mouse button. If you pass one part and fail the other you'll fail the whole test, and you'll need to take both parts again.

The questions in each multiple choice test vary according to the category of vehicle you're hoping to obtain a licence. For the hazard perception test there are no separate versions for different vehicles, each vehicle category takes the same test, however the pass mark is different for different categories of tests.

Lorry and bus multiple choice and hazard perception tests are booked and taken separately.

Part One - Multiple Choice

Before the test starts you'll be given instructions on how the test works and you can even do a practice test before you begin the real one. A question and several answer options will appear onscreen and you have to select the correct answer to the question by touching the screen. Some questions may require more than one answer.

For cars and motorcycles you'll be asked 50 questions in 57 minutes and the pass mark is 43 out of 50. For lorries and buses you'll be asked 100 questions in 115 minutes and the pass mark will be 85 out of 100.

Part Two - Hazard Perception

You'll then be shown a short tutorial video clip about how the hazard perception part works.

The hazard perception part is also delivered on a computer but you respond by clicking a button on the mouse. You'll be shown with a series of 14 video clips which feature every day road scenes. In each clip there'll be at least one developing hazard, but one of the clips will feature two developing hazards.

To achieve a high score you'll need to respond to the developing hazard during the early part of its development. The maximum you can score on each hazard is five.

You won't be able to review your answers to the hazard perception test; as on the road, you'll only have one chance to respond to the developing hazard.

The pass mark for the car and motorcycle hazard perception part of the theory test is 44 out of 75. For lorries and buses the pass mark is 50 out of 75.

The separate lorry and bus hazard perception test has 19 video clips, in each clip there will be at least one developing hazard. The pass mark will be 67 out of 100.

What is the Hazard Perception Test?

New drivers are disproportionately involved in accidents, especially in the first months after passing a driving test. It has been proven that drivers who have taken hazard perception training have much better hazard perception skills. The government is committed to reducing the numbers killed and seriously injured on Britain's roads by 40 per cent by 2010.

How the Hazard Perception Test Works?

The hazard perception part is delivered on a computer and you respond by clicking a button on the mouse. You will be presented with a series of video clips which feature every day road scenes. In each clip there will be at least one developing hazard, but one of the clips will feature two developing hazards. To achieve a high score you need to respond to the developing hazard during the early part of its development.

Recognition of available clues and perception of danger are skills that are necessary in all drivers and riders, irrespective of the vehicle used. For this reason, the same version of the hazard perception test is used for all categories of test.

How the Test is Scored?

The maximum you can score for each hazard is five points. You respond by pressing the mouse button as soon as you see a hazard developing that may result in you, the driver, having to take some action, such as changing speed or direction. The earlier you notice a developing hazard and make a response, the higher your score.

You will not be able to review your answers to the hazard perception test; as on the road, you will only have one chance to respond to the developing hazard. If you react inappropriately during the video clip by clicking continuously or in a pattern of responses you will score zero for that clip.

How to Book a Theory Test

You can book theory test appointments online, by phone and by post. If you give the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) three clear working days notice, appointments can be changed and cancelled online or using the telephone service.

Before you can take your theory test you'll need to make sure you have a valid provisional driving licence. You can apply for a provisional driving licence from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). The application form D1 can be obtained from your local Post Office.

Once you have a valid provisional driving licence you can book your theory test. Waiting times vary from region to region, but the target is that 95 per cent of theory test candidates receive an appointment date within two weeks of their preferred date.

Booking Your Theory Test Online

To book a test online you need a valid UK driving licence and a valid debit or credit card for payment (Visa, Mastercard, Delta, Visa Electron, Switch/Maestro and Solo cards are accepted). You can even choose your test centre, the time and date of your test, check test appointment details, and even change or cancel your test if your circumstances change.

Booking Tests by Phone

To book a theory test with over the phone you need to have a valid UK driving licence and a valid debit or credit card for payment (Visa, Mastercard, Delta, Visa Electron, Switch/Maestro and Solo cards are accepted).

From 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday, you can even book a practical test over the phone using the numbers below,

  • Practical test booking line - 0300 200 1122
  • Welsh language booking line - 0300 200 1133
  • Minicom booking line - 0300 200 1166
  • Fax booking line - 0300 200 1177

Booking Tests by Post

To book a practical test by post you need an application form. Payment can be made by cheque or postal order, cash payments are not accepted. Application forms are available online or on request from the Driving Standards Agency booking line. To download a practical test application form, click on the link below. There is also an information sheet available to download.
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Rescheduling and Cancelling a Test

You can reschedule or cancel a theory test either online or by phone up to three clear working days before the test, without loss of fee.

The online service is available from 6.00 am to midnight, seven days a week. To phone, DSA's Call Centre Agents are available to take your call from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday to Friday (except Public Holidays). Dial 0300 200 1122 and follow the prompts.

Remember, if you cancel or reschedule the test inside the three working days you will lose your test fee, no if ands or buts!

Special Needs

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) provides a number of facilities for those people with special requirements, including foreign language voiceovers, extra time, British Sign Language interpretation and translator assisted tests.