On this page, we've answered some questions frequently asked by learners to try and help you understand more about the tests. If you can't find the answer to your question here, please go to www.direct.gov.uk/drivingtest.
You can also find out more about what to expect when you take your theory and practical driving tests by visiting DSA's YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/dsagov.
1. At what age can I learn to drive or ride?
Normally, for car drivers, the earliest date your provisional licence can become valid is your 17th birthday. You can apply for the licence up to three months before your 17th birthday however, you will still have to wait until your birthday before you can take your theory test.
If you are receiving disability living allowance at the higher rate your provisional licence will come into effect when you are 16, but you can apply for it within three months of your 16th birthday.
If you want to ride a moped (engine capacity not exceeding 50cc and maximum speed not exceeding 50Km/h) you can take your theory test when you are 16, but again you must make sure you have completed compulsory basic training (CBT) and have a valid provisional licence.
At 17 you can move from moped to learner motorbike. A learner motorcycle has an engine up to 125 cc and a power output not exceeding 11 kiloWatt (kW).
Riders aged 21 or over, or those who reach 21 before their two year restriction ends (25 kW and a power/weight ratio not exceeding 0.16 kW/kg), have other options after further practical assessment.
Drivers of large vehicles and buses must usually be over 21 years.
For more information on the vehicles you can drive or ride and minimum ages click here: www.direct.gov.uk/motoring
2. What is the theory test and what is the pass mark?
The driving theory test has two parts; part one is a multiple choice test and part two is a hazard perception test. You need to pass both parts on the same day to pass the theory test.
Multiple choice: A question and several possible answers will appear on a computer screen - you have to select the correct answer. Some questions may need more than one answer.
Some car and motorcycle questions will be given as a case study. The case study will:
- show a short story that five questions will be based on
- focus on real life examples and experiences that you could come across when driving.
|Category||Time allowed||Pass mark|
|Car and motorcycle||57 minutes||43 out of 50|
|Lorry and bus||1 hour and 55 minutes||85 out of 100|
Hazard Perception: You'll then be shown a series of video clips on a computer screen. The clips feature every day road scenes contain at least one developing hazard - but one of the clips will feature two developing hazards.
The earlier you notice a developing hazard and make a response, the higher you will score. The most you can score for each developing hazard is five points.
To get a high score you need to:
- respond to the developing hazard during the early part of its development
- press the mouse button as soon as you see a hazard developing
|Category||Video clips||Developing hazards||Pass mark|
|Car and motorcycle||14 clips||15||44 out of 75|
|Lorry and bus||19 clips||20||67 out of 100|
For more information on the theory test go to www.direct.gov.uk/theorytest.
3. Do I have to take the theory test?
If you are a learner driver you 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:
- 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.
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.
- If you hold 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.
Find out more here: direct.gov.uk/motoring.
4. Can I take the practical test first?
No. You have to pass your theory test before you can book a practical test.
5. Why do the questions keep changing?
To make sure that all candidates are being tested fairly, questions and video clips are under continuous review. Some questions may be changed as a result of customer feedback. They may also be changed to reflect revised legislation and DSA publications are updated to reflect such changes.
6. How do I prepare for the test?
To prepare for the theory test the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) recommend that all candidates study The Official Highway Code, Know Your Traffic Signs and the relevant books, CD-ROMs, DVDs or downloads from the official DSA range - written by the people who set the tests. You can also take mock multiple choice tests using the official DSA products.
For more information on the full range of DSA publications, visit the DSA publications section of this website.
7. Where can I take the test?
There are over 150 theory test centres throughout England, Scotland and Wales, and six in Northern Ireland. Most people have a test centre within 20 miles of their home but this will vary depending on the density of population in your area. Use the Theory Test Centre locator within selected official DSA software and interactive download products to help you find your nearest test centre, or check online at direct.gov.uk/motoring.
8. When are test centres open?
Test centres are usually open on weekdays, some evenings and some Saturdays. Check with your centre for full details.
9. How do I book my theory and practical tests?
Theory test appointments can be booked, and subject to three clear working days notice, be changed and cancelled using the DSA online booking service or the telephone. You can also download an application form and apply by post.
Book online here: direct.gov.uk/drivingtest or call 0300 200 1122.
10. How much does the test cost?
Make sure you book your test directly to avoid paying extra. Book online at direct.gov.uk/drivingtest
|Theory test fees||Price|
|Standard fee for car and motorcycle||£31.00|
|Multiple choice questions for bus and lorry drivers||£35.00|
|Hazard perception test for bus and lorry drivers||£15.00|
|Driver CPC theory test case studies||£30|
|Practical test type||Weekday price||Weekday evening and weekend price|
|Tractor and other specialist vehicles||£62.00||£75.00|
|Motorcycle: Module 1||£15.50||£15.50|
|Motorcycle: Module 2||£75.00||£88.50|
|Lorry and bus||£115.00||£141.00|
|Driver CPC Practical test (includes automated issue of Driver Qualification Card (DQC))||£55.00||£63.00|
|Car and trailer||£115.00||£141.00|
|Extended test for disqualified drivers||Weekday price||Saturday price|
|Motorcycle: Module 1||£15.50||£15.50|
|Motorcycle: Module 2||£150.00||£177.00|
11. How do I cancel or postpone my test?
You can cancel or postpone your theory test online or by telephone. You should contact the booking office at least three clear working days before your test date, otherwise you'll lose your fee. Only in exceptional circumstances, such as documented ill-health or family bereavement, can this rule be waived.
Find out more here: direct.gov.uk/drivingtest.
12. What documents do I need to bring to my driving theory test?
You'll be expected to show both parts of your valid driving licence (the photocard and the paper counterpart) at the test centre. If you have an old-style licence without a photo you must also bring a valid passport.
13. At the test centre, how will I know what to do?
Once you have been registered at reception you'll go through to the test room. You aren't allowed to take anything into the room with you. All your personal items must be stored in the lockers provided.
Once you're in the test room you aren't allowed to talk to or distract other candidates.
The computer screen will display your name and the type of test you're taking.
If you have any problems during the theory test, you should raise your hand to attract the attention of a member of staff.
Before the test starts you'll be given instructions on how the test works. You can also choose to go through a practice session of the multiple choice questions to get used to the layout of the test. At the end of the practice session the real test will begin.
After the multiple choice part you can choose to have a break of up to three minutes before the hazard perception part starts. Before you start the hazard perception part, you'll be shown a short video clip about how it works.
When you have finished the test you can leave the test room - but you won't be able to go back in. You'll then be given your result by the test centre staff.
14. If I don't pass, when can I take the test again?
If you fail your test, you've shown that you're not fully prepared. You'll have to wait at least three clear working days before you take the theory test again. Good preparation will save you time and money.
15. Why do I have to retake both parts of the test if I only fail one?
It is really only one test. The theory test has always included questions relating to hazard awareness - the second part simply tests the same skills in a more effective way. The two parts are only presented separately in the theory test because different scoring methods are used.
16. What does the independent driving part of the practical test involve?
Your practical driving test will include approximately 10 minutes of independent driving.
During your test you'll have to drive independently by either following:
- traffic signs
- a series of directions
- a combination of both
To help you understand where you are going when following verbal directions, the examiner will show you a diagram.
For more information on independent drivers, see our page here.
17. My English is not very good - can I receive help?
If your first language is not English, or you can not read or understand written English well, you can request a voiceover in one of 21 languages. A voiceover allows you to hear the theory test instructions and questions through headphones. The questions will automatically be read out to you, you can hear the answer options by touching the text on the screen. You can hear the questions as many times as you like, you simply need to touch the text of the question onscreen again.
Foreign language voiceovers are available in the following languages:
Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Dari, English, Farsi, Gujarati, Hindi, Kashmiri, Kurdish, Mirpuri, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Pushto, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish, Urdu, Welsh.
You will need to mention this at the time of booking.
18. I have reading difficulties - can I get any help?
If you have dyslexia or other reading difficulties you can ask for an English or Welsh voiceover. You can also request to have up to double time for the multiple choice part of the theory test. If you require more than the standard time of 57 minutes for the multiple choice part you will need to send in evidence of your reading difficulty to the theory test booking customer services.
19. I have hearing difficulties - can I get any help?
If you are deaf or have hearing difficulties you can ask to take the theory test in British sign language (BSL). The BSL interpretation will run alongside the standard test questions and answers. If you do not use BSL, an interpreter can be taken into the test centre. This facility needs to be arranged through the theory test customer services section. There is no extra fee for either facility.
20. Are all theory test questions in the official DSA publications applicable to Northern Ireland?
No. Some questions will not be used on theory tests in Northern Ireland: these are marked NI Exempt.
21. Can I practice driving my car on my own?
No. As a learner driver you must be supervised by a qualified driver and display L plates (L or D plates in Wales) in a conspicuous position on the front and rear of the vehicle you are driving. You must also have the minimum of third party insurance which covers your use of the vehicle. The accompanying driver must be over the age of 21 and must have held (and still hold) a full licence, in the relevant vehicle category, for three years.
If you can't find the answer to your question, please take a look at direct.gov.uk/motoring where you will find lots of helpful information.
Alternatively, email email@example.com or call 0300 200 1122.