theory test- rules

Published: 15th May 2008
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Do you need to take a driving 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.

UK license holders

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, however, 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.

It is your responsibility to make sure you have the correct licence for the vehicle you are driving. If you are unsure if you need to take a theory test please contact the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) or the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Exchanging or updating your driving licence

Driving passenger carrying vehicles (PCV) on a car driving licence Vehicles you can drive and how old you must be to drive them Foreign license holders If you hold a valid Community licence and you are visiting Great Britain, you can drive any vehicle for as long as your license remains valid. The appropriate full entitlement for the vehicle you wish to drive must be shown on your license.

The EEA countries are as follows:

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

Outside Europe

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.

About driving theory test

To get your full driving licence you need to pass two tests, theory test and practical test.

Driving theory test -

The theory test is made up of two parts; the multiple choice part and the hazard perception part. If you pass one part and fail the other you'll fail the whole test, and you'll need to take both parts again.

Once you have passed the theory test you can then apply to take your practical driving test.

A. Multiple choice element



  • The theory test is a computer-based test at various tests centres around the country.


  • This section is designed to test your understanding of the theory behind driving.


  • 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.


  • You have 57 minutes to complete the test. There is a 15-minute practice session you can work through before starting the tests.


  • The questions in each multiple choice test vary according to the category of vehicle you're hoping to obtain a licence for, i.e. a motorcycle theory test will contain specific questions that don't appear in any other test.


  • 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.


  • You can navigate between questions and 'flag' questions that you want to come back to later in the test. After the multiple choice part you can choose to have a break of up to three minutes before the hazard perception part starts.


  • For cars and motorcycles you'll be asked randomly selected 50 multiple-choice questions in 57 minutes and you need to get at least 43 right to pass.
  • For lorries and buses you'll be asked 60 questions in 70 minutes and the pass mark is 51 out of 60.
  • The cost of the theory test is £28.50


B. Hazard Perception Test

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



  • This forms a second section of the theory test and must be passed at the same time.


  • This section is designed to tests your awareness of potential hazards whilst driving.


  • The hazard perception part is also delivered on a computer but you respond by clicking a button on the mouse.


  • You'll be presented with a series of 14 video clips each about a minute long, 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.


  • The videos feature various types of hazard, such as road conditions, vehicles and pedestrians.


  • The earlier you spot a hazard developing that may require the driver to take some action, the higher the score.


  • There are 15 scoreable hazards in the tests and candidates can score up to 5 points on each hazard.


  • Unlike multiple choice questions, for the hazard perception test there are no separate versions for different vehicles e.g. car, bike, heavy vehicle etc, each vehicle category takes the same test, however the pass mark is different for different categories of tests.


  • 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.


At the end of the test

At the end of the hazard perception part of the theory test you'll be invited to answer a number of customer survey questions.



You don't have to answer the questions if you don't want to, and any information given is anonymous and confidential. The survey questions don't affect the result of the test.



When you have finished the test you may leave the examination room. Once you have left the room, you'll not be allowed to enter it again. You'll then be given your result by the test centre staff.


















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