Before you can take to the roads for your practical driving test, you’ll need to conquer the theory test – but what the big day actually involve? This second guide in a three-part series about learning to drive reveals what you should expect.

The theory test can seem mysterious, even scary – it’s all computers, test rooms, strict procedures (and even searches!). At its core though, the modern theory test was created so you can demonstrate:

• That you know your Highway Code inside and out

• And are capable of spotting developing hazards when out on the road.

To quell any worries or doubts you might have, use this guide to what happens during the theory test so you can walk in fully prepared:

What to Expect Before the Theory Test Begins

Before you are tested, there is a strict procedure to follow:

• On arrival at the test centre, you will need to present your provisional licence so remember to take it with you!

• Expect test centre staff to check that you aren’t carrying anything that could help you cheat in the test – if you refuse to let them carry out checks, you won’t be able to take the test

• You will be asked to place any personal items in a locker; think headphones, bags, mobiles and watches

• You will be taken into the test room (where you must not talk with any other candidates) and walked to your computer workstation

• You will be given instructions – this is the ideal time to ask any questions – before being sat down with headphones and an introduction video to watch.

What to Expect During the Theory Test

The test is split into two parts:

Multiple Choice Testtheorytest2

Pre-Test: If you think you need it, you can practise for 15 minutes to get yourself in the right state of mind before taking the actual test. Whether you choose to or not, you will always be given a trial question before the actual test begins.

Test: Using a touch-sensitive screen, you will be given 50 multiple choice questions to answer in 57 minutes. Some questions require multiple answers (if you forget, the computer will remind you so don’t worry!). Plus expect case studies where you need to read a ‘short story’ before being asked five questions about it. If you find you’re stuck on a question, you can always ‘flag’ it and return to it later plus change the answer to a question at any time.

Pass or Fail?: You’ll need to get 43 of the 50 questions right to achieve a pass.

Once the multiple choice test is complete, you can choose to take a three-minute break before starting on the:

Hazard Perception Test Pre-Test: You are given a trial question to practise with before the test begins.

Test: Using a computer mouse, you will be presented with 14 one-minute clips where you click to identify one developing hazard; for instance, this could be a vehicle about to pull out, meaning in the real world you would have to change speed and/or direction. The curveball here is that one clip will feature two developing hazards.

Pass or Fail?: You’ll need to amass 44 out of 75 points; each developing hazard is worth up to five points and the quicker you identify the developing hazard, the more points you’ll be awarded. Be warned though, simply clicking randomly in the hope of getting the right answer will result in a fail for the clip.

If You Pass… … you’ll be be given a letter there and then with a pass certificate number printed on it; this can be used to book your practical driving test. Bear in mind the certificate is only valid for two years.

If You Fail… … you’ll receive a letter from the test centre telling you where you went wrong. Remember, even if you passed, say, the multiple choice test, you will still need to retake the full test. While you can take the test again after three working days, do give yourself enough time to practise the areas where you went wrong – don’t rush it!

Congratulations! You Congratulations! You’ve passed! And if you want to post an pic of your pass letter to celebrate, be like Fernando here and cover your home address!

Use Theory Test Pro to Practise Your Theory Test

To help prepare yourself for the theory test, there are many books and apps available to boost your knowledge – and in the case of Theory Test Pro, take mock theory and hazard perception tests via the web or mobile. Best of all, your instructor can monitor your progress and spot any problem areas that need addressing. It means that both you and your instructor will know when you’re truly ready to take the theory test based on hard results, not gut feelings or guesswork.


– Look out for the next blog in our Beginner’s series that details what to expect during the practical driving test. Like our Facebook page to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

Pass Letter © Fernando Butcher