Theory test: preparation

Theory test: preparation

Before you can take your practical driving test, you need to pass your theory test. It’s a really important part of learning to drive: when you get to your practical test, you’ll need to show that you can use what you learn for this test when you’re driving on the road.

The car theory test costs £23 Visit GOV.UK to find out more about the theory test.

It’s vital to prepare for your theory test: there’s a lot to learn about the rules of the road. The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to pass first time, which will save you the time and money that retaking the test will cost.

There are two parts to the test

  • the multiple choice part
  • the hazard perception part.

The questions in the multiple choice test are taken from three books

You’ll need to use all of these when you’re preparing. There are lots of products available that contain practice questions, but it's really important you don't just learn the answers without understanding fully why it's correct because the questions on the actual test aren’t exactly the same as the practice ones.

Using official publications will help you get the most out of your preparations. You can find these on our online shop.

To help you get used to how the multiple choice test looks on-screen, you can practice doing the test online.

The multiple choice test covers the following topics

  • alertness
  • attitude
  • safety and your vehicle
  • safety margins
  • hazard awareness
  • vulnerable road users
  • other types of vehicle
  • road conditions and vehicle handling
  • motorway driving
  • rules of the road
  • road and traffic signs
  • essential documents
  • incidents, accidents and emergencies
  • vehicle loading.

There are various methods you can use to help you learn what you’ll need to know for your test. Here are a few ideas

  • Link what you’re learning to your own experiences: for example, think about where you’ve seen an example of a road sign and use this to help you remember what the sign means.
  • Use mnemonics: these are sayings or stories that help you remember something – for example, ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’ reminds you of the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
  • Practice the question formats: as well as knowing all the information, you’ll also need to know how the questions are asked in the test. Use the practice test and the self-assessment questions in The Official DVSA Theory Test for Car Drivers.
  • Plan your study: set yourself some timelines and targets. This will help you to see your progress and make sure you haven’t missed anything. Plan to do your studying somewhere you won’t be disturbed and at a time when you’re fully awake.
  • Get help: use friends, family, your driving instructor or your colleagues from work to ask questions and share driving experiences.

Use the stopping distances game and road sign quiz in the Driver Knowledge Centre to help you practice too.

This part of the test checks you can recognise and respond to hazards that could happen while you’re driving. Being out on the road with your instructor will help you prepare for this part. There’s also The Official DVSA Guide to Hazard Perception, an interactive DVD-ROM that will help you learn to recognise hazards, know what to do when you see a hazard and practice for the test.

In the test you’ll see 14 film clips, each shown from a driver’s point of view. You’ll need to spot the developing hazard in each film: this is something that might need you, as the driver, to take some action such as changing speed or direction.