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 2 parts to the test

  • multiple choice
  • hazard perception.

Preparing for the multiple choice test

The questions in the multiple choice test are taken from 3 books

Use all these books when you’re preparing for the test. There are lots of products available that contain practice questions, but these are different from the questions in the actual test. It’s really important that you do not just learn the answers without understanding fully why they’re correct.

Using official publications will help you get the most out of your preparation. You can find these in the Safe Driving for Life shop.

How the test works

The multiple choice test consists of 47 multiple choice questions taken from these 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 is also a video clip with 3 multiple choice questions that relate to the clip. You can replay the video if you want to watch it again. Try these practice clips.

Take our free practice theory test for car drivers.

Tips to help you learn

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).
  • Practise 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've not missed anything. Do your studying somewhere you will not be disturbed and at a time when you’re fully awake.
  • Get help: get friends, family, your driving instructor or your colleagues from work to ask you questions and share their driving experiences.

Preparing for the hazard perception test

The hazard perception 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. Use The Official DVSA Guide to Hazard Perception, which is available as a driver theory test eLearning subscription.

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. For example, a car pulling in to the side of the road ahead of you is a developing hazard because you may need to slow down and manoeuvre around it or stop.

Take our free practice hazard perception test.

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