Theory test preparation

Part 1 of the approved driving instructor (ADI) qualifying process is the theory test. Before you can take the test, you’ll need to have completed a criminal record check and been given permission by the ADI registrar.

See GOV.UK for more information about the Part 1 test.

There are two parts to the test

  • the multiple choice part
  • the hazard perception part.

Preparing for the multiple choice test

In the multiple choice test, you’ll need to show your knowledge of

The ADI theory test needs a higher standard of knowledge than the learner theory test because you’ll need a more thorough understanding of these topics so you can teach them to your pupils.

Preparing for your theory test will help you to understand what your pupils will be going through as they prepare for their test. Think about how you find the process and what you find helpful so you can use this to support your pupils in the future.

Using official publications will help you get the most out of your preparations. You can see a list of recommended resources on our Becoming an approved driving instructor page. You can buy these on our online shop.

The multiple choice test covers the following topics in four ‘bands’.

  • road procedure
  • traffic signs and signals, car control, pedestrians and mechanical knowledge
  • driving test, disabilities and law
  • publications and instructional techniques

Tips for helping you learn

There are lots of tricks 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 Approved Driving Instructors.
  • Plan your study: set yourself some timelines and targets. This will help you to see your progress and make sure you have not missed anything. Plan to do your studying somewhere you will not be disturbed and at a time when you’re fully awake.
  • Get help: use friends, family, your instructor or your colleagues from work to ask questions and share driving experiences.

It might be a while since you did any studying so allow yourself plenty of time to find out what works best for you.

Preparing for the hazard perception test

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 trainer will help you prepare for this part. There’s also ‘The Official DVSA Guide to Hazard Perception', that will help you learn to recognise hazards and know what to do when you see a hazard and practise 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.

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