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Theory Test Explained






Car Drivers and Motorcyclists



The Theory Test for Car Drivers and Motorcyclists was introduced in July 1996. It is designed to improve the safety of newly qualified riders and drivers by making them think carefully about the right attitudes needed to drive safely on today's busy roads.

The current cost of a theory test is £30 for car and motorcycle.

Areas of assessment include:-

  • alertness
  • attitude
  • safety and your vehicle
  • safety margins
  • hazard awareness
  • vunerable road users
  • other types of vehicles
  • vehicle handling
  • motorway rules
  • rules of the road
  • road & traffic signs
  • documents
  • accidents
  • vehicle loading

The test is split into two parts. The first consists of a multiple choice question section. To pass this part you must answer 43 out of 50 questions correctly.The second part is the hazard perception test. The pass mark for this part of the test is 44 out of 75.Candidates must pass both parts of the test to obtain a test certificate.

Please note that from 19th July 2010 some of the multiple choice questions will be presented to you in the form of a case study. A case study shows a scenario on which 5 questions will be based. The subject of the scenario will focus on real life examples and experiences that you might encounter when driving. Driving Standards Agency (DSA) publications The Official Theory Test for Motorcyclists and The Official Theory Test for Car Drivers have been updated to show an example case study. Theory tests taken before 19th July will not contain case studies.

To prepare properly for the Theory Test we strongly recommend that you study the books from which the questions are taken. These books, known as the source material, consist of The Highway Code, Know Your Traffic Signs and the appropriate Official DSA Theory Test Book for the vehicle category in which you are taking your test. Also available are the Official DSA Guide to Hazard Perception DVD, which will allow you to sit practice Hazard Perception tests and the Official DSA Theory Test CD-Rom for the vehicle category in which you are taking you test. Like the book the CD-Rom contains the full Theory Test question bank and also gives the opportunity to sit practice tests for the multiple choice part of the Theory Test.

The latest revision material is available from The Stationery Office, 16 Arthur Street Belfast BT1 4GD and all good bookshops.

When you take the theory test, you'll be asked some specific questions relating to the category of test being taken, as well as questions that apply to all road users.

You do not have to pass your theory test to learn how to drive. The DVA recommends that you have practical lessons before you take your theory test because you are likely to perform better if you have some driving experience. You can choose how to prepare yourself for your theory and practical driving tests. It is generally the case that learner drivers who have plenty of practice and who receive professional instruction perform well.

Theory Tests are available six days a week depending upon the demand. Weekday, evening and Saturday test sessions are available.

Candidates who have special needs may apply to have longer than the standard time to take their test.

Candidates who have dyslexia or other reading or learning difficulties may listen to the test through a head set. Voiceovers are also available in 20 languages other than English. A video of the test in British sign language is available for candidates who are deaf or hard of hearing. If you need any of these facilities please speak to the call centre when you ring to book your test.

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LGV and PCV Drivers



The multiple choice questions and hazard perception test for LGV and PCV are two separate tests. The fee for the LGV / PCV multiple choice theory test is £35 and the fee for the LGV / PCV hazard perception test is £15.

The two parts can be taken at different times but both parts must be passed to obtain a LGV / PCV theory test pass certificate. Your LGV / PCV theory test certificate is valid for two years from the date you passed the first part of the test. If you do not take your practical test within this two year period you will have to take another theory test.

LGV / PCV Multiple Choice Theory Test

Before the test starts you will 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.

A question and several answer options will appear on-screen and you have to select the correct answer to the question by touching the screen or using the mouse. Some questions may require more than one answer.

You will be asked 100 questions in 115 minutes. You can navigate between questions and ‘flag’ questions that you want to come back to later in the test.

The pass mark for the multiple choice part of the theory test is 85 out of 100.

The topics covered by the test are:-
  • Vehicle weights and dimensions
  • Drivers’ hours and rest periods
  • Braking systems
  • The driver
  • Carrying passengers
  • The road
  • Accident handling
  • Vehicle condition
  • Leaving the vehicle
  • Vehicle loading
  • Restricted view
  • Documents
  • Environmental issues
  • Other road users
  • Traffic signs
  • Vehicle and transport documents required for the national and international carriage of goods and passengers
  • The precautions to be taken during the removal and replacement of wheels
  • Loading and unloading goods and the use of loading equipment (lorries only)
  • The principles of the construction and functioning of internal combustion engines and fuel, electrical, ignition and transition systems
  • The principles of the construction, fitting and correct use and care of tyres
  • The principles of the types, operation, main parts, connection, use and day to day maintenance of brake fittings, speed governors and coupling systems and the use of anti-lock brakes
  • Methods of locating causes of breakdowns
  • Preventative maintenance of vehicles and necessary running repairs
  • The driver’s responsibility in respect of receipt, carriage and delivery of goods in accordance with the agreed conditions (lorries only).


LGV / PCV Hazard Perception Test

First, you will be shown a short video clip about how the hazard perception part works. You will be presented with a series of 19 video clips which feature everyday road scenes. In each clip there will be at least one developing hazard, but one of the clips will feature two developing hazards.

To achieve a high score you will need to respond to the developing hazard during the early part of its development. The maximum you can score on each hazard is five. You will not be able to review your answers to the hazard perception test: as on the road, you will only have one chance to respond to the developing hazard.

The pass mark for the hazard perception part of the theory test is 67 out of 100.

To help people prepare and study for the multiple choice theory test we recommend the following publications:

The Official Highway Code
The Official DSA Guide to Driving the Essential Skills
Know Your Traffic Signs
The Official DSA Guide to Driving Goods Vehicles
The Official DSA Theory Test for Driving Buses and Coaches
The Official DSA Theory Test for Drivers of Large Vehicles (Books and CD-ROM)
The Official DSA Guide to Hazard Perception

It is important that you study – not only to pass the test – but also to become a safe driver. More information on the study materials available can be found at www.dsa.gov.uk (opens a new window). These should be available locally at The Stationery Office, 16 Arthur Street, Belfast (Tel: 028 90 238451), or any good bookshop.

When you take the LGV / PCV multiple choice theory test you’ll be asked some specific questions relating to the category of test being taken, as well as questions that apply to all road users.

You do not have to pass your theory test before you start to learn how to drive on the road. DVA recommends that you have practical lessons before you take your theory test because you are likely to perform better if you have some driving experience. You can choose how to prepare yourself for your theory and practical driving tests. It is generally the case that learner drivers who have plenty of practice and who receive professional instruction perform well.

After passing the theory tests

You will receive an embossed pass letter detailing the results for the part of the theory test you have completed.

When you have passed both parts, you will receive your theory test certificate which has your theory test number on. You will need this number when you book your practical test.

Your theory test certificate is valid for two years from the date you passed the first part of the test. If you do not pass your practical test within this two year period, you will have to take another theory test.

There are no exceptions to this rule.

If you fail the theory tests

If you fail you should look at the feedback given on the letter and identify why you failed.

If you want to book another theory test you can book a test straight away, but you cannot take the test for another three clear working days. So, if you failed your first test on Monday afternoon, you will have to wait until Friday morning before you can take your next theory test.

Theory Tests are available six days a week depending upon the demand. Weekday, evening and Saturday test sessions are available. Arrangements can be made for candidates with special needs. You must tell Booking Section staff about your special needs when you book your test.

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