how to pass the theory test

How to Pass the Theory Test

This blog will cover:

  • About the Theory Test
  • Applying for the Theory Test
  • Special Needs and the Theory Test
  • Preparing for the Theory test
  • The Day of the theory test

About the Theory Test

Before you can book your Practical Driving Test you must take and pass a theory test.

There are two parts to the theory test:

  • Multiple Choice questions
  • Hazard Perception test

You need to pass both parts of the test at the same time, on the same day, so if you fail the
Hazard Perception but pass the Multiple Choice, you must take both parts of the test again.
Although you are obviously aiming to pass it on your first attempt, you are allowed to have
as many attempts at taking the test as you need.

The Multiple Choice questions

The multiple-choice questions are based on the information contained within three books:

  • The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills
  • The Official Highway Code
  • Know Your Traffic Signs

It’s a good idea to have a copy of and become familiar with the contents of these three
books. They contain information that you, as a driver, needs to know.

Going through the questions on online tests will not help you to learn the information as
well as looking at or reading the information in the books. At the very least you can look up
and read about any areas that you’re unsure about.

The questions you’ll be asked are in the following categories:

  • 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

You’re allowed up to 57 minutes to answer the 50 multiple choice questions.

You must score at least 43 to pass this part of the test

The Hazard Perception Test

A hazard is anything that may cause a driver to stop, swerve or slow down.

The Hazard Perception test is all about spotting hazards in good time. You need to show
that you’ve spotted the hazard by clicking a computer mouse at the correct time, as you first
spot it as a potential hazard, and again when you notice it developing into an actual hazard.

There is a ‘scoring window’ for each clip. This means that you must click the mouse within a
certain time during the clip. If you click the mouse too early or too late, you’ll score zero. If
you click the mouse within the scoring window you will score between 5 and 1. You’re
aiming to score 5 if possible.

Hazard Perception video clips are all about 1 minute long. Each clip will have either one or
two hazards to spot.

You’re allowed to click the mouse many times during each clip, but if ‘a pattern’ is detected,
you’ll score zero for that clip. Clicking in a regular pattern throughout the clip will be
recognised and you’ll score zero for cheating.

The maximum score achievable for each clip is 5 when the clip has one hazard, or 10 when
the clip has two hazards.

During your Hazard Perception test you will watch 14 clips, one of the clips will have 2
hazards. You will not know which clip the 2 hazards has, so you will need to stay focused for
every single clip even after you have spotted and clicked for a hazard.

The maximum score for this test is 75. You must score at least 44 to pass.

Applying for the Theory Test

You can apply for your provisional driving licence when you’re 16 years and 9 months old. If
you receive your licence before your 17th birthday it will not become valid until your
birthday, but you can book your theory test in advance. You can take your theory test once
your provisional licence becomes valid, which is on your 17th birthday.

Some pupils are able to take the theory test and then drive on the road from their 16th
birthday, if they have the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal
Independence Payment (PIP).

When you book your theory test you’ll need the following items:

  • UK Driving Licence
  • Email address (if you don’t have an email address you will need to book by phone)
  • Debit or credit card to pay (at the time of writing this blog the cost of the theory test
    is £23)

When you book the test make sure you book it through the Gov.Uk website (see link below).
Using this link will ensure that you don’t get through to a site that makes an additional
charge for booking the test for you.

Special Needs and the Theory Test

When you book your theory test you should say if you’ve got any special needs, learning
difficulties or problems with reading or writing. You may be eligible for special
arrangements to be made to help you during the multiple choice test. (There is no help
available for the hazard perception test).

It may be possible for you to get:

  • Extra time to take the test
  • A one-to-one reader to read the questions to you and record your answers
  • A one-to-one reader who can reword the questions in a way that is easier for you to
  • A private room to take the test

To apply for a Special Needs Theory Test, contact DVSA/Pearson Vue Customer Care Team.
You will need to provide proof from school/college or your GP which states the medical
condition and Special Needs requirement.

Preparing for the Theory Test

Preparing for the Multiple Choice

It’s vital to prepare well for the theory test if you want to give yourself the best chance of
passing on your first attempt. There’s a lot to know and learn about the rules of the road
that will prepare you to take the theory test and to drive on the roads.

You may be able to scrape a pass by guessing some of the answers, but this will not help you
when you’re driving and, for example, do not know that the road sign means that you must
not drive in a lane unless you have a passenger with you in the car.

Preparing well will make it more likely that you pass your test on your first attempt. To
prepare for the Multiple-Choice questions you can:

  • Read the three books mentioned earlier
  • Use an app to revise and take mock tests
  • Have theory lessons with a qualified Driving Instructor

Spot On Driving recommends using Theory Test Pro to revise. This is one of the best online
theory revision resource available, learners who use it are twice as likely to pass their theory

Theory Test Pro has the entire Theory Test question bank for you to practice, as well as
many Mock Tests and hazard Perception clips.

All Spot On pupils are enrolled onto Theory Test Pro for free.

Click on the link below for a free trial:

It is best to go through each topic and answer all of the questions. Many questions are
repeated but written in a slightly different way. This is to help you know what to expect on
the test.

You can use the Information attached to the question for any questions you’re not sure
about. It would then be a good idea to read about the topic in the relevant book.

Once you have correctly answered all the questions you can start to complete Mock Tests.
Make sure you complete several Mock Tests as each one will be different. You can complete
some extra study for any topic that you answer incorrectly.

When completing the mock tests, it’s a good idea to read the question and cover up the
answers. Can you answer the question without reading the answers?

When you’re consistently passing the Mock Tests, you’re ready to take the actual test.

Preparing for the Hazard Perception

During the 1-minute clips you are looking at the film as if you’re a driver. You’re looking for
‘moving hazards’ like:

  • A person about to step out in front of a bus
  • A vehicle pulling out of a side road in front of you
  • A horse and rider
  • A cyclist

You are looking for anything that might cause you, as a driver, to stop, slow or swerve.
Practice scanning the road. Look well ahead, as far as you can in the road, and then scan
your eyes back towards your car. Scan the sides of the roads, the driveways and footpaths.
Notice what is happening all around you. School children, a playground, business people on
lunch breaks; all give a clue that you may be about to have to deal with a hazard.

Once you spot a ‘potential’ hazard you can start to click the mouse. If the hazard doesn’t
develop into an ‘actual’ hazard you can just ignore it. That click of the mouse will not

How to practice

Try to complete several clips every time you practice, build up from about 5 clips one after
the other, to eventually attempting 14 clips one after the other. This way, you’ll be prepared
for completing 14 clips, one after the other, on your test day.

A technique for clicking for a hazard

To pass the Hazard Perception test it helps to have a technique for knowing when to click
the mouse.

You should aim to click 4 times for each hazard, without clicking in a pattern. Please see the
example below.

If you click the mouse for a ‘potential hazard’ that does not develop into an ‘actual hazard’,
you can ignore that click. You will not be penalised for clicking too much unless the
computer detects some kind of regular clicking pattern.

You are less likely to be penalised for clicking in a regular pattern if you follow the example

Example of how to click for a hazard:

You notice a young boy on a bicycle riding quite quickly. He is in a side road on the left, just
ahead of you. You think that he might not stop at the give way lines and ride out in front of

This is a ‘potential’ hazard.

The boy on the bike rides straight out in front of you, causing you to slow down.

This is an ‘actual’ hazard.

You realise that this was definitely the hazard for this clip. The boy on the bike is now in
front of your car.

Think to yourself, ‘It’s still there’


This is 4 clicks of the mouse for each hazard.

Single and double clicks like this will help you to get a click within the scoring window while
not clicking in a pattern and being accused of cheating.

Try this method and see if it works for you. Aim to complete as many clips as you can while
leading up to your test. There are several online to practice and many DVDs available to

When you’re driving you can look out for potential hazards in the same way. Discuss with
your instructor which hazards are potential or actual hazards. Work on looking as far ahead
as you can see and then scanning back towards your car and to the sides of the road. Check
your mirrors frequently. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

This test is designed to help you become more aware of what is all around you and to help
you to be able to deal with hazards to keep yourself, your passengers and other road users

Time spent in the passenger seat can also be useful for preparing for this test. Look out for
hazards and decide when you would click, or double click the mouse for any hazard you

The Day of the Theory Test

You’re expected to arrive at the theory test centre about 10 minutes before your test
appointment time.

You need to take your photocard driving licence with you. If you don’t have the correct
documents, you will not be allowed to take the test.

The test centre staff will ask you to place your personal belongings into a locker, you cannot
take anything in to the test room with you. Items like bags, earphones, mobile phones and
watches are not allowed in the test room. You cannot have anything with you that could be
used to cheat.

When it’s time for you to take your test the test centre staff will lead you to a room which
has several computer booths. Other people will already be taking their test so it’s important
to keep quiet, so everyone can concentrate.

You will answer the 50 multiple choice questions first. You can ‘flag’ any questions you’re
not sure of, so you can come back to it later.

When you have answered all of the questions you should re-read every question and the
answer you’ve given. This can help to spot any mistakes you might have made.
Read every word of the question, try not to simply scan it.

Make sure you don’t read “What should you…? instead of “What shouldn’t you….?
If you are unsure about anything during your test you can raise your hand for the test centre
assistant to come and help you. They cannot help you answer any of the questions though.
When you have finished the multiple choice questions, you will continue straight on to the
14 Hazard Perception clips. You will be offered to watch a demonstration video first. It’s a
good idea to watch this video to give you a little time to mentally prepare.

Remember to stay focussed until every clip is completely finished, one clip will have 2
hazards in it.

You are free to leave the test room when you have finished the test. Collect your belongings
from the locker and go to the reception desk in the waiting room. The test centre assistant
will give you your results. If you’ve passed the test, this results sheet is your theory pass
certificate. You need this certificate in order to book your practical test.

The theory test pass certificate lasts for 2 years, so you must take and pass your practical
test within this time. If you don’t pass your test within this time, you’ll need to re-take your
theory test.

I hope the information in this blog makes the theory test clearer for you. Click on the links
within this clip to have a go and Theory Test Pro.

Let me know how you get on.

Spot On Driving