The Theory Test
The Theory Test must be booked in advance, at www.gov.uk/book-a-driving-theory-test or by calling DVSA booking support on 0300 200 11 22. Candidates with special needs should declare this, so that appropriate arrangements can be made, if possible.
Do not use an unofficial website to book your Theory Test, as you may pay more than necessary, and your test might not even be booked.
Candidates who have a Safe Road User Award (see www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/35046.html for details) can take an 'abridged' car theory test'. This only has to answer 35 multiple questions instead of the usual 50, and the pass mark is 30. They will still have to do the full hazard perception test. The abridged test must be taken within three years of getting the Safe Road User Award.
Both parts of the Theory Test are taken on the same day at a Driving Theory Test Centre, details of which can be found at www.gov.uk/driving-theory-test-centre.
The candidate must take both parts of their driving licence (the photocard and the paper counterpart) with them to the test. If they only have an old-style paper licence, they must take their signed driving licence and a valid passport. Candidates who do not take these documents will not be able to take the test and will lose their fee.
There are two parts to the Theory Test: a multiple-choice part and a hazard perception part. The learner must pass both parts. If a learner passes one part but fails the other, they will have failed the whole test, and will need to take both parts again.
Candidates are given the results of their Theory Test after taking it. Those who pass will get a pass certificate, which they will need to book and take their practical test. This certificate lasts for two years; if a learner does not pass their practical driving test within those two years, they will need to take and pass the theory test again.
Those who do not pass the Theory Test will need to wait at least three clear working days before taking another test. They will have to pay the test fee again.
The multiple-choice part
Before the test starts the candidate is given instructions on how it works, and can do a short practice session. The real test, which takes about 57 minutes to complete, will then begin.
A question and several possible answers appear on screen. The candidate selects the answer they think is correct by touching the screen or using the mouse. Some questions may require more than one answer. Some will be a case study, or a real life example, of a situation the driver could come across when driving.
To pass, the candidate must answer at least 43 out of 50 questions correctly.
The candidate can then take a break of up to three minutes before starting the hazard perception part of the Theory Test.
The Hazard Perception Test
A short video is shown to explain how the hazard perception part of the Theory Test works.
Candidates then watch 14 video clips featuring everyday road scenes. Each film includes at least one developing hazard, which may need the driver to take some action, such as change speed or direction. One clip will show two hazards, so there are 15 developing hazards in total.
The candidate needs to click the mouse or touch the screen as soon as they see a hazard. To get a high score, they need to spot and respond to each hazard as soon as they see it, but if they click continuously or in a pattern they will score zero for that clip. The maximum points that can be scored on each hazard is five.
The pass mark for the hazard perception test is 44 out of 75.
Preparing for the Theory Test
It is important to prepare well for the Theory Test. This increases the chances of the young driver passing the test, as well as improving their safe driving knowledge and attitudes.
The best books to use to prepare are The Highway Code, Know your traffic signs and The Official DSA Guide to Driving - the essential skills. The Highway Code is available from bookshops or free from www.gov.uk/highway-code. The other books are available from book shops or www.safedrivingforlife.info/shop.
The multiple choice part of the car theory test can be practised online at www.gov.uk/practise-your-driving-theory-test. The practice test has 50 questions and is similar to the real theory test taken at the test centre.
The Official DSA Guide to Hazard Perception, an interactive DVD that will help the learner prepare for, and practise, the hazard perception test is also available at www.safedrivingforlife.info/shop/product/official-dsa-guide-hazard-perception-dvd-software.
Encourage your learner to use these resources throughout their learning period.
It's also useful to point out road signs and ask what they mean, either when it is safe to do so during practice drives, or when you are the driver and the learner is a passenger.
Further details about the Theory Test are available at www.gov.uk/driving-theory-test.