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Driving theory test tips

Studying the driving theory test on a computer.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when preparing for your driving theory test. Standards have toughened and the latest government statistics show a failure rate of over 50% – the highest in a decade.

Here, we'll let you know what to expect and how to prepare for your theory test. Whether you're a young driver or learning later in life, follow our handy theory test tips to increase your chances of passing first time.

What does the driving theory test consist of?

Before you take your practical test, you have to pass your theory test. Once you've passed both, you're a fully qualified driver and ready to get out on the road.

The driving theory test is split into two parts: a multiple-choice section and a hazard perception section. You must pass both. The test is designed to assess your knowledge of the Highway Code and to see if you can spot hazards and read road signs correctly.

The theory test is digital and costs £23. You can take it at your nearest approved test centre. Once you pass and receive certification, you need to pass your practical test within two years or you'll have to sit your theory test again. The practical test costs £62 for cars.

Let’s take a look at the two sections of the test:

Multiple choice

You'll answer a series of multiple-choice questions in a digital format, using your mouse to select the correct answers. Some of these may be in the form of case studies, for which you'll be required to select multiple answers.

You'll have 50 questions to answer in 57 minutes – that's about 68.4 seconds allowed for each question. You must get 43 correct in order to pass.

Try to leave enough time to properly read the questions and double-check your answers. If you're not sure, you can 'flag' questions and return to them later.

Hazard perception

Once you've completed the multiple-choice section, you may take a three-minute break or move on to the hazard perception test straight away. To pass your hazard perception test you need to score a minimum of 44 points out of 75.

This test is also digital. You'll be presented with 14 video questions, with simulations of developing hazards which could occur in real life. A developing hazard is anything that would require you to take action, be it changing direction or altering your speed. Examples include an approaching emergency vehicle or cyclist.

Whenever you spot a hazard developing, you must click your mouse. The quicker you catch one, the higher you score, but click too early and you'll score zero points for that question. Avoid the urge to click at random.

Around 13 of the clips will include a single hazard, but one clip will include two – you won't know when it's coming, so stay sharp.

Shortly after these two tests, you'll find out whether you've passed your theory test.

How long does it take to learn driving theory?

Everyone learns at a different rate, but sound theory test advice will tell you that practice and preparation are key to your success.

However fast you learn, here are some preparatory driving theory test tips to help you along:

  • Practice, practice, practice!
    There are many great online sites where you can take mock driving theory tests, such as TopTests and the DVLA. Get comfortable with the test’s content and format.
  • Do your essential reading
    Read the Highway Code and Know Your Traffic Signs, both written by the Department for Transport. These guides explain road safety, signs and rules, covering everything you need to know for your theory test, so revise their content thoroughly.
  • Don't rush
    It's tempting to book your theory test too early, especially when you're eager to take your practical test. Resist the urge and make sure you're ready first.

What is the driving theory test pass mark?

The theory test pass mark is 86%. If you fail, you can retake the test after a 72-hour period but you will have to pay again.

After all that preparation, exam nerves are bound to kick in. Follow these exam-savvy tips to pass your theory test – you can do it!

  • Start the day on a positive note
    Don't stay up late doing last minute revision – you'll end up going to your test tired and more likely to misunderstand questions and answer them incorrectly. Have an energising breakfast and leave early, so you arrive at the test centre relaxed. You must arrive at least 30 minutes before the test begins.
  • Remember the test essentials
    Driving theory tips aside, if you don't bring your provisional licence, your test may be cancelled. Make sure you bring water, too, so you can keep hydrated and alert.
  • Take the break
    Maximise your concentration power by taking the small break allowed between the two test sections – it will give you the chance to relax and regroup.
  • Keep an eye on the time
    During the multiple-choice section, try to monitor the time, working fast but ensuring you read the questions twice and understand them before answering. Take advantage of the flagging tool, as this way you can minimise stress, answering the questions you know and returning to those you're unsure of later – you may find your memory is jogged by that time.

How many times can you fail your theory test?

Hopefully our theory test advice helps you pass on your first attempt. But if you don't, don't give up. There's no limit on the number of times you can take the test, so you can always try again.

If you fail, your test centre will give you a letter highlighting which sections you underscored in. This will enable you to improve your knowledge and increase your chance of passing next time around.

Feel confident behind the wheel

A successful, fully qualified driver knows their highway code and feels confident and alert on the road. But it's impossible to prepare for every eventuality, so make sure you're protected with reliable car insurance.

Looking for a straightforward, affordable choice? Voted Car Insurance Provider of the Year in 2018, Hastings Direct offers Defaqto 5 star rated cover at a budget-friendly price, with optional extras to boot.

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