Driving theory test

Information on the driving theory test, who needs to take it and documents you must bring.

Who needs to take the theory test?

If you are a learner driver you must take and pass your theory test before you book your practical test. However, if you already have a full driving licence you may not have to take another theory test if you want to start driving a different vehicle.

UK licence holders

You will need to take a theory test if you want a licence for a new category of vehicle. For example, if you have a car licence and you want a motorcycle licence you will need to take a category specific theory test.

If, however, you want to upgrade within a vehicle category you will not normally need to take a theory test. For example, if you have a full automatic car licence and you want a manual car licence you will not have to take a theory test.

It is your responsibility to make sure you have the correct licence for the vehicle you are driving. If you are unsure if you need to take a theory test please contact the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA).

European Economic Area (EEA) licence holders

If you hold a valid community licence and you are visiting Northern Ireland, you can drive any vehicle for as long as your licence remains valid. The appropriate full entitlement for the vehicle you wish to drive must be shown on your licence.

The EEA countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.

Foreign licence holders

If you hold a full driving licence issued outside the EEA it may be possible to exchange it for an equivalent Northern Ireland licence. You should contact DVA to find out if you can exchange your foreign licence.

If you can't exchange your foreign licence you will have to apply for a Northern Ireland provisional licence and take a theory and practical test.

Documents to bring to the test

You must bring both parts of your valid signed Northern Ireland driving licence (photocard and paper counterpart).

If you are a GB driving licence holder you must bring your valid signed GB photocard licence showing your provisional entitlement, and a printed summary (dated within a week of your test date) of your driving licence record from www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence. If your GB photocard licence does not show your provisional entitlement, you must obtain written confirmation from the DVLA of your provisional entitlement.

Photographic ID

An old style GB licence consists of one paper document which does not display your photograph. If you have an old-style, non-photographic licence you must bring acceptable photographic evidence of your identity as well as your licence.

The following are acceptable:

  • a passport
  • any of the following identification cards as long as they are presented with your driving licence:
  1. an Employer's Identity Card bearing your photograph and signature
  2. a trade union card bearing your photograph and signature
  3. a cheque guarantee or credit card bearing your photograph and signature
  • photograph of you, which has been signed and dated on the back by an acceptable person as detailed below:

I (name of acceptable person) certify that this is a true likeness of (name of candidate), who has been known to me for (number) years in my capacity as (specify capacity).

Signed:
Date:
Business or Profession:

Your examiner will accept a signature from the following:

  • Member of Parliament   
  • District council councillor
  • Police officer
  • Established civil servant
  • Teacher
  • Bank official
  • Justice of the Peace
  • Minister of religion
  • Barrister
  • Solicitor
  • Medical practitioner

If your details have changed since you made your theory test booking, you will need to provide evidence of these changes on the day of your test. Only original documentation can be accepted. If you require any further information please contact the theory test booking line.

If you do not bring these items with you, or you are late for your appointment, you will not be allowed to sit your test and you will lose your fee.

What to do if you have lost your driving licence

If you misplace your driving licence, you must apply for a replacement. This can take a few weeks. If this happens you may have to rearrange your theory test.

At the test centre

You are advised to arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled time of your test.

On arrival at the centre you will be asked your name and both parts of your licence will be checked.

You will be asked to store any belongings you have in a locker. You can keep the key with you during the test. All mobile phones must be switched off. You will be given a copy of the test procedures and given a few minutes to read over them.

The invigilator staff will then check you in by signing a registration log and confirming your details. You will be shown into the testing room and allocated an individual booth to sit your test. Check the details on the screen and if they are correct press 'Start' on the screen to commence your test.

Should you have any problems in the testing room, raise your hand and a member of staff will come to you.

On completion of the test you are free to quietly leave the testing room. Staff will ask you to sign out and collect any belongings from the locker. You can take a seat in the waiting room to await your results.

Personal belongings

Personal items are not allowed into the testing room and must be placed in a locker. Personal items include, but are not limited to:

  • mobile phones
  • ear pieces/ear phones
  • laptops/hand-held computers/Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and other electronic devices
  • pagers
  • handbags
  • purses
  • wallets
  • hats
  • bags
  • coats
  • books
  • revision notes
  • dictionaries
  • note paper
  • pens
  • watches
  • food and drink

If you are found with any of the above prohibited items in the testing room, your test will be stopped, you will be asked to leave the premises and you will lose your test fee.

Theory test candidate impersonation

Please be aware that having someone impersonate you for the driving or riding theory test is an offence, which carries a fine of up to £2,500.

Impersonation puts the lives of other road users at risk. 

Taking the test - cars and motorcycle drivers

The theory test for car and motorcycle drivers is made up of two parts taken at the same time - multiple choice and hazard perception. You must pass both parts of the test to get a test certificate. 

Delivery of the test

Your responses to the multiple choice and hazard perception parts of the test are recorded through the use of a computer mouse button.

If you pass one part and fail the other, you fail the whole test and will need to take both parts again.

When you take the theory test, you will be asked some specific questions about the particular category of test being taken (motorcycles or cars), as well as questions that apply to all road users.

Part one - multiple choice

Before the test starts you’ll 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 onscreen and you have to select the right answer to the question by touching the screen. Some questions may require more than one answer.

Car drivers and motorcyclists will be asked 50 questions and the pass mark is 43 out of 50. You will have just under an hour to answer the questions. If you have reading problems, you can apply for additional time, and have just less than two hours to answer the questions.

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 five questions will be based. The subject of the scenario will focus on real life examples and experiences that you might meet when driving.

DVSA publications 'The Official Theory Test for Motorcyclists' and 'The Official Theory Test for Car Drivers' have been updated to show an example case study.

Part two - hazard perception

After the break you’ll be shown a short tutorial clip about how the hazard perception part works.

The pass mark for the car and motorcycle hazard perception part of the theory test is 44 out of 75.

More detailed information on the hazard perception test is available at the following page:

Taking the test - LGV and PCV drivers

The theory test for LGV and PCV drivers is made up of two parts taken - multiple choice and hazard perception. These are two separate tests. You must pass both parts of the test to get a test certificate. 

Delivery of the test

Your responses to the multiple choice and hazard perception parts of the test are recorded through the use of a computer mouse button.

If you pass one test and fail the other, you only need to repeat the failed test again.

When you take the theory test, you will be asked some specific questions about the particular category of test being taken (LGVs or PCVs), as well as questions that apply to all road users.

Test one - multiple choice

Before the test starts you’ll 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 onscreen and you have to select the right answer to the question by touching the screen. Some questions may require more than one answer.

You will be asked 100 questions and the pass mark is 85 out of 100. You will have just less than two hours to answer the questions. If you have reading problems, you can apply for additional time, and have just less than four hours to answer the questions.

Test two - hazard perception

You will first be shown a short tutorial clip about how the hazard perception part works. 

The pass mark for LGV and PCV drivers is 67 out of 100.

More detailed information on the hazard perception test is available at the following page:

At the end of the test

At the end of the hazard perception part of the test you’ll be invited to answer survey questions to measure customer satisfaction and to consider what improvements can be made.

You don't have to answer the questions if you do not want to and any information given is anonymous and confidential. The survey questions don't affect the result of the test.

When you have finished the test you may leave the examination room. Once you have left the room, you won’t be allowed to enter it again. You will be given your result and feedback information within 10 minutes of finishing the test.

After passing the test(s)

Car and motorcycle drivers will receive a pass certificate. You will need this to book and take your practical test, so it is important that you keep this safe.

LGV and PCV drivers will receive an embossed pass letter detailing the results for the part of the theory test you have completed. When you pass both tests, you will receive your theory test certificate which includes your theory test number. You will need this number when you book your practical test.

Two year rule

Theory test certificates are valid for two years from the date you passed. 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 test

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

You can book another theory 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 one.

Feedback on the test

For the multiple choice test, you will be given feedback on the topic areas in which you answered questions incorrectly and the number of questions you got wrong.

For the hazard perception test, you will receive a summary of how you scored in the clips. 

More useful links

Share this page

Feedback

Would you like to leave feedback about this page? Send us your feedback