Preparing for the theory test

To prepare for your theory test, the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) recommends that you study the Highway Code. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) publishes a wide range of official learning materials. You can buy these from high street book stores or online.

Multiple choice questions

To prepare for the multiple choice part of the theory test you should refer to the source material detailed below. There are also official practice tests for car drivers and motorcyclists at the bottom of this page. 

The Highway Code

The Highway Code is essential reading. Many of the rules in the Code are legal requirements and if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, given penalty points on your licence or be disqualified from driving. In the most serious cases you may be sent to prison.

Knowing and applying the rules contained in The Highway Code could significantly reduce road casualties.

Know your traffic signs

Traffic signs play a vital role in directing, informing and controlling road users’ behaviour. This is to make the roads as safe as possible for everyone and makes having knowledge of traffic signs vital.

There are three basic types of traffic sign:

  • signs that give orders
  • signs that warn
  • signs that give information

Each type has a different shape. A further guide to the function of a sign is its colour.

DVSA essential skills

Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) produces books in the essential skills range. The books provide everything you need to learn about, and maintain, safe driving or riding skills for life. The books contain:

  • sections of text for motorcyclists, a free e-book for car drivers and full references throughout to help candidates learn and revise
  • questions and answers for revision, including practice for case studies
  • the official DVSA explanations for every revision question, helping candidates fully understand the answer

Candidates can:

  • study background information on every topic, presented in an easy-to-remember way
  • customise their practice by topic to see how much they've learnt
  • sit unlimited mock tests which offer the closest experience to the real test
  • monitor their progress at each step to find out exactly where they can further improve so they can tailor their revision

You can buy the essential skills range from most high street book shops. They are also available to order online or over the phone from The Stationery Office.

Hazard perception

The hazard perception part is delivered on a computer and you respond by clicking a button on the mouse. You will be presented with a series of clips which feature every day road scenes. In each clip there will be at least one developing hazard, but one of the clips will feature two developing hazards.

Recognition of available clues and perception of danger are skills that are necessary in all drivers and riders, no matter what vehicle is used. For this reason, the same version of the hazard perception test is used for all categories of test.

From 1 November 2018, new clips in the car theory test include the following situations:

  • driving in fog, rain, snow, ice and in windy conditions 
  • driving at night
  • driving in low-light conditions like dawn and dusk

These new clips will also be added to:

  • motorcycle theory tests from December 2018
  • lorry, bus and coach theory tests from early 2019

The way the hazard perception part of the theory test works and is scored is not changing. The pass mark is also not changing.

An example of when to respond

As an example of how to identify and respond to a developing hazard, consider a parked vehicle on the side of the road. When you first see it, it is not doing anything; it is just a parked vehicle. If you were to respond to the vehicle at this point, you would not score any marks, but you would not lose any marks.

However, when you get closer to the vehicle, you notice that the car’s right hand indicator starts to flash. The indicator would lead you to believe that the driver of the vehicle has an intention of moving away, therefore the hazard is now developing and a response at this point would score marks. The indicator coming on is a sign that the parked vehicle has changed its status from a potential hazard into a developing hazard.

When you get closer to the vehicle you will probably see the vehicle start to move away from the side of the road; another response should be made at this point. Different clips in the test will have various signs to show that the hazard is changing its status and is now starting to develop.

How the test is scored

The maximum you can score for each developing hazard is five points. You should respond by pressing the mouse button as soon as you see a hazard developing that may result in you, the driver, having to take some action, such as changing speed or direction. The earlier you notice a developing hazard and make a response, the higher your score.

You won't 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, so you will need to concentrate throughout each clip.

If you react inappropriately during a clip by clicking continuously or in a pattern of responses you will score zero for that clip. At the end of the clip a pop-up box will appear informing you that you have scored zero for that particular clip.

For car drivers and motorcyclists, the pass mark is 44 out of 75.

For LGV and PCV drivers, the pass mark is 67 out of 100. 

DVSA Official Guide to Hazard Perception

DVSA has developed a training DVD for the hazard perception test called ‘The Official Guide to Hazard Perception’.

You can buy the DVD from most high street books shops. It is also available to order online or over the phone from The Stationery Office.

The DVD has interactive examples of hazard perception video clips and information about:

  • defining hazards
  • looking for clues
  • the ‘mirror – signal – manoeuvre’ routine
  • scanning and planning
  • prioritising hazards
  • cutting down the risks
  • responding to hazards

Practice tests

The Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) provides two free online tests for each of the following categories:

  • cars
  • motorcycles
  • Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs)
  • Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCVs)

The links below take you to practice screens that look similar to the theory test you will take at the official theory test centre.

Each test for cars and motorcycles contains 50 multiple choice questions. There are no hazard perception clips within these tests.

The practice LGV and PCV tests are shortened versions. The actual tests contain 100 questions and you will need 85 right answers to pass.

To take these practice tests, you need Adobe Flash 9 installed on your computer. 

You can do these practice tests as often as you want. 

More useful links

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