How many questions are in a theory test? How long do you have to answer them? And how many do you need to get right in order to pass?
Here, we look at everything you need to know about your driving theory test. Read on to find the answers to your questions.
What is the driving theory test?
The driving theory test is one of two exams set by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) that you’ll need to sit to be legally allowed to drive in the UK:
- The driving theory test. This tests your knowledge of driving, car safety and maintenance, and the rules of the road. It comes in two parts: multiple-choice questions and hazard perception. We explore these in more detail below.
- The practical driving test. Once you’ve passed your theory, you’ll sit a practical test where an examiner will check your driving ability. You’ll have two years to pass your practical after you’ve passed the theory test.
So, to get your full driving licence and be able to drive any vehicle—whether a car, motorcycle, van, coach, or lorry—the first thing you need to do is book and pass your theory test.
Here’s what that involves.
What does the driving theory test involve?
The driving theory test takes 1 hour and 20 minutes, in which you’ll need to complete two main sections. You’ll need to pass both parts to pass the test as a whole.
You’ll sit the driving theory test on a computer at a test centre. When you enter the centre, you’ll have 15 minutes to get used to how the computer works and how you answer the questions. Then you’ll kick off the first part.
In the first part of the test, you’ll have 57 minutes to answer 50 multiple-choice questions. (This may sound like a lot, but you should find that you have more than enough time.) You’ll need to answer them all and every question has only one correct answer.
Expect to be asked about everything you need to know to drive a car safely, including:
- Types of road signs
- The Highway Code
- Cars and the environment
- Safety and car maintenance
- Stopping distances and speed limits
- The controls of your car
Of those 50 questions, you will also be asked three questions about a video you’ll be shown. This video will involve an everyday driving situation.
There are thousands of possible questions that you may be asked in your driving theory test. This means it’s really important that you prepare well so you’re not caught out by a question you weren’t expecting.
If you’re unsure about any question, you can flag it and go back to it later — and you can double-check all your answers at the end.
The second part of the test is known as hazard perception and it works a little differently. Rather than questions testing your knowledge, you’ll be shown video clips in which you’ll need to spot what are called “developing hazards”.
Before you sit the test, you’ll be shown a video explaining how the test works. You can watch that here.
This part of the test takes 20 minutes, and you’ll see 14 different video clips in this time. These clips feature everyday driving situations, from the point of view of the driver.
Your job is to identify a developing hazard in each of the videos. A developing hazard is essentially something on the road that requires you to take some sort of action. For example, another car might start indicating in front of you or a pedestrian might step out into the road.
You can get a maximum of 5 points for each hazard. To get the highest score, you’ll need to click as soon as you see the hazard developing. Watch out, though. Each clip has at least one developing hazard, but one clip has two.
Unlike the multiple-choice test, though, you won’t be able to go back to check your answers — just as you wouldn’t have a second chance in real life. Make sure you pay close attention!
How many questions can you fail on the theory test?
You don’t need to get every single question right on your theory test to pass. But you will need to pass both sections to pass the test as a whole.
- To pass the multiple-choice section, you’ll need to get 43 questions right out of the possible 50. That means you can get 7 questions incorrect.
- To pass the hazard perception section, you’ll need to get 44 points out of a possible 75. That means you’ll need an average of at least 3 points per hazard to pass, which would take you to a total of 45 points.
It can be quite frustrating to fail your test. However, it’s more common than you might think. According to government data, 50.1% of people who sat the test passed in 2022.
That’s why it’s really important to practise for your driving theory test. But if you do fail, don’t worry, you can easily sit your test again.
How to prepare for your theory test
So now you know a bit about the questions to expect in the driving theory test. But how can you boost your chances of passing?
Let’s consider three things to know before you sit your test: how to book, how to revise for your test, and what to take with you.
Booking your driving theory
Booking your theory test is really easy to do online. All you need to do is head to the government’s book your theory test website and follow the instructions.
Be aware, though, that not everyone can do it. Before you book, you must:
- Typically be 17 years old: If you want to drive a moped, or if you receive a Personal Independence Payment (PIP), you can sit the test from your 16th birthday.
- Have a provisional driving licence: You can apply for a provisional licence from the age of 15 years and 9 months.
- Meet the minimum eyesight rules: Simply, you must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres. Find out more here.
- Have lived in the UK for at least half a year before the test date.
To book your test, you’ll need to pay £23 and select a date and time. Then you’re ready to go.
How to revise for your theory test
It’s really important that you’re properly prepared for your theory test.
The best way to get yourself familiar with both the information you need and the form of the questions is to revise. In fact, the DVSA, which runs the exams, recommends a minimum of 20 hours revision to prepare you for your test.
Luckily, there are many ways you can revise:
- Books: The multiple-choice questions in your test are all based on the information in three books: The Highway Code, Know Your Traffic Signs, and Driving — The Essential Skills.
- Apps and online: You can download the official guides to the hazard perception test so that you can practise on your phone or computer. Download it for Mac or PC, or get the app for iPhone or Android.
- Practice tests. Revision is a great way to get familiar with the information, but don’t forget to try out the tests before you sit the real thing. You can try practice tests here.
What to take to your test
When it comes to the day of your test, there are a couple of things you should remember to take with you.
- Bring your driving licence: You won’t be able to sit your test unless you have your UK photocard driving licence with you.
- Don’t bring headphones, a bag, or your phone into the test room: This is so that you don’t have access to any information that might help you in the test. The rules are quite strictly enforced and cheating is taken very seriously.
What happens after your theory test?
Now you’ve sat your test, what happens next? That depends on how you did in the test.
- If you pass, you can book a practical driving test straight away. You have two years to pass your practical before the result of your theory test is no longer valid. You can book a practical test up to 24 weeks in advance and it costs £62.
- If you fail your theory test, you will have to sit it again. This means that you’ll have to rebook and pay for another test.
In summary: How many questions are in the theory test?
To summarise, there are two parts of your driving theory test, each with a different number of questions:
- Multiple-choice questions, with 50 different questions on all the knowledge you need to drive a car safely.
- Hazard perception, with 14 different developing hazards to identify in video clips.
Remember, you have 1 hour and 20 minutes to complete the test, and you can revise as much as you would like to before you sit it.