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Changes to the Theory Test: the facts

From 23 January 2012 the Theory Test will be made up of multiple-choice questions which are no longer published in learning materials.

The reason behind the move is to stop candidates from simply memorising Theory Test questions and answers and learning by rote.

New official driving and riding theory books were published in September 2011 to help candidates prepare for the test and for life on the road. Revision materials are still available.

The new books contain:

  • New 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 DSA explanations for every revision question, helping candidates fully understand the answer.

This approach to learning will help candidates to gain a better knowledge and understanding of driving theory which will help them respond correctly to the new, reworded live questions used in the actual Test.

No changes to the format of the Test

No changes are being made to the format of the Theory Test. It will still be made up of a multiple-choice part and a hazard perception part.

The time allowed and the pass marks will stay the same.

Find out more

You can find details about the new official learning materials at

For information about how the theory test works, visit

Taking your Theory Test

The multiple choice part is delivered using a touch screen computer and the hazard perception part records your responses through the use of a computer mouse button.

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

The questions in each multiple choice Test vary according to the category of vehicle you’re hoping to obtain a licence for e.g. the Motorcycle Theory Test will contain specific questions that don’t appear in any other Test.

For the Hazard Perception Test there are no separate versions for different vehicles, the items are drawn from the same pool, and each vehicle category takes the same Test.  However the pass mark is different for different categories of Tests.

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 on-screen and you have to select the correct answer to the question by touching the screen. Some questions may require more than one answer.

Some car and motorcycle multiple choice questions will be given as a case study. The case study will show a scenario that five questions will be based on. The subject of the scenario focuses on real life examples and experiences that drivers could come across when driving.

You can navigate between questions and ‘flag’ questions that you want to come back to later in the Test. After the multiple choice part you can choose to have a break of up to three minutes before the Hazard Perception part starts.

Time allowed – 57 minutes
Passmark – 43 out of 50
Practice a Mock Theory Test (1) - Click Here
Practice a Mock Theory Test (2) - Click Here

Part Two – 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 video 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.

To achieve a high score you will need to respond to the developing hazard during the early part of its development. The maximum you can score on each hazard is five.

Recognition of available clues and perception of danger are skills that are necessary in all drivers and riders, irrespective of the vehicle used. For this reason, the same version of the Hazard Perception Test is used for all categories of Test.

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 indicate that the hazard is changing its status and is now starting to develop.

How is 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 will not 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 the video 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.

A series of 14 video clips which feature every day road scenes is shown. Each clip includes at least one developing hazard, but one of the clips will feature two hazards, so the candidate must identify 15 developing hazards. To achieve a high score, he or she needs to spot and respond to the hazards during the early part of their development. The maximum points that can be scored on each hazard is five.

For more information Click Here.

The pass mark for the Hazard Perception part of the Theory Test is 44 out of 75.


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