MSG School of Motoring - Preston Driving Instructor

Driving Theory Test

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

The theory test explained

The theory test is made up of a multiple-choice part and a hazard perception part. You need to pass both parts to pass the theory test. Find out what happens during both parts of the theory test and how the scoring works.

Taking your theory test

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 the multiple-choice test will depend on the category of vehicle you are hoping to get a licence for. For example, a motorcycle theory test will contain questions that don't appear in any other test.

For the hazard perception test there are no separate versions for different vehicles, but the pass mark is different for them.

The multiple-choice part

Before the test starts you'll be given instructions on how it works.

You can choose to do a practice session of multiple-choice questions to get used to the layout of the test. At the end of the practice session the real test will begin.

How the multiple-choice part works

A question and several possible answers will appear on a computer screen - you have to select the correct answer. Some questions may need more than one answer.

You can move between questions and 'flag' questions that you want to come back to later in the test.

Some car and motorcycle questions will be given as a case study. The case study will:

The multiple choice part of the test for cars and motorcycles has a time limit of 57 minutes with a pass mark of 43 out of 50.

Take A Practice Test
The hazard perception part

Before you start the hazard perception part, you'll be shown a short video clip about how it works.

You'll then be shown a series of video clips on a computer screen. The clips:

A developing hazard is something that may result in you having to take some action, such as changing speed or direction.

How the hazard perception scoring works

The earlier you notice a developing hazard and make a response, the higher you will score. The most you can score for each developing hazard is five points.

To get a high score you need to:

You won't be able to review your answers to the hazard perception test.

If you click continuously or in a pattern during a clip a message will appear at the end. It will tell you that you have scored zero for that particular clip.

An example of when to respond to a hazard

Think of a parked car on the side of the road. When you first see it, it isn't doing anything - it's just a parked car. If you respond at this point, you wouldn't score any marks, but you wouldn't lose any marks.

The difference between a potential and developing hazard

When you get closer to the car, you notice that its right-hand indicator starts to flash. This would make you think that the driver of the car is going to move away. The hazard is now developing and a response at this point would score marks.

The indicator coming on is a sign that the car has changed from a potential hazard into a developing hazard.

When you get closer to the car, you'll probably see it start to move away from the side of the road. You should make another response at this point.

The hazard perception part of the test for cars and motorcycles has 14 video clips with 15 developing hazards and a pass mark of 44 out of 75 is required.

Watch examples of hazard perception clips

At the end of your theory test

At the end of the test you can answer some customer survey questions. You don't have to answer them if you don't want to, and they won't affect the result of the test.

When you have finished the test you can leave the test room - but you won't be able to go back in. You'll then be given your result by the test centre staff.

Your theory test pass certificate

If you pass your theory test, you'll get a pass certificate. You'll need this when you book and take your practical test, so it's important that you keep it safe.

Your theory test pass certificate runs out after two years of passing your test. If you have not passed your practical test by then, you'll need to take and pass the theory test again.

Book your official DSA driving theory test online

How to prepare for your theory test

To prepare for your theory test you should study the source material, including information about motoring on Directgov. Find out what information is available and how to use it to help you prepare for your test.

The multiple-choice part

To prepare for the multiple-choice part of the test you should look at the 'source material'. This is made up of The Highway Code, Know your traffic signs and the DSA essential skills book.

1. The Highway Code

The Highway Code applies to England, Scotland and Wales. Many of the rules are the law, and if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence.

Read The Highway Code
2. Know your traffic signs

Traffic signs play a vital role in directing, informing and controlling road users' behaviour. It makes a knowledge of traffic signs vital.

3. Read information on Directgov

There is a lot of useful information on Directgov that will help you prepare for your test.

4. Practise multiple-choice questions online

You can practise the multiple-choice part of the theory test online to test your knowledge and understanding of the source material.

You can take official Driving Standards Agency (DSA) practice theory tests online free of charge. Practice tests are available for learner car drivers, motorcyclists, lorry, bus and coach drivers.

Take A Practice Test
The hazard perception part

DSA has developed a training DVD for the hazard perception test called 'The official guide to hazard perception'.

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


The DVD has information about:

The DVD also has a number of interactive examples of hazard perception video clips.

Book Your First Lesson

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Your Driving Experience

Book your official DSA driving theory test online

The quickest and easiest way to book your official Driving Standards Agency (DSA) driving theory test is online. When you book using this official service, you only pay the cost of the test – there's no extra booking fee.

Start Booking

Watch a video about the driving theory test

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