For new drivers, learning to drive can be exciting. However, before taking your practical driving test, you will have to pass the driving theory test.

Preparing for your driving theory test is likely to bring up lots of nerves in anticipation of the big day. But the good news is, thousands of people just like you pass the test every year and it is perfectly achievable. You just need to spend some time preparing for it.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at what the driving theory test involves and give you some theory test tips on how to prepare and pass on your first attempt.

What is included in the driving theory test?

The driving theory test is made up of two parts: the multiple-choice questions and the hazard perception test.

The multiple-choice section consists of a series of questions designed to test your knowledge of the Highway Code. This includes questions on road and traffic signs, rules of the road, vehicle safety, vehicle handling and hazard awareness.

The hazard perception part of the test is designed to measure your awareness of potential hazards you might encounter as a driver. You will be required to watch a series of video clips and point out any potential hazards.

How long does it take to revise for the driving theory test?

It can take anywhere between 10 and 20 hours to revise for the driving theory test. However, this can vary from individual to individual and it can take longer depending on your learning style. Ultimately, the more time and effort you put into revision and practice the more prepared you will be to pass.

How to prepare for the driving theory test

Before your test

Create a study schedule and stick to it

Instead of trying to cram your revision in the night before your driving theory test, you should create a study schedule in the weeks leading up to it. Studying little and often can sometimes be a more effective way to study rather than trying to concentrate for hours on end.

Scheduling your study sessions around other commitments and fun activities will also mean getting regular breaks in between. This can help reduce the likelihood of you becoming overwhelmed.

Get yourself a copy of The Highway Code

There are lots of driving theory test resources out there to help you practice. But to ensure you learn the most up-to-date information, it is best to refer to the official Highway Code. The Highway Code is available as a book or you can download the app for your smartphone or tablet.

Complete practice tests

One way you can familiarise yourself with the format of the driving theory test is by taking some practice tests beforehand. This can give you a good idea of the types of questions that you might encounter during the real thing. This will help you to identify areas that you are weaker in whilst also getting you prepared for sticking to the time limit of the test.

Practice in real-life situations

Another way to prepare for your driving theory test is to practice when you are on the road yourself, ideally as a passenger so you can concentrate if you are driving. As you travel with a friend or family member, ask them to test you on things such as road signs and potential hazards you encounter. This will be particularly useful for the hazard perception part of your test.

Stay calm and focused

This tip may be easier said than done, but remaining calm and focused is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for taking the test. If you are a bundle of nerves, then you are more likely to slip up, making mistakes that could have been avoided. Just remember, if you put in the study time, you will likely be more than prepared to take the real test.

During your test

Make sure you fully understand what the test consists of

By now you should probably have a good understanding of how the driving theory test works. You will also get some further instructions during the test before it officially begins so make sure you pay attention to these.

However, if you have any questions or concerns on the day, you should speak with the administrators at the test centre. They will be able to advise you and answer any queries you may have.

Complete the practice questions

Before the official test begins, you will be given a series of five practice questions. Whilst you can skip this part, it is a good idea to complete these so you can get an idea of how the official test will work. This can also help to calm any last-minute nerves, getting you settled for the real thing.

Take your time

During the test, avoid rushing through the questions. If you do, you may misread the questions and answer them incorrectly. Every question counts, so take your time and read each question thoroughly, paying attention to what they are asking you before you answer them.

Flag any difficult questions

If you come across any difficult questions, you have the option to flag them and come back to them before you submit your answers. Often coming back to the harder questions with a fresh pair of eyes can help to jog your memory.

Double-check your answers before submitting them

Before submitting your final answers, you will have the chance to double-check them. Use any time you have remaining wisely and check over your answers to ensure you have answered them correctly.

Common theory driving test mistakes

Not bringing the correct documents with you

With pre-test nerves on the day, it can be easy to forget the essentials you need to take to your test. Make sure that you have the correct documents with you when you travel to test. If you forget these, you will not be able to take the test and you will have to rebook your test for a later date.

Being underprepared

This may sound obvious, but if you are unprepared you are more likely to fail the test. Creating a study plan and sticking to it will help ensure that you are fully prepared for the test and the types of questions you may encounter.

Using unofficial or out-of-date study materials

The Highway Code is a living document, meaning it is frequently amended and updated according to the new rules and regulations. Because of this, you must purchase and use the latest edition to ensure you are familiar with the latest rules in force.

Misreading the test questions

The topics covered by the test are broad and they are designed to test your awareness and knowledge of the highway code. While the test is not designed to trick you, it can be easy to misread the test questions if you are rushing. Instead, take your time and make sure you fully understand what they are asking you before you submit your answer.

Over-clicking during the hazard perception test

As you should now be aware the hazard perception section of the test is measured by your ability to identify hazards developing. The earlier you click, the more points you score. However, if you click too frequently, the system may believe you are cheating and as a result, you will score zero for that particular hazard.

Whilst you should avoid being too hesitant, you should only click if you genuinely believe that a hazard is presenting itself and avoid clicking for the sake of it.

Example theory test questions

Here are some examples of the types of questions you may expect to find in the UK theory driving test.

When would you use the right-hand lane on a three-lane motorway?

a) When you’re turning right
b) When you’re overtaking ✔
c) When you’re travelling above the speed limit
d) When you’re trying to save fuel

Which colour follows the green signal at a puffin crossing?

a) Steady red
b) Flashing amber
c) Steady amber ✔
d) Flashing green

What should you do when you move off from behind a parked car?

a) Give a signal after moving off
b) Look around before moving off ✔
c) Look around after moving off
d) Use the exterior mirrors only

You’re driving on an open road in dry weather. What distance should you keep from the vehicle in front?

a) A two-second time gap ✔
b) One car length
c) Two metres (6 feet 6 inches)
d) Two car lengths

What should you do when you’re approaching traffic lights that have red and amber showing together?

a) Pass the lights if the road is clear
b) Take care because there’s a fault with the lights
c) Wait for the green light ✔
d) Stop because the lights are changing to red

Theory driving test checklist

✔ Book your theory test well in advance

✔ Familiarise yourself with the format of the test

✔ Create a study schedule and stick to it

✔ Take at least one mock test before the real thing

✔ Practice spotting hazards whilst you are on the road

✔ Get plenty of rest before your test

✔ Remember to take your UK photocard driving licence and paper counterpart licence (if you are taking the test in Northern Ireland)

✔ Try to arrive at least 10 minutes early for the test

Theory driving test frequently asked questions