How Long Is a Theory Test, and How Do They Work?

How Long Is a Theory Test, and How Do They Work?


Learning to drive is a big commitment. However, before you can take your practical driving test to get your full driving license, you must pass your theory test. 

Our comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about your theory test, including the length of the test, everything you need to prepare for and tips to help you pass the first time!

Preparing for your driving theory test

You can take your theory test from the day you turn 17 and have a valid provisional license. If you want to get your practical driving test passed as soon as possible, it’s recommended that you book your theory test as soon as you turn 17.  

You should also begin studying for your theory test as soon as you know when the date the test is going to be (if not before). The more practice you get with the multiple-choice questions and becoming familiar with what is needed in the hazard perception portion of the test, the more likely you are to pass it.

Are you looking for more tips on how to pass your driving theory test quickly? We’ve outlined ​​everything you need to know about how long it takes to learn driving theory to help you get on the road as soon as possible! We also have extensive online resources, including; a free online multiple-choice theory test and a free online hazard perception test.

What do I need to take my theory test?

You need to remember to bring a few items with you to your theory test. These include:

  • A face covering in line with current COVID-19 regulations
  • Your photocard provisional driving licence (If you only have the old paper licence, you’ll also need to bring along your signed driving licence and a valid passport.)

Please ensure you have the correct documentation with you as if you don’t, you will not be able to take the test, and you will not get your money back.

Do you need to pass a theory test before driving lessons? 

Great news! You don’t need to pass your theory test before you start taking driving lessons! Taking your theory test alongside learning to drive is beneficial for your revision, as you can see the practical uses of things like the Highway Code in action. Seeing the practical application of driving theory could help you learn it better and make you more likely to pass the driving test the first time.

How much is a theory test? 

A UK theory test is £23 and is paid online when you book your test. Please make sure you have your UK driving licence number, email address, and a credit or debit card ready to pay for your test.

How to book a driving theory test?

To book your theory test in the UK, you need to head over to the Government website and fill out the form for your local test centre. Here you’ll be able to book a theory test for cars, motorcycles, lorries, buses and coaches, including the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) parts 1a and 1b (theory) and part 2 (case studies).

How does the theory test work?

The test is split into two parts:

  • Part 1 – a series of multiple-choice questions.
  • Part 2 – a hazard perception test.

The theory test lasts for 1 hour and 20 minutes (57 minutes for the multiple-choice questions and 23 minutes for the hazard perception test), but most learner drivers will finish sooner than this. Once you have submitted the multiple-choice questionnaire, you can either have a three-minute break or move straight on to the hazard perception part of the test.

You must not bring your mobile phone or any other electrical devices with you to the test as this will be considered cheating.

Multiple Choice Questions

The first part of the car theory test consists of multiple-choice questions. These questions will test your knowledge of the Highway Code and official DVSA guidance on driving skills. The questions are continually updated, so they reflect current legislation.

Several questions relate to a case study that is provided to you. The case study is a fictional short story based on a potential real-life situation, and the questions are designed to test that you know what to do in these scenarios.

If you are unsure of the answer to a question, you can skip it and return to it at the end. Once you are happy with all of your answers, carefully read through your responses, then submit them.

How Many Questions In A Theory Test? 

There are 50 multiple choice questions in total, five relating to the case study and 45 relating to your broader driving knowledge. You have 57 minutes to complete this part of the test and pass, and you need to answer at least 43 questions within that time frame.

Hazard Perception Test

The hazard perception test is designed to help you develop your skills and learn how to spot hazards easily. The test consists of watching 14 video clips (after a short intro) of everyday situations you might encounter while driving.

There will be at least one example of a developing hazard within each of these video clips – a hazard that requires you to take action – while one clip will have two hazards. To pass this part of the theory test, you will need to score at least 43 out of 75 points.

You can score 5 points for each hazard by spotting it as soon as they develop. The sooner you spot the hazard; the higher your points will achieve. You will receive zero points if you try to cheat the system and continuously click the screen to find the hazard by guessing.

Unlike your multiple-choice, you cannot go back to a clip and review if you are unsure; you only get one attempt at each clip. Using an online hazard perception test to practice what a developing hazard looks like in these clips will help you make fewer mistakes in your actual test. 

Are you looking for more tips on passing your hazard perception test? We’ve outlined everything you need to know about how to pass your hazard perception test to get you ready for your practical driving test as quickly as possible.

Five theory test tips to help you pass the first time!

  • Put aside plenty of time to study and revise to gain the knowledge you need for the test.
  • Check and double-check your answers to make sure you’re answering the question presented to you.
  • Use online resources to help you pass your theory test the first time. At Bill Plant Driving School, we have dedicated online driving theory lessons and access to free Highway Code information to help you pass.
  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early for your test so that you have time to relax and let your nerves settle before you go in.
  • Practice your driving theory while you are driving in your practical lessons. Your driving instructor will help you with your theory knowledge throughout your lessons to ensure a more rounded learning experience.

Receiving your theory test results

You will receive your theory test results as soon as you complete the test. Go to the reception desk of the test centre, and they will print out the official letter with your results.

If you pass the test, your letter will have your pass certificate number, which you will need later down the line to book your practical driving test. Keep this letter and your certificate number in a safe place. 

If you don’t pass the test, the letter will break down your scores in each part of the test, and you should use this as an indicator of where you need to revise for the next go around. You will also need to wait at least three working days before you can book the theory test again.

How long is a theory test valid for? 

Your theory test certificate is valid for two years. However, if you do not pass your practical test in this time, you will have to retake the theory test and pass it to undertake the practical test.

If you want to discover more tips about learning to drive, read our guide on how to pass your driving test.