Driving

The UK driving theory test consists of two parts: a multiple choice section and a ‘hazard perception’ section.

The pass mark for the multiple choice test is 43 correct answers out of 50. For the hazard perception test, you need to score at least 44 points out of a maximum of 75.

If you fail one part of the test, you will have to re-sit both parts, although you can make an immediate booking to do so, for a date at least three days ahead.

Obviously, it makes sense to prepare thoroughly and avoid that.

Preparing for the multiple choice test

The Driving Standards Agency recommends that you study three books: the Highway Code, Know Your Traffic Signs and The Official DSA Complete Theory Test Kit. They can all be obtained either from the Stationery Office or a bookshop. It is the DSA that sets the test, so it makes sense to use their material.

Recall the information

As you master each section, get someone to test you on it, if you can. Write notes on postcards and stick them on your bedroom mirror. The more often you actively recall the information, the more securely it will lodge in your brain.

Online practice

The DSA website allows you to do a practice multiple choice test online. This is useful if you aren’t used to exams. In addition, when you sit the exam itself, you can opt to do a practice run first.

What is the hazard perception test?

It is important to understand exactly what is required in this section, as the hazard perception test is unusual. You will look at a computer screen from the point of view of a driver who is approaching a series of common street scenes. You have to react by clicking the mouse when you identify a ‘developing hazard’. That is trickier than it sounds.

Potential hazards will appear, for example a child on a scooter on the pavement. However, you are not supposed to react until the child looks as though they may be going to cross the road, when they become a developing hazard. In real life, it is the point when a driver would slow down or take other avoiding action.

There is a window of time during which you have to react in order to get points. The prompter the reaction, the more points you get, up to five per hazard.

However, reacting before the hazard starts to develop doesn’t help. The computer system is designed to detect when someone clicks repeatedly at random, and will then give no points for that question.

DVD practice

Try out some practice hazard perception scenes, which you can do by buying ‘The Official Guide to Hazard Perception’ DVD, either from the Stationery Office, or from a bookshop. You cannot access the official hazard tests online: you have to buy the DVD.

Driving

Real life practice

Practice spotting hazardous situations when you are out in a car or a bus. Notice when the driver reacts by changing speed or direction, or stopping.

Start driving

In some jurisdictions, you have to pass a theory test before you are allowed behind the wheel. That is not so in the UK. You can start driving under the supervision of a qualified driver without any prior test of your knowledge. All you need to start learning is a provisional license, which a UK resident over 17 years of age can obtain on payment of £50.00.

It is sensible to take some lessons and get some practice before sitting the theory tests. Not only will you get relevant experience, but your instructor should be able to help you with information about the latest version of the tests.

Once you have passed the theory tests, your certificate will be valid for two years, during which time you need to pass your practical driving test to get a full licence.