Getting out onto the open road in your very own car is the ultimate freedom, giving you the opportunity to get out and explore wherever you want, whenever you want. When it comes to getting behind the wheel, you need to have a driving licence, and the first step in getting that all-important driving licence is passing your theory test.

The theory test

The theory test is made up of two parts – a multiple choice section and a hazard perception section. To pass your test, you need to successfully complete both parts. For the multiple choice section, you will see a question and several answers on a computer screen, and you have to select the correct answer. According to, “the car and motorcycle multiple-choice part lasts for 57 minutes and the pass mark is 43 out of 50.”

The hazard perception section of the theory test usually starts with a short video about how it’s going to work, before you’re shown a series of video clips on a computer screen. The clips will show everyday road scenes, but will also contain at least one developing hazard. Speed and accuracy is key to this section – the earlier you notice a developing hazard and respond, the higher you will score.

Preparing for the test

According to, the multiple choice part of the theory test can be prepared for using the three books commonly referred to as the ‘source material’. These are:

  1. The Highway Code
  2. ‘Know your traffic signs’
  3. The relevant book for your test from the ‘essential skills’ range.

Understanding The Highway Code and traffic signs is crucial for someone looking to take their theory test. The Highway Code is an essential read as it contains a series of rules that road users must follow, with many of them being legal requirements. This means that if you disobey the rules you are committing a criminal offence, and could be fined, receive points on your licence or even be disqualified from driving. According to NI Direct, knowing and applying the rules contained in The Highway Code could significantly reduce road casualties.

Traffic signs are a huge part of being a road user. They play an important role in directing, informing and controlling traffic. A sign’s intended action usually falls into certain categories, from signs that give orders, warn or give information. They can have different shapes and colours, with these sometimes being an indication of a sign’s function.

Practice, practice, practice

Practice tests are a great way to test your skills before the real thing, and are a good way to make sure you’re ready and feel confident before you take your theory test. There is an official practice theory test provided by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which has 50 questions. This only helps you to prepare for the multiple choice portion of the theory test however, and doesn’t include any reference to the hazard perception part.

To prepare for the hazard perception section you can buy an official training DVD suitable for both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. It features lots of interactive examples of hazard perception clips, helping develop skills to recognise and respond to hazards, among other things.

Top tips

If you’re looking to get behind the wheel of your first car then passing your theory test is the first step, helping you to get closer to the freedom of being able to drive. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your theory test:

  • Make sure that you use official revision materials, such as those provided by the DVSA, so that you understand the correct wording and don’t become confused by other terms or phrases.
  • Cut down on distractions when you’re trying to revise, including putting away your mobile phone and shutting down your social media profiles, so that you’re totally focused on what you’re reading.
  • Using your driving lessons as an opportunity to think about hazard perception situations is a great idea. This can give you a real life understanding of some of these situations.
  • If you come across any questions during your revision that you don’t understand then make a note of them and ask your driving instructor when you have your next lesson. Talking it through with them and understanding the reasoning behind it will help make sure it sticks in your mind when it comes to the actual theory test.