How to Pass Your Theory Test

Looking Back

When I took my driving test, back in the late 1980’s, the theory requirement was to answer two questions from the highway code which, if I remember correctly, for me were about speed limits and hazard warning lines.  Things have gotten a lot tougher with the theory test, introduced in 1996, progressively developed to a bank of around 1000 questions.  Experts are convinced that this has had a direct impact of RTC casualties.

The theory test now consists of 50 multiple choice questions based on, but not limited to, the highway code and 14 video clips where developing hazards need to be identified.  The pass rate for the theory test is currently running at 51%.

Top Five Tips

Here are my five top tips for passing your theory test, based on my experience of assisting pupils with their tests over recent years:

1. Preparing for Success

Let’s face it, the highway code is not a riveting read, however, you need to know what’s inside it in order to pass your theory test.  Using a suitable App can be really helpful in your preparation, I recommend the DVSA Theory Test Kit which has loads of features including study, quick and mock tests and a progress tracker that lets you know how far along you are.  The App will also allow you to practice the hazard perception clips, and develop a good understanding what a developing hazard is.  Put the work in and success will follow.

2. Get Involved.

In preparing for your theory test, you are automatically increasing your knowledge of the UK road rules and regulations which you’ll be putting into practice during driving lessons.  Knowledge is an effective antidote to fear, so don’t be surprised to feel more confident behind the wheel as you develop your understanding.  Keep an eye open for scenarios on the roads which you’ve not seen before, like painted markings or signs, then look them up in the Highway Code and thus expand your knowledge.  A thing you’ve researched will be difficult to forget.

3. Put the Flags Up

When taking the test you have the facility to flag a question which you’re not sure about, so make sure you understand how flagging system works and how you can return to the question if time permits.  

4. Slow Down

In my experience, pupils fail their theory test for one of two reasons; poor preparation or rushing the test.  Some of the questions are repeated in a different format and can be easily misunderstood leading to the wrong answer being selected.  Take your time, answer the questions, then double check by reading the question again.  You have 57 minutes to answer 50 questions yet, when I enquire, I find unsuccessful pupils finish with up to 30 minutes left.  Use the time to make sure you’ve not made any silly mistakes.

5. Sign Here

Knowing what road signs mean is critical to your safe driving.  You would think that signs would be self explanatory, but guess what, they’re not.  I find that many pupils fail to recognise the existence of warning and command signs during their driving lessons, especially early on in their training as their focus is on manipulating the car controls, to make it go.  One idea which has worked in raising sign awareness is ‘road sign bingo’ which can be played during family trips (I’ll let you figure out the rules). Consult this 'Know Your Roadsigns' pdf for up to date information.

Useful Information

The Theory Test is available to book online here and costs £23.  

The local Theory Test Centre is in Dudley at Trafalgar House, 47-49 King Street. DY2 8PE, although there are also centres in Wolverhampton and Birmingham.