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Theory & Practical Driving Tests: What You Need To Know

The Theory Test Explained

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The test takes an hour: 3 minutes preparation, then 57 minutes to answer 50 multiple choice questions (there are over a thousand possible, and yours will be chosen at random by the computer). To answer you touch the screen to make a choice, and you must answer at least 43/50 correctly to pass. You can skip any question and return to it before your time is up.

You can practice online for free on the SafeDrivingForLife website.

The Hazard Perception Test Explained

This follows straight on from the theory test, and takes the form of fourteen 60-second video clips that simulate day-to-day driving seen from the driver's seat of a car.

Each clip will feature a range of different things that might require you to take action (such as pedestrians, parked vehicles or other road users) but each will have one situation that the DVSA call a 'developing hazard' - something that is likely to lead to an accident. One of the clips will feature two such hazards.

You will be given a mouse to click. You CAN click every time you spot a potential hazard. You MUST click every time a potential hazard looks to be changing for the worse.

For example: let's say you spot a pedestrian. You click to indicate that you see them as a potential hazard. If they don't walk to the kerb then that initial click will not count against you. If they do walk towards the kerb then the situation has changed and you should click to show that you have recognised that.

Your clicks in the Hazard Perception Test show that you are aware that a situation is developing that could be dangerous. The speed of your reaction to each developing hazard will determine your score. Each hazard has a maximum score of 5 and a minimum of 1. You must score 44/75 (so at least 3/5 on average) to pass.

The DVSA have a video explaining the Hazard Perception Test which is very helpful.

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If you pass the combined Theory and Hazard Perception Test then you have two years within which to take and pass your Practical Test to be legally able to drive in the UK.

Taking Your Practical Driving Test

Your Practical Test will take 40 minutes - although it will probably feel like a lot less! The examiner will give you directions to follow, and you must demonstrate the ability to drive safely under instruction, including completing two manouevres properly. You'll also have to answer a 'show me' question and a 'tell me' question.

If you make an error in your driving then the examiner will mark this as a fault - either a 'driving' fault (commonly referred to as 'minor') or a 'serious' or 'dangerous' fault (commonly referred to as 'major'). There are no published lists of faults, but they are explained here. If you make more than 15 minor driving faults you will fail. If you make just one major serious or dangerous fault you will fail.

The average first time pass rates for 2016-17 are a little under 51% for men and just under 44% for women up to age 25. Pass or fail, the examiner can explain any faults to you and you can ask to have your instructor present for this. You get to keep the examiner's assessment sheet so you can review any mistakes made in further lessons if you need to.

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