For some people turning 17 means learning to drive and for others it's the last thing on their mind. I suppose it depends on whether you need and want the freedom of being able to hop into the car and go, or whether you live in a city where there's buses, trams and trains taking you everywhere you could want to go. I started my driving lessons just a month after my 17th birthday and it wasn't long until I had my theory test booked. I wasn't too sure what to expect and after my boyfriend had failed it a few times I was feeling a little apprehensive. My parents weren't much help as the theory test was only introduced in 1996 but they were useful for the Highway Code questions. Pass 'N' Go has all the details and it covers everything you need to know about the driving theory test. Here's the low down with a little help from them and my experience...
Booking the test
As soon as you turn 17 you can sit the theory test, but with a charge of £23 I'd suggest taking your time and making sure you've had time to revise. Depending on what test centre you visit you can sit the test on a weekday, weekend or even a bank holiday. You can't book more than one test at a time but you can change the date or rebook if it doesn't go well. It's worth having a look for different test centres if you fail the first one and can't find a suitable date for a resit, there's loads of places! Normally you can find a test within 2 weeks of what you're looking for. My test centre was on a bus which was a strange experience when it broke down and had to be worked on by mechanics while I was doing the test!
Revising for the Test
So as soon as you decide to start driving, even before you’ve booked your theory test you can start revising. The theory test is made up of 50 multiple choice questions and a hazard perception test using 14 separate video clips. You can take a free mock test on the Gov.uk website but there’s also computer software and apps that you can use to learn all about the Highway Code and get to grips with the hazard perception skills. The multiple choice test is 50 random questions all related to the Highway Code, Knowing Traffic Signs and the DVSA essential driving skills. The hazard perception test was the harder part in my opinion and took a bit longer to practice and get the hang of. The video assessments check your effectiveness at spotting hazards on the road using everyday road scenes and at least one developing hazard. Points are scored when you spot the hazards as they begin to occur You can’t lose points if you get the timing wrong but you will get no points if you click too continuously as though in a pattern. You can practice this both using the CD-ROMs, apps and also getting out there and driving!
Sitting the Test
So it's normal to be a bag of nerves when it comes to doing the theory test but as long as you've done the work you've got a good chance. Driving theory tests have a 57-minute time limit on the multiple-choice section but you can finish it quicker than this (or if you’ve got dyslexia or need more time you can contact the DVSA with proof from a doctor, teacher or employer). When you answer all of the questions you can then have a 3 minute break before moving onto the hazard perception test. The hazard perception has no time limit, it lasts as long as the 14 video clips take to be viewed. As long as you get 43 or more out of 50 for the multiple choice questions and 44 or more out of 75 of the hazard perception test you’ll have passed. You do need to pass both parts – so no slacking on one or the other!
Once you've Passed
When you pass you'll get a letter which will reveal your scores, congratulate you and have a theory test pass certificate number. You need to keep this safe because it's needed to book and take your driving test. You'll want to start thinking about booking your driving test soon because your theory test certificate number expires after 2 years. That might give you a kick up the bum to do more lessons and practising. If you don't pass your driving test before the 2 years are up you have to resit the theory. Having the time ticking on my theory certificate number helped encourage me to get back into lessons in Edinburgh while I was at uni.