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Last-Minute Theory Test Tips

January 22, 2024

7 min read

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Sam Plant

Content Writer

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Before learner drivers can even think about booking their practical test, they must complete the first hurdle to learning to drive: passing the theory test. Some learners simply breeze through it; others find it a little trickier to get on top of all the revision. To help you, we've compiled a few handy last minute theory test tips.

Don't worry if you're feeling a little stressed or overwhelmed—these theory test tips can help even the most nervous learner feel a bit more confident and prepared. So, if your test is coming up soon, don't panic: we'll get through this together!

We can't promise that we can teach you everything in one night—these tips do assume you've done at least some studying! However, these theory test tips should help to calm your nerves, provide some useful extra prep and increase your chances of passing your theory test. You'll be on your way to your practical test before you even know it!

1. Know what's in the test

Hand holding a pen and writing theory test revision tips

One of the steps towards acing any any test is knowing what's expected of you. If you go in with only a vague idea of what the questions or layout might be like, you'll end up spending more of your precious time figuring things out when what you should be doing is cracking on with it.

If you've got a bit more time to study, The official DVSA handbook or the AA theory test book are great revision resources; They both contain official DVSA questions with answers. Revise them thoroughly—they could show up on your test.

Thankfully, the layout of the theory test isn't complicated. (Trust us—we've taken it, after all!) The theory test is split into two sections: multiple choice questions and hazard perception clips. You need to pass both sections in order to get your theory test pass certificate. So, don't count on being able to put all your eggs in one basket here: you'll need to revise both sections to perform well on the test!

The multiple choice section

In this section of the test, you'll need to answer 50 multiple choice questions. In order to pass, you must answer 43 of them correctly. You'll have 57 minutes to answer these questions, which should give you more than enough time to read over them all carefully, answer them, and then review your responses at the end to double-check that you haven't missed anything. Just make sure not to click “Complete” too early—do so, and you won't be able to go back over your questions!

A handy tip is to make use of the Flag button. This will enable you to make a note of any particular questions that you're not sure of or want to return to. You can even specifically review your flagged questions at the end, giving you time to focus on them individually.

As you should know from your revision, your multiple choice questions will cover a variety of topics like alertness, motorway driving and rules of the road (to name but a few). The final few questions of the multiple choice section will appear in the form of a case study. This will test how well you can apply your general driving knowledge to real-life situations. As long as you've practised using relevant revision materials—and apps—you should be more than prepared for what comes your way.

An example question might look like:

What does the law require you to keep in good condition?

  • Gears
  • Door locks
  • Transmission
  • Seat belts

The hazard perception section

Once you've completed the multiple choice section, you'll move onto the hazard perception section. Here, you'll be shown 14 one-minute clips of a car driving—with you being given the perspective of the driver. As you should know by now, you'll have to click every time you see a developing hazard. An example of this might be a cyclist that comes out of nowhere, causing you to break—in this situation, you'll need to click. Each hazard is worth 5 points. In order to pass this section, you need to score 44 out of a possible 75—so don't worry too much if you spot something a couple of seconds late!

Remember: you are allowed to click more than once, and you won't even lose points for doing so at the wrong time. The sooner you spot a hazard, the more points you'll earn. Do not be tempted to click randomly in the hopes that you'll score points. This is one of the most common theory test myths! In reality, the software will fail you if it thinks you're using a pattern at any point.

2. Last-minute revision

A book of theory test revision tips

Depending on your learning style, you might find it really useful to go over your revision an hour or so before your theory test. It might help ease your nerves—serving as a warm-up before you go in for the real thing.

If you listened to our top tips on how to pass your theory test or checked out our list of theory test revision resources, you'll have downloaded the theory test bundle app on iOS or Android. Or, you'll have invested in a service like Theory Test Pro. If that's the case, you'll have plenty of time to take a couple of mock tests to get yourself into the swing of things. You'd be surprised at how many learners have recognised questions on the official theory test that cropped up in their revision materials. Imagine seeing a question on the test that you've revised multiple times over before!

If you stuck to traditional books, why not get a family member or friend to ask you a few questions? This is an interactive process and it might ease your nerves getting help from someone close to you.

At this point, we'll note that it's important to realise the difference between revising and learning last-minute. If you haven't actually studied properly, desperately trying to cram an hour before your test will not help. Additionally, you might just be the kind of learner who gets more stressed by trying to revise at the last hour. And, if you end up answering questions incorrectly while revising, you'll end up disheartened and in a worsened state. Stick to what suits you—not what someone else tells you to do.

3. Know what you need to bring

Driving licence and provisional driving licence

So, you know what to expect on your test. What's next? Knowing exactly what you need to bring on the day itself. Now, as a leading driving school, we've seen it all when it comes to learner drivers. A frequent mistake that many learners make when it comes to theory test is not being able to take their test because they've not gone properly prepared.

Want to know what the frequent letdown for learners is? Forgetting their provisional licence! You will not be able to sit for your theory test if you don't have your provisional. You won't be entitled to a refund either—so you'll have to pay an additional £23 to sit for another test. It's such a silly thing to mess up on, so make sure you remember it. Lost your provisional? Check out our helpful guide on what to do when you've lost your provisional licence.

You don't have to worry about bringing a pen with you—it's a computer-based exam, as you should know by now.  Try not to bring too many personal items with you on the day, as you'll have to leave them in a locker outside of the test room for the duration of your theory test. Things like earphones, bags and phones won't be allowed in with you. Once you've put your personal items away, you'll be directed towards the test room and a computer at which you'll take your test.

4. Prepare yourself

Calendar and laptop on a desk

It's not all about knowing the study materials; it's also about getting yourself into the right frame of mind. No matter how much we study and revise, there's always a part of us that's nervous or second-guessing our own ability. The key to preventing test day nerves is preparation.

When you book a theory test, you're automatically sent a confirmation email from the DVSA. You should double-check that you've got the right time, date and location for your theory test. It might sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many of our learners have mixed up their theory test information in the past. Imagine going to the wrong test centre or heading out on the wrong date! Students who've done this in the past have had to then deal with the added stress of re-booking their test. They could end up with a test weeks away—meaning they'll have to start back up on their revision again.

Once you've got your travel arrangements sorted out, your licence at the ready and everything else prepared for the day, you should try to get a good night's sleep. We know it can be difficult sleeping the night before a big exam—especially if you're nervous—but the last thing you want is to fall asleep mid-test! It will also help if you eat something before you leave home. You never want to sit an exam on an empty stomach. You're allowed to bring in bottles of water, so bring one to stay hydrated. You don't want to be distracted by hunger or thirst during your test, so fuel up!

5. Don't panic, you've got this

Man playing chess

For many learners, it doesn't matter how much you revise or prepare. Everything goes out of the window as soon as you sit down and see the first exam question. It's understandable—our minds sometimes just turn to mush as soon as the pressure's on. Fortunately, there are a few things that will help you overcome your nerves and pass with flying colours!

Before you get stuck into the test, you'll have 15 minutes at the beginning for practice questions. Regardless of how well you know the layout and content of the theory test, it's always a good idea to go through the practice section. It will help you relax and exercise those brain muscles for the real deal! After all, sometimes all we need is a few minutes to get to grips with something and master our nerves. There's absolutely no need to rush, so don't skip past the practice section unless you're 100% sure you don't need it. You'll also get a 3-minute break between the multiple choice section and the hazard perception. This is another great way to catch a quick breath and gather yourself.

Remember: it's not the end of the world if you fail your test. While disheartening, it's pretty easy to book another theory test if you fail. The beauty of retaking a test is that the second time around, you know exactly what's going on. By being more familiar with the process—getting to the test centre, figuring out the test layout—you won't be half as nervous as you were the first time. After all, if at first you don't succeed, try again!

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