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When can I drive and take my theory test?
The minimum age for driving in England is 17 for a small vehicle (most cars) and motorbikes. You need to be 16 for a moped and 21 for a medium/large-sized vehicle, minibus and buses. You need to have passed your theory test before you take your practical driving test.
Before you start, you need to apply for a provisional driving licence. You can’t use this until you are 17, but you can apply for it up to three months before your 17th birthday.
Once you have received your licence, you can learn to drive with a qualified driver over 21 or an Approved Driving Instructor from a reputable driving school. While you are learning, you have to display L plates on the front and back of any car that you drive.
The theory test
You have to pass the theory test before you book your practical test. Passing shouldn’t be as hard as many pupils’ fear, with the right learning materials and applying your knowledge while during driving lessons, it will become a natural part of learning to drive.
The car and motorcycle multiple-choice questions last for 57 minutes and you need 43 out of 50 to pass. You are then given a break of 3 minutes before commencing the Hazard Perception part of the test.
The hazard perception part
Before you start the hazard perception part, you’ll be shown a short video clip about how it works.
You’ll then be shown a series of 14 video clips on a computer screen. The clips feature everyday road scenes and contain at least one ‘developing hazard’. One of the clips features 2 ‘developing hazards’.
A developing hazard is something that may result in you having to take some action, such as changing speed or direction.
Hazard perception test scoring
The earlier you notice a developing hazard and make a response, the higher you will score. The most you can score for each developing hazard is 5 points.
To get a high score, you need to respond to the developing hazard as soon as you see it starting.
If you click continuously or, in a pattern during a clip, a message will appear at the end. It will tell you that you have scored zero for that particular clip.
You won’t be able to review your answers.
The pass mark for cars and motorcycles is 44 out of 75.
You can book a theory test online at gov.uk, and you can take an official practice theory test at the same place.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has a learning zone with lots of information and resources.
If you visit the Driving Theory Test, you will find some practice tests, taken from over 500 multiple-choice questions, hazard perception videos and road sign recognition tests.
There are also two practice Theory Tests under Safe Driving for Life as well as other resources.
The practical test
The practical test consists of an eyesight check, some vehicle safety questions and around a 40-minute driving test which will include specific manoeuvres.
You can make up to 15 minor driving faults and still pass the test. (16 or more and you will fail).
If you make a serious or dangerous fault – you will also fail.