How To Revise For Your Driving Theory Test

Monday, January 11, 2016

Back in November I passed my theory test, and I have to admit there was a lot more to it than I originally expected. I had no idea that there was such huge number questions and topics to learn, and also the fact that some of it would be really quite tricky to remember. In order to help anyone currently studying or thinking of taking their theory I wanted to share my experience, and how I personally went about tackling it. As this post is going live I'll actually be out on the road taking my first driving lesson- I'm taking twenty lessons over the next two weeks which is classed as a semi intensive course. I'm hoping it will get me well on my way towards passing my practical- wish me luck!

How Long Should You Revise For?
Google 'how long to revise for your theory test' and you'll get answers that range from 'nothing' to 'months' and everything in between. The very first point I want to make about this, is that anyone who tells you that you don't need to revise for a theory test and that's it's all common sense is an idiot and their advice should be avoided at all costs. While there are some obvious questions in there, the majority are actually very specific and there's no way you could guess or work out the answer without learning the material. Take for example obscure road signs that could mean anything, specific stopping distances at different speeds and things like how much you'd get fined for a range of driving crimes. They're just not the sort of things you're able to guess at, in order to pass your theory test you WILL need to study there's just no way around it. The Driving and Standards Agency (DSA) recommend at least twenty hours revision, although from my personal experience I'd recommend probably double that. I'm pretty confident when it comes to learning and remembering things, I have a university degree and would consider myself as an academic kind of person in general- however I wouldn't have wanted to sit the test with any less revision than the 40+ hours that I did. While I'm sure people have learned the bare minimum and fluked it, in my opinion you might as well just invest the time and learn it properly. These are all things you're going to need to know eventually and will help you in your practical driving too, and so it's not like it's wasted effort.

What Learning Materials Should You Use?
There are so many theory test resources available, from books to apps to dvds to Youtube videos and online tests. My personal recommendation is the official DVSA CD rom, it contains everything you need for both the questions and the hazard perception parts of the test. I did a lot of mock tests on various sites online while I waited for the CD rom to arrive, and once it did I realised that a lot of the questions were only on there and not on any other study materials I'd seen anywhere else. I had a brief look at some apps but knew that they werent for me; if you do like studying with an app you WILL have to spend money buying a 'full version' as the free ones often only show you 50 questions (there's over 900 possible questions that you'll need to learn). My personal method for the multiple choice part involved going over and over questions on the CD rom, and writing out the questions and answers to the ones I was getting wrong in a notepad. Then at the end of each day I could read through the notepad and brush up on the ones I'd struggled with. For the hazard perception part I watched a number of Youtube tutorials that explained where, when and why to click on each hazard and then just practiced on the official CD rom until I was confident.

When Should You Book The Test?
If you're thinking of taking your theory test (even if you haven't started revising for it yet) I recommend going online and booking it right away. This is because most test centres have a waiting time of a good few weeks, something I wasn't aware of before I did mine. I made the mistake of learning everything, going online expecting to book a test for a few days later and then having to wait four weeks. If you book it for a month or so in advance you have a date to work towards which can spur you on to get your revision done. Spend an hour and a half each night studying and by the end of the month you'll have racked up fifty hours of revision time. You will need a valid provisional license to be able to book your theory test which is another thing to factor in time wise, as a first provisional can take a good few weeks to arrive.

 Will There Be Any Unexpected Questions?
Aside from two or three questions that I'd not seen anywhere else, everything that came up on the test was on the official DVSA CD rom. The only thing to bear in mind is that some of the questions are worded differently in the actual test, this is to ensure that you haven't simply memorised the question and answers and you actually know the reason behind the answer. One example of this I remember from my test is I was shown an 'end of dual carriageway' sign, in the mock tests you would be simply asked what the sign means. In the test I was asked 'what would the speed limit be after seeing this sign'; it's testing that not only do you know what the sign is but also requires you to apply your knowledge of different speed limits on single and dual carriageway roads. There is also one 'case study' in the test which presents you with a scenario and five questions relating to it. All of the material will be on the official CD, but just be aware that this format will come up for part of your test. The hazard perception part of the test has very recently changed, and is now all computer generated imagery rather than real life scenarios recorded with a car's dash cam. It reminded me almost of a very realistic version of 'The Sims' from the perspective of a driving car. It actually makes it a lot easier, as unlike the old footage everything is very clear and easy to see so you can spot the hazards better.

My Advice:
As long as you put the work in and do the revision, you'll be fine. It's not a difficult test, the hard part is remembering the answers to the sheer number of questions and being able to apply your knowledge. I highly recommend finding out exactly where your test centre is and planning your route so there's no getting lost or stressed on the day or turning up late. You wont be able to take your test if you forget your provisional photo ID card, so make sure you have that with you in a safe place (you no longer need the paper part of your driving license in Great Britain). Be sure to have a good night's sleep the night beforehand, breakfast in the morning and leave the house with a decent amount of time to spare to give yourself the best chance.

Are you currently studying for your theory test, or taking driving lessons?

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  1. Thankfully I passed my theory test first time. While some of it is common sense, I found that revision was an absolute must. Anyone who says that you don't need to is only setting you up for failure. I can't remember how much I revised but the official DVD was definitely invaluable to me, I don't think I'd have passed without it!

    Jodie | Jodie Loue

    1. I agree, you definitely do need to prepare and revise. Anyone who says you dont is either lying or hasnt done their theory in a long time and has forgotten how in depth it actually is! x

  2. I have my theory test in a few weeks and this has definitely giving me the kick I need to do some proper revision rather than just dabbling in it now and again! x

    Jenny | That Northern Gal

    1. Good luck Jenny! As long as you put the revision in and do plenty of mock tests you'll do great :) x

  3. I had my theory test at the weekend and failed by 2 points. It peeves me off because I failed on two questions that were literally the same and weren't on anything i'd practiced, grrr! Booked it in again for a few weeks in Leeds, hopefully I'll do it this time x

    Laura x |

    1. Sorry to hear that Laura! Thats so frustrating having a similar question come up that you hadnt seen before, I'm sure you'll do great the second time around and at least you can put the failed test down to experience so you know what to expect x