What To Expect When Sitting Your Theory Test For The First Time

boots and some clothes on a rail, next to a plan and a board with a motivational quote on it

So this week I sat my theory test and passed it the first time!

I can’t explain how happy I am about this, I think I’m still in shock! I’d been panicking about it for nearly a month and honestly expected myself to fail.

That’s not because I thought I would as such, it’s just a coping technique I use to make sure I don’t become overconfident and also stops depression taking over if I do fail at something.

Strange I know, but it works for me.

I’m mainly writing this post for people like me, who have anxiety in new situations and would find it helpful to know exactly what to expect; but hopefully, other people will find it interesting to read too.

Booking Your Theory Test

To book your theory test you need to go online to the Gov.UK website and follow the instructions on there for finding your closest centre and the days/times available.

You’ll need your provisional licence with you when you do this so make sure you have it on you before you start.

Once it’s booked there’s nothing to do except practise and revise as much as you can until the big day arrives!

boots and some clothes on a rail, next to a plan and a board with a motivational quote saying "get up, dress up, show up, never give up, on it
Photo by Alyssa Strohmann on Unsplash

The night before your test try to get an early night and as much sleep as possible.

I know it can be hard if you’re nervous but sleep deprivation is your worst enemy when taking a test.

My brain seems to forget its actually a brain the second I’m tired or taking a test, so sleep is essential for me!

They also ask you to turn up at least 15 minutes beforehand so try and make sure you leave yourself plenty of time for travel.

Unexpected things like roadworks and bad traffic can make you late and increase your anxiety before you even get there!

If you struggle with travel anxiety then I wrote this post here full of tips that can help keep you calm.

Before the Test

Before you go into the test centre there are a few things you can do to save yourself some time and dirty looks from the staff (because of course you’re magically meant to know what they want before they ask you?!).

Firstly: turn your phone off before you go in.

They ask you to show them that your phone is off, even though you aren’t allowed anything on you when you go into the test and have to have your belongings into a locker.

Not sure what the point of making you do this is, but just be warned that they do it.

Secondly: Have your provisional driving licence out and ready to show them every time you talk to them.

I’m not even joking – I had to go sit down and read the sheet they give you and when I came back, she asked to see my licence again…even though she’d literally just seen it a minute before!

I’m all for security but seriously, this is a bit ridiculous!

You also have to show it before you go into the test, once you come out and then one final time when you go and pick up your results.

As I’ve said, when you turn up they ask you for your licence and a bunch of questions like D.O.B, address and such.

Photo by Alyssa Strohmann on Unsplash

Once that’s done they give you a piece of paper with instructions on both sides that tell you how the test works and what the rules are. Read through this and then take it back to the reception desk.

After you confirm you understand what you’ve read they will ask to see that your phone is off, then give you a key to a locker.

You have to put absolutely everything from your pockets into the locker, including things like watches and your coat.

Sitting The Actual Theory Test

Once everything is in the locker, you then take your key and your licence over to whichever test room they tell you to go to and speak to the person there.

They take your licence again and use it to remotely log you on to a computer, check that you have nothing in your pockets or wrists and they ask if you have any questions.

The guy I got was really nice and I was actually joking with him while he set my computer up. Once that’s done they tell you the computer number and you go on in to take the test!

Multiple Choice

The first part is your multiple-choice section.

You have 45 questions where all you have to do is read the question and pick one answer from the four it gives you.

Its a lot easier than it sounds because if you’ve done enough practise test, you learn to recognise the correct answer when you see a certain question.

I would have been screwed if I had to actually tell you the answers, as I have absolutely no idea for most of them!

[Related: Thoughts People With Anxiety Have While Driving]

The last five questions of the theory are now Case Study based. You’re given a little scenario and the next five questions are about what you’ve read.

For example, in mine, a woman was dropping her child off at school and the first question was what are the yellow squiggly lines painted on the floor for.

It’s not really any different from the rest of the test, but it can throw you a little if you don’t know to expect it.

They didn’t do this when Chris took his theory so unfortunately, he couldn’t warn me in advance.

Photo by Alyssa Strohmann on Unsplash

Once you’ve finished the multiple-choice section, you have an optional three-minute break you can take before you start the hazard perception section.

You aren’t allowed to leave the computer when taking this and if you want to skip it and get straight on with the next section, you can.

I skipped it because I didn’t feel I needed to take it but if you do then that’s totally fine – do whats best for you!

Hazard Perception

The hazard perception part was the hardest part in my opinion.

You simply click on the screen whenever you see a developing hazard and you get points between 0-5 depending on how early you spot the hazard.

Now this in itself doesn’t sound too hard until you actually try it out.

I had so many problems in practice with this one because I actually saw the hazards too early!

The trick I learnt was to click two or three times per hazard: once when I saw it, and then two or three more times a second or so after that, to make sure I hit the computer’s window of when it thinks I should see it.

It takes a bit of practice beforehand to get used to it but once you do it’s not too difficult to guess when the computer wants you to click.

There are ten seconds between each of the clips that you can skip and there are 14 clips in total.

I was told there was also the possibility of getting a multiple-choice question about the clip you’ve watched, rather than having to click on hazards, but since I didn’t get any of these myself I can’t say for sure that you do.

Once your test is over with you simply get up, walk out and go back to the person you spoke to before you went in.

He will log you out, check your licence again and then tell you to go speak to the person on the results desk to find out if you’ve passed or not.

Photo by Alyssa Strohmann on Unsplash

After You’ve Finished Your Test

Personally, I loved finding out if I’d passed instantly, as I hate waiting to find out results as I just end up making myself anxious and overthinking everything.

To get your results you simply give them your license (last time I promise!) and then they give you a piece of paper with your results on.

It will first tell you if you’ve passed or failed your theory test and then tells you your marks for each section.

It also tells you the category the questions you got wrong were from, but not the actual question itself.

If you failed then you will need to go online to book a new test and go through the whole process again; as unfortunately, you can’t book a new test then and there.

But if you pass your theory test – CONGRATULATIONS!

[Related: What To Expect When Sitting Your Driving Test For The First Time]

The certificate is on the back, right at the bottom and you need to keep it in a safe place as you’ll need to show it so you can take your practical test.

And that’s it!

Hopefully, you’ll find it helpful to know what to expect beforehand. I know I personally always like to know what to expect before I’m in a new situation, and if you’re anything like me, this might help ease any anxiety or worry you might be feeling.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask me in the comments or on social media!

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What To Expect When Sitting Your Theory Test For The First Time


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