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How the Theory Test Will Change in 2021 — Everything You Need to Know

Theory test pass certificate

With a pass rate hovering below 50% the theory test is a sticking point in many learner driver’s journeys, but 2020 introduced a new theory test shaped pothole.

Once you’ve passed the theory, you have 2 years to sit the practical test before the certificate expires. If it expires before you pass the practical, you must retake the theory. The DVSA says this is because the theory test questions and format changes over time, so they refuse to extend any theory test certificates for this reason.

This rule has been unpopular with learner drivers unable to take practical tests during national lockdowns. Before recently, it was rare that a theory certificare would expire and have to be retaken. But since March 2020, it’s estimated that over 50,000 theory test certificates have expired. Unfortunately, every one of these learners will be forced to resit the theory test if they want their pink driver’s licence.

How will theory tests change in 2021?

To tackle the backlog and 50,000 theory test retakes, the DVSA has announced that they’ll be making a few changes to the theory booking system.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Test centres to extend opening hours — great news!

Clock on wall showing time of 10 past 10
Image source: Ocean Ng via Unsplash

One of the more obvious ways to work through a backlog of tests is to… well…  run more tests!

DVSA will be extending the opening hours across England and Wales (no word on Scotland yet, unfortunately) as well as opening some additional test centres in England. This is great news for any learners in England and Wales and, chances are, Scotland’s backlog isn’t quite as bad because the DVSA see no need to extend opening hours there. So it’s good news all around!

Temporary change to how far in advances tests can be booked

Screenshot of DVSA theory test booking portal

At the moment, you can book a theory test up to 4 months in advance. This will be slashed to just 2 months when the DVSA switches over to a new test booking system (more on that in one moment).

Complete overhaul of the test booking service   

Sign outside a driving theory test centre. Sign reads PEARSON Professional Centres. Theory Test Centre'
Photo © David Hillas (cc-by-sa/2.0)

If you’ve booked your own theory test in the past few years, you might have noticed that it was all done through a company called Pearson VUE. The DVSA has now decided that they’ll take control of the booking system, so tests will be booked directly through them.

The new system launches on Thursday 8 July 2021. Any students booking theory tests with PassMeFast won’t need to do anything. If you’re booking the test yourself, you’ll be redirected to the new site once it’s live, so don’t be alarmed if things look different!


And that’s everything you need to know! We’ll bring you any updates as we get them, but if you have any questions, drop us a comment below.

Now you’re up to speed with the upcoming theory test changes, why not crack on with some revision? We cover all of the theory test topics in depth to save you from being ambushed by obscure questions! And, if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll find everything worth knowing in our Ultimate Theory Test Revision Resources.

Don’t fancy dealing with the admin of booking your own theory test? Leave it to us! You can add a theory test to any of our courses and we’ll do all the legwork for you, so you can focus on passing the test.

By Sam Plant

Sam spent the first 2 years of his PassMeFast career with the Customer Experience team, and now he’s sharing his driving experience with the rest of the world! When not writing, you can find Sam reading, playing games, or watching his football team lose (Port Vale...).

4 Comments

  1. Reply

    SHERI TRAVES

    Hi my name is ‘ Mrs Sheridan Traves’ . I am aged ‘ 52’ and have had many driving lessons in the past.
    I can get very nervous and have never seemed to get the right ‘ Driving Instuctor’ . They are always trying to compare me with younger learner drivers , and seem to put me down.
    The only reason I put my driving lessons off in ‘2014’ was because unfortunately me father died and I also ran out of funds financially to carry on.
    Do you think that I would possibly be able to drive , as I’m determined to go for it this time and carry on until the end.
    I have taken several ‘ Theory Tests’ – passed ‘ 2 and failed ‘ 3’ . The last one I failed was in ‘ 2014’ , so it is well overdue anyway.
    Do you think I’ve got any chance of passing and I’m really determined to go for it this time.
    Maybe it might be best for me to go with a ‘ Female Instructor’ and a ‘ Intensive or a ‘ Semi- Intensive ‘ lessons please would you tell me if there are ‘ Instructors ‘ in my area : Redditch, Worcs.
    How much would it cost please, Thanks.

    1. Reply

      Sam Plant

      Hi Sheridan,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You’ve got every chance of passing your driving test! Like you say, I think you just need the right instructor to build your confidence. Plus you’ve already passed the theory test a couple of times, so I’m sure you’ll have no problems there.

      We’ve got female instructors across the UK and can arrange your course in a way that suits you — whether that be intensive, semi-intensive or more spread out.

      Give our team a call on 0333 123 4949 and they’ll be able to help you choose the right course for you. If you’d prefer, I can ask somebody to pop an email across instead — just let me know!

      Thanks,

      Sam

  2. Reply

    Rory

    Do you know when the new months for booking become available? I am trying to get a theory test ASAP but there are no spaces in August or September, so do you know when the October dates will be released because i’d ideally want to book it on the day it comes out so I get a place.
    Thanks.

    1. Reply

      Sam Plant

      Hi Rory,

      You can book up to 4 months in advance, but many test centres are fully booked for that period, unfortunately.

      As far as I know, the DVSA has never publicly specified when new theory appointments are uploaded. However, practical tests are uploaded every Monday so I think it’ll be the the same with theory.

      Hope you manage to get it sorted soon! Remember to keep checking occasionally for cancellations and, if you need any help, we can fast-track your theory test as part of our courses.

      Thanks,

      Sam

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