One of the most important steps towards getting your driving licence is passing the theory test. However, with so much focus placed on the practical side of things, many learners remain unclear about how exactly it works. One of the most common queries we get relates to the theory test pass mark.
Fear not! We’re about to provide a handy breakdown of the theory test pass mark for you, including details on both the hazard perception and multiple choice sections. By the end of this quick guide, you’ll know exactly what to aim for on the big day. Let’s get started!
A game of two halves
Before we dive into the requirements, we need to start by clearing up a common misconception. You see, many learners assume that, like most exams, there’s a single point score to obtain in order to pass. When it comes to the theory test, however, it’s slightly more complicated.
If you’ve done a little research into the test, you’ll be well aware that it consists of two sections: multiple choice and hazard perception. You may not yet realise, though, that candidates receive a separate score for each of these, rather than one overall mark. You need to succeed in both sections individually in order to obtain an overall pass.
With this in mind, it might be best to think of the theory test as two separate exams rolled into one. Similarly, you should be thinking not of a single theory test pass mark, but two. And remember: it’s not good enough to excel in one if you flunk the other!
The first half of your theory test is all about multiple choice questions. Each of these questions focuses on the rules of the road, with information drawn from The Highway Code, Know Your Traffic Signs, and Driving — The Essential Skills.
The format of this section is straightforward. There are 50 questions to get through in total, covering topics from attitude to alertness, and each comes with a choice of 4 possible answers. Every correct answer is worth 1 point, and you’ll need to score at least 43 to pass.
|NUMBER OF QUESTIONS||POINTS AVAILABLE||PASS MARK|
As a subsection of the multiple choice part of the exam, you’ll also be presented with a case study. This will involve watching a short, silent video clip, and then answering 3 multiple choice questions about it. You can watch this video clip as many times as you wish during this section of the test.
The case study forms part of your overall mark for the multiple choice section: 3 of the 50 available points. There is no distinction made in the marking between these questions and the others asked in the section. In other words, you can still pass this section even if you get the case study questions wrong, so long as you get at least 43 others right.
The other component of the theory test pass mark comes from the hazard perception section. This part of the test asks you to watch a series of 14 video clips. During each clip, you’ll need to click when you spot a developing hazard. A developing hazard is something that would cause you, as the driver, to take action, such as slowing down, changing direction or stopping. Examples include a car pulling out of a side road, or a child running into the road.
To score points, you must be able to spot the hazard in good time. Each hazard comes with a scoring window, in which you can earn up to 5 points. If you click when the hazard first starts developing, you’ll get the maximum of 5. Click slightly later, and you could earn from 4 through to 1 point. Click too late, and you’ll score nothing for that particular hazard.
You’ll watch 14 video clips during this section. Most of these clips will feature only one developing hazard, but one clip will feature two. In turn, this means that most clips come with a maximum score of 5; for the double hazard clip, it’s 10. To pass this section, you’ll need to earn at least 44 points across the clips.
You won’t lose points for clicking when something turns out not to be a developing hazard. However, if the system detects that you’re attempting to cheat (for example, by clicking constantly, or in a pattern), then you’ll receive a score of 0 for that particular hazard. If this happens, you’ll see a warning message on your screen.
|NUMBER OF VIDEO CLIPS||POINTS AVAILABLE||PASS MARK|
1. How will I know if I’ve achieved the theory test pass mark?
After taking the test, you’ll be called over to your theory test centre’s reception. The member of staff there will give you a letter which tells you if you’ve passed or failed the test. If also breaks down your performance as follows (where # is your score):
|• Multiple choice||43 correct answers out of 50||You scored #|
|• Hazard perception||44 out of a possible 75||You scored #|
2. Will I find out all the answers to the multiple choice questions?
To protect the secrecy of the test, the DVSA will not print the full breakdown of your answers on your letter. It will, however, let you know the topics where you answered incorrectly. This is an example:
|Topic Area||Incorrect Answers|
|Other Types of Vehicle||1|
3. Will I receive a breakdown of my hazard perception score?
Yes. The letter you receive after taking the test will include a breakdown like the one below. Note that, other than the double hazard clip, you won’t be informed of your score on any particular clip.
|On the double hazard clip you scored 5|
|On 6 clips you scored 5|
|On 4 clips you scored 4|
|On 3 clips you scored 3|
4. Has the theory test pass mark changed?
The theory test has gradually become longer and more difficult over time. When it was first introduced in 1996, the test featured only a multiple choice section; hazard perception was not added until 2002. The pass mark changed most recently in 2007. You can see the evolution of the theory test pass mark in the table below.
|Date||Multiple choice pass mark||Hazard perception pass mark|
|July 1996||26 out of 35||N/A|
|October 1996||30 out of 35||N/A|
|November 2002||30 out of 35||38 out of 75|
|September 2003||30 out of 35||44 out of 75|
|September 2007||43 out of 50||44 out of 75|
5. What if I pass one section but not the other?
The rules here are, unfortunately, very clear: you can’t pass the test without reaching the pass mark for both sections. Additionally, you must sit both halves of the theory test together; it’s not possible to take the multiple choice section on one day and the hazard perception on another.