The Theory Test!

To get your licence (or even sit your practical tests) you need to pass your theory test first.

What is the theory test?

50 multiple choice questions, which they give you 57 minutes to answer (you’ll do it in less than half that time). This is followed by 14 hazard perception clips. These are short CGI clips where there will be one (or in one clip 2) hazard(s) that you need to click to show you’re aware of. Sounds pretty simple? It is.

How do I book my theory test?

It’s really straight forwards to book. You can do it online here. Don’t google it and click the first link – this will take you to some 3rd party site that will charge you £39 (the correct price at the time of writing is £23) and probably sell your details to every scammer under the sun. You choose your location, date and time and book it.

How do I prepare for it?

Get yourself a highway code: see below. Get some practice questions in a book, or even better in an app – the one I used, I reviewed here. If you’ve done your car test relatively recently, it’s pretty much the same – only a few bike specific questions.

What to expect on the day?

The tests are done in a very formal, organised way. If it’s anything like mine, it’ll be in a dingy, dark room in the basement of an office building.

When you arrive, you register, put all your worldly possessions in a locker (so don’t take anything unnecessarywith you), then sit and wait until you’re called. Once you’re called you will be asked to turn out you pockets to ensure you’re not taking any personal items into the teat room, does feel a wee bit over the top to me.

You’ll then be led through to the test room. This reminded me of an IT classroom from the late ’90s – complete with ageing desktops and low res monitors.

The Multiple Choice Part

The multiple choice part is a series of questions on the highway code, safe riding, road signs, laws etc. If you’ve worked through a fair few practice questions, it shouldn’t be difficult. The test is done on an ageing PC, with software that looks like it was written in BASIC in the 90s (I’m guessing it probably was).

Couple of tips:

  • Take your time, you’ve got plenty
  • Read the question carefully
  • Check you’ve clicked the right box before you click next (sounds obvious, but easy to make a mistake if you’re rushing through)
  • Take your time…

To pass, you need to get 43 of the 50 questions correct.

The Hazard Perception Part

The hazard perception test has improved an awful lot since I did my car test in 2001. Instead of grainy video of Cavaliers and Sierras pulling out of junctions, it’s a slick, clear, CGI set up.

You’ll be shown a series of clips in each one you’ll see one hazard ’emerging’, except one where there’ll be two. All you need to do is click when you see the hazard.

What are the hazards? Pretty much the things you should be looking out for when you ride – cars that look like they’ll pull out of junctions in front of you, pedestrians who aren’t looking, on-coming vehicles that won’t stop before they overtake a parked car. The hazards are mostly obvious, but to score the maximum points you need to click as soon as the hazard is visible. It’s worth clicking a few times to make sure your click is registered at the right time, however, don’t click too much or the system will thing you’re cheating and you’ll score 0. I did that on one question in my test and it really unsettled me. Practicing on an app or on a web/PC version is the best way to prepare for this.

Each question has a maximum score of 5 (or 10 for the one with 2 hazards). You need to score 44 out of the possible 75 points available to pass.

After Your Test

Once you’ve completed your test, you’ll get a print out with your results there and then (you might have to wait while the admin finishes the coffee round…) but you don’t have to wait for the results in the post. Hold on to this print out as it’s the documentation you’ll need to sit your practical tests later. Your test pass is valid for 2 years, if you don’t take your practical test by then, then you’ll have to re-take.

What do you think?

Have you had an interesting or funny experience in your theory test? Any killer tips to share? Comment below…

One thought on “The Theory Test!

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