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How old do I need to be to start learning to drive?
Can I practice driving outside my driving lessons?
What is the theory test?
When should I take the theory test?
How do I book my theory test?
What can I expect when I go for my theory test?
What is the practical test like?
Can I use my own car to take the test?
What will I be tested on?

Q. How old do I need to be to start learning to drive?

A. You need to be at least 17 years old, which is the minimum age that you can legally drive a car on public roads in the UK. There's been some speculation about raising the minimum age to 18, but this is under review by the Government and no decision has yet been made.

You can apply for your provisional licence three months before your 17th birthday. And if you're disabled and receiving mobility allowance, you can start at age 16.

If you're not yet 17 and want to start practising on private land, that's ok, but remember that places like supermarket car parks are classed as public roads. The site you have access to must be gated and remote from all public highways. However, if the land is connected to any form of public highway, then, irrespective of its ownership, it is illegal under the Road Traffic Act for any under age or unlicensed learner to drive there.

Q. Can I practice driving outside my driving lessons?

A. Until the day you pass the practical part of the driving test you'll have to display ‘L’ plates in a highly visible place on the front and back of your vehicle you’re driving and drive with someone who has passed their test (must be over 21 years old and have held a full British driving licence for at least 3 years).

'L' plates have to conform to a legal specification, so make sure you buy them rather than making your own. Whenever the vehicle isn't driven by a learner, you should take off the plates or cover them (except on driving school vehicles).

Q. What is the theory test?

A. The theory test comes in two parts - there's a multiple-choice section and a hazard perception section. You have to pass both parts of the test at the same session to pass your theory test.

Q. When should I take the theory test?

A. You don't need to pass your theory test before you can start driving lessons. However, you do have to pass your theory test before you can book the practical driving test.

If you want to get a head start, you can actually start learning your theory before you even have your provisional licence, and you can take your theory test as soon as you reach your 17th birthday.

Q. How do I book my theory test?

A. If you're learning to drive with Hoot Hoot, we can book your test for you and take care of all the details. There are theory test centres located all over the UK and we'll let you know which one is nearest to you.

To book your theory test we'll need:

The cost of the standard theory test is currently £30. Usually, your theory test appointment will be scheduled about two weeks after booking.

Call 0800 228 9500 or contact us online

If you prefer, you can book your own theory test directly with the DSA at

Q. What can I expect when I go for my theory test?

A. Remember to take your provisional driving licence with you and some other proof of identity that shows your name, photograph and signature. First you'll need to register at the reception desk. You'll then be allocated a booth in which there will be a computer loaded with the test.

In the booth, you'll find instructions on how to use the computer. There'll be 50 questions for you to answer. You'll have a maximum of 40 minutes to complete the test, unless you have a special requirement. An on-screen clock is displayed so that you'll always know how much time you have left.

All the questions are multiple- By touching the screen, you can choose one or more answers from the options shown. You'll have to answer every question to complete the test. If you've got time, it's always a good idea to check through your answers carefully.

After you've done the multiple-choice part of the test, you can take a break of up to three minutes and then the hazard perception section of the test will begin automatically. You'll be shown a tutorial video first featuring sample footage with a commentary sound track that explains how to complete the test.

The test itself is comprised of 14 one minute long video clips. You have to presume that you are the driver of a car as these clips are played out. You need to respond to each different scenario by clicking your mouse as soon as you see a hazard developing that could result in having to take some evasive action, like changing speed or direction. The earlier you spot the hazard and click the mouse, the higher your score.

When you've finished both parts of the test, you'll return to the waiting room where you'll be given your results. For the multiple-choice test, the pass mark is 43 correct answers from 50 questions. For the hazard perception section the pass mark is 44 out of a possible 75 for car drivers.

You need to pass both parts of the test at the same session to pass your Theory Test. Your test pass then stays valid for two years, during which time you'll need to pass your Practical Test. If you fail the Theory Test, you can retake it after waiting at least three working days, and there's no limit to the number of times you can retake it.

Q. What is the practical test like?

A. The Practical Test is really straightforward. It's designed to see whether you can drive safely on the roads and can demonstrate your knowledge of the Highway Code. The test lasts about 40 minutes and is conducted by a DSA examiner. They'll tell you where to go and ask you to carry out a range of exercises. You'll be asked to drive on a test route that's designed to test your skills to the full and where possible it will incorporate everyday road and traffic conditions, including hills, traffic lights and junctions.

Q. Can I use my own car to take the test?

A. Yes, you can take the test in your own car. You'll have to make sure that the car is legally roadworthy. This means it must have a valid MOT certificate if it's over three years old and it must be fully insured. The examiner will ask you to sign a declaration that your insurance is in order before going ahead with the test. If your car doesn't meet all the stipulated regulations, your test will be cancelled and you'll lose the test fee you have paid.

Q. What will I be tested on?

A. The first thing to be tested is your eyesight. You'll be asked to read a car number plate from the required minimum distance (Old style licence plate 20.5 metres New style number plate 20 metres). Then before getting into the car at the start of the test, the examiner will ask you two questions about vehicle safety and maintenance - one 'show me' and one 'tell me'. These questions are simply to make sure you know how to check that your car is safe to drive and will be about what's under the bonnet, what's inside the car, the lights and the tyres. You'll need to answer both questions correctly, or the examiner will record a fault.

During the test, the examiner will assess your ability to drive competently and safely and test you on most of the skills you've covered in your lessons. Your instructor will make sure you're fully prepared and that you're familiar with the range of manoeuvres. Committing more than 15 driving faults, or one serious or dangerous fault, will result in a fail

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