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Now, before you tell me how easy the theory test is supposed to be, times have changed. The theory test is now unbelievably daunting and composed not of a straightforward written test, but a complex touchscreen multiple choice exam and fourteen Ė yes, fourteen Ė different hazard perception video clips which require you to spot numerous Ďdeveloping hazardsí and respond on a computer screen at exactly the right second.
Once upon a time, when all those family and friends who snigger about the sheer impossibility of failing this took it, they actually used pen and paper. It was a nice ní easy at your own pace multiple choice sheet. I have searched high and low for a comprehensive guide on the modern one and it doesnít seem to exist online; so here it is, for the benefit of all those who wish to pass.
***************** ********** ********* ****************** How do you book your theory test?
I always hoped to find an instructor who did this kind of thing for me, but then again I hoped to find an instructor with some degree of patience and a willingness to teach on weekends and that hasnít happened either.
It sounds simple, but before you book, make sure you are in possession of both parts of your driving licence. In my case, Iíd long since Ďlostí the paper half (okay, I gave it to a friend who was stuck outside a nightclub with no ID when we were younger) and had to replace that in order to take the test. If this is the case you need to either fill in a D1 application form from the Post Office (slow and time consuming, donít bother) or phone 0870 240 0009 during working hours. The fee is £19.00 and they tell you to allow 3 weeks.
The easiest way to book your test is online at http://w ww.dsa.go v.uk/te sts/online_booking_1.asp, but you can also book by phone, 0870 0101 372. Booking online gives you the advantage of being able to deliberate over the available dates and select one where you wonít be busy, tired or double booked. Unless youíre in a real hurry to pass for one reason or another, give yourself a couple of weeks and pick a Ďluckyí date. Reduce the pressure on yourself by not telling anyone (with the exception of your nearest and dearest) when youíre taking the test, if it doesnít go well you can jump back on the computer and book another Ė no-one will be any the wiser.
************ **************************** ************** What will you need to know?
The highway code, the basic principles of first aid, how to use a computer and when and where it is now appropriate and legal to use your mobile phone.
I was shocked by the number of mobile phone related questions and panic set in, I soon realised that had I left it another year, I would be answering questions on child booster seats and the dangers of fiddling with Sat Nav equipment. Just think, youíd better do it now before the test gets any harder.
Which Study aids?
***********The Highway Code; ***********
A copy of the Highway Code is invaluable, if only to check the accuracy of any other information you find. Itís also quite interesting to read some of the more bizzare rules. If youíre a regular passenger, you can brandish this book and irritate other drivers by telling them where theyíre going wrong. Yep, The Boyfriend just loved this method of revision. Be careful not to cause an accident as you argue over the finer points.
If you donít have a copy, you can pick one up in WHSmiths, on the Department For Transport Website for £1.99 (http://www.t soshop.co.uk/bo okstore.asp?FO=1207635 &D I=5 56883) or very cheaply on Ebay.
***********The DVLA Official Theory Test CD ROM; ***********
I thought this had fairly limited use as it provides no real teaching, but a mock test with a choice of concentrating on one area or doing the complete test as you would sit it on the day. Little Brother and I played this as though it were a pub quiz game, speed was of the essence and we competed to do it in the best time possible. Played as a game, itís actually quite fun with everyone convinced that their answers on road safety are right and some shocking scores.
If anything, it proves one or the other of the following; People who passed their test more than a year ago have lost any grasp they might have had on the rules of the road. OR The theory test is much harder than it used to be.
Scores were as follows; Dad = 26, The Boyfriend =27, Little Brother = 28. I think we were disappointed that there was no hall of fame.
This would be particularly useful if youíre unfamiliar with using a computer or want to practice the test as youíll be taking it on the day. It helps to see the layout and familiarise yourself with the buttons. It costs around £20 and can be bought on http://www.learn erstuff. co.uk/so ftwar e-cd-roms/official-theory-test-s oftware.htm or more cheaply on Amazon where second hand copies sell for around £2.99.
***********The DVLA Official Hazard Perception DVD; ***********
This DVD was materially useful but technically inadequate, crashing our superfast computer repeatedly, sticking and rewinding itself mid clip.
Irritatingly, you are expected to sit through the chapters to get a code which then allows you to proceed to the hazard perception practice test. Donít bother, just fastforward the thing. I sat through all of the chapters which are of no interest unless you fancy the presenter Suzi Perry ( a poor manís Cindy Crawford) or have a genuine interest in the intricate workings of the theory test centre. Personally I donít, it reminded me of those creepy videos that they used to make us watch before inoculations at school. Michelle Pfeiffer presents Rubella, etc. The whole vibe was a bit ominous and eight chapters of instructions are excessive considering a summary will appear on screen again before you start the Hazard Perception.
A word of warning though, donít start playing with this until youíve booked your test, there are a limited number of clips and once youíve seen them they are no longer a true test of your abilities as you know when to expect the van driver pulling in front of you.
The clips offered are all different and I have yet to find an alternative way to practice this part of the test, so Iíd probably recommend getting this dvd.
This can be bought individually or with the Theory Test CD ROM, see above.
***********Your Own Study Guide***********
This is the best method as it will be tailored to your own particular strengths and weaknesses and this is this way youíll save yourself trudging through information you know or practising questions which are no challenge.
1) Go to www.2p ass.co.uk. Do the online theory test a couple of times and see which ones you havenít got right. Copy and paste the ones with crosses into a word document and delete the cross graphic and the incorrect answer (you donít want to memorise that, do you?). Youíll be left with the questions you most need practice on and the correct answers.
2) Go to http://www.foshy.co.uk/w a yfarer/fa q.html#top , read through and copy and paste the table with stopping distances. You will need to know the distance in metres, so memorise this as opposed to feet (Being phased out and will require complicated conversion under test conditions. This is not a maths exam.) or car lengths (wonít be a viable answer).
3) Also copy the paragraph from this page on Motorway cats eyes, deleting the last line on blue reflective studs as this information is wrong, they are for * police * not council workers. 4) Print it off, add pictures if it helps and get someone to test you.
Even I did this and Iím almost always late. I canít stress this enough. They ask you to arrive at least 15 mins before your test, but I would aim for even earlier as; if itís quiet, theyíll let you start as soon as you arrive. The test centre may be further out of town than you think. If (as is the case with the Reading centre) the building is closed on Saturdays, you have to wait to be let in. The test centre may be a few floors up, so add in time to wait for the lift and find the right door.
***********Peace and Quiet***********
There are headphones provided for the second part of the test, but stick them on your head as soon as you sit down. They block out the background test centre noise of other candidates coming and going, people breathing, sighing and clicking.
***********Maximise your concentration***********
Use the toilets before you go in, wear comfortable clothing, chew gum if it helps your concentration.
Read the questions carefully; do they want to know the most or the least of something? For stopping distances, how fast are you travelling? What is the weather like? Rain doubles stopping distances and snow and ice increases them x 10.
The Multiple Choice Section ___________ ________________________________________________ ____________ _______
Before you go in take a deep breath. Remind yourself just how many people pass the theory test every day. The mock tests youíve been practising are probably much harder than the real thing and the questions you hate may not come up. A lot of it is logical or can be worked out with common sense.
Highway Code; Remember what youíve learnt, if you canít then think sensibly. Which lane of the motorway? Always left unless youíre overtaking. If the speed limit is 70, you canít possibly be going faster.
If someoneís badly injured, should you be checking their airways are clear or looking for witnesses? ( On the mock test, The Boyfriend chose to look for witness causing Little Brother to cackle ďLook! He thinks heís the police!Ē. Knowing how bad The Boyfriend is with blood, it probably would be better for any casualties if he stayed well away.) On the test you must always select the option that involves helping the casualty (not with cigarettes or drinks) or keeping others from being hurt.
Mobile Phones; NEVER Ė unless parked in a safe place. There are loads of trick questions on these, so watch out.
The multiple choice test is a sensible way to test driving knowledge and anything you learn for this might actually be useful when youíre on the road. _____ _________________________ _____________________ _______________________
In my opinion this part of the test is pretty worthless. There is no cursor on the screen and you simply click the mouse button whenever you think you spot a hazard. So, for example I could click on a tree because I think thatís a Ďhazardí and get points because the program thinks Iíve seen a motorcyclist pulling out in front of me up ahead. The 14 clips are way too many, tedious and confusing as you struggle to spot things in front of you on a two-dimensional screen.
The best way to deal with this is to click every time you think you spot a hazard and in between when you in fact donít spot one. As long as you donít exceed the number of flags allowed along the bottom of the screen, this method will make the computer think youíve spotted everything.
Test Scores; ___________________ ___________________________ ________ _________________________
You need to score 30 out of 35 questions on the multiple choice and 44 out of 75 on the hazard perception.
I think anyone can do this with a bit of practice, learn your highway code, practice your hazard perception, go in there with confidence and take reasonable care to read the questions. Using the methods Iíve shown here, I took my test last Saturday and I got 100% first time. This to me proves it works.
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