The way the theory test works in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is changing. From 14 April 2020, the theory test will include three multiple-choice questions based on a short video.
It’s hoped that the changes will make the theory test more accessible for everyone. Research shows that drivers with reading and learning difficulties struggle with written questions. The use of video-based questions should help people with dyslexia and autism.
Anyone taking the theory test before 14 April is required to read a case study before answering five questions about it. Following the changes, you’ll be asked to watch one video, then answer three questions. Below is an example of a car theory test video.
Questions based on this clip could include:
- Why are motorcyclists considered vulnerable road users?
- Why should the driver, on the side road, look out for motorcyclists at junctions?
- In this clip, who can cross the chevrons to overtake other vehicles, when it’s safe to do so?
Each question will come with four multiple-choice answers.
The video will play on the left-hand side of the screen, with controls allowing the learner to play, pause or move to a specific video on the progress bar. The right-hand side shows the questions and answers.
In another example provided buy the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the video shows a street with double yellow lines. The question asks: what do the yellow lines mean? The following answers are provided:
- They mark the edge of the road
- You can wait at certain times
- No waiting at any time
- They mark a cycle lane
Who is affected by the changes?
All car theory tests will use video clips from 14 April 2020. The change does not yet apply to theory tests for motorcycles, lorries, buses, coaches or approved driving instructors (part one).
If you fail a test before the date and retake it from 14 April, you use the new theory test. The same rule applies if your test is cancelled and moved to a date from 14 April.
What’s not changing
Other elements of the car theory test aren’t changing. For example, you will still need to answer 50 multiple-choice questions within 57 minutes. To pass, you will need to get at least 43 questions correct.
The hazard perception test is also unchanged.
What the industry says about the changes
RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: ”This is a very positive change and should make the driving theory test accessible to many more people as watching case study videos is far more reflective of real-world driving than having to read them and then answer questions.
“We know from RAC research that being able to drive is an important milestone in people’s lives as it allows them to get around more easily. This is particularly true for those who live in more rural locations.”
Peter Brabin, head of training at Bill Plant driving school, added: “There’s no doubt that the changes coming into effect are an improvement to the theory test; as whilst the majority of the examination remains unchanged, the introduction of video clips in place of written case studies puts students into more realistic scenarios akin to everyday driving experiences.
”As well as this, the implemented changes will prove far more beneficial to drivers with reading and learning difficulties, as well as those who find they learn better in visual scenarios. The improvements, while small, are more geared towards making the theory test more client centred, leading towards longer term understanding, rather than shorter term revision.”