Taking the Irish theory test; tips and tricks

Here’s the Carzone guide to passing the Driver Theory Test.

Before you can apply for a Learner Permit, you must pass your Driver Theory Test. This guide is for those wishing to drive cars, but the procedure is more or less the same regardless of the category of vehicle.

1 – Do your study

Even before you start looking at suitable dates to sit the test, we highly recommend you obtain the official revision material to study in detail. The ‘Official Driver Theory Test Revision Material’ is available as a book and on CD-ROM. It can be found in most large book retailers, online at https://dttstore.prometric.com/ or by calling the Candidate Services Team on 1890 606 106 (Lo-call rate). Read all of this and, more important than learning its contents off by heart, make sure you understand all aspects of it. Search online for more information on any questions or details you’re not clear on, as it’ll make it far easier to do the test if you understand the subject matter in detail.

2 – Get your ID

Since June 2017, the only ID that is accepted to sit a Driver Theory Test is the Public Services Card (PSC), so it’s worth getting that sorted before you book an appointment to do the test. The system is super-strict as well, so make sure you input your full name as it is on the card. If you turn up on the appointed day without the card, you will not be allowed to do the test and your fee will not be refunded. For more information on applying for your PSC, go to http://www.theorytest.ie/apply-public-services-card/.

3 – Book an appointment

Once you’re comfortable with the material, you can quote the revision book in your sleep and you have your PSC to hand, it’s time to book the test. Go to http://www.theorytest.ie/ where the system forces you through five checkpoints before you get to the (less than self-explanatory) booking form.

Step 1 explains what the various category of vehicles are and how much the fees are. For the purposes of this guide, we’re concerned solely with the ‘BW’ category, costing €45.00 and covering Car, Tractor or Work Vehicles. Note that there’s no mention of ‘BW’ by the time you get to the actual booking form and you can choose the category there in English or Irish (if you select the latter then your theory test will also be in Irish). Incidentally, you can also have an exam voiceover in Polish, Lithuanian, Russian and Arabic, as well as English if you need it.

Step 2 reiterates what we said above about ID. In short, the PSC is the only acceptable form of id and you must have it with you on the day.

Step 3 details the revision material mentioned above. We reckon it’s best to have that to hand and studied well before you book an appointment date.

In Step 4, you can view all the test centre locations. There are over 40 of them around the country. It’s worth looking at this list and memorising the one nearest to you for use in the booking form, as it uses a convoluted method of choosing it.

Step 5 takes you to the booking form, where you’ll eventually have in front of you the details of your nearest test centre. Click on ‘Schedule an Appointment’ and follow the instructions to choose a time and date that suit you. Finally, you must enter all your personal details. Do this carefully and accurately to avoid issues later. Payment is by Mastercard, Visa Credit/Debit, cheque or postal order.

If you realise later that the scheduled appointment clashes with something else, you must reschedule or cancel it no later than five business days before your test. Failure to do so will mean you’ll lose your fee and will have to start the process again.

4 – The day of the test

As with any examination, it’s a good idea to get a good night’s sleep the day before the test, make sure you’re neither hungry nor stuffed after a big meal and don’t overdo the coffee intake beforehand either. Bring a bottle of water in with you.

Arrive in plenty of time, making sure you have your ID and details of the test. You’ll register and then be aware that your personal belongings, such as your phone and wallet, will have to be placed in a secure locker for the duration of the test.

You will be shown to a workstation cubicle and the staff will show you how to use the computer system before a short on-screen tutorial plays.

Forty-five minutes are allocated for the BW theory test, during which there will be 40 questions to answer. To pass, you must answer at least 35 of those correctly. It is possible to skip a question and go back to it later within the time allowed, or change your mind and go back and alter your answer. You can leave early if you’re confident that you are finished.

5 – The results

Thankfully, there’s no waiting around agonising over the result for weeks, as you’re given the score report immediately and, assuming you’ve passed, you’re also given a Driver Theory Test certificate. Keep this safe as you’ll need it to apply for your Learner Permit (you can request a duplicate, but it’ll cost you another €15). Note that this certificate is only valid for two years.

6 – If you fail…

If you do not answer at least 35 questions correctly, your score report will identify the areas of weakness and you should focus on those before you resit the test. You may resit the test after at least three business days have passed (and can do so as many times as it takes to pass), but you must pay the full fee every time you do so.