Top tips for taking the theory test

Here’s everything you need to know about the driving theory test and how to pass it.

What is it?

The theory test is managed by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and before you can attain your full driving licence, you need to pass this examination first. It is a computer-based, multiple-choice test of a set number of questions, which tests your knowledge on various aspects of driving, such as the rules/laws of the road, risk perception, eco-driving, hazard awareness and good driving behaviour. There is a whole site dedicated to the test, at www.theorytest.ie, which is also the portal for booking your test online when you’re ready to sit it. In terms of revision material, online and mail-order documents that can assist you with the test and also sample exams can be found at https://dttstore.prometric.com/.

Does the test vary for various different driving categories?

It does indeed. The main licence categories are Category A (motorcycles and mopeds), Category B (cars, tractors and work vehicles), Category C (vans and trucks over 3,500kg), Category D (buses) and Category CD (trucks and buses). There are also specific truck and bus modules (TMT and BMT respectively) that must be passed by people wishing to drive those vehicles.

Not only do the fees for theory tests vary – Category A or B costs €45, Category C or D costs €72, Category CD costs €84, and either of the TMT or BMT modules costs €45 each, but you need to already have a Category C/D/CD licence first – but so do the times allocated for the test and the pass rates required as well. So for a Category A or B theory test, you will have 45 minutes to answer 40 questions, of which you must get at least 35 correct (87.5%). For Category C or D, you will have two hours (120 minutes) to answer 100 questions, of which you must get at least 74 correct (74%). For the Category CD combined test, you have three hours (180 minutes) to answer 140 questions, of which you must get at least 104 correct (74.3%). And for the BMT and TMT modules, you have 45 minutes and need to answer at least 30 questions correctly out of 40 in total, a pass rate of 75%.

How should I prepare?

The first thing to do is to have your valid form of ID ready. When you book online, the RSA will ask for one of the following five forms of identity:

  • A Public Services Card;
  • Passports (Irish passports and other passports valid for international use only);
  • Irish Passport Cards;
  • National Identity Card from EU/EEA Member States or Switzerland;
  • Irish Category A (Motorcycle) or B (Car) Learner Permit or Full Driving Licence.

People going for the Category C and D test must also provide additional proof of identity, in the form of: a current Category C or D Irish Learner Permit; a full current Category C or D Irish Driving Licence (or one from an EU/EEA Member States or Switzerland); or a full current Category B Irish Driving Licence (or one from an EU/EEA Member State or Switzerland).

Whichever of these you choose, you MUST bring it along to the theory test when you attend and this form of identity must match your name exactly, with no spelling discrepancies. So make sure you choose a form of ID that you can easily have about you when you attend the test.

After that, our tips are:

  • Give yourself plenty of time: this counts both ahead of the test and on the day, too. Try and book your theory test well in advance of when you actually need it, in case there are long waiting lists at your local test centre. Then make sure you’re revising the relevant documentation and materials a long time before you are due to sit the theory test – don’t cram in all your revision the night before. And then don’t forget to leave yourself plenty of time to get to your test centre on the day of the test, leaving 15-20 minutes earlier than you think you might need to, just to make sure there are no unintended delays on the day.
  • Revise: with all the materials available online and due to the fact the questions are mostly common sense, passing the theory test first time should not be hard in the slightest – even with the relatively high pass marks required. However, by the same token, don’t get cocky. The test material is easily accessible and you can run through ‘dummy’ tests online as many times as you want, so make sure you do so in advance of the real thing so that you’re totally au fait with any question the theory test might throw at you.
  • Relax: as with any examination, don’t get yourself all keyed up on the day. That’s why you want to leave plenty of time to get to the test venue, so that you can avoid unnecessary stress, and why you want to prepare with plenty of revision and mock runs at it. That way, you’ll be a lot calmer on the day of the genuine exam, you’ll be thinking more clearly and you’ll likely answer the questions a lot more successfully.
  • Don’t forget your documents and photos: it’s worth repeating the mantra ‘take your ID document’ along with you, even though we’ve already said it. But you also have to take two identical, colour passport-sized photos with you for your licence.
  • Don’t fret if you fail: although we want you to pass first time, if you don’t manage to get through the theory test on your initial sitting, you can always resit it. So don’t worry about not making the grade first time out.