When should you take your theory test?

By Alicia Jarvis
Updated on June 30, 2022


Is it best to do theory test before driving lessons?

Many people are very eager to start their driving journey as soon as possible. The freedom that owning a car gives you is immense – it feels like a whole new world! The first step is to take your theory test. After that, you’ll have to decide when to do so.


You have to be at least 17 years old to take your driving theory test in the UK. This may not be the case if you have the enhanced mobility component of PIP. However, you do not need to have passed your theory test to take driving lessons.


The theory test is only the start of your driving journey. To learn more about what to do before your theory test and to better understand the process, keep on scrolling. 



When should I take my theory test?

The short answer is whenever you’re prepared and able to. Long answer – well, keep on reading of that one.

Depending on the type of theory test you are taking, you either have to be at least 16 or 17 years old to do a theory test in the UK. If you take a moped theory test (of no more than 50cc), you can take it on or after your 16th birthday. You can take it on or after your 17th birthday for a motorcycle or car.


However, these requirements are not final. For those who receive the enhanced rate of mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), you may take your car theory test on or after your 16th birthday. This benefit is the same if you have applied for the component.


We recommend that you take your theory test as soon as you feel as if you are ready. Of course, there are some benefits to having driving experience before taking your theory test (such as driving lessons). But, if you already have your theory test passed, it leaves you fewer things to stress about leading up to your practical test. Keep in mind that you need a theory test that youyou obtained within two years to do your practical test.


Two things to note are that if you would like to take a car driving test and have a moped or motorcycle licence, you need also to take the car theory test. And, you do not need to take another theory test to upgrade an automatic licence to a manual one. 


This is not the same in Ireland. Strangely, you can legally take your driver theory test at any age in Ireland. However, the pass certificate is only accepted in 2 years. Because you can’t get any learner permit until you are 16 in Ireland, there’s not much point in taking one before you’re at least 14 years of age. 



When can I start driving lessons?

Luckily for those under 17, there are private courses where you can start as young as 12 years old. These courses are on private land and you are with an instructor going around a course and learning the basics of where to drive. This is amazing for those who want to get driving as soon as possible because they can already have all of the experience they need before their 17th birthday. 


Around the UK, there are tones of places where you can do under 17 driving courses. Some people have great returns from doing this and have started driving within months of their 17th birthday. Doesn’t that sound amazing?


However, to undertake on-the-road driving lessons, you need to be 17 or older. This is a legal requirement set by the DVLA. If you are caught on the road under 17 (unless you have the enhanced rate of mobility component of PIP) you can receive serious consequences such as being banned from holding a licence for years. 


In one case in Poole, Dorset, a teenager was caught driving his mother’s car under the age of 16. When he was caught driving, authorities took him to a police station, and his mother was informed of the arrest. This tenacious teen admitted to taking his mother’s car without her consent (TWOCing) and driving without licence or insurance. Not only was he caught driving under the legal age, but he was also speeding.


After this, he was bailed out and then given a court date. He was put to Magistrates Juvenile Court and pleaded guilty to his offences. He was served with a CSO (community service order), a compensation order and a 3-year licence ban from his 16th birthday. This means that he can not start to learn until he is at least 19 years old. All of this for a quick joyride in his mum’s car, I wonder if he regrets it!



What can I do before taking my theory test?

As mentioned, you can take your driving lessons before your theory test. This is one of the many things that can help your performance in the test itself. Another great thing to do is to start preparing for the test. Other than that, there are a lot of different ways to prepare for your test.


Some great examples of what to do are:

  • Take mock theory tests
  • Practice hazard perception with mock tests
  • Reading through the highway code
  • Make flash cards on the content


There are lots more ways to strengthen your knowledge on the theory test. We explored these more in-depth in another article – if you’re interested!


Other than revising your theory test, we recommend that you make sure you’re available on the day you’ve booked. Also, sort out your travel to the theory test centre. If you do have a test booked, make sure that on the morning of the test you have slept well, eat a nutritious breakfast and drink a lot of water.


If you are too young to book a theory test, don’t stress over it. Enjoy your youth, you’ve got more important exams to be worrying about. The theory test can be resat but your GCSEs or A-Levels can’t!