The theory test

What you need to know about this key knowledge test for learner drivers. There are also theory tests for RSA approved driving instructors and professional drivers (CPC).

Driver theory test

The learner driver theory test was introduced in 2001. By law, before applying for a learner permit, candidates must complete and pass a test of their general road safety knowledge and motoring legislation. It applies to anyone applying for a first learner permit in any vehicle category.

The test is designed to check knowledge of topics such as:

  • Rules of the Road
  • Risk perception
  • Eco-driving
  • Hazard awareness
  • Good driving behaviour

The test is computer-based but, like the fast check-in kiosks at airports, is designed for those who have little or no experience of using computers as well as those who do.

You will have a chance to take a practice session on the day before starting on the actual test. If you have special needs please contact the Driver Theory Service and explain your requirements.

Driver Theory Service contact:
1890 606 106 (English language)
1890 606 806 (Irish language)
1890 616 216 (text phone – for the hearing-impaired)

There are separate theory tests for driving instructors and for professional bus and truck drivers:

Approved Driving Instructor (ADI)
Driver CPC (Certificate in Professional Competency)

Study Material

There are two books:

‘The Official Driver Theory Test Questions and Answers, Motorcycles, Cars and Work Vehicles – 6th Edition, October 2013’, which covers all learning material for Car/Work Vehicles and Motorcycles (Note: You can still study The Official Driver Theory Test Book and CD-Rom 5th Edition for the Car/Work Vehicle and Motorcycle categories.) and;

‘The Official Driver Theory Test Questions and Answers, Truck & Buses (including Step 1 and Step 2 of Driver CPC) – 6th Edition 2013’, which covers all learning material for Bus and Truck Theory Tests and Driver CPC Case Study Test.

There are two study CD-Rom’s: 

‘The Official Driver Theory Test Questions and Answers, Motorcycles, Cars and Work Vehicles – 6th Edition, October 2013’, which covers all learning material for Car/Work Vehicles and Motorcycles and;

‘The Official Driver Theory Test Questions and Answers, Truck & Buses (including Step 1 and Step 2 of Driver CPC) – 6th Edition 2013’, which covers all learning material for Bus and Truck Theory Tests and Driver CPC Case Study Tests (including the combined and modular tests).

The supporting learning materials are currently widely available from all good bookshops across the country or to purchase online at www.theorytest.ie  The CD provides ‘Practice Tests’ which simulate the real exam experience and allows candidates to gauge their learning progress.

Car/Work Vehicle and Motorcycles

The format of the test, based on multiple choice questions, has remained unchanged for Car/Work Vehicle and Motorcycles. Candidates are required to answer correctly 35 out of 40 questions in order to obtain a pass certificate

Truck & Bus Theory Test

From 30th September 2014 the Driver Theory Test for the Truck and Bus categories are changing. There will be a new exam in Category C (Truck) and Category D (Bus). The existing Theory Tests for Truck and Bus have been amalgamated with the Driver CPC Multiple Choice (Driver CPC state 1) exam and will now consist of 100 questions.

All candidates taking a test on or after 30 September 2014 will be required to sit the updated ‘Bus Theory Test’ or the ‘Truck Theory Test’. A further option to sit both the Truck and Bus Theory test at the same time is also available. It consists of 140 questions. Where a candidate passes the new Truck or Bus theory test (i.e. test on or after 30 September 2014) there is an option to sit a ‘module’ test to obtain the other category (Truck or Bus as appropriate) provided this is done within 2 years of the first test.

The format of the Bus and Truck Theory Tests, currently based on multiple choice questions, will not change. Candidates will be required to correctly answer 74 out of 100 questions in order to obtain a pass certificate for either the Bus or Truck theory tests. To pass the new combined Bus and Truck theory test, candidates will be required to correctly answer 104 out of 140 questions to obtain a combined pass certificate. To pass the new Bus or Truck Module theory test candidates will be required to answer 30 out of 40 questions correctly.

Candidates at the end of their exam will, regardless of passing or failing, receive feedback based on their performance. They will also receive a list of categories recommended for further study e.g. Road Signs, Markings and Traffic Regulations, Alert Driving and Consideration for Road Users etc. These correspond to the categories listed in the training material. This specific feedback will facilitate revision and help improve overall driving competence.

The Road Safety Authority has made these changes to the Driver Theory Test and its associated learning materials to streamline the process and ensure that learner drivers are better prepared to embark on their on-road training, and to improve road safety for all road users. This is part of a continuous improvement and up-dates regarding the driver theory tests.

Latest version

A comprehensive review of the Driver Theory Test Study material Book and CD-Rom took place in 2011 with a view to improving the content and its effectiveness as a learning tool. Most of the 1500 questions in the Driver Theory Test 4th Edition have been updated revised or replaced. The revisions include new questions and graphics as well as amended versions of existing questions.

All exams for car, motorcycle, bus and truck categories contain new and amended questions. The format of the test, based on multiple choice questions, has remained unchanged and candidates are required to answer correctly 35 out of 40 questions in order to obtain a pass certificate. Candidates at the end of their exam will regardless of passing or failing also be provided, based on their performance, with a list of the categories recommended for further study e.g. Road Signs, Markings and Traffic Regulations, Alert Driving and Consideration for Road Users etc. All of these correspond to the categories listed in the training Material in order to facilitate revision or help improve overall skills.

The complete list of updated questions is published in the Official Driver Theory Test Book (5th edition) and CD-Rom. These are available to purchase online at www.theorytest.ie and in book shops nationwide. The CD provides ‘Practice Tests’ which simulate the real exam experience and allow candidates to gauge their learning progress. People presenting for the driver theory test on or after the 24th October 2011 must have studied the new study material. i.e. The Official Driver Theory Test 5th Edition Book or CD-Rom. 

Test categories

There are four categories of theory test (see table below). Each test cateogry corresponds to a driver-licence or learner-permit category. If you take a test listed in the first column, you are covered for all the licences or learner permits in the corresponding column.  

Theory test certificate Driver licence or learner-permit category
B and W Covers cars, land tractors and work vehicles B, BE and W
A Covers motorcycles and mopeds A, A2, A1 and AM
C Covers vans and trucks over 3,500kg C1, C, CE and C1E & Stage 1 of CPC
D Minibuses and buses D, D1, DE and D1E & Stage 1 of CPC

If you are applying for your first learner permit you must:

  • Include a theory test certificate for the relevant category along with your learner-permit application, unless the certificate has already been submitted 
  • Present the certificate within two years of the date of issue (date of passing the test)

Note: you will be regarded as an applicant for a first learner permit in respect of a particular vehicle category if you have not held such a licence in the preceding five years.

Cost

A driver theory test for motorcycles and mopeds (category A), cars, work vehicles and land tractors (category BW), costs €45.00. The fee for heavy goods vehicles (category C) and buses (category D) is €72.00. The combined Truck and Bus test costs €84.00.

Booking a test

The theory test is managed on behalf of the RSA by a test partner, which operates a number of lo-call helplines to answer queries about the test and take test bookings:

1890 606 106 (English language)
1890 606 806 (Irish language)
1890 616 216 (text phone – for the hearing-impaired)

Tests can be booked on-line at www.theorytest.ie  

The postal address of the testing service is:   

PO Box 788
Togher
Cork
 
Application forms are available from the testing service and from all NDLS Offices.

Tests are held in 41 theory test centres around the country.

The test is offered in both Irish and English and candidates with special requirements can be accommodated.  A Polish,Russian and Lithuanian voiceover is available for the category B (car).

Translator supported tests are available by special arrangement at the Dublin, Galway, Cork, Waterford and Sligo test centres. These tests are for candidates who do not speak and cannot understand Irish or English, even if provided over headphones. Evidence to support this requirement will be required.

Any member of the public with any further queries regarding the theory test bank and revised material can contact the Driver Theory Test Service on 1890 606 106, or log on to www.theorytest.ie .