Theory Test NI - Here's how to pass the test!

We at Theory Training NI have put together a number of articles to help you get through your test. In this article: Theory Test NI - Here’s how to pass the test we will give an overview of some of the pitfalls that many learners fall into when revising for and sitting their theory test.


Theory Test NI - What is the theory test?

The theory test was introduced to allow learner drivers to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the Highway Code before they take to the roads following passing their practical exam.

The theory test for cars and motorcycles consists of two parts:

  • A multiple choice section (50 questions)

  • A hazard perception section

Both parts are taken at the same time and you must pass both parts to obtain a test certificate. The theory tests pass certificate will then allow you to apply for your practical driving test.

Your Theory Test NI pass certificate is valid for 2 years, if you do not pass your practical driving tests before your theory test expiry, you will need to reapply and resit your theory test.


Theory Test NI - Where do I start?

The best way to get started revising for your theory test is by picking up a copy of the Highway Code for Northern Ireland. This book contains the rules and regulations for all road users and you can purchase a copy to be sent out by post by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can download a free PDF version of the Highway Code by clicking the link below.

Theory Test NI - Highway Code NI
Download PDF • 14.54MB

The other two books we would recommend would be:

  • Know Your Traffic Signs

  • Driving: The Essential Skills / Riding: The Essential Skills

All your revision books can be purchased from our online store for fast, free delivery.

There are many apps available to learn the basics of passing the theory test, but see our list below of things to watch out for.

Theory Test NI

Why is the pass rate so low?

The overall first time pass rate for the Theory Test NI is just over 47%. This means that over half the people who go to sit their theory test fail. This leads to frustration for many learners and increased costs.

One of the biggest reasons why people don’t pass their theory test is not always what you might think.

Many people use mobile apps to revise for their theory test and whilst these can be a great tool for learning they do have some drawbacks.

"But I revised all the questions the app gave me!"

There are many theory test apps out there, all trying to either get downloads so they can show you ads, or trying to get you to buy their service. There are some that are better than others but the vast majority have some common problems…

Learning Styles:

People learn in lots of different ways, so what works for one person, may not work for another. It’s important to remember that the vast majority of the theory test apps work on a system called learning by rote.

This means that you are just trying to remember the correct answer out of the 4 multiple choice options presented for any given question, based on repeatedly selecting that answer in the apps.

Whilst this may work for some questions, it leaves a huge gap in your learning; the ability to understand why you have selected that answer.

So you have a choice: Try to remember the right answer, or actually understand what the correct answer is. Understanding an answer, rather than just trying to remember which option, will give you a much higher chance of success in the test.

Question Limits

Many apps (especially the free ones) have a limited number of questions. Some apps have a question bank of a few hundred questions, others may have more or less. Whilst you will only get asked 50 questions on the Theory Test NI multiple choice section, there is approximately 1000 questions they can choose from.

If you’ve only revised and practiced 300 questions, even if you got them all right (well done you), there’s still potentially 700 questions that you’ve never seen. It’s worth noting that we are not saying to stay up all night, every night to look through all 1000 questions, but you need a wide variety of knowledge on different sections to pass.

Some of these sections would include: Accidents, Road Signs and Vulnerable Road Users. We will be discussing each topic in more detail over the coming weeks.

Scraping by

We have helped countless learners get through their theory tests and another one of the biggest pitfalls that people have is just managing a pass mark on their theory apps and then feeling that they are ready for the actual test.

The pass mark for the multiple choice is 43 out of a possible 50. If you are aiming to book your Theory Test NI (or already have one booked), we’d recommend achieving a consistent score of at least 48 out of 50 (if not full marks) on the practice / mock tests. This gives you a little more leeway should you find some questions you’re less familiar with on the actual test.

Hazards! Hazards! Hazards!

One often overlooked section of the Theory Test NI is the hazard perception part. Many people spend lots of time and energy revising the multiple choice sections, but forget about the hazard perception part of the test. You must pass both the hazard perception and the multiple choice sections to get your pass certificate.

Whilst it’s true that it’s harder to revise for the hazard perception part, as you won’t know what videos will come up on the test, you’ll need a good understanding of how that part is scored. Check out our other articles and videos on the hazard perception section. This part of the test however is where the apps are both a blessing and a curse.

Using mobile hazard perception apps is a very useful strategy and will give you an understanding of how to score well in this section and allow you to practice. The downside however is that your reaction time tapping a screen on a mobile device will be different to clicking a mouse on a computer (that’s how its done on the actual test).

There is also less information to be obtained on a small phone screen compared to the wider and fuller picture you would get on a home computer so we’d definitely recommend staying on a PC or Laptop to get the best experience when revising for this section.


Overall, a careful combination of the books, apps and a computer-based hazard perception study aid will lead to a much more successful attempt at the Theory Test NI. Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter to receive updates and tips on how to pass your theory test.

Theory Test NI

At Theory Training NI, we are a team of industry experts including advanced driving instructors and examiners specifically here to help you on your way to passing your theory test and beyond.

If you need more information or help with you theory test, we offer online group sessions, online one-to-one sessions and our team are always happy to discuss how we can help.

Click here to contact us and let us get you that pass!

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