No-one likes taking exams, particularly when they stand between you and the freedom of the open road. But fear not, the driving theory test won't be a problem with these top tips…

What is the driving theory test?

To be a safe driver, you have to know the rules of the road. And that's where the driving theory test comes in. It's currently divided into two parts: multiple choice and hazard perception. Both are usually completed on a computer at the test centre. The multiple choice consists of 50 questions, and you have 57 minutes to answer them. You need 43 or more correct answers to pass. The hazard perception involves watching 14 video clips. You have to click the mouse when you see a hazard developing. Each hazard carries a maximum score of five. You need 44 from a possible 75 to pass.

Do I actually need to take a test?

If you're a learner, or you're adding a category to your existing licence (eg. motorcycling), you need to pass a theory test. If you're upgrading within a category (e.g. from automatic to manual) you don't need to sit the test.

Top tips to passing the test

The Highway Code and other guides

Grab yourself a copy of the Highway Code. It's the best place to start. It's also the source from which the test takes its questions. You'll soon have all the background knowledge you need. The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) also publishes a guide to help you through the theory test. It explains the rules you need to know, and has some sample questions to help you prepare.

Test yourself

The DSA has an online practice test, where you can get a couple of practice exams for free. Pay £7 and do it as many times as you like. It replicates the conditions you will face in the proper exam.

Get out on the road

The books and website cover the multiple choice questions, but you still need to prepare for the hazard perception. Talk nicely to someone with a car, make sure you've got a set of L plates and car insurance to cover you, and take to the open road. The more miles you cover, the better driver you will be. It's also worth sitting alongside someone else while they drive. That way, you can concentrate on spotting potential hazards and learn the art of anticipation.

Prepare yourself

Don't stay up for a late night cramming session the night before your test. Get to bed nice and early, so you're fully rested for the next day, and leave in plenty of time to get to the test centre - you don't want to be running late. Don't forget your ID and the card with your test details.

The big test - part one: multiple choice

You have more than a minute to answer each multiple choice question, so there's no need to rush. Read each question carefully: it's easy to skip to the end thinking you've read it properly when you haven't. Some questions require you to tick more than one box, so think about your answers and check them over before moving on to the next question. You should also have the option to skip to the next question and come back to the ones you've missed at the end.

The big test - part two: hazard perception

Watch the clips carefully and be patient. You don't need to score the maximum five points on every clip. Click too early and you risk scoring nothing. Four points on each would get you a pass after 11 correct answers, so take your time.

Book your practical test

Lots of people pass their theory then wait ages before booking a practical exam. Trouble is, many test centres have a waiting list and your theory pass only lasts 12 months. Wait too long and you'll have to do it all over again! Once you've passed and you're qualified to drive, make sure you've got the correct insurance for you. Compare car insurance quotes for the most competitive deal. And if you fancy a little runaround, have a read of Small but Perfectly Formed - a guide to the best small cars on the market.