PCV theory test: preparation

PCV theory test: preparation

There are two parts to the driving test for a passenger-carrying vehicle (PCV): a theory test and a practical test. You must pass the theory test before you can take the practical test.

The theory test has two parts: a multiple choice part and hazard perception test. You don’t have to take both parts of the test on the same day but you must take them within two years of each other to get your theory test certificate.

The test is a really important part of learning to drive a PCV because when you get to your practical test you’ll need to show that you can use what you learn for this test when you’re driving on the road. It also forms Module 1 of your initial Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) if you’re going to be driving for a living: see the Driver CPC page for more information.

See GOV.UK for a guide to the theory test.

It’s vital to prepare for your theory test; it may be a while since you last refreshed your knowledge of the rules of the road. The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to pass first time, which will save you the time and money that retaking the test will cost.

The questions in the multiple choice test are taken from three books:The official DVSA guide to driving buses and coaches

products available that contain practice questions but it's really important you don't just learn the answers without understanding the questions fully because the questions on the actual test aren’t exactly the same as the practice ones.

Using official publications will help you get the most out of your preparation. You can find these on our online shop. Or check out the Official DVSA Learning Zone.

To help you get used to how the multiple choice test looks on-screen, you can practise doing the test online.

You can also test your understanding of road signs, with our free practice quiz.

The multiple choice test covers the following topics

  • vehicle weights and dimensions
  • drivers’ hours and rest periods
  • braking systems
  • the driver
  • carrying passengers
  • the road
  • incidents, accidents and emergencies
  • vehicle condition
  • leaving the vehicle
  • vehicle loading
  • restricted view
  • essential documents
  • environmental issues
  • other road users
  • road and traffic signs.

There are lots of tricks you can use to help you learn what you’ll need to know for your test. Here are a few ideas.

  • Link what you’re learning to your own experiences: for example, think about where you’ve seen an example of a road sign and use this to help you remember what the sign means.
  • Use mnemonics: these are sayings or stories that help you remember something – for example, ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’ reminds you of the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
  • Practise the question formats: as well as knowing all the information, you’ll also need to know how the questions are asked in the test. Use the practice test (see above) and the self-assessment questions in ‘The Official DVSA Theory Test for Drivers of Large Vehicles’.
  • Plan your study: set yourself some timelines and targets. This will help you to see your progress and make sure you haven’t missed anything. Plan to do your studying somewhere you won’t be disturbed and at a time when you’re fully awake.
  • Get help: use friends, family, your driving instructor or your colleagues from work to ask questions and share driving experiences.

This part of the test checks you can recognise and respond to hazards that could happen while you’re driving. Being out on the road withyour instructor will help you prepare for this part. There’s also The Official DVSA Guide to Hazard Perception, available as an interactive DVD-ROM or as an online subscription from the Official DVSA Learning Zone.

In the test you’ll see 19 film clips, each shown from a driver’s point of view. You’ll need to spot the developing hazard in each film: this is something that might need you, as the driver, to take some action such as changing speed or direction. For example, a car pulling in to the side of the road ahead of you is a developing hazard because you’ll need to slow down and manoeuvre around it.

You can test your hazard perception skills with our free practice test.