A driver theory test was introduced in Ireland in 2001 to supplement the practical driving test. Prior to this, motorists in Ireland were not required to undergo a test of their knowledge of either the rules of the road or motoring legislation in Ireland before they applied for a driving licence, or completed their driving test.
You must pass the driver theory test before applying for a first learner permit (formerly called a provisional licence). If your provisional licence or /learner permit expired 5 years ago, then you must pass the theory test again before a learner permit will be issued.
EU legislation governing this area requires that citizens undergo a practical test of their knowledge of the rules of the road and motoring legislation.
The driver theory test was updated in October 2011. The bank of test questions have been updated, revised or replaced, and updated learning materials (book and CD fifth editions) are available from book shops and theorytest.ie. The format of the test has not changed.
Your theory test will check your knowledge about areas such as:
The test is conducted at a nation-wide network of 41 test locations and uses a user-friendly computerised system. The test can be offered in Irish and in English and candidates with special needs are catered for.
A theory test certificate must be obtained before a first learner permit in a particular vehicle category is granted.
There are four categories of test:
Read more about categories of vehicles and learner permits here.
There are 40 questions in the test and candidates have to answer 35 questions correctly to be successful. You have 45 minutes to answer the 40 questions in the test.
The test is computerised and can be taken using either a touch screen or a mouse and keyboard. The first part of the exam consists of a 15-minute tutorial, which includes instructions on how to navigate through the exam as well as allow you to practice answering two questions. You don't need to be computer literate.
If you wish to complete your test in the Irish language, you should state that when booking your test.
Answers are marked with a square box beside them, where you tick one to choose the correct answer.
If you make a mistake or change your mind, you can cancel your answer. If you want to skip a question, you can and then go back and answer the question at the end of your test. Before you complete the exam, there is an option to review all your answers and if you wish, change them.
The test is scored automatically and results are made available to you immediately. You will receive a pass certificate for your theory test at the test centre.
Regardless of whether you pass or fail, you will also be provided with a score report listing the categories recommended for further study, based on your performance.
There are various options to assist you if you have special reading needs.
To apply for extra time, a reader/recorder service or a translator supported test you have to apply for the theory test by post. You also have to provide evidence on official headed paper from a teacher, doctor or professional person confirming the assistance you require.
The questions you will be asked in your driver theory test are based on the Rules of the Road and current road traffic legislation in Ireland. The Driver Theory Testing Service has a bank of questions. For each test, a random selection of 40 questions will be used from the question bank. The test is continually updated depending on new and revised legislation.
The full list of test questions and answers are available in book and CD formats. The CD-Rom includes practice tests, where you can sit a test and understand how the exam works.
The book and the CD are available from bookshops throughout the country, by phone and online from the Driver Theory Testing Service (Locall 1890 606 106). This material is not free (€17.99 for the book or €22.16 for the CD). Some public libraries in Ireland also stock this material. Contact your local public library to see if you can borrow these items.
There are specific minimum ages at which you may hold a learner permit for certain vehicles in Ireland. For example, drivers of Category A1 vehicles (i.e., certain motorcycles) must be at least 16 years of age to obtain a provisional licence. Drivers of Category B vehicles (i.e., certain cars) must be at least 17 years to hold a first provisional licence.
In theory, you may take a driver theory test at any age. However, you must submit your pass certificate to a National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) centre with your application for a first learner permit within two years of passing the theory test. So for example, if you wish to apply for a learner permit for Category B vehicles, you must be at least 15 years of age or older when you pass your driver theory test in order to obtain a first learner permit when you reach 17 years.
Failure to submit your learner permit application to an NDLS centre within 2 years of passing your theory test will mean the test certificate expires and you will have to do the test again.
There is no maximum age at which you can complete a driver theory test.
If you are unhappy with the result of your theory test, you have the right to appeal this decision. Speak to the Driver Theory Test supervisor before leaving the test centre. You may also fill out an appeal form, available at each of the Driver Theory Test Centres. There are some rules regarding appeals.
You must make your appeal within 10 working days of your test
When your appeal is received, your test will be re-marked and you will receive the result within 5 to 10 working days.
If it emerges that the original marking was incorrect you will be issued with your new theory test certificate. You can read more about the Driver Theory Test Customer Charter here.
Anyone who wants to apply for a first learner permit has to pass the theory test for that category of vehicle first.
You must bring with you a valid form of identification and two identical passport-type photographs. Information on identification requirements is available at theorytest.ie..
If you have lost or misplaced your driver theory test certificate, you can obtain a duplicate copy. You can request a duplicate certificate over the telephone by calling1890 606 106, and pay the required fee using a credit or debit card.
You can also write to the Driver Theory Testing Service (see 'Where to apply' below) to request a duplicate certificate. Your request in writing must include your name,address,date of birth and PPS Number along with the fee, so your record can be identified. This fee must be included as a cheque, postal order or bank draft made out to Prometric Ireland Limited. (Do not send cash).
Driver theory tests cost €45 from 12 April 2012.
A duplicate driver theory test certificate costs €15.
The fee if making an appeal is €15 which is refunded if successful.
Apply and pay for your driver theory test online. It is also possible to download and complete an application form for a driver theory test (pdf) here.
You can also book a test by telephoning the call centre below. You will be asked for your PPS Number (formerly known as your RSI number) so remember to have this to hand. If you have a credit or debit card, you can apply and pay for your test over the telephone. Alternatively, you can telephone and request an application form by post. Your completed application form together with the appropriate fee should be forwarded to the address below.
When your application has been received, you will receive notification of the date, location and time of your test in advance. It is possible to re-schedule or cancel a theory test online or you can contact the call centre to do so.
When you arrive at your test centre, all your documentation will be checked. You must remember to bring with you some form of identification as referred to above. You will then be taken to a work station to complete the test.
P.O. Box 788
Locall:1890 606 106 Monday-Friday 8.00am-6.00pm.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.