Driver theory test
The first step to learning to drive in Ireland is to pass the driver theory test.
The theory test is a computer-based examination of motoring theory appropriate to the category of vehicle you want to be licenced to drive. It checks your knowledge of:
- The rules of the road
- Risk perception
- Hazard awareness
- Good driving behaviour
You can take the driver theory test at any one of the test centres (pdf) located around the country. While the test is computer-based, it is designed to be user-friendly for people who have little experience of using computers. The test can be offered in Irish and English and candidates with special needs are catered for.
If you pass the test, you get a theory test certificate. You can then apply for a learner permit and begin learning to drive on Irish roads.
Read more about the steps involved in getting an Irish driving licence.
How to apply for a driver theory test
You can apply and pay for your driver theory test online. Applying online is the quickest way to book a theory test. The application form (pdf) is also available from the testing service and NDLS centres. You can also book a test by phone or by post.
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. If you do not arrive at the Test Centre in time for your test appointment or cancel your test in less than 5 business days (to include 3 complete business days) before your test date, you will lose your test fee.
The cost of a driver theory test is as follows:
|Category A or B||€45|
|Category C or D||€72|
|Module TMT or BMT||€45|
The RSA has published a list of acceptable forms of identification you must show on the day of your theory test to be able to take the exam. Failure to produce the correct identification will result in you not being able to test and you will lose your test fee.
While you can legally take a driver theory test at any age, your pass certificate is only valid for 2 years, and you cannot get a learner permit to drive any kind of vehicle in a public place in Ireland until you are at least 16 years of age.
Categories of vehicle
When applying to take a theory test, you will be asked to indicate the category of vehicle you wish to be tested for. The categories of test are:
- A – motorcycles and mopeds (Driving licence categories AM, A1, A2, A),
- B – cars, tractors and work vehicles (Driving licence categories B, BE, W)
- C – vans and trucks over 3,500kg (Driving licence categories C, C1, CE, C1E)
- D – buses (Driving licence categories D, D1, DE, D1E)
- CD – trucks and buses (Driving licence categories C, C1, CE, C1E, D, D1, DE, D1E)
- TMT – truck module (must have passed D test)
- BMT – bus module (must have passed C test)
Categories A, B, C and D tests are available in Irish. If you want to complete your test in the Irish language, you must indicate that when booking your test.
If you already have a driving licence for a particular category and you want to get a driving licence for a different category for which a different theory test is required, you have to pass the theory test for that category before you can apply for a learner permit.
For example, if you have a driving licence for a car (category B) and you want to get a driving licence for a van or truck (category C1), you must pass the category C theory test and then apply for a category C1 learner permit.
If you pass a category C or D theory test, there is an option to sit a TMT or BMT module test to get the other category (D or C as appropriate) provided this is done within 2 years of the first test.
Read more about categories of vehicles and learner permits.
Preparing for the test
The questions you will be asked in your driver theory test are based on the Rules of the Road (pdf) and current road traffic legislation.
The Driver Theory Testing Service has a bank of questions. For each test, a random selection of questions will be used from the question bank. The test is continually updated depending on new and revised legislation.
Using official RSA revision materials gives you the best chance of passing the first time. You can buy learning portal subscriptions, books and CD-ROMs on the theory test website.
Some public libraries also stock this material. Contact your local public library to see if you can borrow these items.
How the test works
The test is computerised and can be taken using either a touch screen or a mouse and keyboard. You do not need to be computer literate to take the test.
The first part of the exam consists of a short tutorial, which includes instructions on how to navigate through the exam. It also lets you practice answering 2 questions.
The format of the test is multiple choice questions. Answers are marked with a square box beside them and you tick one to choose your answer.
If you make a mistake or change your mind, you can cancel your answer. You can skip a question if you like, and go back and answer it at the end of your test. Before you finish the exam, you can review all your answers and change them.
Motorcycle and car tests
There are 40 questions in the category A and B tests and you have to answer 35 questions correctly to be successful. You have 45 minutes to answer the 40 questions in the test. You can find out more from theorytest.ie.
Truck and bus tests
There are 100 questions in the category C and D tests and you have to answer 74 questions correctly. You have 120 minutes to answer the questions.
To pass the combined CD theory test, you have 180 minutes to correctly answer 104 out of 140 questions. To pass a truck (TMT) or bus (BMT) module theory test you have 45 minutes to answer 30 out of 40 questions correctly.
You can find out more from theorytest.ie.
Getting your result
The test is scored automatically and results are available to you immediately. If you are successful, you will receive a pass certificate for your theory test at the test centre. You can then apply for a learner permit.
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.
Appealing your result
If you are unhappy with the result of your theory test, you have the right to appeal this decision.
To appeal, you should speak to the driver theory test supervisor before leaving the test centre. You can also fill out an appeal form, which is available at every test centre. You can also phone the candidate services team to request a rescore of you driver theory test by calling 0818 606 106.
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. The fee for appealing is €15 which is refunded if successful.
If 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.
Replacing a lost driver theory test certificate
You no longer need to present your pass certificate at the NDLS centres. You can complete your NDLS appointment without a physical copy of the score report. If you have lost your score report, the NDLS agents will have access to an online version of your result.
Applicants with reading or language difficulties
There are various options to assist you if you have special reading needs.
- If you have any difficulty with reading, there is a voiceover option that will read out the questions and answers.
- A reader recorder service can be provided where a staff member will read the questions and answers to you and record your answer on the computer.
- Translator supported tests are available by special arrangement in certain test centres if you do not understand Irish or English.
- If you have dyslexia, you can book the self-service dyslexia support. You book this when making your appointment for a car theory test. This service includes a PDF with alternative words and phrases. It also has an English voiceover. You can book an in-person assistance option, by phone 0818 606 106. It is available in limited test centers.
- You can request Irish Sign Language video clips by calling 0818 606 106.
- You can request an Irish Sign Language interpreter by calling 0818 606 106.
There is an option on the theory test application form (pdf) to tick if you need special arrangements to take your test. You will need to provide medical evidence from a school, doctor, or employer on headed paper together with the application form.
Translator and voiceover services
You can get voiceover services in the following languages:
If you need help in another language, you must complete the declaration form (pdf). You must have it signed by an approved signatory. See the declaration form for a list of approved signatories. When you have the declaration form completed, you can make a request online for a translator. Allow up to 25 working days for your request. You should only apply if you are ready to test within this time. A care specialist will contact you by email to offer you a test date. You must phone and pay within 3 business days of the offer to secure your booking. If you do not, your application will be closed and you will need to reapply.