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 wish 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 in 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
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 fail to 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) prior to 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 a period of 2 years, and you cannot obtain a learner permit to drive any kind of vehicle in a public place in Ireland until you 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 have to 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 obtain 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 first time. You can purchase 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 two 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 if you like.
The RSA have published a video to illustrate what you can expect on the day of your theory test.
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 100 minutes to answer the questions.
To pass the combined CD theory test, you have 140 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 make an 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 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 making an appeal 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.
- You can apply to have extra time to take your exam.
- 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 want this extra assistance, you must make your application by post, enclosing a formal letter signed by a relevant professional (such as a teacher or doctor) that attests to your requirements.