The Road to my Full Licence! Introductions and Theory Test drama
Well. It’s finally time. My little 125cc has served me well, but I’ve outgrown her a bit. It’s time to get a BIG BIKE. Being only 5”1 it won’t be that big, but you get the idea.
I passed my CBT last August, and have ridden pretty much every day since. Not having my own car, my little Honda MSX is my primary transport for work, shopping, and the odd chippy run. Before starting work for Youles I worked in Manchester city centre full time and I was racking up miles like they were going out of fashion, around 200 a week, 250 if I did overtime! Since starting at Youles in March I only go over to Manchester twice a week so the clock isn’t spinning as fast, but I’ve still managed 7000 miles in less than a year.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, I’m going to do a bit of a diary of my road from CBT to full A licence! Including training, regulation, and hopefully a bit of insider knowledge from working at a dealership. It can seem like a long and winding road getting your license nowadays. Long gone is the time of riding around the block on a 125 with a stationary examiner testing you on an emergency stop. Now it’s MOD1s, MOD2s, Theory tests, the lot. Not forgetting the age restrictions and power to weight ratios around licenses, too! Being over 24, I can go for my Direct Access so that’s what I’m going to focus on over the next few blog posts, but an A2 break down is in the pipeline so watch this space! Also, my experience is for testing in England, other countries in the UK may have slight variations so be sure to check!
Already having a CBT, the first step in my journey was my theory test. Much like the car theory it costs 23 Great British Pounds and is in 2 sections; Questions and Hazard Perception (H.P. from now on as re-typing Hazard Perception constantly is going to get weird). The questions are Multiple Choice, and there’s 50 of them. It sounds like a lot but you get just under an hour to answer them (57mins) so even if you take a minute to think about each one, you’re still well within your time allowance. My first piece of advice is to practice. Practice more. And when you think you’ve cracked it, practice again! Don’t think just because it’s multiple choice it’s a breeze, there are a few questions that may catch you off guard, such as a few “all of the above” or “none of the above” answers to make sure you’ve read the whole question, which I’ll mention more about in a bit.
So, if you’ve taken a car theory test before you’ll know the drill at the test centre. You turn up a minimum of 15 mins early with your photocard license, they check your pockets, remove your watches, and make you shove everything in a locker. They’re really strict on this and you can actually be sent to prison for cheating so as funny as it may seem, try not to giggle. After they’ve checked you are who you say you are, and you don’t have anyone sending you messages from outside, they sit you in a deathly quiet room with a load of other people staring at screens with headphones on (It’s a little ‘1984’ thinking about it…). Whether you get spooked by test conditions or not, the best thing I can advise, as I said before, is to practice. Then you’ve got one less thing to worry about when you get there. Make sure to check parking around the test centre, too. Bolton, for example, has no parking so I had to chain my Grom to a fence down a nearby side street and hope for the best! In terms of the test itself, as I said you get 57 mins to answer your multiple choice, and the H.P. takes as long as it takes for the 14 clips to run their course. I was in and out within an hour but the time is there for a reason, so use it if you need it! You only need the headphones for the H.P. but you might want to put them on anyway to “get in the zone” or try and muffle the other clicks from other people doing their own tests. Once you’ve completed your test, by the time you’re taking your headphones off there’s someone behind you to escort you out of the room and take you to the desk for your results which are instant. They’ve got your confirmation printed and ready for you in the time you’ve walked from your chair to the desk. Now, this piece of A4 paper is actually your certificate which you will need to show to your training school and the examiners on your practical test days to prove that you’ve completed and passed your theory. So keep it safe!
Another piece of advice; read the question in its entirety. If you follow the first piece of advice and practice, practice, practice, you’ll start to recognise questions but it’s still super important to read the whole thing as some questions have more than one answer so you might have a different set of answers for the same question
e.g. Why should you maintain your motorcycle – I saw this question, or variants of, a few times through my revision and it did come up on my test. The two answers are along the lines of “to keep it road worthy” and “to reduce harmful emissions”. I am paraphrasing but you get the jist. You wouldn’t get both answers on the same question, but you may see both answer variants on the same test so don’t go for the answer that sounds most like the one you saw before because you’ll miss out.
After the multiple choice questions you get a minute or so to relax and stretch, but still in your seat. Then it’s the Hazard Perception! Any motorcyclist will tell you that you need eyes in the back of your head on a bike, so this Hazard Perception is a very important part of the overall test. The H.P. is made up of 14 short videos which all contain at least one “developing hazard”. One video will feature 2.
A developing hazard is something that causes you to take action, such as slowing down to changing direction. The government website gives the following example:
A car is parked at the side of the road and isn’t doing anything. It wouldn’t cause you to take action, so it’s not a developing hazard.
When you get closer, the car’s right-hand indicator starts to flash and it starts to move away. You’d need to slow down, so it’s now a developing hazard.
Each hazard is scored 5 to 1. When the hazard is first identified as a hazard it’s at 5, then as you get closer to a hazard/the hazard becomes more developed the score drops 4,3,2, to 1. A prime example is a car flying towards a junction from a side road. If you see it early on and click you get 5, if you don’t spot it until it gets to the give way lines you’re going to get 0, 1 if you’re very lucky. I’d recommend double-clicking each hazard, just to make sure the click is registered. On a few of my practices, I clicked a fraction too early for it to be registered and I scored zero. With the frequency with which we all use computers, a double click is a natural reaction. However, don’t continue to click as the hazard is developing! Read on for why.
Now in terms of clicking too often, don’t worry too much about it. It’s almost impossible to click too much. If you click for pedestrians approaching a zebra crossing but they end up not crossing you won’t get penalised, because it could have become a hazard. That is the sort of thing you should be looking out for after all. However, if you constantly click, or click in a pattern you’ll be locked out of the video and you’ll score zero. Which is what happened to me. On my double hazard video no less. I’d accidentally started to click in a pattern for a car approaching on the left, clicking at 5 points but then continuing to click until it got to the junction and it locked me out. I lost a potential 10 points and was convinced I’d failed. I persevered, though, continuing as it never happened. After all that, I passed! Which is my next piece of advice. Even if you think you’ve failed, carry on. For a start, you may not have failed! I effectively lost ten points, but because I continued as normal the rest of my answers kept my score high and I passed. Even if you do end up failing, it gives you an accurate representation of what you need to work on so you can go away, work on it, then come back and smash it. That applies for your practical, too.
So that’s that for your theory! This was a pretty lengthy read, but I hope it was informative enough, and not too preachy. The advice isn’t new, everyone always says “read the questions” and all that but I’ve taken enough exams over the years to honestly tell you it really does help.
Next step after the theory is practical training! I’ve booked training sessions with RJH Training!
These guys have a new site at our Blackburn store, as well as sites in Salford, Manchester, and Northwich. My first training day is on my MOD1 work, so stay tuned to see how my stumpy-legged-self did on a regular bike!