Pearson VUE
Pearson Always Learning logo
The Driving Theory Test (DSA) 
Quick links:
“We chose Pearson VUE to deliver our 1.6 million driving theory tests each year because of their strong commitment to customer service and the quality and security of their systems.”
case study

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) of Great Britain and the Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) of Northern Ireland introduced the Driving Theory Test in 1996. The test covers all aspects of driving theory relating to road safety and driver attitude and all new learner drivers have to pass the theory test before booking their practical test.

In January 2000, DSA replaced the paper and pen theory test with a computer - based test.

To deliver the computer theory test, DSA and DVA need a testing partner with a reliable and proven, test delivery system that is robust enough to deliver around 1.6 million tests per year. They also require a partner that can provide the facilities to deliver the test, schedule and register candidates and provide management reports.

In November 2003, following an extensive tendering process, Pearson VUE was awarded a seven-year contract to administer and process the test, beginning in September 2004.

Working in partnership with the DSA and DVA, Pearson VUE was able to deliver a solution that met their wide ranging requirements.

Test delivery
“Initially the biggest challenge was to find over 150 test centres;” commented Paul Howarth, Managing Director of Pearson VUE.

He added: “The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) came into force in 2004, and all the test centres had to comply. We decided to take the patented test centre design from the US and apply it in the UK.”

Leases were acquired and a network of 150 conveniently located test centres and two mobile centres were built.

“Our selection of Pearson VUE to provide this important service reflects our confidence in Pearson’s ability to
meet our current and future needs, and to work in partnership with us to improve road safety in the UK.”

The Theory Test
Test development is a collaborative process. To ensure the content of the driving theory test complies at all times with the syllabus and new legislation, the DSA and DVA use subject matter experts to develop the content and write new items. Pearson VUE monitors the performance of the items and provides statistics to confirm that questions fairly and accurately test knowledge and performance requirements.

The Car and Bike Driving Theory Test has two parts: part one is a multiple choice test of 50 questions and part two is a hazard perception test of 14 video clips. It is delivered on-screen in English and Welsh and voice-overs are provided to candidates in a number of languages. In addition, candidates have the option of viewing on-screen British Sign Language videos.

On completion of the test the candidate is provided with their result, score and feedback information. Pearson VUE passes the theory test results immediately to the DSA and DVA allowing candidates to book their practical driving test straight away.

Registering candidates
Driving Theory Test candidates choose from a range of booking and payment options. In addition to an ever increasing number of candidates who prefer to register online to take the test, the Pearson VUE Contact Centre receives up to 8,000 calls a day.

As part of the service level  agreement, Pearson VUE answers 90 per cent of calls within 20 seconds and offers candidates an appointment at their chosen test location within two weeks of their preferred date. In 2005, 98 per cent of candidates were satisfied with the service received. 

Management information
To make it easy to evaluate the effectiveness of the Driving Theory Test, a secure access website provides the DSA and DVA with reports on the key management information necessary for the agency to plan ahead.

The intricate system of physical, password and encryption security ensures proprietary data, personal data and test items are always secure.

Customer service
The DSA and DVA set Pearson VUE 36 Key Performance Indicators to provide clear benchmarks that measure performance and to drive continual improvement.