Becoming an Approved Driving Instructor is without doubt a long and challenging process. Like most people deciding to embark on the journey, I was in a job that I didn’t enjoy and wanted a route out. I wanted to be my own boss and manage my own time instead of being told what to do and when to do it.
The adverts on television seemed convincing enough, promising a £30K a year starting salary seemed great. I had a long and hard thought about whether this was really the career for me?
Like most people my thought process was simple, I knew how to drive and I wasn’t too bad when it came to being sociable. Just the thought of freedom from the grip of my own job did the rest of the persuading I needed. This part of the process is actually very important because believe me when I tell you, this is not the easy route out or suitable for everybody. It is vital that you take time to think the whole process over before taking one step สอนขับรถ. Not only asking yourself can I really pass the exams? But also, do I really want to do this for a living if I pass all the exams?
So I phoned up the DSA and got the invitation pack which contained a booklet explaining the whole process and what I need to do to get the ball rolling. The DSA don’t make this process simple and there is some sort of worry throughout the journey.
When I opened up the information pack I was quite disheartened with the DSA’s attitude. In very simple terms the opening paragraphs basically warn you that the process is very long and the pass rate is very poor. Not letting this put me off I sent off my form for a criminal records check and completed my application to be put on the register of potential driving instructors (PDI). Once I had got myself a PDI number I had to decide which company I was going to train with?
There are a number of companies out there that offer various training options at a wide range of prices. I do not advise any company over another as they all have their pros and cons. Some allow you to take out a franchise with only a trainee’s licence; others will not allow you to do this. Some offer more one to one in car tuition than others and some even have class room based learning.
ADI PART 1 Theory
I ended up forking out £600 to train with a well known company just to have the privilege of studying with them for the theory exam. Basically they send you a huge bundle of books and a study guide. You also have access to an approved driving instructor (ADI) should you require one to one tuition. For me this was a complete waste of money as the books they sent are readily available in store for a fraction of the price and I barely needed one hour’s tuition with my dedicated instructor.
My advice is to go out and buy your own books either from the shops or better still from eBay. You can get much better quality books and study guides for very reasonable prices. The ADI Part 1 Theory test is pretty straight forward, you either study hard and pass or you don’t bother studying and fail. Approximately half the candidates sitting part one will fail on their first attempt. I think that is inexcusable, as the books basically give you every question on the database. Even if you have no study skills at all, surely you are capable of memorising the questions and answers. I wouldn’t advise this method but it sure guarantees that you will know the answers on the day of your exam. I took about 3 months preparing for part 1. I probably could have done it in 1 month but I was nervous and didn’t want to slip at the first hurdle. On the day of my exam I got 100% on my theory and 67 out of 75 on the hazard perception part. Make sure you take the time to sit down and learn the theory test questions and answers. In addition practice your hazard perception skill by obtaining a DVD as I am told that more candidates fail the part 1 because of the hazard perception element then the theory element. If your struggling with hazard perception, clearly you don’t understand the how the test is assessed and how to obtain the best score. This is all in the understanding of the phrase “scoring window”. Explaining the workings of the hazard perception test is not within the scope of this article.
ADI Part 2 Driving Ability
Out of all three parts of the qualifying process, ADI part 2 was the one that worried me most. To cut a long story short, I believed that my driving was of average skill. My reverse parking was atrocious and my general planning and awareness also left much to be desired. My next piece of advice is that you start practicing to drive properly as soon as you decide to go down this route. I can’t emphasise this enough as old habits die hard. Simple things like checking you mirrors and signalling timely had gone out through the window. So I decided to get into good habits as I was preparing for Part 1 Theory. Whenever I went out for a drive, I would make sure I tried to put my theory knowledge in use. This is why it is important to understand your theory test material and not just blindly memorise it.
I paid out another £1200 to get 20 hours in car tuition with the same company. I have to admit I was given a good instructor. He wasn’t the best by any means but was very professional. Again I would say that this is far too much money to pay for so few lessons. I would advice looking for an independent instructor who is prepared to charge you by the hour and not go with any of these companies that make money by selling you block tuition for extortionate prices. Anyway I completed my 20 hours of tuition over a 6 month period and booked my test. I practiced everyday in my own car just so that it would become second nature on the day of the practical test. I was more nervous for this part of the test than any other because of my personal weakness in driving. Needless to say I failed my Part 2 as I got 7 driving faults when you are only allowed a maximum of 6. Much of this was down to sheer nerves on the day. I immediately nursed my sore ego and paid an independent driving instructor for a few more hours tuition.
Within 4 weeks I had another test date booked and passed with only 3 driving faults. My advice is then to find an independent driving instructor by recommendation. A good instructor is the difference between passing and failing. A good method is to troll the internet forums and no doubt you will hopefully find the few instructors out there that are worth their weight in gold. There is a huge difference in the quality of the tuition out there so be aware of poor quality instructors wanting to make an extra buck by taking on a PDI to supplement their learner tuition income. Practice every day and don’t be afraid to visit the test centre. I actually drove into the test centre in my own car just to cut down the nerves. I drove the 30 odd miles two or three times a week and practiced on the roads where I was going to be tested. I didn’t want anything to be alien to me on the day of the test that would frighten me. I must have done near enough 500+ parallel parks in the most tight, congested situations just to shake off nerves. It all paid off on the day of the exam and I passed. The pass rate for ADI part 2 is about 45% so don’t take it lightly.
ADI Part 3 Instructional Ability
Many candidates who have got this far will tell you that ADI Part 3 is probably the hardest part of the entire process. It is challenging so I won’t mislead you by telling you that anyone can pass it. As a word of encouragement I believe that you can conquer any challenge provided you try hard enough and God wills for it to happen.
For Part 3 I made a huge mistake that I hope you all can avoid from my experience. This time I didn’t pay for a block tuition course having learnt from my previous experiences. I used the same independent instructor on an hourly basis to prepare for part 3. I took about 40 hours of in car tuition and purchased countless learning aids. These included various DVD sets and briefing notes from the internet. It was all a complete waste of money as I would learn later down the line. I sat down and read out my briefing sheets loudly and practiced role play with an imaginary partner. My instructor gave me the thumbs up after about 8 months and I finally got the courage to book my test.
As my test date approached I realised how much money I had spent which now neared over £4000 if I include the cost of petrol and personal practice time. The consequences of failing ADI Part 3 were not worth considering. I was doing everything in my power to prepare myself the best I could. I read everything ever written on the internet pages and forums advising candidates on part 3 preparation. I stumbled across the name of an instructor in Southampton who everyone seemed to be talking about. I thought why not give him a quick try to carry out a mock test. He was a fresh face and this would simulate for all intents and purposes a mock test on a fresh set of roads. I booked an 8 hour block over a five day period. The guy charged £35 per hour which seemed pretty reasonable so I met up with him for a 2 hour session having advised him that I was 100% test standard and all I wanted him to do was carry out daily mock exams of all the pre set tests.
This guy was pretty technical and suggested we film the duration of the sessions so that I could take the footage away on a memory card and think about the debriefing in my own time. So we got started, I was a little tense understandably but did exactly what my previous instructor had taught me.
Within ten minutes of starting I had completely lost control of the guy who was pretending to be a learner driver that had taken approximately 8-10 lessons. It seemed like nothing I said made sense to the guy and he was just doing whatever he wanted. I was allowed to continue for a few more minutes before the instructor interrupted and told me I’d already failed. I was horrified and needed a few seconds to get over the shock of what had just happened.
The instructor then stepped out of role and began to basically explain to me that almost everything id been taught which was at least 40 hours of tuition was useless. I had no arguments with him as it was plain and simple for me to see that I had just failed the mock test within 10 minutes of starting. This instructor as far as I’m concerned is one of a handful in the UK who has earned the right to teach a PDI. He had sat in on over 500 tests and explained to me about his tried and tested method.
Many candidates complain having failed Part 3 that the examiner acting as the pupil did not listen to their instructions. This in fact is completely wrong; it is you that failed to control the examiner. So let us take an example, if you’re supervising the examiner on the test and you say something vague like “brake a little” or “slow down a little” the examiner may brake hard and stall the car. Why has he done so? Because he is acting in his role as a learner driver and when you tell a learner driver to brake a little, they don’t know what a little means! So how do you get round it? Tell the examiner simply “I want you to keep your speed no more than 10 miles per hour” This is a command and the examiner is duty bound to follow your instructions.
Let us take another example, where you want the examiner to turn right at the end of a T-Junction. If you have already told the examiner “I want you down to no more than 10 miles per hour by that lamp post” you have already dealt with any ideas he may have of shooting towards the junction. Once you get to the mouth of the junction the examiner may not take adequate observation and shoot out right. So you deal with it by getting them to approach the junction and stop in the correct position. You then ask them to prepare the car AND “Keep your feet still” so he can’t stall or try any other tricks at biting point. You then say “don’t go anywhere until I say so” Now you got the examiner right where you want them. You can then make them take the correct observation then allow them to carry on and turn right when you think it’s right and proper to do so and not the other way round.
To cut a long story short, I immediately went home and cancelled my Part 3 test. I rescheduled it for 6 weeks times and after about 20 hours with my new instructor I passed. I was over the moon knowing that the pass rate for ADI Part 3 is approximately 24%. In addition, of all the candidates that apply to become an ADI, only 20% ever manage to get through all three parts of the test process.
Don’t let these figures discourage you because I firmly believe that this is a test that can be passed just like any other. There is never such a thing as a bad pupil only a bad teacher. So the honest advice is that it is your responsibility to seek and find the best quality trainer before forking out thousands of pounds on these company instructors who only guarantee to relieve you of your hard earned money.
Sometimes people tell me that their not very good with their communication skills and could this present a barrier for ADI Part 3? My answer is that you could be a professor of English literature and still fail part 3 because it’s not at test of your language ability or quality. This is about saying specific phrases to your pupil and being in control of them at all times. In the real world imagine if you lost control of your pupil for even a few seconds? The worst case situation could be the end of two lives. That is exactly why the examiner wants you to be short, sharp and to the point with your commands not mess about with endless commentary for which there is no time in the exam or in the real world.
I hope this helps anyone out there who might be thinking of undertaking the ADI qualification process and is looking for some guidance from an average Joe who has been there and experienced the ups and downs. May be you can learn not to make the mistakes I did and save yourself time, effort, sorrow and money!