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Becoming a Driving Instructor – Course Information

Becoming a fully qualified driving instructor isn’t an easy process. However, as long as you’re prepared to work hard and you find the right trainer for you – you will have great chance of passing.

There are 3 exams you need to take and pass each one within 3 attempts. You also have 2 years to complete all 3 exams from the date you pass the first exam – Part 1.

You can pass all 3 exams in as little as 3 months. Typically trainees take between 6 months – 12 months if they have an existing job and they are doing their training in between.

Part One

Part 1 of the approved driving instructor (ADI) qualifying process is the theory test. Before you can take the test, you’ll need to have completed a criminal record check and been given permission by the ADI registrar.

See GOV.UK for more information about the Part 1 test.

There are two parts to the test

  • the multiple choice part
  • the hazard perception part.

In the multiple choice test, you’ll need to show your knowledge of

  • The Highway Code
  • the rules of the road
  • instructional techniques.

The ADI theory test needs a higher standard of knowledge than the learner theory test because you’ll need a more thorough understanding of these topics so you can teach them to your pupils.

Preparing for your theory test will help you to understand what your pupils will be going through as they prepare for their test. Think about how you find the process and what you find helpful so you can use this to support your pupils in the future.

Using official publications will help you get the most out of your preparations. You can see a list of recommended resources on our Becoming an approved driving instructor page. You can buy these on our online shop.

The multiple choice test covers the following topics in four ‘bands’.

  • road procedure
  • traffic signs and signals, car control, pedestrians and mechanical knowledge
  • driving test, disabilities and law
  • publications and instructional techniques

There are lots of tricks you can use to help you learn what you’ll need to know for your test. Here are a few ideas.

  • Link what you’re learning to your own experiences: for example, think about where you’ve seen an example of a road sign and use this to help you remember what the sign means.
  • Use mnemonics: these are sayings or stories that help you remember something – for example, ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’ reminds you of the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
  • Practise the question formats: as well as knowing all the information, you’ll also need to know how the questions are asked in the test. Use the practice test and the self-assessment questions in The Official DVSA Theory Test for Approved Driving Instructors.
  • Plan your study: set yourself some timelines and targets. This will help you to see your progress and make sure you haven’t missed anything. Plan to do your studying somewhere you won’t be disturbed and at a time when you’re fully awake.
  • Get help: use friends, family, your instructor or your colleagues from work to ask questions and share driving experiences.

Use the stopping distances game and road sign quiz to help you practise too.

It might be a while since you did any studying so allow yourself plenty of time to find out what works best for you.

This part of the test checks you can recognise and respond to hazards that could happen while you’re driving. Being out on the road with your trainer will help you prepare for this part. There’s also ‘The Official DVSA Guide to Hazard Perception’, an interactive DVD that will help you learn to recognise hazards, know what to do when you see a hazard and practise for the test.

In the test you’ll see 14 film clips, each shown from a driver’s point of view. You’ll need to spot the developing hazard in each film: this is something that might need you, as the driver, to take some action such as changing speed or direction.

Part Two

The Part 2 test for driving instructors is very similar to the standard learner driver test. As with the learner test, at the start you will be required to read a clean and stationary car number plate.

The distance 26.5 metres for vehicles with a new-style number plate and 27.5 metres for vehicles with an old-style number plate. Also just as the learner test, the examiner will ask you maintenance ‘Show Me Tell Me‘ questions on your vehicle. You will be asked 5 Show Me Tell Me questions; 3 Show Me questions where you will need to show the examiner how to carry out vehicle checks and 2 Tell Me questions where you will need to explain how you will carry out the vehicle checks.

Each Show Me Tell Me questions you get incorrect, you will receive a minor fault. The duration of the ADI Part 2 test lasts longer than a standard learner driver test at around one hour due to more manoeuvres and varying road types. More manoeuvres than the standard L-test will be requested, if not all possible manoeuvres.

These will include the turn in the road, left reverse around a corner, right corner reverse, reverse parallel parking and possibly bay parking if bay facilities are available at the test centre or a test centre close by. You will also be required to demonstrate independent driving. Independent driving will take approximately 10 minutes and you will be required to follow either road signs or directions in the form of a basic map from the examiner. It may also be a combination of both.

Unlike the L-test with 15 minor faults, the ADI Part 2 will only be allowed a maximum of 6 minor faults. The test will be spread over varying road conditions and environments to include busy town roundabouts, one-way systems, country roads, dual carriageways and motorways. In order to successfully pass the Part 2 test, you must satisfy the examiner that you can:

  • Expertly demonstrate handling of the car controls
  • Follow road procedures safely and correctly
  • Anticipate the actions of other road users, taking the appropriate action and in
    sufficient time
  • Demonstrate a sound judgment of distance and appropriate speed
  • Give consideration to other road users and demonstrate a safe level of driving
  • Abide by the Highway Code


Before you can book the ADI Part 2 test, you must have completed and passed the ADI Part 1 test.


You must take along to your ADI Part 2 test:

  • your ADI Part 1 test certificate
  • your valid Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving licence, plus a valid passport if you have the old-style paper licence
  • a suitable car for the test to be conducted in


The ADI Part 2 car requirements are as follows:

  • Fully insured, taxed and a valid MOT if applicable
  • Road worthy (tyres, windscreen / wiper condition, seat belts etc)
  • Car must be right-hand steering
  • Must be a hard-top saloon, hatchback or estate car
  • Car must be of typical performance for its type
  • Car must have fully adjustable front passenger seat, seat belts and head restraints
  • If you have a manual licence you can take the test in either a manual or automatic car. You’ll be able to train people in both types of car when you’ve qualified.
  • Car must not be displaying L plates or D plates in Wales
  • Car must not be fitted with a space saver tyre

Take along a adjustable interior rear view mirror for use of the driving examiner. Hire cars are permitted providing it meets with the above rules and is fitted with dual controls. If the above rules are not met, the examiner will terminate the test and you will lose the test fee.

Part Three

ADI Part 3 is to test your ability to teach. The test lasts for one hour and is divided into two 30 minute segments.

The examiner can choose from 10 Pre-Set Tests (PST). Each PST has two phases. If for example the examiner chooses PST 3, phase 1 will be the examiner playing the role of a pupil and you will need to teach him the turn in the road. In this phase the examiner will have little driving experience, but enough driving ability to drive to the location where the turn in the road will be taught. For PST 3 phase 2, the examiner will have a much higher driving ability and will play the role of a pupil where he will need to be taught Approaching Junctions.

Which ever PST the examiner chooses, during both phase 1 and 2, he or she will be making plenty of mistakes and asking questions to test your ability to teach. Based on the PST the driving examiner has chosen, he or she will expect you to provide a lesson briefing if required and explain what you hope to achieve this lesson. During the practical part of the PST, verbal support will be expected to provide help. The examiner will make a series of faults in which you will be expected to identify the faults, analyse and explain why it may be incorrect and to rectify the faults. The examiner will be assessing your ability to:

  • Provide a clear and informative briefing of the lesson
  • Provide clear instruction at the correct level of pupil ability the examiner sets
  • Identify any faults made
  • Analyse and explain faults
  • Rectify faults
  • Keep control of the lesson

Each 30 minute phase will be graded from 1 to 6, with grade 4 and above being a pass. The minimum you need to pass Part 3 is a 4/4 on each 30 minute part. Grade 4 is adequate, grade 5 is good and grade 6 is excellent.


The Part 3 ADI test is to assess your ability to teach. Throughout the test, the examiner will play the role of a pupil in which you will need to teach certain aspects of driving. The Part 3 test lasts for one hour and is divided into two phases. Phase one assesses your ability to teach a novice or intermediate learner and phase two assesses your ability to teach learners with a much higher ability to drive. 

The examiner plays the part of a novice or intermediate learner driver in phase one and in the second phase he or she will play the part of a learner who is approaching test standard. The examiner will choose one out of ten Pre-Set Tests (PST). You can score from grade 1 to 6. A grade 4 or above must be scored in each phase in order to pass Part 3. Three attempts are permitted at Part 3. Failure of all 3 attempts will result in having to wait 2 years from the date you passed your Part 1 test before you can start again. In this situation, ADI Part 1, ADI Part 2and ADI Part 3 will then have to be taken again.

Below you will find some of the more important areas of advice to keep in mind when taking your ADI Part 3 test.

The DVSA ADI 1 document explains the rules that the examiner must abide by for the Part 3 test. A read of this may provide you with some insight and useful tips for passing your Part 3 test.

Once Part 2 has been passed and you have completed 40 hours of ADI Part 3 training, you may want to consider applying for a trainee driving instructor licence. If the trainee licence is granted it will enable you to instruct for a maximum of 6 months for pay. The experience gained in these 6 months will help enormously towards aiding you in the Part 3 test. It is not essential to become a trainee driving instructor (PDI), but If you believe you are struggling with your Part 3 training or your trainer recommends that becoming a PDI will benefit you, it then may be in your interest to apply for one. Generally only one trainee licence is permitted, although in certain circumstances a second can be granted.

Take time to learn the roads and routes around the test centre. In particular the more complicated parts such as one way systems or difficult roundabouts. This will help immensely in your test for If you happen to use these routes in your Part 3 test then it will provide you with a much better understanding of what is approaching. This will allow you to relay instruction to the examiner in good time.

At the start of your ADI Part 3 test, the examiner will give you a ‘word picture’. This word picture determines the role that the examiner will be playing. For example, the examiner will play a learner with very little experience and the PST he has chosen will be teaching the 3 point turn. Obviously you will be nervous on your test and it may go in one ear and out the other. Not understanding the word picture due to nerves is a common reason for failure. Listen to the word picture very carefully and if you do not quite understand, then ask to repeat.

After your word picture, well thought questions to the examiner is important. By covering these thoroughly, you may well discover some mistakes the examiner will make even before you set off.

During your ADI Part 3 test, one of the most important aspects of your training is your Part 2. If at any point the examiner does something that you yourself would not have done in your Part 2, then it is not acceptable. Use your Part 2 training to its fullest. The skills you gained on your Part 2 training is by far the most important knowledge needed to pass Part 3. Your ultimate goal is for your pupil (the examiner) to drive safely, with good control and abiding by the rules of the road just as you did when you passed your Part 2.

Keep control of the situation. The examiner at any given time will make error after error and they will come thick and fast if you let him. These errors escalate quickly and before you know it, all control is lost. The moment you see an error, pull the examiner up on it. If the errors are coming in fast then ask the examiner to pull up on the left, making sure it is a safe convenient and legal position (SCALP). By doing so, you can address the errors he or she has made, analyse them and more importantly, you have regained control. This is quite a common technique examiners use. So be prepared for that one. Another technique the examiner may use at the same time as making errors is to ask you questions that really aren’t relevant to the task at hand. This is simply another technique used to see if you can keep control. Don’t be afraid to step in and tell the examiner that you will address those questions at a later time but for now all concentration must be given to the task at hand.

It is important to know your Pre-Set Tests (PST) within reason but not to over do it. A experienced and high quality driving instructor trainer will teach you how to instruct and not follow a routine. Studying your PST to a fine routine can potentially lead to failure. Any given situation can lead to a different approach to your teaching method. During the Part 3 test, the examiner has a vast array of mistakes and errors that he or she can produce. The weather can play a part, if it’s raining for example, this could provoke the examiner into produce errors that are related to wet roads. Even the time of day can play a part. If there is significant traffic, it can play a part in the mistakes the examiner plays. Try not to be too linear in your teaching methods. Be prepared to change these at any given moment. You should be taught how to remain calm under pressure and keep in control. How to diagnose problems and faults with good questions and answers, spot faults on the move, analyse the fault so you can understand why the pupil has done this and explain the fault to the pupil, why it is incorrect or potentially dangerous and how it should be corrected. The faults should be remedied with clear instructions on every aspect and with the use of reference points if possible.

The examiner isn’t interested in a set routine. He or she will be demonstrating to you that all your pupils will be different and will make entirely different and at times unexpected mistakes. Some will be very nervous and some will be far too confident. With this in mind, studying your PST to a routine simply will not work. Being prepared to change your course of action at any given time, identify, analyse and correct faults based on your Part 2 skills is essential.


There are many training establishments that will teach Part 1, 2 and of course ADI Part 3. It’s important to use a trainer that you feel comfortable with and one that you clearly understand their teaching methods and instructions.

An ORDIT registered trainer doesn’t necessarily mean they are good, it simply means they follow a particular criteria set out by the DVSA. You may find a local independent ADI trainer better as they are more likely to offer a 1 to 1 service with a more personal approach. You may find this to be cheaper also. ADI Part 3 training can be expensive, so try to judge your decisions initially on recommendations and reviews. Before signing up to an entire course, meet your trainer first and ask to have a short introductory assessment lesson. This will enable you to see if you get along and understand them clearly, which is important.

Ask also if it is the same trainer throughout the entire course as it’s beneficial that it is. Sharing the vehicle with other trainee driving instructors has it’s advantages as you can learn from others mistakes. Make sure however that if there is sharing, ensure you are guaranteed an amount of actual behind the wheel training yourself.

Benefits of becoming a driving instructor.

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Be your own boss
Qualify at your own pace.
Flexible training programme.
ORDIT registered trainers
Telephone support.
Dedicated trainer
Modular payment plan.
Work around your commitments.
Job satisfaction.

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