• Learn the Highway Code and understand the practical test
  • Find an instructor you get on with and spread out lessons, if possible
  • Get out on the road between lessons with qualified family or friends

1. How much will it cost to pass my driving test?

A provisional licence is currently £34 online or £43 through the post[1]. RED Driving School says that driving lessons cost on average £22.30 per hour[2] and, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the average number of hours required to pass is 47[3]. In addition, the theory test costs £23 and the practical car test costs up to £75[4].

2. Understand the driving test and learn the theory

The test is split into two parts – a theory test and a practical test – so it’s important to learn what to expect in each. For example, the theory test involves both written and hazard perception (video) sections.

“Take lots of mock tests and make sure you’re constantly passing them before you even consider applying to take a test,” insists Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School.

3. Taking an intensive course

You may be tempted to go for an intensive course – a five-day course, for example. While the DVSA has no statistics on pass rates for intensive course learners, Tim Shallcross, of the Institute for Advanced Motorists, believes that taking traditional lessons is the best approach as it gives learner drivers more time to prepare.

“There’s lots of research that says the more practice you get before your test, the less likely you are to crash afterwards,” says Shallcross.

4. Finding the best driving instructor

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all instructor out there, each has their own style and methods and some may be more suited to you than others.

Shallcross recommends booking a lesson with two or three different instructors or schools before settling on you preferred teacher.  It’s also worth turning to friends and siblings to see if their driving teacher could help.

5. Practising with the parents

Getting out on the road between lessons with family or friends is crucial to improving your chances of passing the test, says Shallcross.

A lot may have changed since the last generation took their tests, however – the Highway Code may not have included what to do if you encounter a crash, for example, and practical tests now focus on ‘independent driving’, where students are asked to follow signs to a specific location. 

“Ask your instructor if mum or dad can travel in the back of the car during lessons,” Shallcross adds. “That way, they know what to concentrate on when they help you.”

6. The importance of insurance

Yes, you need car insurance before heading out on the road – even though you are a learner driver. Generally, you’ll be covered by your driving school while taking lessons and the practical test, but if you practise between professional lessons in a car belonging to family or friends, you will need additional cover. 

7. Is it best to practise in car parks or on private land?

Your driving test will be on the road, so it’s important to spend as much time driving on the road as possible, advises Shallcross.

“Only spend your very first lesson in a quiet car park,” he recommends.

8. Practise in your parents’ car

If you’re taking your test in a Vauxhall Corsa with manual gears, practising in your parents’ automatic Jaguar isn’t ideal, but it’s not the end of the world.

“Practice between lessons is mostly about learning what to expect on the road, not gear-changing technique,” says Shallcross.

9. What else can I do to prepare?

Get all your documents together and lay out your clothes for test day the night before so that you can concentrate on the test itself, says McIntosh.

“And don’t tell your friends – it just adds to the pressure,” he adds.

There’s no secret to learning to drive, according to the experts, but if one word sums up their advice, it is “preparation” – make sure you give yourself plenty of time to feel prepared and plenty of experience on the road before taking your test.

If you don’t pass first time don’t be disheartened: you can always take the test again and the instructor will take you through what went wrong the first time so that you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Links

[1] DVSA Driving License Fees: https://www.gov.uk/driving-licence-fees

[2] RED Driving School: http://www.reddrivingschool.com/

[3] DSA statistics: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/5156/dsa-ia0077311a.pdf

[4] DVSA Driving Test Cost: https://www.gov.uk/driving-test-cost

DVSA website: https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/learning-to-drive

Institute of Advanced Motorists: http://www.iam.org.uk/

Safe For Life (for Highway Code): http://www.safedrivingforlife.info