Becoming a driving instructor - The right career path?

Many people choose to become a driving instructor because they believe themselves to be a good driver, however, the most important criterion for this career choice is being a good communicator. The majority of pupils have never experienced driving before and so will be nervous and it is your task to teach them how to drive safely and prepare them for their test, whilst keeping calm and patient. Being a driving instructor is a very rewarding career choice, it is great to see your pupil achieve something they could not previously do and you will get a sense of satisfaction seeing them pass their test. You can enjoy flexible working hours also, so it is the ideal career if you want to work during school hours for example, even the training can be done around your current commitments so you can still generate an income whilst training. To be a good driving instructor therefore you need:

  • excellent communication skills – able to relay information to pupils of varying abilities
  • patience and understanding
  • a friendly approach to people
  • good driving skills
  • a responsible attitude to driving
  • flexibility to work when pupils need lessons – evenings and weekends for example
  • organisation skills – able to forward plan
  • to be a fun person!

To become an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) you need to be 21 or over, have held a full driving licence for three and a half years or more, have no more than 5 points on your driving licence and no serious motoring convictions, be able to read a car number plate from 27.5 metres (90 feet), and be able to provide 2 character references and pass a CRB check to prove you are a 'fit and proper person'. The training can take up to 18 months as there are 3 tests to take and you cannot progress on to the next stage until you have passed the previous test. However, if you are well disciplined, put in lots of hard work, plenty of study with lots of practice and are quick to adapt then depending on luck with test dates you could qualify a lot sooner.

Driving Instructor Tests

To become an ADI you must successfully pass three tests; The Theory Test, The Test of Driving Ability and The Test of Ability to Instruct. You cannot progress on to the next stage until you have successfully completed the previous one. The tests are as follows:

ADI Part 1 Examination

The ADI part 1 examination is a theory based test using a computer by touching the screen. A 15 minute practice session is available before the actual test. Test centre staff will help with using the equipment.

The theory element lasts 90 minutes in which time you must answer 100 questions which are split into four bands. The reason for the banding is to ensure the candidate has a comprehensive knowledge of the whole syllabus.

The four bands are:

  1. Road procedure
  2. Traffic signs and signals, car control, pedestrians and mechanical knowledge
  3. Driving test, disabilities and traffic law
  4. Publications and instructional techniques

Pass marks:

  • The overall pass mark for the theory element is 85% (85 correct answers out of 100 questions)
  • For the four bands, each band carries a pass mark of 80% (20 correct answers out of 25 questions)


Hazard Perception Test

This test is designed to test your ability to identify hazards. First you will be shown a tutorial video which you can repeat if you wish. The test consists of 14 video clips which last for about a minute each. In each clip there will be a developing hazard which you will need to react to by clicking a mouse button as soon as you see a hazard which could be other vehicles, pedestrians or other road conditions, which if you were driving would require action by changing speed or direction. There are 15 scoreable hazards and you need to respond as soon as you spot the hazard. The pass mark for the hazard perception test is 57 out of 75.

If you fail on either part of the test you will have to take the complete part 1 test again. There are no restrictions as to how many attempts you may have at the theory/hazard perception test.

The following video from the DVSA shows what happens on an ADI Part 1 Examination

ADI Part 2 (Test of driving ability)

The part 2 test is a practical driving test of an advanced nature and is a lot harder than that of the learner test so therefore a high standard of driving is required. You will drive on a variety of roads including town driving, rural driving and where possible motorway driving. Throughout the test you will deal with different road and traffic conditions and you will also need to demonstrate the following:

  • Be able to read a vehicle number plate from a distance of 27.5 metres
  • Have a good knowledge of basic vehicle safety checks
  • Drive to a high standard of competence keeping control of your vehicle at all times
  • Show a well planned, positive and progressive drive with high levels of road awareness
  • Make progress when safe to do so whilst adhering to all speed limits
  • Avoid any undue hesitation
  • Show a sound judgement of speed, distance and timing
  • Show consideration and safety towards other road users
  • Demonstrate the principles of eco-friendly driving
  • Turn right and left hand corners
  • Emerge safely from junctions
  • Meet, overtake and cross the path of other road users safely and take an appropriate course

Also whilst on test you will be required to carry out some basic exercises and manoeuvres:

  • Move away straight ahead, at an angle and on a gradient
  • Stop the vehicle as if in an emergency
  • Drive in reverse gear and whilst doing so enter a limited opening to the right and to the left with full control, displaying reasonable accuracy and taking full all round observations
  • Reverse park into a space behind another vehicle within the space of about two cars lengths finishing up parallel and close to the kerb. Throughout the manoeuvre, the candidate needs to be displaying reasonable accuracy and taking full all round observations.
  • Or Reverse into a car parking bay where again the candidate needs to be displaying reasonable accuracy and taking full all round observations.
  • Turn the vehicle around in the road to face the opposite direction, under full control whilst displaying reasonable accuracy and taking full all round observations.

To pass:

To pass you must not accumulate more than six driving faults or one serious or dangerous fault. You are limited to three attempts at this test within two years of passing the ADI part 1 examination. With the correct training and by putting in the practice and making this a natural style of driving, then the part 2 test can be very easy to pass. Not all test centres offer the test of driving ability, for details of your nearest centre please follow the link to the DVSA web site

The following video from the DVSA shows what happens on an ADI Part 2 Examination

Enquiry Form

ADI Part 3 (Test of Ability to Instruct)

This is the final test and by many is considered the hardest. If you enter with the correct attitude and put in a lot of commitment and study properly for it then it can actually be quite an easy test. Remember, you are limited to three attempts at this test within two years of passing the ADI part 1 examination.

In this test, your teaching skills are being examined. The objective of this final exam is to see how you pass your knowledge on to pupils and to assess the general quality of your instruction. The test will be in two parts each of which will last half an hour. For each of the two phases, the supervising examiner will portray two different pupils at different stages of their training.

The examiner will select two of the following scenarios on the pre set test


Pre set test
number
Phase 1 Beginner/Partly trained Phase 2 Trained or full licence holder
1 Controls Crossroads
2 Moving off / Stopping Meet, cross and overtake other traffic allowing adequate clearance for other road users and show anticipation.
Please note: On your test, The Examiner will select any two of the first four subjects plus awareness and anticipation.
3 Turn in the road Approach junctions to turn either right or left
4 Reversing to left or right T junctions - Emerging
5 Emergency stop / Mirrors Progress / Hesitancy - Normal position
6 Pedestrian crossings and use of signals Reverse parking / Bay park
7 Approaching junctions to turn either right or left Pedestrian crossings and use of signals
8 T junctions - Emerging Meet, cross and overtake other traffic allowing adequate clearance for other road users and show anticipation.
Please note: On your test, The Examiner will select any two of the first four subjects plus awareness and anticipation.
9 Crossroads Pedestrian crossings and use of signals
10 Meet, cross and overtake other traffic allowing adequate clearance for other road users and show anticipation.
Please note: On your test, The Examiner will select any two of the first four subjects plus awareness and anticipation.
Progress / Hesitancy - Normal position


The key teaching skill areas that you will be tested on are:

Core competencies
Fault identificationSee a fault and alert the pupil
Fault analysis Why did the fault happen? It may be obvious or you may need to find out from the pupil as to why they committed the fault
Remedial actionRectify the fault with the correct level of instruction
Instructional techniques
Level of instructionUsing talk through, prompting or independent & knowing when to switch instruction levels
PlanningLesson structure & allocation of time between theory & practice
Control of lessonBe aware of what is happening inside & outside of the car. You need to be looking well ahead and at your pupil and be ready to intervene before a problem occurs
CommunicationUse language that is easy to understand & pitched at the pupil´s level
Question and
answer techniques
Use to establish that the pupil understands. Encourage the pupil to ask questions
Feedback and
encouragement
Give praise when the pupil deserves it. Inform the pupil of their progress
Instructor´s use of
controls
Instructors should only use the driver or dual controls when necessary and inform the pupil as to why
Instructor characteristics
Attitude and approachAs an instructor you should be able to provide a relaxed and supportive learning environment showing an enthusiastic and friendly manner but without being over familiar. Also you should be self confident with the ability to transfer confidence to your pupil in a patient and tactful manner.

How you are graded


When you take the part three test you will be graded on a scale from one to six. The grading is as follows:


Three or below is considered as unsuccessful. On the part 3 examination you will be graded on each of the two phases so to pass you will need a minimum of a 4/4. If you were to receive a 6/3 for example, then that would be an unsuccessful result. For details of your nearest test centre please follow the link to the DVSA web site.

The following video from the DVSA shows what happens on an ADI Part 3 Examination



A Trainee Licence


In order to gain experience for the ability to instruct test (part 3) many people opt to take out a trainee licence with a driving school. This licence lasts for 6 months and during that time you are able to teach pupils, which can help you with your training and your confidence. This is an introduction of what is to come as a driving instructor and it is a useful insight as to how pupils learn and how to communicate effectively.

For more information on working for Ignition Driving School on a trainee licence please see our Driving School Franchise page.