A Driving Instructor's Blog

Studying For Your Theory Test

Focus Multimedia Theory TestYou do not need anything other than the Focus Multimedia “Driving Test Success” DVD in order to study for your theory test (also available from PC World and Amazon). This disk covers the theory test for ADIs (Part I) as well as learners – it has all the ADI Part 1 questions on it.

ADIs can order them in bulk from learnerstuff.co.uk.

Alternatively, you can also get it as a pair of apps for your smartphone. There is a free version with just a sample of the questions included, and a pay version of each of the Theory Test (questions) and the Hazard Perception Test (video clips). Since they only cost a maximum of £1.99 each you can’t really go wrong for such a small price.Focus Multimedia HPT

They are available for both Android and iPhone platforms, and since I originally wrote this I have now found that I am recommending the apps over the DVD by a considerable margin. Smartphones have come a long way, even over the few years since I first added this information, and when you add tablets to the equation then there’s little point in getting the DVD for most people. However, there is a DVD version which works in normal DVD players, and this can be useful for people who don’t have computers or smartphones (and these people do exist).Focus Multimedia HPT volume 2

Incidentally, the Driving Test Success (Focus Multimedia) app now has a Vol 2, which consists of CGI clips. It only costs £1.49 and is well worth downloading.

Scan the QR codes on the left to go to the relevant Android Marketplace pages. I don’t have an iPhone so cannot provide a suitable link – just choose the ones published by Focus Multimedia.

Note that these apps do not include the ADI question bank. And I repeat that the free version does not contain all of the questions, just a sample, so don’t bother trying to use it for revision – it’s just there so you can give it a try..

You will need to refer frequently to the Highway Code. The Focus Multimedia DVD has an electronic version on it. You could also buy a hard copy for a few pounds (large stationery shops like W H Smith carry them).

The Highway Code is also available completely free online if you don’t want a hard copy to carry around with you.

If you’re serious, then books such as Driving: The Essential Skills and various official theory test products are available.

Booking Your Theory Test

QR Code link to DSA Theory Test Booking SiteDo not use any of the booking services which come up in the Google Ads on this (or any other) website unless it is the GOV.UK site (which is the official DVSA one). I can’t control which ads appear, unfortunately.

One way or another, these other sites are scam sites.

They come up at the top of search engines artificially, even though they are not official sites. At the very least, they will charge you extra for something you don’t need. At worst, their small print means they are effectively lying to you by misleading you – they know people don’t always read the small print. Do not use them.

Always book directly via the DVSA’s website. If you want to book your theory test, use this link to the DVSA site.

If you want to alter your theory test booking, use this link to the DVSA site.

Alternatively, scan the QR code above using your smartphone and it will take you to the correct site.

Booking Your Practical Test

QR Code link to DSA Practical Test Booking SiteExactly the same applies to this: do not use any booking service and ignore whatever ridiculous promises they make to entice you. They cannot guarantee anything, and you stand a better chance of getting a cancellation than they do.

Always book directly via the DVSA’s website. If you want to book your practical test, use this link to the DVSA site.

If you want to alter your practical test booking, use this link to the DVSA site.

Alternatively, scan the QR code on the left using your smartphone and it will take you to the correct site.

You can alter the date and the location of your test up to SIX times (until the end of 2012 you could only change it three times).

From 1 April 2014 you will be able to cancel your test at short notice without losing your fee for any of the following reasons:

  • a medically certified illness
  • a bereavement
  • school exams

In all other cases, you have to provide three clear working days notice of cancelling. Expect to have to provide proof of your reason for cancelling if you invoke this.

Pass Plus

Pass Plus via DSAUse this link to get to the Pass Plus site. The course is likely to be relevant to you if you are a young new or existing driver wishing to improve your driving skills, although anyone of any age can do it.

The Pass Plus site is also important if you are an ADI wishing to obtain the starter pack (or refills).

Contrary to what some people suggest, the Pass Plus course is still available – although I had heard that the DVSA was planning to revamp it at some stage. That was back in 2012/13, and nothing has happened since. Eas of 2014 more and more examiners appear to be recommending it again, which is good news.

The course consists of a minimum of six hours of driving sessions, and by completing it you may get a discount on your insurance, though that isn’t the only reason you should consider doing it. If it’s delivered properly it can help you become better equipped to deal with driving on your own.

How Much Does It Cost?

These prices are correct as of the time of writing (9 February 2014). For learners:

  • Theory Test – £25.00
  • Practical Test (car) – £62.00 weekdays; £75.00 weekends
  • Practical Test (car – extended) – £124.00 weekdays; £150 weekends
  • Practical Test (car + trailer) – £115.00 weekdays; £141.00 weekends

The up-to-date information is always found through this link.

For ADIs and PDIs, prices are:

  • Part 1 (theory) – £83.00
  • Part 2 (driving) – £111.00
  • Part 3 (instruction) – £111.00
  • Registration/re-registration – £300.00
  • Trainee Licence – £140.00

The latest details can be found on the BusinessLink site.

How To Find Test Cancellations

There’s no magic involved. You just need to make or check your booking at the same time there is a cancellation slot available.

People cancel tests all the time, and as soon as they do, their slot becomes available for others to book. Once it is booked, it disappears from the list again. Similarly, the DVSA releases extra slots for various reasons, and these too are available until someone books them.

The best way is to book and maintain your test online. Check it as often as you can and look for alternative dates – any cancellations will appear as available slots. Driving instructors can check for cancellations much more easily using the improved DVSA system. ADIs only should follow the instructions in this link.

Do not use a booking service. Use only the GOV.UK website. At best, all these sites do is exactly what you could do yourself – except they charge you a premium price for it. At worst, they will just steal your money and you’ll not get a test booking at all.

Test Centres And Test Routes

Using this link you can find your nearest test centre(s). Choose the letter your target town starts with, then scroll down to find which test centres are available.

Selecting a test centre reveals its full address, special facilities (or absence thereof), and test waiting times. The waiting times are not always accurate, though they give a good guide. Note that the waiting times quoted do not take into account cancellation slots.

Test routes are not published. A decent instructor will know the area and possible routes, though a decent instructor should not spend all their time driving these routes with their pupils.

DVSA Fast Track Service – For Driver Trainers (ADIs) Only

There is a Fasttrack service for ADIs. This gets you through to a customer service rep quickly. There is also a callback assist function so you don’t have to hang around if they’re all busy – they call you back once a rep is available.

This is not for learners, so I haven’t put the details here. You will need to subscribe to DVSA alerts to get the details.

Having An Interpreter On Your Test

Since 7 April 2014 it is no longer possible to have an interpreter, and the Theory Test will have to be conducted in plain English (or Welsh, or British Sign Language).

Special Needs

Special needs candidates take the same theory test as everyone else, though additional facilities are available.

From 7 April 2014 tests can only be conducted in English or Welsh (or British Sign Language). This applies to both theory and practical tests. You can no longer have an interpreter.

If you are dyslexic or have any other special needs you can have extra time for your Theory Test. You must make the situation clear when you book your test. Find out more via this link.

Special needs candidates take the same practical test as everyone else, though more time can be allowed. You must let the DVSA know when you book your test – find out more via this link.

Renewing Your ADI Badge

Whole article updated October  2014 based on my own renewal, which is now complete.

This section about the CRB/DBS (my own experience a couple of years ago) is apparently now out of date. A recent email from DVSA (December 2015/January 2016) says:

Online ADI registration: your DBS number will be needed

From Thursday 14 January 2016, you’ll need to give your Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate number when you apply online to renew your ADI registration or start the qualification process.

This is because DVSA’s online registration will no longer accept your application or renewal without this information.

Make sure you have a valid certificate.

The certificate must be no more than 6 months old, provided by DVSA’s contractor, GB Group, and be specifically for DVSA purposes.

The online registration system won’t accept a certificate that has been provided by another contractor or has been produced for another role.

Don’t leave it until the last minute.

You should apply for your DBS certificate in good time as some police forces may take up to 4 months to finish their checks.

DVSA’s registration team will continue to send out reminders 6 months before ADIs’ registrations expire. To avoid any delay, please make sure that DVSA has your current postal address.

Six months before your licence expires you will be sent a letter by the DVSA. As detailed in this letter, you need to send an email to dsa@tmgcrb.co.uk to obtain an activation username and a PIN number. You use these to gain access to the TMG CRB website at www.tmgcrb.co.uk/online and complete your application for a CRB check there. A copy of the CRB check is automatically sent to the DVSA.

Completing the CRB application is virtually painless if you follow the on-screen instructions. The only two drawbacks are 1) being able to find the right documents to prove your identity (I don’t receive paper bills or bank statements anymore, and had to order one especially for the application – your bank may charge you, though mine didn’t – and the banks don’t hurry themselves over these things), and 2) having to print out the completed TMG CRB application in order to take it – on foot – along with your documents to a Post Office branch which can process it (I’m lucky that one is located in Nottingham – within only slightly inconvenient reach, since it is in the City Centre, and other people might not be so lucky). There appears to be no alternative to using the Post Office at the time of writing. Previously, there was an option to send your application and documents by post, and TMG CRB really need to put that one back.

Assuming your Post Office branch is the same as mine (i.e. big and busy), when you go in go straight to the appointment ticketing machine and press the ID Services button. This prints a ticket with a number on it which they call out over the PA system when your turn comes. When I did it, even though there was a queue of about 30-40 people (which made me swear when I saw it), I was called within 2 minutes. The actual check took little over 5 minutes, and most of the barcodes on the CRB printout wouldn’t scan – the Post Office guy had to enter them manually (he said that they have this problem a lot). It cost me a grand total of £6, which I paid by debit card. You get a confirmation email from TMG CRB when they receive the application (mine came within 24 hours of leaving the Post Office). You get an email update with a reference number on it once it has been processed and moved forward (mine came 24 hours after the initial acknowledgement). Then you get a pleasantly-worded letter from the DVSA informing you that they’ve got your CRB check and that you’re still on the register (I got this in the post the day after the TMG CRB update email). I have no idea what happens if it turns out your CRB check is unsatisfactory.

Finally, and the DVSA letter mentioned above reiterates this, during the month in which your badge expires you have to apply for a licence renewal at www.gov.uk/renew-approved-driving-instructor-adi-registration. This takes you through the IRDT system, so make sure you have registered with that in good time (you can find out how to do that here). DVSA acknowledged the receipt of my application within 48 hours.

When you are completing your application you have the option to use the photograph the DVSA has for you on record, or to use another. I chose to use another, and it was not clear how to send the new photo to DVSA, and no emails were received to explain what to do next. I telephoned them and they were very helpful. You need to send the photograph along with a cover note to:

ADI Section
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency
The Axis Building
112 Upper Parliament Street

You should do this immediately you have completed your application if you want to use a different photo on your new green badge. You don’t need to do anything after this if you chose to use the existing photo that DVSA has on file.

My new badge arrived less than a week after I’d sent the new photograph to them, although you should allow a couple of weeks normally.

Booking Tests For Your Pupils

You’ve probably had calls from your pupils asking for your ADI number when they book their tests. Ordinarily, they just leave it blank. However, if you register to use this facility it will help prevent pupils booking tests at the same time as someone else’s in your diary. I don’t use it myself – though I am registered – so I can’t say how effective it is. Much depends on how you manage your diary. To register for it, call the DVSA on 0300 200 1122 and then press 25 to fast track to a customer services representative.

They can either mail or email you an application form.

Checking a Pupil’s Licence

From 8 June 2015 the driving licence counterpart (the paper part) is no longer valid and can be destroyed. Many ADIs are worried that they won’t be able to “check pupils’ licences”. Well, although you don’t actually need to most of the time (the photo card is enough), you can do it quite easily in a few steps.

Your pupil must do the following:

  • Log into the DVSA’s View Your Driving Licence tool using their licence and National Insurance (NI) numbers, and post code
  • Generate a sharing code from inside that tool
  • Print out that code, or send it to you using text or email

Once you have the code, you must:

  • Log into the DVSA’s Check Driving Licence tool using the last 8 characters of the pupil’s driving licence number and the share code they sent to you

You can now see any endorsements they have (though as I say, you do not need this information as an ADI and are creating needless extra work for yourself and embarrassment for your pupil). The share code is only valid for 72 hours, after which another one would have to be generated.

The main use for this service is to check entitlements which are not shown on the photo card.

Pupil Change of Address

With the paper counterpart, all a pupil had to do was fill in their new address in the space provided for the purpose and when the examiner took their provisional away, their full licence would come through with the new address on it. From 8 June 2015, this is no longer possible and pupils will have to apply separately to change their details. Fortunately, it will not cost them anything.

They can do it online if they have a Government Gateway ID, or by post using the form D1 (they can order a D1 pack online to arrive by post, or I believe you can also get them from the Post Office).

The applicant can still drive while they are waiting for their new licence to come through (which can take up to three weeks).

DL25 Test Marking Sheet

Download a copy of the test marking sheet here.

This file also includes the DL25 explanation sheet. It also includes the rear of the DL25 which the examiner completes, but which the candidate doesn’t get a copy of.

These are covered in greater detail in this article. The explanation sheet is covered in this article.

Part 1, 2 and Part 3 ADI Tests

Can I do the Part 1 test if I don’t have a my licence photo card part?

You must have a valid driving licence in order to take the ADI Part 1 test.

If your licence is the two-part photo card type, then it is only valid if you have both parts. If you have an old-style paper licence, then you need a valid passport for the photo ID it contains. The official DVSA requirement is written clearly here.

Can I sit the ADI tests in my own car?

Yes. As long as the car is legal to drive (including your insurance covering driving tuition and taking driving tests) you can use it for Part 2 and Part 3 tests. I used my own car for Part 2, but I rented a driving school car for Part 3.

My advice would be to at least make sure it is clean inside and out if you use your own, though – particularly if it is an old car.

How long after my initial application do I need to wait before taking the Part 1 test?

You must have been accepted to start the qualifying process before you can take any of the tests (and you need to pass each one before being able to take the next), but other than that you can sit them any time you want. Since you can take Part 1 as many times as you like (or can afford) the only reason not to rush things is that you’ll look foolish if you fail. Study hard and make sure you’re ready before taking any test.

Part 3 PST Marking Sheets

Part 3 PST Marking Sheets DownloadDownload a copy of the Part 3 PST Marking Sheets here.

The PDF contains all ten PST marking sheets used by the examiner.

Also referred to in this article.

The sheets are covered in detail in The Driving Instructor’s Handbook.

Bad Weather and Your Driving Test

Judging from the hits I get every time it gets cold, this seems to be an extremely difficult concept for many people to grasp…

If there is fresh snow or ice around when your test is due to go out, there is a good chance it will be cancelled.

Honestly, it really is that simple. You will not find the answer to “is my test cancelled?” by searching on the web. The internet doesn’t work like that, nor does the DVSA. There can be a metre of snow in one part of the country, yet it can be mild and dry elsewhere. Driving tests are carried out or cancelled based solely on the assessment of the weather by the centre manager immediately prior to the test time. It may be that the 8.10 test gets cancelled, but the 8.40 one goes out – it changes that quickly, though centre managers tend to cancel all tests up to a certain time to avoid inconvenience to instructors and candidates.

If the weather is bad in your area, you MUST either turn up on time, or phone (or get your instructor to phone) and ask if the test is going ahead. That way, your test will be rearranged for another date at no extra cost. If you don’t turn up, it is quite possible that they will assume that you simply didn’t show and you will lose your money. Don’t take that risk: phone up or show up!

Your test booking confirmation should tell you the test centre’s phone number – but if it doesn’t, or if you’ve lost it, your instructor should know it and call them for you.

Most test centres have a list of phone numbers on display in the waiting room and any decent instructor should have made a note of these. If there is no list, ask an examiner to give you the number for future use.

Find Your Theory Test Certificate Number

If you’ve lost the paper part of your certificate you can recover the number using the DVSA’s online tool. Click here to get started.

Test Centre Pass Rates

Since February 2012, the DSA has published various statistical data as part of the government’s “transparency policy”. These data include detailed information concerning pass rates for both learners and driving instructors. There are several links you can use:

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