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How to become a driving instructor

Perhaps you are wondering just how to become a UK driving instructor. There are numerous reasons why you might want to become one. For instance, you may want more independence and to be more self-reliant. Or you may just want to make better use of your excellent driving and teaching skills.


To become an approved driving instructor (ADI) or potential driving instructor (PDI) in the United Kingdom, you must meet certain qualifications and regulation requirements. These legal requirements are:

• Must be at least 21 years of age
• Must be considered to be a fit and proper person, without a criminal record
• Must have held a full Category B (manual cars) driving license for a minimum of 3 of the past 6 years. You cannot have been disqualified during this period.
• Must past a 3-part qualifying exam administered by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA)
• Must receive a minimum of 40 hours of Part 3 training from a sponsoring driving school
• Must be accepted by the Government ADI Registry once you have been signed off from Part 3 training

This is much harder than it may seem at first. Each of the three parts to the qualifying exam presents their own challenges, and each is difficult to pass. The exam tests you on theory and hazard perceptions, driving skills, and teaching skills.

DSA exam, Part 1

The first part of the DSA exam is a 90-minute test on theory and hazard perceptions. It is similar to the driving test administer for learners, only much more difficult. Basically the theory part of the exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions, which have been banded into four main areas. These main areas are:

a) Road procedures
b) Pedestrians, traffic signs and signals, mechanical knowledge, and car control
c) Disabilities, traffic law, and the driving test
d) Instructional techniques and publications

The Hazards and Perceptions test (HPT) is administered on a touch screen computer monitor. The test consists of 14 video clips which contain 15 developing hazards. You will be given a specific time window in which to react to the developing hazards. Each hazard is worth 5 points, so the highest score possible will be 75 points.

In order to pass the HPT and be eligible for a PDI license, you must make at least a 57 on this portion of the part 1 exam. Overall, you must make a minimum mark of 80% in each of the four main areas in order to pass the ADI part 1 exam. This means you must get at least 20 out of 25 questions right in each of the four categories. Even if you made an overall 94% mark, you would still fail if you didn’t make at least an 80% in each of the four bands. However, an overall 85% mark with 80% accuracy in each band is a passing mark in order to qualify for taking Part 2 of the exam.

DSA exam, Part 2

Part 2 of the ADI qualifying exam consists of an hour-long practical driving test. This is where you must demonstrate your above average driving skills. You cannot make more than 6 minor driving faults during the test. You were permitted to pass with up to 15 driving faults when you took the practical driving test as a learner driver.

DSA exam, Part 3

The final part of the ADI qualifying exam tests your ability to teach. It is also an hour-long driving test. Only this time, a Supervising Examiner will pretend to be a learner driver at various levels of ability. You must adequately demonstrate your ability to train safe driving to members of the public. This will involve two Pre-Set tests, such as moving off/stopping a car and meeting/crossing the path of other vehicles.

Books to study

According to the DSA, only 1 in 3 people pass Part 1, with fewer than that passing Part 2. Still fewer people pass Part 3. The DSA recommends studying these books to help you pass Part 1:

• The Driving Instructors Handbook
• Driving-The Essential Skills
• The Official Driving Test
• Instructional techniques and practice
• Know your traffic signs
• The Highway Code
• A DSA information Packet that contains: Booklet ADI 1, Form DL1, Form DL3, Form DL 9a, and Certificate DL8. DL1 gives details of driving license requirements, and DL3 is a driving test application. DL9a is a driving test report, and Certificate DL8 is the driving test pass certificate. These forms may be obtained by contacting the Driving Standards Agency

You are allowed to take up to two years between passing Part 1 and Part 2. Once you’ve passed ADI Part 1 and Part 2, you are qualified as a PDI. You then have six months to pass Part 3. Once you do become an ADI, you must undergo regular DSA checks at least every four years. This ensures you are teaching your driving lessons according to their required standards.

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