How hard is it to become a driving instructor?

By Paul Roach

The journey to become a driving instructor can be a bit hit or miss for so many, given the overall pass rate for everyone who applies to become a driving instructor and then actually succeeded after attempting to pass all three tests, is as low as 8%.

So why are only 8/100 people going on to qualify to become an approved driving instructor? Let’s start from the beginning and explain what the qualifying process entails.

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If you didn’t know already the first test on your journey to become a driving instructor is a theory test. This test is very similar to a learner drivers theory test, given that you’ll be tested on multiple choice questions and a hazard perception test.

There’re a 100 multiple choice questions which are grouped into four bands. Each Band will have a score value of 25 points. On each of the 4 bands you must score at least 20/25 points on the following bands:


  1. Road procedure


  1. Traffic signs and signals
  2. Pedestrians
  3. Car control
  4. Mechanical Knowledge


  1. Driving Test
  2. Disabilities


  1. Instructional Techniques
  2. Publications

The overall pass mark is 85/100. The questions that will be used, will be randomly selected from a memory bank of a 1000 questions.

The second element of the part 1 test is the Hazard perception test. This test is designed to test your ability to spot a hazard on the road.
There’re 14 clips and each scoring hazard has a score value of  0-5 points. The pass mark for this test is: 57/75 points.
ADI part 1hazard perception test


Based on data recorded by the DVSA the pass rate for the ADI part 1 test is 55%

It’s a little unknown what happens to the remaining 45%? However, it’s hard to comprehend why anyone would give up at this point? As the amount of attempts you can have at passing the part 1 test is unlimited !

One of the main reasons why PDI’S fail their Part 1 Test is due to only focusing on repeatedly taking mock tests and trying to pass the test via rote learning, ie: memorising the answers.

Absorbing the knowledge you’ll need to pass the part 1 test should be gained from a combination of rote learning and reading the following books:

training to become a driving instructor

Similar to the Multiple choice test, the Hazard perception test shouldn’t be rehearsed too much either. For the best possible results when Practicing the HPT:

  • Don’t keep practicing the same video clips.
  • Avoid trying to cheat the video via machine gun clicking.
  • Review all your videos, even the ones you score well on as the summary will help you going forward.

ADI Part 2 Test

ADI part 2 test

The second test you must pass on your journey to become a driving instructor is a driving test. 

The test will last for 60 minutes. To pass – You must not commit a dangerous or serious fault. Also a cumulative of 6 minor faults or more will result in failing the test too.

There’re 5 parts to the ADI Part 2 driving test:

  • an eyesight check
  • ‘show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions
  • general driving ability
  • manoeuvres
  • independent driving

On the whole the part 2 test is similar to the learner drivers driving test, that you may’ve already passed. However it should be noted – the driving examiner will be looking for a much higher standard of driving to pass this test.

There’s no specific data highlighting why PDI’S fail the test  – however with a pass rate of 51% – it underlines that many are falling short to meet the required standard.

Given that you have only 3 attempts to pass this test emphasises the importance to be thorough with your preparation.

‘Old habits do die hard.’ So make sure you incorporate what’s required to Pass the ADI part 2 within your private practice and not just the sessions, you have with your ADI Trainer.

The Part 3 Test

The final test on your journey to become a driving instructor is the part 3 test. This test will assess your ability to teach a learner driver within a 1 hour driving lesson.

The session will start with you having a formal chat with a senior examiner (who will be examining your test) about the lesson you’ve got planned with your student.

Your test will be recorded using the examiners marking sheet. The sheet is categorised into 3 sections with sub headings entered below. Each subheading has a score value of 0-4.

Once the test is completed, the examiner will assess how you performed and enter a score on every subheading you can see on the sheet. The points will then be added up and will determine the outcome of your test.

A score of 0-31 would result in a failed test. Anything between 31-50 would be a pass and would mean you’re now a fully qualified ADI with no more tests to pass.

Once you become an ADI you’ll have a periodic standards check test, which all approved driving instructors have to do every 2/4 years to remain on the ADI register. The format of this test is identical to a part 3 test in how it’ll be marked.

ADI part 3 test


Their is a minimum of 40 hours basic training you must complete with an Instructor trainer before you can take the test.

If you fail, you must then take an additional 5 hours of further training before having another attempt at your part 3 test.

The pass rate for the part 3 nationally is 34.7% Which is almost equivalent to 1/3 people succeeding at this stage.

Given that so many fail at this stage highlights that 40/50 hours training may not have been enough for so many.

I myself must have taken 50 hours training with a national company. Then I had a further 15 hours training, with a private trainer.

Like so many others I went into my training course without fully understanding how hard it actually is to become a driving instructor.

Making the same mistakes as I and others have can be avoided by getting a deeper understanding of what the part  test entails. You can do this by visiting this link – which the DVSA have published the National standards for driver and rider training.

You’ve heard the saying ‘fail to prepare then prepare to fail’? Given that 40 hours is a minimum requirement (from the DVSA) of hours you should receive before you can take a part 3 test.

It doesn’t mean you should just ‘have a go at the test and see what happens’ like so many do !

Just remember you’ve only got 3 attempts at passing the part 3 test. Choose your attempts wisely, or you may find you can easily fail all 3 tests and If you do, you’ll then have to start from the beginning of the course again.

Our Conclusion

Don’t just look at the course to become a driving instructor as a serious of tests, as the course itself maybe your only education for your career ahead.

driving lesson prices

Ask yourself what do you want to gain from your instructor trainer? A platform to pass all 3 tests? or a mentor who’ll help you to become the best driving instructor you could possibly be.