Driving Instructor Training - How to Qualify

Why must you qualify?

It is illegal for an individual, other than an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) or Potential Driving Instructor (PDI) who holds a DSA Trainee Licence, to charge for driving tuition.

Are you the Right Stuff?

To succeed as an ADI you must be committed to developing and demonstrating the right skills. As well as possessing the ability to drive to a very high standard, you will need to learn:

  • correct road procedure
  • how to teach well
  • how to communicate effectively
  • how to assess driving performance

Legal Requirements

In order to apply to be an ADI you must:

  • hold a full UK driving licence, subject to a few conditions
  • not have been disqualified from driving within the past four years
  • be a "fit and proper" person
  • pass two practical examinations (driving and instructional ability) within two years of passing the theory examination
  • apply for registration within 12 months of passing the final part of the examination.


The examination is in three parts:

  1. an on-screen theory and hazard perception test
  2. a test of driving ability
  3. a test of instructional ability

The tests must be completed in this order and passed within a two year period. Three attempts are allowed for each practical test. Failure to pass in three attempts means a wait until the expiry of the two-year period before applying to re-qualify.

After completing the first two parts, PDIs may apply for a Trainee Licence in order to gain experience in instructing pupils to drive. The Trainee Licence last for six months and, although it is not a requirement, it's a valuable option during the preparation for the Part Three test as it also allows the holder to charge for driving lessons.

ADI Part One

This is like the learner driver's multiple-choice touch-screen computer based test and consists of Theory and Hazard Perception parts but the standards applied are higher than those for the learner's test. The first part is a 100 question Theory Test with a syllabus covering ten subjects, which have been grouped into four sections:

  1. road procedure
  2. traffics signs & signals, car control, pedestrians, mechanical knowledge
  3. driving test, disabilities, law
  4. publications, instructional techniques

Each of the four sections require a minimum of 20 (out of 25) questions answered correctly, with an overall pass mark of 85%.

The second part involves watching a number of video clips (currently 14) as hazards begin to develop, to which you respond by clicking a mouse button as soon as the hazard is recognised. One of the clips will contain two hazards. The maximum you can score on each hazard is five, making an overall total of 75 points. The pass mark for driving instructors is 57, compared to 44 for learners.

ADI Part Two

The practical test of driving ability, which lasts for about an hour, consists of three parts:

  1. An eyesight test

    You must be able to read in good daylight with the aid of glasses or contact lenses if worn, a motor vehicle registration mark containing letters and figures:
    • 79 millimetres in height and 50 millimetres wide at a distance of 26.5 metres, or
    • 79 millimetres in height and 57 millimetres wide at a distance of 27.5 metres
  2. Safety questions

    The examiner will ask you to describe how to perform a check on the condition and safety of three components of the vehicle and demonstrate an actual check on the condition of a further two components.
  3. A test of driving technique

    This is an advanced driving test, requiring a very high standard of competence, conducted on a route covering a variety of driving conditions.
    You must show an expert driving ability, satisfying the examiner on a wide range of driving factors, including judgement, anticipation, vehicle control, safety and road procedure.
    You must also demonstrate how to perform any or all of the test manoeuvres including all three of the reversing exercises.

ADI Part Three

The object of this test is to assess the quality of your instruction and your ability to pass your knowledge on to pupils. The test is in two parts, each of which lasts about half an hour. You must pass both parts on the same test, by scoring at least Grade 4 out of a possible 6.

You will be asked to demonstrate your knowledge and ability by giving practical driving instruction to the examiner who will first take on the role of a pupil who is a beginner, or a learner driver with limited driving knowledge, and then a pupil who is about test standard.

In assessing your performance, the examiner will take into account:

  • the method, clarity, adequacy and correctness of instruction given
  • the observation, analysis and correction of faults
  • your general manner

Trainee Licence

You may instruct friends or relatives before taking the ADI Part Three exam, so long as no payment is involved. However, if you have passed the Part Two test, you may apply for a Trainee Licence, which will allow you to charge for instruction although you are not an ADI, yet.

A Trainee Licence will only be issued after you have received 40 hours of practical training from a qualified ADI. It is valid for six months and authorises the holder to give instruction for the sponsoring school, during which time you must either a) receive supervision for 20% of all lessons given or b) receive a minimum additional 20 hours of training.

What Next?

If you think that you are made of the right stuff to become an Approved Driving Instructor then please complete our Application Form as the first step towards your new career...