How I became a driving instructor II

You can read the first part of my road to becoming an approved driving instructor (ADI) here.

Having passed my ADI part 1 exam in February 2000, I now had until the end of January 2002 to pass the remaining 2 qualification examinations, the only problem being I had a maximum of 3 attempts at each.
I don't remember the exact dates for the remainder of the qualifying process, and I've now disposed of all the paper work, so what follows is a rough chronological step through of the process.

As I had a full time job, the first thing I did was to book days off work to attend the required classroom and practical sessions to prepare for the ADI part 2. The main eye opener during this part of the training was how unsafe my driving had become even though I had been driving for a long time. Typical mistakes where not using the handbrake when stationary at junctions, not checking mirrors properly or failing to act on information from them, lack of proper observations during manoeuvres. In fact the list was long, so I had to take the time to get those habits out of my system. Finally after some thorough practise, I was prepared to take my part 2 driving assessment.

On the day of the test, I was a bit nervous as would be expected, but once I got in the car, I settled down and endured the one hour test. At the end on returning to the test centre, I waited while the SE ADI marked the sheet, then came the words 'I'm sorry to say you have not passed'. I had 6 driver errors, I was only allowed a maximum of 5, no serious or dangerous errors. Oh well, I'll just have to practise some more and come back again, I still had 2 attempts left.
I went back to The Instructor college for some more training sessions at no extra cost, and a few weeks later took my second attempt at the ADI part 2 exam, and passed. I can't remember how many driver errors I made, but that doesn't matter, as I could now continue my training for the final part of becoming a driving instructor.

Part 3 of the ADI qualifying process is considered to be the most difficult part, and a lot of people tend to fall at this hurdle, so back to The Instructor College with a revision of all the work that was done for both part 1 and 2 as this knowledge is required to pass part 3 and then some in car practical sessions.
To pass this final exam, you will need to demonstrate to the SE ADI examiner that you have the right qualities to make an instructor by giving instruction to the examiner who will be playing the role of a pupil. The test itself is broken into 2 parts, in the first 30 minutes you will be teaching a beginner pupil, so you will be expected to give full instruction on the chosen topic, the second half sees you giving instruction to a pupil who is almost ready for the driving test, so your instructional skills will be adjusted to suit.

Having gone through the required 20 hours training, I needed to practise, so I had to buy a little dual controlled car in which I could give tuition to people who wanted to earn to drive, the other option was to go on a trainee license, having a full time job ruled that out. Since I was not qualified yet, and did not have a trainee license, all tuition provided would be free of charge, so I didn't have a problem finding suitable candidates!

Once I had practised and I thought I was ready, I put in for my first attempt of the part 3 exam. As with previous exams, I was nervous on the day, but once the SE ADI introduced himself it was time to allow my training to kick in. For the first part, I had to teach the pupil how to approach junctions to turn left and right. Now this is a funny one, because in the real world this pupil would not be able to drive to the training area, but that is exactly what happened, and I had to give advise on the way also if needed!
At the training area, I gave my briefing on the topic and then proceeded to give a full talk through on the procedure, dealing with both left and right turns. I was okay with this part, and thought everything was going fine, before I knew it time was up, and it was the second half.

The second pupil the SE ADI was playing had a problem with pedestrian crossings, so I was to help him with that. A couple of recap questions, and I also had to check if he knew the hand signals. We then set off, and from here things took a down turn. The guy was a boy racer, approached very fast, was impatient at crossings and I was too timid to bring him under control. When it was over, and we were back at the test centre, I was not surprised when I was told I had failed. I got a 4 for the first half, and 3 for the second, I needed a 4 and 4 to pass. The examiner rightly said that I failed to control the pupil.
I took some more training and put in for my second attempt, and did not pass! I got a 2 and 2, though I did not agree with the examiner's score. I had emergency stop and making progress.
In January 2002 I put in for my third and final attempt, and was hoping that I had learnt enough to did it this time. Unfortunately it was not 3rd time lucky, as I failed! As it turned out, I only had to wait a few weeks before I could start all over again, and that is exactly what I did. Time to get out the books, and revise for the theory exam, however having full time job meant that I could not progress as fast as I wanted.

I passed the theory first time, also nailed the practical driving exam on the first attempt, and it was November of 2003 when I put in for my first attempt at the final exam that would allow me to be a qualified ADI. All of my previous exams had been taken at Barnet test centre, where I was familiar with the driving test routes and examiners, but I changed to the Mill Hill test centre because it was closer to where I lived, but more importantly I was trying to avoid the SE ADI (Adrian Slater) that gave me a 2 and 2 during my second attempt on this exam previously. I had by now disposed of the dual controlled car I bought some years ago because it was proving expensive to maintain, so for this exam I had to contact the AA who were able to put me in touch with an instructor who was able to let me use his car as if it were for normal AA Driving Lessons for a fee.
At the appointed time, I'm in the test centre waiting room, the door opens and who walks in? The very man I was trying to avoid at the Barnet test centre, and he even remembers me! This is not good I think as we walk to the car. I get into the passenger seat, and wait as he checks the car out. He gets in explains what is expected on the test, and then goes on to say for the first part he wants me to give him full instruction on how to do the emergency stop (this is real deja vou)! Luckily for me I have an ace up me sleeve, one of the trainers at The Instructor College had given me a good tip for this. We drive to the training area, I give my briefing, and then pull out my ace, we do a dry run, and immediately spot a potential problem, his reaction was Sloooow. I dealt with that, did another dry run, he responded properly, so we started the car, and did it for real twice, I was about to ask him to do it on his own for the last time, when he said the time was up.
Now was the time to deal with my second pupil who had a problem with making progress. We drove for a while, then got to the busy Apex corner roundabout, approaching from the only end that was not controlled by traffic lights. We got to the roundabout to find there was an accident, that had narrowed it down to one lane. We were trying to creep forward to find a gap in the traffic when this big lorry came zooming round the corner, and the SE ADI had to quickly accelerate across the roundabout to avoid being hit, the lorry was travelling too fast, and would have hit us. At this point I was having a go at the pupil because I thought he should have stayed put. Anyway we continue with the rest of the lesson and ended up back at the test centre. The SE ADI said I should come into the waiting room about 10 minutes later so he could finish his assessment (normal procedure), but I was sure this was just formality, as I had failed. I got to the waiting room, was called into the office, he then when on to say he had thought about what happened, said it wasn't my fault, the lorry was too fast for the conditions, and felt the action he took was necessary to avoid an accident. He then said I passed! He liked the first part, got a 5 and gave me a 4 for the second. So 4 years after I began the journey I was finally an ADI. I collected the paperwork, thanked the examiner and drove home.

A few weeks later I took up an AA driving school franchise.

More Reading
The truth about Red driving school Advert and why you might not want to call them.
Cheap ADI training via Pay as you Go.
My Driving instructor check test


  1. Anonymous2:07 pm

    Thanks very much - now im totally put off becoming a d instructor. not in a bad way, but i too was captured by the adverts, earnings, etc. Im currently a bus driver, but its really ruining my health (dodgy seats, poor driving positions, inability to go toilet when you need, 3am wakeups, irregular eating times - and im only 25!)

    Maybe minicabbing or back to sales - i dunno!

  2. Anonymous8:33 pm

    Fantastic story, that has been a real eye opener. I was very tempted to join Red Driving School recently after being made redundant from my 19K 9-5.30 job, but have seen a load a terrible story's about the, I suppose my question would be are you happy being a driving instructor? I haven't been happy in my office job for sometime and thought that becoming a driving instructor was a decent option, looking at all the hidden fees etc i'm now not convinced at all. Office job 19K 9-5.30 or driving instructor? What would you do?

  3. Anonymous9:19 pm

    I work P/T as an ADI due to family committments, and am happy with my current arrangements.

    Being a driving instructor is hard work, and unlike a 9-5 job, there are a lot of uncertainty.

    First you'll have to find £1.5-3K for training costs, then once qualified, there are weekly franchise fees and other expenses before you start making money.

    You won't make £19k in your 1st year, and in the current economic climate with tough competition its not the best time to consider joining the industry, that's my opinion.




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