First Steps

Congratulations! You have taken your first step towards your new career as a Driving Instructor.

This information booklet explains all that you will need to know about the qualification process to become an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor).

The process to get this qualification usually takes 6-12 months and involves a lot of hard work and commitment, but the benefits of being self-employed with an earning potential of in excess of £700/per week surely make it worthwhile. We always encourage enquirers to contact other training establishments and compare what they have to offer; to decide which one best suits your needs. We are confident that after doing this you will realise that our courses offer the best value for money and flexibility as well as the personal one-to-one training no one else can match.

The course can fit in around any current job or commitments, with training available at weekends and in the evenings. Training is available throughout the Dorset area.


The Register was set up in the interests of road safety in order to maintain and improve the standard of driving instruction available to the general public. It also ensures that the public can rely upon an acceptable minimum
standard of tuition from registered driving instructors. It is administered by  the Driving Standards Agency on behalf of the DETR under the provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Under the rules of this Act it is illegal for anyone
to charge (either money or money’s worth) for instruction in driving a motor car unless:

1 their name is on the Register of Approved Driving Instructors; or
2 they hold a trainee’s “Licence to give instruction” issued by the Registrar.
To be an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) you must;
2 hold a full British or Northern Ireland car driving licence;
3 have held it for a total of at least four out of the past six years prior to entering the Register after qualifying, but a foreign driving licence, an automatic car driving licence, or a provisional licence held after passing the driving test, all count towards the four years;
4 not have been disqualified from driving at any time in the four years prior to being entered in the Register;
5 be a fit and proper person to have your name entered in the Register. All convictions, including motoring offences, still in force (i.e. not `spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974) will be taken into account when your suitability is assessed to be entered in the Register; and pass
Register qualifying exam which is in three parts:
6 a theory test Part 1
7 a practical test of your driving ability Part 2
8 a practical test of your ability to instruct Part 3

You must take and pass all three parts of the exam in this order and must complete the whole exam within two years of passing the written test. If you are unable to complete the exam within this time you must start again from the beginning and pass each part once again.

You are only allowed three attempts at each of the practical tests. If you do not pass in the three attempts you must wait until the end of your two year period before you can re qualify, starting with the theory exam.

The Part 1 test can be taken at any theory test centre in Great Britain. The test calls for a high standard of knowledge. It is a single test of 100 questions to be completed in one and a half hours. For every question a choice of four answers is given. Only one of these answers is correct. The questions are based on all or any of the following:

9 principals of road safety generally and their application in particular circumstances;
10 techniques of driving a car correctly, courteously and safely including control of the vehicle, road procedure, recognising hazards and taking proper action, dealing properly with pedestrians and other road users, the use of safety equipment;
11 the theory and practice of learning, teaching and assessment;
12 tuition required to instruct a pupil in driving a car, including the items set out above, the correction of pupils’ errors, the manner of the instructor, the relationship between the instructor and pupil, and simple vehicle adaptations for disabled drivers;
13 “The Highway Code”
14 the booklet “The Official Driving Test”
15 interpretation of the reasons for failure given in form DL25A the
“Statement of Failure” to pass the driving test;
16 knowledge of the mechanism and design of a car;
17 the official DSA book “Driving – the Essential Skills”
The overall pass mark for the Part 1 is 85%. However you must reach a minimum mark of 80% in each of the four areas the test is split into. In addition, candidates are required to score at least 57 out of 75 at the hazard perception test. Both parts of the exam must be passed together to pass the Part 1 test. The result of the test will be given at the end of the test.

Study for this section may be mixture of the following;
18 Home study
19 Classroom based study
20 In-car training

You can have as many attempts at this part of the exam as you need to pass. Once Part 1 has been passed you can immediately start the second part of your qualification “the practical test of your driving ability” (Part 2).


The practical test of driving ability consists of both eyesight and driving technique. The test lasts for about one hour. You must pass both parts of the test at the same time. You must be able to read a car number plate at a distance of 27.5m in good daylight, with the help of glasses or contact lenses if worn. The test of driving technique is not just a slightly more difficult “L” test. It is of an advanced nature and a very high standard of competence is required.

You must show that you have a thorough knowledge of the principals of good driving and road safety and that you can apply them in practice. The routes used for the test will include roads which may carry heavy traffic or fast moving traffic, for example motorways or fast dual carriageways. The routes will be both inside and outside built up areas.

No more than six minor errors may be committed on this test, with any serious or dangerous faults committed resulting in an automatic failure of the test. You must drive in a brisk business-like way, but you must drive safely and within the legal limits.

You must provide a car for the test which is properly taxed and insured. It must be a saloon, hatchback or estate car in proper working condition and with seat belts in working order. It must be capable of the normal performance of vehicles of its type with manual transmission, right hand steering and a readily adjustable seat for a forward facing front passenger.

The car must not be displaying “L” plates. (Vehicles can be hired for the purpose of this test from ourselves). The examiner will give a decision at the end of the test.

Training for this section will comprise of the following:

21 In car training
22 Practice in-between sessions

You are only allowed 3 attempts at this part of the exam. If you fail all three attempts you must wait two years from the date of passing Part 1, until you start to re-qualify from the beginning. Once Part 2 has been passed you can immediately start the last part of your qualification “the practical test of your ability to instruct” (Part 3).

THE TEST OF YOUR ABILITY TO coach and teach -Standards check test (Part 3)

This is a one hour exam, you will have to show that you can coach and teach a pupil or family member or friend.

A senior examiner will asses your performance throughout the hour long exam.

If you have passed the driving ability test you can apply for a “trainee licence”. If granted, this will allow you to instruct for payment although you are not registered as an Approved Driving Instructor. Many people pass the Part 3 exam without needing a trainee licence; however the experience gained from the licence is often invaluable in gaining the necessary experience to pass the exam, and is the most popular choice.

A licence is only valid for 6 months and apart from very exceptional circumstances you will only be granted one licence.

One of the conditions of the trainee licence is that you receive at least 40 hours practical training from an ADI. You must receive some training in every one of the subjects listed.

This is the training that we provide whether or not you decide to apply for a trainee licence. If the trainee licence is granted, for the first 3 months that your licence is in force, you must be under the direct personal supervision of an ADI for at least 20% of the time for which you give instruction or receive 20 hours of additional training plus a further 5 hours if Part 3 is failed. Again this training is provided with the courses we offer. If the trainee licence is the preferred option, we can usually organise this with a local driving school, if not with ourselves (CALM DRIVING Driving). However, doing this course does not tie you in to working for any driving school, including our own, which is unlike many other courses available.