How to become a Driving Instructor in the UK – Parts 1, 2 and 3 of Your Driving Instructor Qualification Explained

Kick-Start your Career as a Driving Instructor with the First Drive South West Ultimate Guide

Thinking about becoming your own boss, and training as a driving instructor? Excited about the freedom and flexibility it could bring to your life? If you can’t wait to get started, but have absolutely no idea what’s involved, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve been training Devon Driving Instructors for 6 years, and we’re passionate about helping you achieve your teaching goals. If you’ve come across our post with a burning question or two, keep reading for our informed guide to becoming a Driving Instructor in the UK.


Benefits of becoming a Driving Instructor

Requirements for Driving Instructor Training

Part 1 Test – Theory

Part 2 Test – Driving Ability

Part 3 Test – Instructional Ability

What are the Benefits of becoming a Driving Instructor?

You might have landed on our page feeling a little daunted about Driving Instructor Training, or the prospect of having to take a test. You might even be wondering if the effort involved in becoming a driving instructor is really worth it. As trained Driving Instructors ourselves, we’re pretty passionate about helping learners pass their test – but we’re also here to tell you it provides a lot of personal benefits you won’t find in a regular 9-5.

  • You can be your own boss

Can you ever put a price on independence? You’ll have the flexibility to set your own hours, and even keep 100% of the profits – after tax, of course!

  • You’ll have more freedom

Hate being cooped up in an office? Us too. When you become a driving instructor you’ll have the freedom of the open road, and no two days will ever be the same. Different journeys, different people – it’s a daily road trip, with pay.

  • You’ll earn a good level of income

Now we’re not saying you’ll become a millionaire. But self-employed driving instructors can earn a decent income of £30,000+ a year. Obviously, the amount of money you earn depends on how many clients you request from us, but for a job where you get freedom, flexibility and the thrill of calling the shots, we think it’s a pretty great deal.

  • You’ll have more career options

Who says you have to stop learning after completing your Driving Instructor Training? Why not continue your professional development with a DVSA Special Test course, register as a Pass Plus Instructor, or become a Fleet Driver Trainer? You’ll not only have the opportunity to increase your skills and knowledge, but your income, too.

You can find out more about professional development for Driving Instructors here

What are the requirements for Driving Instructor Training?

So, now you’ve found out a little more about why you should train as a UK Driving instructor, let’s dive in to the nitty gritty.

Before you start your training, you’ll need to meet some initial requirements from the DVSA.

To sign up, you must:

  • Be over 21 years old
  • Have had your driving licence for 3+ years
  • Have less than 6 points on your licence
  • Be able to read a car registration plate from 20.5 metres*

*You’re allowed to wear your glasses or contacts while you do this

If you meet all the criteria, you can apply online through the DVSA website for a Disclosure and barring service (DBS) check, which you’ll also need to pass to be approved.

You can then apply through the website to become a Potential Driving Instructor (PDI), and receive your personal reference number (PRN), which you’ll keep throughout your career.

A lot of hoops to jump through, but – great news! Once you have your PRN, you’re ready to apply to become a driving instructor.

Now, the driving instructor qualification involves 3 tests you’ll need to pass to become fully-qualified.  You’ll need to take these in order starting with the Part 1 Theory Test , so, unfortunately, you won’t be able to jump in with the test you feel most comfortable with.

But, as the training’s fully flexible, you can go at your own pace, at the times that suit you best.  Just bear in mind that the lack of test availability, particularly for Parts 2 and 3, can sometimes mean your qualification gets delayed.

The Part 1 Test


The Part 1 test is theoretical, so there is grey matter involved. But, if you have a good memory and don’t mind burning a bit of midnight oil, then this part can be a breeze – with the right training.

The Theory Test is made up of 2 parts:

First, you’ll need to answer 100 multiple choice questions, which are split into 4 categories of 25 questions each. The categories you’ll need to study for are:

  • Road procedure
  • Traffic signs and signals, car control, pedestrians and mechanical knowledge
  • Driving test, disabilities, and the law
  • Publications and instructional techniques

You’ll need to score 85/100 overall, but also at least 20/25 in each category to pass this section.

Second, you’ll be given a hazard perception test. You’ll be shown a sequence of 14 videos, and you’ll have to spot the developing hazard in each one. But, be aware that one of the videos will show two hazards, not just one – so be on the look-out for that.  The earlier you can spot the hazard, the higher your score will be, so points for speed on this one.

You can score a maximum of 5 points for each hazard, and you’ll need to spot 15 hazards in total. To pass this section, you’ll need to score at least 57/75.

After you pass, you’ll be able to book the Part 2 Test. If you’re not successful the first time, you can rebook and try again, but you’ll have to wait 3 days before applying. And, if this part really isn’t your forte, don’t worry – you have unlimited attempts to get it right.

Once you pass your theory test, you have 2 years to complete all the tests, and become a fully qualified driving instructor.

The Part 2 Test

Driving ability

Keen to show off your skills behind the wheel? This might be a test you enjoy. Part 2 examines your driving ability, and the test lasts for an hour. But, brace yourself, because unlike the theory test, you only have 3 attempts at a pass. Use up your 3 chances, and they’ll end your Driving Instructor application- and that’s definitely not something you want to happen.

That being said, it’s really worth investing in a professional training programme with a high first-time pass rate, to get you through this part of the qualification. A little expert knowledge could come in very handy when it comes to the exam crunch – and you wouldn’t want to lose out on all the time and money you’ve invested so far.

What Car can I Use for Part 2?

According to the DVSA, when you take the test, the car you’re using must:

  • be taxed
  • be insured for a driving test – you’ll need to check this with your insurance company
  • be roadworthy, and have a current MOT if it’s over 3 years old
  • have no warning lights showing, for example, the airbag warning light
  • have no tyre damage and the legal tread depth on each tyre – you can’t have a space-saver spare tyre fitted
  • be smoke-free – which means you can’t smoke in your car, either just before or during the test
  • be able to reach at least 62mph and have an mph speedometer
  • have 4 wheels and a maximum authorised mass (MAM) of no more than 3,500 kg

If you don’t have a car that meets the criteria, don’t panic. You can also opt to use your trainer’s car for this part of your qualification.

So, what’s actually involved in Part 2? Let’s take a deep dive into the five parts you’ll need to pass this exam.

  • The Eyesight Test

You’ll have to read a number plate from a distance of:

  • 26.5 metres for vehicles with a new-style number plate
  • 27.5 metres for vehicles with an old-style number plate

A fail will count as one of your three attempts, so it’s a good idea to get your glasses and contacts up-to-date before your Eyesight Test.

  • ‘Show Me, Tell Me’ Vehicle Safety Questions

You’ll be asked 5 vehicle safety questions, known as the ‘Show Me, Tell Me’ questions. These test your knowledge of basic vehicle maintenance, as well as your ability to operate controls in the vehicle while on the move.

You’ll be asked:

  • 3 ‘Tell Me’ questions at the start of your test, before you start driving
  • 2 ‘Show Me’ questions while you’re driving – for example, showing how to wash the windscreen using the car controls and wipers
  • General Driving Ability

You’ll be tested on a variety of roads to ensure your driving is safe, legal, and you’re able to integrate well with other road users. This can range from quiet country lanes to busy dual carriageways, so it’s important you’re confident navigating through all kinds of traffic. The examiner will give you directions, unless you’re taking the Independent Driving section of the test.

You’ll be occasionally asked to pull over to the left, and safely move away. You’ll have to do this a minimum of 3 times    in an ordinary driving situation, going uphill, and around a parked vehicle in front.

But, before they begin the Independent Driving section of the test –  the emergency stop and the parallel park –  they’ll also ask you to pull over on the left, so they can brief you on what’s about to happen. So just bear in mind, you might end up pulling in several times, but, rest assured, it’s all part of the test procedure.

  • Reversing Manoeuvres

The examiner will ask you to complete 2 of the following exercises:

  • Parallel park at the side of the road
  • Reverse into a parking bay and drive out
  • Drive into a parking bay and reverse out
  • Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for around 2 car lengths, and re-join the traffic
  • Independent Driving

In this part of the test, the examiner will ask you to follow directions on a Sat Nav, or using navigational road signs. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of tech – this section only lasts for 20 minutes, and the examiner will provide the Sat Nav for this section, and also set up the route for you.

When you get back to the test centre, the examiner will give you your result. You’ll achieve a pass if there are:

  • No more than 6 driving faults
  • No serious or dangerous faults

The Part 3 Test

Instructional Ability

Love to teach? This is your chance to shine. In Part 3, you’ll get to deliver a training session while your examiner observes. You’ll need to provide the person you’ll be training, and deliver a lesson that works on goals agreed between you and your student. You’ll also need to demonstrate you can confidently enable them to create a positive plan to deal with hazards, and that they accurately and safely use planning and car controls to execute it.

Like in Part 2, you only have 3 attempts to pass this section before your application to become a driving instructor is closed, so it’s definitely worth investing in a proven instructor training programme, to boost your confidence – and your score.

Want to train as a Driving Instructor with dedicated one-to-one support? Click Here

Curious about what you’ll need to know to ace this section? These are the 3 categories the examiner will award points for:

  • Lesson planning
  • Risk management
  • Teaching and learning strategies

Each category has a list of competencies scored out of 3, and this part of the test is marked out of a total of 51.

So, how many points do you need to ace it?

A score below 30 is counted as a fail – you’ll also fail if you score 7 or less in the Risk Management category

A score of 31-42 is a Grade B Pass

A score of 43-51 is a Grade A Pass

After you pass Part 3, and you’ve completed all 3 tests, you can now apply to the DVSA for your first ADI badge. Once you’ve received your badge, you’ll be able to start putting all of your skills and experience into action – and start earning money as a driving instructor.

Has this post inspired you to start training, or book your test? Are there any other questions about Driving Instructor Training you’d like us to answer? We’d love to hear from you.