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So you want to become an ADI?

Driving Instructors come from all sorts of backgrounds, often qualifying after leaving another career. Driver training can be a full or part-time occupation depending on your lifestyle and needs and offers a rewarding career helping others achieve their goals.

To become an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) in the UK you will need to be eligible and pass a series of three exams. Eligibility criteria and tests are laid down in law but managed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). You may only take payment for giving driver training if you are on the register of approved driving instructors maintained by the DVSA.


To become an ADI you must have held a full licence for an automatic or manual transmission car for at least 3 years, be at least 21 years old and be a fit and proper person to be on the register. Note that both motoring and no-motoring convictions will be taken into account when deciding whether you can be considered a fit and proper person. In order to apply to join the register you must get a new Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to start your application, even if you already have one.

ADI Part 1 test of knowledge

This is a computer based theory test consisting of a 100 question multiple choice examination, which is to be answered in 90 minutes. The pass mark is 85% but questions are banded into four main areas and a minimum of 80% is required in each band. It is therefore possible to get a mark greater than 85% overall and still fail. It is a very demanding examination and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recommend that you prepare thoroughly for it.

The theory test is based on material from the following publications: 

Know Your Traffic SignsDriving Manual

Test questions will cover your knowledge of: Road safety principles: Driving techniques including car control, road procedure, hazard recognition, other road users and the use of safety equipment: The theory and practise of teaching, learning and assessing standards: Instruction required to teach a pupil including teaching those with disabilities, instructor characteristics, fault analysis: Mechanical principles and design of a motor car, adequate to instruct a learner driver: Interpretation of a "Driving Test Report" (DL25A): Publications of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. All of these titles and others to help you prepare and practice can be  found in our PDI Training catalogue.

Immediately after the theory element of the part 1 exam you will also take a computer based Hazard Perception Test. This comprises a series of 14 video clips featuring everyday road scenes that contain at least one ‘developing hazard’. You get points for spotting the developing hazards as soon as they start to happen.

A developing hazard is something that would cause you to take action, like changing speed or direction. For example you see a car parked at the side of the road and as you near it the car’s right-hand indicator starts to flash and it starts to move away. You’d need to ‘take action’ by slowing down, as the parked car becomes a developing hazard.

You can score up to 5 points for each developing hazard. To get a high score, click the mouse as soon as you see the hazard starting to develop. You don’t lose points if you click and get it wrong. However, you won’t score anything if you click continuously or in a pattern. You only get one attempt at each clip and one of the clips will contain two developing hazards so that the maximum score is 75.

To pass the hazard perception part, you need to score at least 57 points. You can see how the hazard perception test works from a short video presentation by the DVSA. You need to pass both th etheory and hazard perception parts of the ADI part 1 test at the same time. Once you have passed this exam you must pass the next two parts of the Register Qualifying examination within two years.

ADI Part 2 test of driving

There are five elements to the part 2 examination: an eyesight check, ‘show me, tell me’ vehicle safety questions, general driving ability, manoeuvres and independent driving.

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

Vehicle Safety:

The examiner will ask you to describe how to perform a check on the condition and safety of three components of the vehicle (tell me) and demonstrate how to operate two of the vehicle ancillary controls during the drive (show me).

Driving test:

The driving ability test lasts for about one hour and is of a very advanced nature. The test will be taken on roads both inside and outside of built-up areas, which may carry heavy and fast moving traffic and may include motorways and fast dual carriageways. You must drive in a business-like yet  environmentally friendly way, driving safely, within the law. You will be asked to perform in the test all of the manoeuvres which a learner driver could be tested on in a driving test.

You will need to demonstrate: Expert handling of the controls; Use of correct road procedure; Anticipation of the actions of other road users; taking appropriate action when necessary; Sound judgment of distance, speed and timing; Consideration for the convenience and safety of other road users; Driving in an environmentally-friendly manner.  You might also be asked to carry out an emergency stop.

Reversing your vehicle: The examiner will ask you to do 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 rejoin the traffic

Independent driving: You’ll have to drive for about 20 minutes by following either directions from a sat nav or traffic signs. The examiner will tell you which you have to do. The examiner will provide the sat nav if required and set it up for you. You cannot follow directions from your own sat nav during the test.

During the test the Examiner will note any driving faults which you make. Faults are actions the candidate takes which are not in accordance with the advice given in The Highway Code or Driving, The Essential Skills, and are classified as follows;

Driving fault e.g. hesitant on approach to a pedestrian crossing. More than 6 faults in this category may result in failure.

Serious fault e.g. overtaking on approach to a pedestrian crossing. One of these faults will result in failure.

Dangerous fault Driving on to a pedestrian crossing whilst someone is actually crossing. One of these faults will result in failure.

At the end of the test the Examiner will inform you of the result and hand to you the form ADI 25, which records the faults you have made. If you have failed the examiner will inform you where the faults occurred. If you pass, the examiner will also give a debriefing to go over any driving faults you made.

Part 3 test of instructional ability

The ultimate goal in your quest to qualify as an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) is to pass this exam. The part 3 test is a 'Standards Check', the same as any qualified ADI would be required to take at intervals in order to remain on the ADI register. You will be required to present yourself with a vehicle and pupil and give a lesson appropriate to the needs of that pupil.

You will need training to qualify and we urge you to go to experienced and suitably qualified trainers who are listed with the Official Register of Driving Instructor Trainers (ORDIT). You can find  a trainer near you here.

We have a wealth of training materials to help you in your goal and training aids to suit many teaching and learning styles but if you only buy one item from us we encourage you to make it this one...

Written by Steve Garrod DipDI and Dr John Wells.

Steve is the director of Equip Training Ltd  and former manager of the Driving Instructors Association.

John is the prime author and illustrator of the Colourfile training aids and Theory First ADI training manuals.

Steve and John have worked together for over twenty years and whilst Target 51 was their first and remarkably successful published collaboration, publication of several new manuals and training aids for the ADI examinations are imminent. Watch this space!

In light of the current CoVid 19 pandemic there have been changes to how the Part 3 test is conducted. Up to date information can be found in this book.

If you are working towards your ADI Part 3 exam, here are a few of the things you need to know.

 To reduce the amount of time spent in an enclosed vehicle, every effort must be made to keep the wheels moving (to around 40 minutes). The assessment itself will last for 45 minutes. You will need to set goals for the lesson and discuss risk management on the way to the driving test centre or agreed meeting place. You are allowed to arrange to meet the examiner at a venue no more than 5 minutes from the driving test centre. This is to reduce the demand on test centres. You will receive a call from your examiner prior to your test so that you will be able to agree a suitable meeting point.

Pre and post briefings will be conducted outside of the vehicle.

This means that your recap should take place before entering the car once you have met your examiner. No more than 5 minutes should be spent with some questions and answers and agreeing on the goals set for the lesson. You can ask your pupil to ‘remind’ you of the goals that have been set and how the responsibility for learning will be shared during the lesson. It will be expected that these key elements are recapped at the start of the lesson for the purposes of assessment.

If you have to stop during the test to discuss a key learning point, it should be kept to just 2 or 3 minutes. If you feel a longer discussion is needed, you should explain that this will be done outside of the vehicle, therefore you should ensure you are parked in a safe place. The post briefing (de-brief) must also be conducted outside the vehicle and last no more than 2 or 3 minutes. You could ask your pupil what went well and if they felt they have achieved the goals that were agreed at the start of the lesson, and what they feel stills needs attention. It is important to give your feedback as well because it may be different from that of the pupil, and agree on the goals for the next lesson.

Wheels moving and windows open.

Until further notice, you will only be allowed to bring a partly trained, trained or a full licence holder to your exam and not a beginner. This is to reduce the amount of time the vehicle is stationary. If you have a pupil who has recently failed a driving test, you may present them and explain that you are working on the areas identified as driving faults during their recent test.

The subject you choose for the exam must be one that fits the pupil’s ability, for example, do not expect a beginner to achieve an unrealistic goal just to keep the car moving. Static lessons are not acceptable and you will lose your fee if you present a beginner for test. Controls lesson, moving off and stopping and manoeuvres are not allowed until further notice, therefore you must choose your lesson theme carefully to ensure the wheels are turning as much as possible so that the vehicle remains well ventilated. Make sure you know the area in which your are going to be tested and plan suitable routes for all subjects and alternative routes incase you are delayed due to the lesson over running, road works or heavy traffic.

Note: PDIs are not permitted to take learner drivers onto a motorway at any time, including an ADI Part 3 test.

During the test the windows must be kept open for ventilation and the air conditioning must not be switched on. Make sure that your ventilation system is switched to bring in air from outside the vehicle and not on recycle.

Keep covered.

You and your pupil must have your arms and legs covered to reduce the risk of contact and wear a correctly fitted face mask. Wearing glasses is not a valid reason not to wear a face mask.

Keep surfaces clean.

Before and after each lesson, get into the habit of wiping down all parts of the car where contamination is likely. Just imagine you are about to drive the car for the first time, what would you touch? There may be more than you think, e.g. the key, door handles (inside and out) seatbelt, head restraint, leavers or buttons to adjust the seat, mirrors, windows, ventilation controls and those to open the bonnet. Make sure you leave enough time in between lessons to clean these less obvious controls as well as the steering wheel, gear leaver, internal mirror and handbrake.

Don’t leave it until the day of your Part 3!

If you are working towards your ADI Part 3 exam, make sure you are practicing each of these key points. That way it will not be new to you or your pupil on the day.

Equip Training LtdIf you would like more information on the ADI Part 3 Exam, contact Steve at