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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: 

Highway CodeKnow Your Traffic SignsDriving ManualDriving Instructors HandbookOfficial Theory Test for ADIs DVDHazard Perception DVD

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.