about my driving test/ instructors?

(21 Posts)
VelvetSpoon Mon 08-Feb-16 22:02:56

Long ago, I took (and failed) 3 driving tests. I had a LOT of lessons, over a year's worth. I could drive pretty perfectly in lessons, but on the test just wasn't quite good enough.

Anyway, over the ensuing years I've driven a few times (my Ex and I had a large automatic people carrier - the easiest thing in the world to drive). More recently, last year I bought my own little (manual) car, and my boyfriend has taken me out in it for a few hours. I can drive without needing much instruction from him (I do sometimes ask about changing lanes/ gear/is it safe to go etc), I've practised manoeuvres a few times, not that much - anyway he keeps saying I'm not far off taking a test and would probably only need 10-12 lessons to learn the extra I need to pass etc.

So today I thought (as I only have 6 months left on my theory) that I'd book a test to give me something to focus on. It's in 11 weeks time. I'm planning to have 2 lessons a week, plus practice in my own car. I thought that would be ok.

I got a few recommendations for driving instructors, so rang/texted the 5 suggested. 2 haven't responded (yet - maybe I'll hear tomorrow, fingers crossed), one of the others is too busy, so can't take on anyone, the other 2 - one only has daytimes, the other might be able to take me for weekend lessons next month, but both were very much 'oh, so have you just failed a test? But you've had lots of recent lessons? You're able to do all your manoeuvres and driving and just need a few lessons practice?

and when I said no, not really, they ummed and ahhed a lot, as though I was clearly crazy for putting in for a test.

Is this normal now? I was surprised by the lack of availability (but I guess I am going for people I've been told are good, so are probably booked up), and the whole inference that I must be great at driving already seemed odd to me, I'm planning on 20 lessons plus other practice before my test, I know some people who had less than that when starting from scratch. yet I got the feeling they felt that wasn't enough.

I should add you can rearrange your test (so long as you do it a week or so beforehand) at no cost, so I could always postpone if I needed to.

SisterMoonshine Mon 08-Feb-16 22:08:32

I'm guessing that they would rather you didn't have a test booked. I think they would rather tell you when you're ready for a test. They need their pass rate to be good to make a successful business.
Also, are you wanting weekends? 2 lessons a week all weekends?

RagamuffinAndFidget Mon 08-Feb-16 22:16:29

The test has changed quite a lot in the last few years. I took my first test in 2006 and then took my second in 2013 and it was quite different. The theory test is different too. So it may be that they're trying to work out whether you have already done some work towards the new tests, or whether you'll be driving to the older 'rules', IYSWIM?

VelvetSpoon Mon 08-Feb-16 22:38:25

I've already passed the theory.

I work ft, I'd prefer either 2 evening lessons or 1 eve/1 weekend but this seems to be proving difficult to find.

It just seems unduly negative to be cross examining me (and being vague about lesson times) before I've even had a lesson, especially given how easy the test is to postpone.

FlibbertigibbetArmadillo Mon 08-Feb-16 22:41:53

I think they don't want to take you on because they won't get that many hours pay out of you before you potentially pass. They are probably saving those popular slots for people they know will be paying for at least 40-60 hrs of lessons

ridemesideways Mon 08-Feb-16 22:47:34

I'd make the time to book on an intensive thingy, just to make sure I was test standard

Instructors do seem to say you need an awful lot of lessons and some are very inflexible about it. I learned to drive about 3 years ago, from absolute scratch, in 6 or 7 weeks. My first instructor was a git and determined I'd need at least 40 hours tuition. I did 3 lessons then dumped him. Did some practice with dh in our car and git new instructor, think I had maybe 5 lessons with him - passed first time. 1 minor.

Lurkedforever1 Mon 08-Feb-16 23:02:44

Possibly because it's often harder to teach someone with more experience and bad habits than an inexperienced driver. Little things like not keeping your hands at ten to two are harder to correct than teaching in the first place. You might not be in that group at all, but many drivers with experience but no license are.

Arkwright Tue 09-Feb-16 06:55:34

They might not think you are ready for your test. You probably should have waited until they had assessed you before booking it. I passed after a week on an intensive course 2 hours per day with BSM aged 17.

Katenka Tue 09-Feb-16 07:02:15

I wouldn't want to take someone on who had a test booked before seeing how they drive.

Your boyfriend may think you are near being able to pass, that doesn't make it true.

It's a lot of pressure for an instructor to have 'X' amount of weeks to get you ready for a test when they have no idea what standard you are.

The two that haven't text back, Yabu. They were possibly working all day yesterday and just wanted some time with their family in the evening. I don't get this attitude that someone should text you back immediately.

GloriaHotcakes Tue 09-Feb-16 07:04:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Chicagomd Tue 09-Feb-16 07:06:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

VelvetSpoon Tue 09-Feb-16 07:20:30

Yes the theory is only valid for 2 years. I did mine just under 18 months ago.

They didn't ask how much driving I'd done in my own car, or even if I had one. I did get the impression that they wanted me/ any pupil to have a LOT of lessons before a test.

Thing is, I can't see it's necessary for me to have more than 20 lessons. I'm not starting from scratch. I can do more practice in my car if I need to, or have further lessons in that time as well.

And as a last resort if needs,be the test can be rearranged at no cost if I honestly thought I wasn't ready.

What I don't want is to go on and on for 40+ lessons waiting for the instructor to tell me if I can put in for my test. Demoralizing as well as expensive considering lessons are £25 a time!

CurlsLDN Tue 09-Feb-16 07:27:24

Hello op, I'm currently learning to drive, with weekly evening lessons. I found it difficult to find an instructor with availability as well, but I suppose it's an in demand slot as there's only 5/7 per week, and everyone who is learning to drive is likely to be in school/working/looking after family during the day.

You have gone about things in an unusual way, as normally the instructor books the test. This is because they need to be available to give you a lesson beforehand, and then hand over their car for you to do the test in. My instructor made it very clear to me that I shouldn't book the test without him as he would need to check his diary and make his car available.
- I guess you would be able to take the test in your own car, but since this is an unusual enquiry, perhaps that's why the instructors are a bit surprised/ask a lot of questions, just to get the measure of the situation?

I don't agree with pp who say that they are not interested in you as you might not have many lessons - if they're this busy they'll fill the slots regardless.

Katenka Tue 09-Feb-16 07:32:22

A driving instructor isn't going to take your word for how good you are, though.

That's why they may be wary as they will be under pressure to get your ready quickly but have no idea where your Starting point is.

VelvetSpoon Tue 09-Feb-16 08:44:33

I've never heard of an instructor booking the test - my past experience was that lots of people had tests booked before they started lessons, or if not that the instructor would say based on 1 lesson a week you'll probably be ready for your test next month, and then you'd go off and book it (iirc in those days you couldn't pick a date unlike now, I remember my instructor switching the day or time of my regular lessons because another pupil had a test come up).

But like I said, you can rearrange a test multiple times for no cost. In my area there are no slots now until March, and not many then. So if I waited to start lessons and then for the instructor to tell me I was ready, I might be waiting another 6-8 weeks for a test (or another 12-16 lessons...).

Ultimately if I fail, it's my money surely? Personally I'd rather get a test in asap, because I have to pass before August, and it's not certain I'll pass my first test. Indeed I may end up switching to automatic (against boyfriends wishes but if it gets me driving, it may be what I need to do) so I want to leave time for that.

Katenka Tue 09-Feb-16 08:50:05

Yes if you fail it's up to you.

Wether the instructor wants to take a client on with that extra pressure of test already booked is up to them.

I get it's annoying. But u can see why instructors are reluctant to take you on.

MagratGarlikAgain Tue 09-Feb-16 09:32:41

Those who haven't texted you back have probably been teaching! They can't text whilst on a lesson with a student because it is illegal to use your phone whilst supervising a learner.

I would ask though, if you are familiar with the requirements of the test and have your own car, do you really need lessons? If you can't find an instructor, get someone suitable to act as your supervising driver, get out there and get lots of practice, including the manoeuvres. If you were truly "test ready" though, you shouldn't need to ask someone else if it is safe to e.g. change lanes, gear etc, the test is designed to check that your own judgement on the road is sound enough that you will not endager yourself or others. If you cannot drive independently, using your own judgement alone, you are not ready to take the test IMHO.

VelvetSpoon Tue 09-Feb-16 09:45:11

I'm not test ready, that's why I'm planning on 20 or so lessons!

My boyfriend has, and can, supervise me. He's a very good and experienced driver but he's not an instructor or examiner so can't specifically teach me how to pass a test. That's why I'm trying to have lessons.

If I thought I was test ready, I'd book a test for the earliest available date. As it is, I've given myself almost 3 months.

ALemonyPea Tue 09-Feb-16 09:57:34

Best of luck to you.

If you live in the NE I can give you a name/number of the amazing instructor who got me through my test.

DeoGratias Tue 09-Feb-16 10:25:40

VP I have 17 year old twins learning to drive who have passed the theory test (just after their birthday). I booked their instructor about 6 - 8 weeks before they were 17 and he does weekend lessons with them. He seems to have quite a full list but he can usually fit them in at the weekend. One now has his least popular amongst teenagers 9am Saturday slot so presumably that's why it's free to book (not free of charge of course). He asked them to book their practical test after some lessons (it is in just under 2 months' time) and to make sure they had his code (as they will sit it in his car) so the test or DVLA system would book it into his diary automatically and he would ensure he was free at that time (and his car was free).

I am certain people would be keen to teach you or may be outer London just has a lot more instructors than some other places.

All our children so far have failed first time as did I. I don't think any instructor or pupil is going to blame anyone if someone does fail. you just get on and rebook as soon as you can. In fact one of my daughters took her 3rd test (at 17) without telling anyone as was worried she'd fail the 3rd time - she passed. I passed at 17 too. It's quite nice to get it over with before you leave home not least because your parents usually end up paying...

Get regular driving practice - it sounds like you do. My twins drive home from school every day now - their very good older brother endures the stress of that and lets them drive.

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