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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Improving the ADI part 3 test

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Driving instructors

Hand placing PDI licence in holder on car windscreen

Over the past few months, we’ve been speaking to the approved driving instructor (ADI) industry and organisations on DVSA’s Official Register of Driving Instructor Trainers (ORDIT) about improving the training and testing of trainee driver instructors.

In this blog post, I’ll be talking about how we’re proposing to change the ADI part 3 test and the reasons for doing so.

Aligning with the national standard

In April 2014, we introduced the ‘standards check’ which changed the way we assessed ADIs; focussing on assessing their competence to deliver effective training in line with the national standard for driver and rider training.

We therefore want to mirror this in the qualification process so that new instructors are trained in this way from the outset.

Why we’re changing

The industry has confirmed that the current fault-based ADI part 3 test, which relies on pre-set tests and role play exercises, is both unrealistic and restrictive. It doesn’t give trainee instructors enough opportunity to demonstrate the full range of skills that will they need when qualified.

The change will mean that new ADIs won’t need to undertake additional training or learn different teaching methods ahead of their standards check.

It will also enable the test to be delivered at a greater number of test centres and local to where their training has taken place.

The main changes

We’ll be moving to a competency-based assessment. Trainee instructors will be assessed over a single one-hour lesson on the 3 main competencies of lesson planning, risk management and teaching and learning strategies. They’ll also be assessed on an additional 17 sub-competencies.

Also, there’ll be no more role play by a DVSA examiner – trainee instructors must provide a ‘real’ pupil. This could be a friend, family member or colleague.

The lesson will have to reflect the learning goals and needs of their pupil.

To ensure that trainee instructors obtain the required range of skills, knowledge and understanding we’re exploring the use of a log book in which they and their trainer record the subjects covered, the different levels of instruction given and overall progress.  

Most, if not all instructor trainers already record progress like this and DVSA is happy for them to continue to use or adapt their existing processes.  

When will this happen?

We need to produce an impact assessment first, setting out the costs and benefits of making the change.  We also need to consider those trainee instructors who are already in the process of qualifying and give trainers time to develop their learning materials. Therefore, we won’t be introducing this change until autumn 2017 at the earliest.  

We’ll keep you updated on timing and how we’re developing ORDIT as things progress.

What we’ve done so far

In May this year, we conducted research to identify awareness of this change and how well prepared instructor trainers and ORDIT organisations are to deliver the new training requirements. The research also set out to confirm what impacts and benefits the change might have.  

Early findings:

Early analysis of responses indicates that:

  • there’s a very high awareness level (95%) of the proposed change to align the existing ADI part 3 with the standards check
  • many instructor trainers (70%) have already made changes to their training methods, for example to increase the use of client centred leaning methods or reflective logs  
  • those who haven’t yet made changes, say this is because they’re unclear about when the change will happen etc.

We’ll publish the final report soon, and we’ll be undertaking further research with instructor trainers to help us finalise our impact assessment.

Working with the industry

We also met with the National Associations Strategic Partnership (NASP) and spoke with some ORDIT organisations (small, medium and large) to discuss our findings and agree the principles of the new part 3.  Reactions were very positive, showing a clear enthusiasm about the prospect of a new ADI part 3.

If you’re not an ORDIT registered organisation, it’s important that you contact DVSA so that your instructor trainer organisation can be included in further work around the ADI part 3 test.

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  1. Comment by margaret elie-garbutt posted on

    instructors must show they know the rules of the road thoroughly plus be fine,advanced drivers, or else how can they teach how to drive skillfully and safely if they themselves have not had advanced training and shewn these skills. Plus they must be able to impart this knowledge and awarenss and anticipation of dangers and risks..In other words be excellent teachers and have patience to explain gently to the pupli learner driver or the driver who wishes to update skills why an action should or not be taken, and situation risks. Forget all the paper work etc..learn to drive.learn to impart this knowledge.

    • Replies to margaret elie-garbutt>

      Comment by Grahame Wells posted on

      You say driving instructors need to be excellent teachers, yet they receive no training to become a teacher. We don,t do any teaching qualifications to become a teacher in the same way a school teacher does. We have a syllabus to teach but the method is down to the instructor.

    • Replies to margaret elie-garbutt>

      Comment by Julia posted on

      I think, new PDI should be allow to have provisional licence for 1 year. During that year they should have to register minimum of 37.5 hours training with an ordit registered trainer.

      Plus they should undertake 3 assessments at regular intervals whereby their improvement in their teaching skills can be seen within real life 1 hour lessons with an actual student.

  2. Comment by Ellis Wood posted on

    I am a PDI at the moment, I took my part 3 a few months ago now before being a PDI and failed with a 3:3 . Since becoming a PDI i have realised that the current system just doesn't get close to reailty and real learners. I was totally unprepared. If i had passed then I would have becone an ADI without a clue. I would encourage the forced PDI route and am encouraged by these standards check based changes. The right direction in my opinion.

    • Replies to Ellis Wood>

      Comment by Greg posted on

      There have been some interesting comments fore and against the changes to the part 3 test on here.
      I personally having failed my first attempt at part 3, feel that having my pink badge has given me great insight to teaching the novice drivers, through to the more experience wanting recaps.
      I think that once the part 2 has been granted, you should do your part 3 training and be issued with the pink to gain real life experience in the role.
      Knowing the difference between a student who knows nothing, and having an experienced driver posing as a student makes a big difference subconsciously to how and when we react when they are behind the wheel.
      I expect students to make mistakes, but when the examiner breaches the brief he has given, it throws you right off, with no right of appeal.

  3. Comment by Mike Hales posted on

    Why do you feel the need to change things, you did this with the driving test. Nothing will make any difference to either the teaching or the driving test, you are wasting your time and money on changes that don't need changing.

    • Replies to Mike Hales>

      Comment by Linda (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Mike, thanks for your comment.

      We want the test to reflect real life driving to make sure that it better assesses a learner ability to drive safely and independently is part of our strategy to help every driver through a lifetime of safe driving.

      Feedback we’ve had from the industry has been that the current ADI Part 3 test is both unrealistic and restrictive, and doesn’t give trainee instructors enough opportunity to demonstrate the full range of skills that will they need when qualified.

      • Replies to Linda (DVSA)>

        Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

        The problem is, though Linda, that if you'd have been doing what are described as "realistic" assessments for the last couple of decades already, the "industry" would be giving you feedback that it wanted more technical assessments instead. A large part of the "industry" seems to spend most of its time trying to disagree with whatever DVSA does.

        For my part, if the Standards Check is client-centred then the Part 3 has to be too. Just don't cut any corners when you implement it, because significant elements of the "industry" will be right on your back if you do.

  4. Comment by Howard Bannister posted on

    I am really pleased the part 3 is being updated. I am a grade A ADI, when I qualified I would have been woefully unprepared to train clients had my trainer not also coached me on how to train new drivers in reality. I feel at the moment training for part 3 has become an exercise in learning how to pass the test rather than how to train new drivers.

    • Replies to Howard Bannister>

      Comment by Bill posted on

      Isn't that how it is in real life, you learn to pass the driving test?

      • Replies to Bill>

        Comment by John Atkinson-Brown posted on

        I agree with Bill"s point here re teaching learners to pass the test. I'm a PDI with only three months experience in the instrustry but thirty three years driving experience! I spend nearly all my time advising students how to pass the learners test or extended test. But little time actually teaching them "driving for life." It became obvious very quickly when I first started my part 1 theory training and the other PDI's spent hours talking about briefings and what the SE would portray that the part 3 examination was totally unrealistic. I started client centred coaching pretty much straight away with the future in mind. However Part 3 as it stands is still my primary focus.

    • Replies to Howard Bannister>

      Comment by Bob Craven posted on

      Why should an instructor be qualifuied to so called Advanced level when they are training drivers and especially motorcyclists how to take bends in country roads and how to overtake by advising them to forget the Highway code S. 126 all or the DSA code for all advice regarding safe space and the followimng on distances and are advising pupils or candidates to get closer to the vehicle in front in an the possible event or anticiupation that such an overtake manoeuvre would be viable. This close to or some say Contact position must be considered dangerous and tantamount to the offence Tailgating.

      We have been training motorcyclists on bends and overtakes the same way in Advanced riding for the last 50 years or so and the principals are out there for all to read in many publications starting with the Police Roacraft Manual and even if a candidate does not get specific training by an asessor. he or she would be aware of the advise given in these matters.

      And yet we still have many deaths and seriousl injuries caused by poor judgement in these two area.

      Surely someone somewhere needs to say enough is enough and take an objective view on what went wrong and how we can put it right from now on. Put it right and stop this continuous carnage. Or are those in power too institutionalised to do anything about it. or just dont care.

  5. Comment by Peter Clayton posted on

  6. Comment by Idris posted on

    Personally I think Dvsa should bring in there own
    Chosen learners,one a novice,and then partly trained, or test standard,
    I'm sure Adi,s on the road can give learner names in, at there local test centre,and state what status there at,
    Otherwise there is still a chance of preparing somebody pre- hand what we're going to do today as a subject,
    This will enable DVSA examiners to really see what the Pdi is really about,

  7. Comment by Patrick o Sullivan posted on

    This test is long overdue. Teaching in the real world is a lot different than the part 3 test at the moment. I found when I did my part 3 back in 2002 it was like a game. Do what the examiner wants to see is what my trainer would say to me. When I qualified it was a total shock for quite a while until I developed me own methods of teaching. This change is a great new way of training.

    • Replies to Patrick o Sullivan>

      Comment by Mike Dixon posted on

      Great point Patrick , just how I felt when I passed my part 3.

    • Replies to Patrick o Sullivan>

      Comment by Austin York posted on

      Dear Sir.

      Surely if the training in pursuit of part 3 success does not reflect training in the real world then the fault is with the ADI training.

  8. Comment by Liz Curran posted on

    I am currently doing my part 3 training,can I use the client centered approach with the S E NOW.

    • Replies to Liz Curran>

      Comment by Tarlochan dhillon posted on

      Yes I would, include elements like scaling , balance of responsibility etc .

  9. Comment by Mike Dixon posted on

    In reality how many ADIs will there be work for in 20 years time or less, with the introduction of driverless cars and more people getting on their bike to work sort a speak. The ADI industry won't compete with technology.

  10. Comment by Paul posted on

    This new tests sounds a lot easier to pass and my concern it would flood the market with instructor's.If the pass rate is consistently higher than the old system then it needs to be reviewed.

  11. Comment by John woodward ADI 204565 posted on

    I feel sorry for all PDIs that spent all that money and then failed with no understanding of what they did wrong as they had been working in the real world not the wonderland of the part 3 world

    Wasn't the pass rate 20% that's 1 in 5 at 3 to 4 grand all those shattered dreams and wasted IT reduncey money

    • Replies to John woodward ADI 204565>

      Comment by Angus McFadden posted on

      Personally, when I did it I went straight from Part 3 to a green badge (no pink along the way), and although I remember thinking that teaching real pupils was a bit different to pretend ones, I only ever saw it as an enjoyable and refreshing challenge. At no point did it make me bitter towards either DVSA or the system generally (which appears to be the general way of addressing it these days) and at no time did I feel inadequately prepared (which now appears to be a very common problem).

      The current system has worked for decades, and has produced many decent instructors. It can't be THAT bad if it has managed to do that.

      A large part of the problem is that many PDIs are not cut out to be instructors and it is THAT which is manifesting itself when people hit problems once they qualify. I've always pointed out to my trainees that the most unsuitable person in the world could get a green badge if they tried hard enough (some might not even have to try). The forums are full of people who dissolve at the prospect of a standards check - even though such a periodic check is an integral part of being an ADI.

      I'm sure that the same will be true whatever changes are brought in.

  12. Comment by Paul McArdle posted on

    It depends on your definition of client centred learning. If you imagine this to be the opportunity to ask what the pupil thinks in the analysis part of the core comps then you will be fine - just don't expect to get any meaningful answers - remember it is a test of what you know and what you can do to solve any problems or prevent any difficulties with a none responsive learner who would naturally represent the greatest risk. After all the register and test was set up primarily to ensure new instructors can conduct training safely and ensure you don't pass on bad habits or unsafe driving practices. Therefore the test has little to do with facilitating learning and more to do with control and safety although you cannot facilitate learning in an unsafe environment so this basic skill is essential. As an ADI you have three primary roles to perform, that of the guardian of safety, that of the expert/adivisor/teacher and that of the coach. The current test really only assessors the first role and some of the second but none of the last.

    I hope this helps

  13. Comment by Rod Smith posted on

    Not before time.. but it needs to be designed so that it is not just a setup.. the whole thing could be set up and stage managed beforehand - let's face it a standards check is like that anyway for a lot of people, a great deal can easily be pre planned with very little risk and a decent pass obtained with little difficulty. really, the examiner needs to have some control over what is being examined to prevent this...personally, I think the existing part three could be kept, maybe updated, and the final qualifying test is a standards check and the green badge not issued until this has been done..

  14. Comment by Mitch Peeke posted on

    I've been an ADI for nine and a half years now. I found the old check test system very unfair and since I was one of the first to undergo the new Standards Check, (got a Grade A by the way, after years of getting that one "4" EVERY time!) I'd have to say that it is surely right to bring the the old Part 3 up to date and in line with the new standards check as well. Personally, I found the old role play/pre-set test set up rather fun but I soon realised just how totally unrealistic it had been once I got out into the real world of teaching. Overdue for reform I'd say, but better late than never!

  15. Comment by Lal siyani posted on

    This is a recipe for disaster if part 3 is carried out like the check test then examiner will have no control over what is going on cos most tests will be set up and result in more part 3 passes .If we do not have enough cowboy instructors out there now then this will certainly increase the numbers. ( How many instructors that you now of who have been stricken off cos of 3 check test failers. I for can count 3/4 since becoming an instructor for the past 20 yers) Makes me wonder if DVSA are just interested in receiving extra income from the extra number of indicators on there books

  16. Comment by David Kenna posted on

    About time too in my opinion.

    Having been an ADI for 4 years now, my teaching style has evolved to a more coaching based format, and I find my approach to various students is subtly different as I assess what works best for them.

    I always instinctively felt that the Pt3 Test was always more geared to towards rigid and inflexible 'box ticking' rather than actually encouraging and rewarding 'coaching' skills.

    I sum up my approach as teaching students to 'drive for life' not just to pass a Driving Test.

  17. Comment by Brian Hodder posted on

    I believe that a change is required to improve the standard but I think having to turn up with a "student" for a part 3 is wrong, first off all insurance will be required, also has the "student" rehearsed the faults? Also you are then incouraging potential ADI's to take out people with possible no formal training, would it not be better to do a basic assessment with roll playing by the examiner on a single subject (half an hour) and if sucsefull a PDI badge could be awarded then a Part 4 where he turns up with a Lerner driver to do "real life" lesson?

  18. Comment by Jim Ellis posted on

    I like some of the comments made, however, others really need to look and appreciate what the DVSA is trying to do. With the present part 3 test it is solely based on fault finding, analysis of the fault then the PDI trying to remedy the fault, basic Core Competencies. The new part 3 test is aimed more at the PDI giving a proper lesson to a proper pupil, this being more realistic, there should not be any pre-determing aspects of faults, as this would be a typical lesson on which the PDI would have training with his trainer and being on a pink trainee licence would encounter with his/her pupils. I hope my contribution to this is beneficial to others.

  19. Comment by Mike Cairns posted on

    I always felt the old check test wasn't fit for purpose and the sooner the part 3 changes,the better. All learner drivers need to take an active part in lessons. Changing attitudes isn't easy but if a learner is encouraged to think for themselves and learn from their mistakes then we are helping to create safer drivers

  20. Comment by Stephen Ford posted on

    I passed parts ADI 1 and 2 and was granted 3 PDI Licences and worked as a full time instructor for 18 months. I had a first time pass rate of 70% when the national average was 43% and all my pupils had less than the DVLA publicised average lessons required. Despite this I failed ADI part 3 three times. On my third attempt I had 25 pupils, many of whom wanted to continue lessons with me when I said I was leaving the driving school. The test in its present form does not require instructional ability - it requires the ability to act. This applies to the examiner as well as the candidate. I concede I am not a good actor but neither were my examiners. I know this may sound like sour grapes but the ADI part 3 test in its present form is a farce and needs a complete restructure. If it were more realistic perhaps we would see fewer new drivers involved in accidents!

  21. Comment by Tony Mihill posted on

    I believe the time for change has been long overdue and this is a great step in the right direction. Although teaching using Sat Nav's is a bad move for the L test. I understand that the DVSA does have a tough job to do but some of the changes beggars belief. Why are the rules so rigidly set out yet someone can teach B+E, C & D class vehicles with no qualifications at all. Don't get me wrong some of the guys who teach this are as good as ADi's or even better but there is no regulation to check this. It's about time the DVSA put changes in place for all categories not just A & B. Come on DVSA stop discriminating against motorcycle and car instructors and make it fair.

  22. Comment by Kathy Higgins posted on

    At long last I can just teach my PDIs to just be great client centered instructors.

    Who do we need to contact in the DVSA to be included in the study?


    • Replies to Kathy Higgins>

      Comment by Linda (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for your question, we would advise you to contact Mark Magee for further information.

      Kind regards


  23. Comment by Peter Downs posted on

    I think it's worth considering the big picture (bear with me) why do we test learner drivers before letting them loose (rhetorical) ? If the practical driving test is good enough to determine whether "they" should be"let loose" or not then why are we not using the statistics from these tests to at least contribute to measuring instructors ability. If an instructor has a first-time-pass-rate of say 70% does this not give a reasonable indication of the instructors ability to prepare students to pass the test (and yes I am with you - we should NOT be teaching them to pass - we should be teaching them to be safe). So could we devise a test to test the students ability to be safe on the roads and our ability to train them to be safe? Well perhaps we could by developing a two stage system:

    STAGE 1 TEST: A practical driving test similar to the current practical driving test, but lasting 1.5 hours with a maximum of eight minor faults (based on the current fault system).

    After passing a Stage 1 the student should take a be entitled to drive on all roads except motorways. Within six months of passing the Stage 1 Test, the student should take a minimum of six hours of training with an ADI on motorways and within this six month period they should take a Stage 2 Test.

    STAGE 2 TEST: This second driving test should be taken not sooner than eight weeks and no later than 6 months from the Stage 1 Test pass date. This Stage 2 test should follow the same test routine as theStage 1 test (e.g. no more than eight minor faults), the aim being to prevent/identify any important faults. If a student shows more than eight minor faults they they fail the Stage 2 Test.

    If a student fails the Stage 2 test they will be entitled to retake the test within 6 months of the fail.

    Students who pass the Stage 2 Test should be given a full driving licence students who fail a second test should be required to start from the Stage 1 Test.

  24. Comment by Ramesh Versani posted on

    I think part three should be retained in it's current format. However it should be conducted before issuing any trainee licences and a part four should be introduced in a Standards Check format as proposed by DVSA. This will ensure incoming trainees are well equipped to handle the demands of every day instructing. I know the costs for the test fees will increase but, you will gain a well prepared instructor.

  25. Comment by John Glover posted on

    A very positive change. I am currently a PDI who unfortunately has failed his part 3. The part 3 is totally unrealistic and is no judge of my actual teaching skills which I have worked and trained hard at with the help of an excellent orbit mentor.

    I have from the start learnt and am applying student focused teaching practices and without wishing to sound boastful I have received constant good feed back from my students both those who have been immediately successful and from those who I have provided positive encouragement to try again.

    In my opinion a new PDI should be given a provisional licence for 1 year. During that year they should have to register at least 40 hours training with an ordit registered trainer.

    Plus they should undertake 3 assessments at regular intervals whereby their improvement in their teaching skills can be seen within real life 1 hour lessons with an actual student.

    This way the DVSA can see the ongoing improvement in the PDI skills as they develop over 1 year.

    At the end of the year the PDI if they have demonstrated growth in their ability should be given their full licence.

    The full licence will then be conditional on the ADI taking 2 more assessments at the end of each furyher year

    As previous commentators have said you can currently past the current part 3 with minimum all training if you just play the game and say what the examiners want to hear

    It is not a fair test of the PDI ' s ACTUAL teaching ability.

  26. Comment by John woodward ADI 204565 posted on

    ADI should be made to have more than a B licence a C or D with +E would help them into the real world

  27. Comment by Kevin Roydon ADI (37 yrs) posted on

    I do agree with John Glover with jùst about everything but don't think only one hour for the test is enough time to show ability this would need to be two hours which would relate to the majority of lessons they will work