How Long to Learn To Drive

The time it takes from receiving your provisional driving licence to passing the driving test can depend on many factors, all of which will be outlined below.

It is often best to not rush learning to drive as you will find it less stressful and often gain more knowledge. It is a fact however, that many are eager to gain a licence due to either independence or job commitment issues. Outlined is the average time it takes for ‘how long it takes to learn to drive’ along with advice on how to speed up the process and gain a driving licence quickly.

How long are driving lessons

Weekly driving lessons is the typical method that most learners choose for learning to drive. It usually takes around 30 to 40 hours to reach test standard. 2 x 1.5 hour lessons per week should allow you to reach test standard within around 2 to 3 months depending on your ability. Opting for one lesson per week can take up to six months to reach test standard.

Semi- intensive driving courses
Semi-intensive courses can range from 2 to 8 weeks. Often a driving test is arranged to be taken at the end. If you feel a full intensive is too demanding but still want to reach test standard in good time, a semi-intensive id often ideal. The drawback with semi-intensives is that they can be difficult to accommodate due to work commitments

Car keys

Intensive driving courses
This is a full-time course in that all 30 to 40 hours of driving are taken within a single week, again often with a driving test scheduled at the end. These can be ideal for those that wish to pass the driving test as quickly as possible and who are limited on time. Many individuals take a week off work to achieve this.

The downside of an intensive is that they are not suited for everyone. Many can find driving so intensively exhausting and stressful. Getting too tired and stressed reduces your ability to retain information leading to a higher chance of failing the test.

Fastest way to pass the driving test

Below are some tips for the fastest way to pass the driving test.

  • Applying for a provisional driving licence
    A provisional driving licence can be applied for up to 3 months before you turn 17. By applying before your birthday, it will arrive in plenty of time for you to start learning to drive as soon as you reach 17. Details on how to apply for a provisional driving licence can be found in the How to start learning to drive section.
  • Booking a theory test
    The theory test can be applied for as soon as you are 17 and have your provisional driving licence. Studying for the theory test well before you receive your provisional means that if you feel ready, you can apply to take the test immediately. The DVSA waiting times vary from each theory test centre and can be anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks before you can sit the test. The theory test section can provide tips for passing your theory test.
  • Booking a driving test
    Once the theory test has been passed, you then become eligible to book a practical driving test. There are various driving test centres around the country all with different waiting times. Areas of high density such as cities will often have the longest waiting times. The longer waiting times for a test can be anywhere up to 15 weeks.
  • Driving test cancellations
    A possible means to gain a short notice driving test it to check for test cancellations. Once you have your test booked at the earliest date, you can then check for cancellations and if appropriate, take that slot. This can bring the test forward by several weeks. Cancellations do come up quite frequently although this depends on how much time you have to keep checking. Reaching test standard within your driving over a short period of time will help to leave the option of a test cancellation being viable. The only issue with taking a driving test cancellation is if you are relying on an instructor and their car, is if they are available for the test cancellation. If you have access to a friends or families car that you can legally use for the test will be an advantage in this situation.
  • Booking a driving test at an alternative test centre
    An alternative test centre may have a shorter waiting time than your local centre. The down side to this is you won’t be familiar with the test routes in that area. Taking driving lessons with a local instructor for that test centre will benefit you as they will know the difficult areas that the examiner take during the test.
  • Residential driving courses
    Certain driving schools may offer short notice intensive courses followed by a driving test. Not many driving schools offer this service however, so you may need to opt for a residential driving course. A residential driving course will provide around a week intensive driving with the driving test at the end and accommodation. This obviously comes at a price as it includes accommodation. It’s important to understand if an intensive driving course is appropriate for you. Some learners simply find a week intensive too difficult and not a suitable way to learn. The Are intensive crash courses any good? article helps to explain the benefits and disadvantages of intensive courses. Taking a lesson or two with a local instructor will provide you with an idea if an intensive is suitable for you.

Choosing a good driving instructor

Having a good driving instructor teaching you to drive has an impact on how long it takes you to learn to drive. Whilst looking for your driving instructor or school, it’s often best to go with recommendations from previous learners. Opting simply for the cheapest you can find can often be false economy as detailed in Are cheap driving schools or instructors good? A fully qualified driving instructor with a good deal of experience teaching in the area is important as they will also have a good knowledge of the driving test routes.

The driving test

We often get asked ‘How long is the driving test’. This depends on the examiner, as some to like slightly shorter tests and also the traffic conditions during the test. Generally speaking however, the driving test lasts for around 40 minutes.

How should I learn to drive?

If time is on your side, around two lessons per week is ideal if spread out. Some learners find 2 hour lessons a little too long and 1 hour lessons a little too short. If your driving instructor or driving school offers 1.5 hour lessons, two of these per week is ideal. You will reach test standard in a reasonable time but with less stress to complete the course in such a short periods of time as is the case with intensives.

Taking this approach to driving lessons also gives you the option to reschedule the driving test if you feel more time is required. Rescheduling the test is free and only requires that you provide the DVSA with a minimum of 3 clear working days notice. The learning to drive test booking information section provides all the contact details for booking and rescheduling driving tests.

If time is not on your side, you may need to think about a semi or full intensive driving course. If possible, try and avoid a full 1 week intensive as such courses are often paid in advance and leaves you little room for any changes. If for instance you feel you are struggling with the tuition, it’s unlikely the school or instructor will allow you to change your lesson plan, and will have little choice but to commit to it and take the test.

A semi-intensive is more forgiving. An example could be 2 hours every day from Monday to Friday which will gain you test standard in 3 to 4 weeks. Many driving schools don’t use predetermined hours for semi-intensives and will allow you to pick and choose how intensive you want the course to be. A semi-intensive will be less stressful as there will be less pressure on yourself. It will also allow you plenty of time to reschedule the test if need be.

7 thoughts on “How Long to Learn To Drive”

  1. Laurence Jacquemin

    Please update this page, it is very misleading, 30-40 hours suggests someone with a fair natural ability in a easy area with no difficult junctions. It is also demoralising for those with low confidence or poor coordination who take well over 60 hours to be ready. Official DVSA figures suggest 45 hours and 22 hours private practice, this blog should reflect the official stats which are fairly accurate.

  2. Hi Laurence,
    This is based on our experience as driving instructors which is also accurate.

  3. Kevylou Haycock

    From experience, I have to agree with Laurence Jacquemin. Some students can struggle with certain elements of driving, often relating, in some way to co-ordination, or controlling their anxiety in new, or challenging, stressful situations. These students will often need more time in order to fully master the skills required for ‘safe driving for life’. On the flip side, there are those students who demonstrate a natural aptitude for driving and can potentially pass in less hours than the average. It’s a bit like at school really, you have your bright sparks who excel and others who, without extra support would flounder. We will all learn at our own pace, the important thing is to find an instructor who can work with you at your pace to ensure you have as much experience as possible, along with all the skills and knowledge to be safe out there when you’ve passed.

  4. In reply to Kevylou Haycock.

    Hi,
    I agree with both of the participants above. And to the response from the Driving test tips.
    I’m currently in Limbo myself, having done 30 hours with my ADI ( a few of which were semi intensive to prepare just before a test- which I eventually postponed).
    I’ve done at least 60+ hours privately, yet there are moments when myself and my instructor/ partner get a shock from a silly serious mistake I’d make.
    I have now 12 weeks before my test, just wondering how to space out the next block of lessons? ADI says it’s mainly maintenance till the test.
    I would really appreciate any advice. I feel quite stressed at the thought of the test and I’m one of the mature learners (will be 41 soon)
    Thank you

  5. Hello Mo.
    In regards to the silly mistakes, this is perfectly normal for learners to make silly mistakes prior to the test. You need to think that realistically it takes a driver years of experience to reach a point where mistakes are rare. Though upwards of 100 hours of driving experience may seem a lot, it really isn’t. So really, don’t worry about the mistakes, all learners do it.

    However, you do say ‘serious’. So I would spend the next 12 weeks assessing the areas where these serious mistakes tend to happen. You need to go into each and every situation and verbally make yourself aware of each and every potential hazard before they occur. Teach yourself to identify potential hazards given each situation before they have a chance to occur. This way, you’ll stop making the serious mistakes. Do this with your ADI and also follow this up with as much private driving experience as you can.

  6. Thank you so much for the prompt response.
    I really appreciate your opinion because I don’t consider myself in a position to judge myself and the ADI would try to be extra encouraging and partner extra critical (if you know what I mean).
    I have been told
    “Hesitation is one of my weak points “ at the same time
    “I can rush on to a major road at a junction “.
    I feel I can be very unpredictable 😅.
    I am hoping to find the balance.

  7. Hi Mo,
    That’s why you need to verbally talk through all the potential hazards as you approach every situation. If you struggle to see them, your instructor can help by prompting you. It helps you to ‘see’ things in advance, to realise potential hazards and therefore you will no longer be unpredictable. It does work, give it a try 🙂
    Good luck on your test.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.