Previous articles in this series have looked at admin steps before applying to become a driving instructor and at the ADI Part 1 test, the theory and hazard perception test.

In this section of the Becoming an ADI series we look at the ADI Part 2 test, the test of driving ability.

It’s all very exciting. You’ve notched up your first win with a pass in the Theory Test Centre and now you get to show what you can do behind the wheel of a car.

Let’s not get carried away here though. According to research by the Express, 60% of full licence holders would probably fail an L test, let alone the ADI Part 2 which is longer and harder.

Time to get some help, find an instructor trainer here:

SDDIA Instructor Trainers

Defining Terms:

ADI – Approved Driving Instructor
PDI – Potential Driving Instructor (Trainee)
DVSA – Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency, the governing body of driving instructors.
ORDIT – Official Register of Driving Instructor Trainers.
Part 1 – The theory and hazard perception test taken on a computer at a theory test centre.
Part 2 – The test of driving ability taken at a Driving Test Centre with a Senior Examiner.
Part 3 – The test of instructional ability. A senior examiner watches you give a lesson to a live customer and grades your performance.
Standards Check – Once every 4 years an ADI has to take what is effectively another Part 3 test so the DVSA can confirm the instructor continues to meet the required standard.
PDI/Pink Badge – The licence which allows a trainee instructor to teach for money whilst training. Lasts 6 months and is square with a pink colour and a triangle on the front side.
ADI/Green Badge – The licence which allows an approved instructor to teach for money as an Approved Driving Instructor. Lasts for 4 years then must be renewed. It is green in colour and has an octagon on the front side.
DVSA Enforcement Officer – The DVSA changed the job title of Senior Examiner to Enforcement Officer when the DSA merged with VOSA. An EO is an examiner who carries out ADI Part 2 and Part 3 test.

Note that this process detailed herein is for applications to become a driving instructor in Great Britain only. Northern Ireland operates a different scheme which is administered by the DVA. Please search for local guides to begin your journey. 

ADI Part 2 Test – Showing what you can do.

Step 1: Get a test booked!

As was alluded to in the previous article, the waiting times for driving tests are crazy long right now. I’m writing this article on 29th September 2022 and I’ve just searched for Sheffield Handsworth, Chesterfield, Barnsley, Derby (Alvaston) and Leeds test centres. There are just 2 ADI Part 2 tests available for the next six months.

So it’s important that you get on to booking an ADI Part 2 test as soon as you can after passing your ADI Part 1. As we said at the end of the previous article, the clock is now ticking and you’ve got at the worst case scenario, six driving tests to fit into the 24 months your theory is valid for.

You can book your ADI Part 2 test here for a booking fee of £111 at the time of writing. Alternatively you may be able to ask your trainer to book it for you. This could be preferable because ADI’s with access to the OBS (Online Booking System) can search multiple test centres at the same time for tests.

Step 2 – Make sure your car fits the bill.

  • Be taxed.
  • Be insured: Specifically it must not exclude use for driving tests.
  • Be roadworthy and if necessary have a current MOT.
  • Have no warning lights on the dashboard. A service indicator light is OK but engine management, tyre pressure lights and airbag warning lights are not.
  • Have 4 full sized wheels; sorry DelBoy Trotter.
  • Have no damage to tyres including foreign objects, cuts to the side wall, gouges or bumps. The tyre must meet the UK legal minimum tread depth for a car of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around it’s entire circumference.
  • Tyres should be correctly inflated. If your car has a TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) check it before you go as the TPMS light coming on during the test may result in the test being abandoned and you losing one of your attempts.
  • Be smoke free; you cannot smoke in the vehicle before the test or during it. This can also include vaping.
  • Have a MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass) of no more than 3500kg. This will be in the owners manual and may also be on a sticker inside the drivers door. It may also be called Gross Vehicle Weight or GVW.
  • Be able to reach a minimum of 62 miles per hour and have a speedo which reads in miles per hour.

Your ADI Part 2 test is like the second stage in a three stage interview process for your new career. You should be putting your best foot forwards. This includes the condition of your vehicle.

Make sure the interior of the vehicle is clear of rubbish and debris. Remove un-necessary items from the dashboard and windscreen area. Put the furry dice in the boot. Ensure cup holders, visible dash cubbies, door pockets and the footwells are clear of rubbish and debris.

You don’t have to wash the car prior to your test but its a good idea. Firstly, if the car is dirty to the point that it affects visibility this is going to be an issue. Secondly, as we said at the start of this section, you are effectively interviewing here for your new job; are you gonna turn up in a scruffy tee-shirt with egg on it, or are you going to turn up in a suit and tie?

Your car must:

: : Have an extra interior rear view mirror for the examiner: you will need this when you start teaching and they cost about a tenner on a certain large online retailer. Other suppliers are available.
: : A passenger seat belt for the examiner and a proper head restraint. An aftermarket slip on head restraint is not acceptable.

Your car may:

: : Have and electronic parking brake.
: : Have hill start assist.
: : Have a manual, automatic or electric drive train.
NOTE: If you pass your part 2 in an automatic or electric vehicle you will only be able to teach automatic driving lessons when you pass.
: : Have a dash cam fitted. The dash cam must not be recording audio during the test and if you have a rear dash cam that takes video through the car, it must be removed for the test. Rear dash cams attached to the rear window are acceptable.
: : If you hire a car for your test it must be fitted with Dual Controls.

You can:

: : Take a hire car provided it has dual controls.
: : Take the test in your trainer’s car.
: : Take your test in a manual vehicle, then teach automatic driving lessons.

  • A BMW Mini convertible.
  • A Ford KA convertible.
  • A Smart ForTwo.
  • A Toyota iQ
  • A Volkswagen Beetle convertible.
  • 2014 (59) Citroen C1, Peugeot 108, Toyota Aygo. Steering fault recall affecting selected VIN numbers. Contact the relevant dealer to check if your car is affected.
  • 2005 (05) – 2010 (10) Toyota Yaris. Potential defect to the seat rail track and/or steering column mounting. Contact your local Toyota dealer with your VIN number to check if your’s needs a recall.
  • Vauxhall Adam – Selected VIN Numbers – Potential steering defect.
  • Vauxhall Corsa D – Selected VIN Numbers – Potential steering defect.

  • Your local dealer should be able to provide you with written proof of the recall being completed for the examiner if asked. Acceptable proof is either a recall letter or safety notice stamped by the manufacturer or dealer, or a letter from the dealer on official headed notepaper.


Please Note: the law says that any vehicle driven by a learner must display red L plates, (and/or red D plates in Wales) but that they should be covered up when a full licence holder is driving except for driving school vehicles. So your own vehicle at this stage of the application and training process should not display L plates unless a provisional licence holder is driving. If you hire a dual control vehicle with L plates as part of the livery, you should cover the L plates prior to leaving the hire company.

Step 3 – It’s test day. What do I do?

Arrive at your test centre in plenty of time, but please note that at most test centres you will not be allowed on site until 10 minutes before your test booking. This is to avoided clogging up the car park for any learner drivers, particularly those coming back from driving tests.

Most test centres have returned to using the waiting room and meeting candidates there.

The driving test takes approximately an hour to complete and includes five sections:

  • An eyesight check.
  • Show Me, Tell Me questions.
  • General driving ability.
  • Manoeuvres; you will be asked to complete two from the list of manoeuvres.
  • Independent Driving. Either by road signs or by SatNav.

The Eyesight Check.

You will be expected to read, or be able to accurately write down, a standard new style UK registration number (YX67 RZY) from a distance of ‘obviously more than’ 26.5 metres. You can use corrective lenses if you need them. Old style plates must be read from 27.5 metres.

If you are unable to read the number plate, or cannot correctly write the letters and numbers on the number plate down, the examiner will select another number plate and allow you to walk forward to ‘just over’ 26.5 metres away. If you can’t read this one, the examiner will get the Official Measuring Tape! and measure exactly 26.5 (or 27.5) metres from a third registration plate.

If you are unable to read the registration number after all of these steps have been completed the test will not go ahead. You will lose your test fee and you will also lose one of your 3 attempts at the test.

Only in very rare circumstances where there is doubt, will a fourth number plate and the Official Measuring Tape be used.

Our advice: Get your eyes checked ahead of time and ask the optician to confirm your visual acuity to instructor test standard, not to L test or even HGV standard.

Failing the eyesight check will mean that you wont take the driving part of the test but because the ADI eyesight standard is higher than that of a Category B driver, you will not be risking your car licence by failing this eyesight check.

The Show Me Tell Me questions.

There are a total of 22 Show Me Tell Me questions and all but one of them is taken directly from the L test for learner drivers. They are broken down in to 8 Show Me and 14 Tell Me.

You will be asked 2 ‘Show Me’ questions and 3 ‘Tell Me questions. The ‘Tell Me’ questions will be asked at the test centre before the driving component of the test. The ‘Show Me’ questions will be asked on the move.

  • When it is safe to do so, please show me how you would open and close your side window.
  • When it is safe to do so, please show me how you would wash and clean your front window.
  • When it is safe to do so, please show me how you would wash and clean your rear window.
  • When it is safe to do so, please show me how you would demist your front window.
  • When it is safe to do so, please show me how you would demist your rear window.
  • When it is safe to do so, please show me how you would turn on your dipped beam headlights.
  • When it is safe to do so, please show me how you would sound your horn.
  • When it is safe to do so, please show me how you would activate the cruise control. Note: this question is the Part 2 exclusive one and will only be asked on vehicles fitted with the system. You will not be asked to do it on a car which obviously doesn’t have it.
  • Tell me how you would check the brakes are working before starting a journey?
  • Tell me where you would find information on the recommended tyre pressures for this car and how tyre pressures should be checked?
  • Tell me how you would make sure your head restraint is correctly adjusted so that it provides the best protection in the event of a crash?
  • Tell me how you would check the tyres to ensure they have sufficient tread depth and that their general condition is safe to use on the road?
  • Tell me how you would check the headlights and til lights are working? You do not need to exit the vehicle.
  • Tell me how you would know if there was a problem with your anti-lock braking system?
  • Tell me how you would check the direction indicators are working? You do not need to exit the vehicle.
  • Tell me how you would check the brake lights are working on this car?
  • Tell me how you would check the power-assisted steering is working before starting a journey?
  • Tell me how you would switch on the rear fog lights and explain when you would use them.? You do not need to exit the vehicle.
  • Tell me how you would switch your head lights from dipped to main beam and explain how you would know the main beam is on?
  • Open the bonnet and tell me how you would check the engine has sufficient coolant.
  • Open the bonnet and tell me how you would check you have have a safe level of hydraulic brake fluid.
  • Open the bonnet and tell me how you would check the engine has sufficient oil.

Note: Some electric vehicles do not have coolant and no electric vehicles have oil. Your examiner shouldn’t ask these questions but if they do you can either inform them the car is electric and doesn’t take that fluid and ask for another question or you can open the bonnet and tell them what you would do if the car had the necessary fluids.

Ensure you are well aware of how to use the controls on the vehicle you take to test. I took my part 2 test twice; failing the first one with a single driving fault and a single serious fault. The driving fault was for drifting while trying to figure out how to wash and clean the rear window while on the move in a hired car.

The Independent Drive.

The driving test includes a section on independent driving. This will last for around 20 minutes of the test and will require the candidate to navigate without the examiner’s assistance. The examiner will tell you if they expect you to follow a satellite navigation system or road signs.

The General.

The general drive is judged the same as the independent drive. However for the majority of the test the examiner will give you directions. The drive will also include several pull ups at the side of the road. The examiner will expect you to demonstrate:

  • Expert and confident use of the vehicles controls including appropriate use of cruise control
  • Use of the correct road procedure.
  • Anticipation of the actions of other road users and responding appropriately to them.
  • Excellent judgement of speed, distance and timing.
  • Consideration for the safety of other road users.
  • That you can drive in an environmentally responsible manner.

The reversing manoeuvres.

There are four different manoeuvres that the examiner can choose from and he/she will ask you to demonstrate two of the four during the test. These are:

  • Reverse Parking Manoeuvre (Parallel Park) with a vehicle at the side of the road.
  • Reverse bay parking.
  • Forward bay parking and reverse out.
  • Pull up on the right and reverse two car lengths, then drive on.

The examiner will not only look for expert and confident control but also for a very high standard of all round observation. You can use parking sensors and/or reversing cameras to aid in the manoeuvres but you must also include all the observations you would do if you didn’t have the extra technology.

The results.

If you pass the test.

At the end of the test, the examiner will invite you to park and secure the vehicle and then give you the result. You will pass the test if you accrue up to six driving faults. You cannot have any serious or dangerous faults.

If you have been accompanied by your trainer, you will be given the option to allow your trainer to listen to the debrief.

Once all parties are present the examiner will announce the result of the test and offer to go through any driving faults you incurred during test. Even with a pass it is worthwhile listening closely to this debrief. It will give you further areas to develop your driving. It will also give you a chance to ask any questions you may have.

The examiner will not give you a certificate. Your result will be emailed to the address you confirm at the start of the test.

You can now complete your 40 hours training and apply for a trainee licence. However you do not have to go down this route and can simply book an ADI Part 3 test. If you do not apply for a trainee licence you cannot charge for tuition until you have passed an ADI Part 3 test.

Please note that if you do not undergo some professional training at this point, you are extremely unlikely to be successful in your ADI Part 3 test.

If you are unsuccessful.

If the result isn’t what we all hope for, all is not lost. You do have three attempts at the test before you have to start the process again. Book a test in the same way as your first was booked.

Many large training providers will offer additional ‘rescue’ training. If offered, you need to take it; a lot of large training providers with attached franchises will not terminate a contract in the event of three unsuccessful attempts at either the part 2 or part 3 test, unless you have made ‘all efforts’ to pass those tests.

Nicholas Smith

Nicholas Smith is an approved driving instructor and a member of the SDDIA committee responsible for the build and maintenance of the association website and content production. Nick draws on his experience of over a decade as a motorsport journalist alongside his driving and instructing roles.