ADI part 3

ADI part 3 involves you giving a 45-minute driving lesson to a pupil while a senior examiner from the DVSA sits in the back of the car and marks your performance. The test length changed from 1 hour to 45 minutes during the pandemic and it was decided to keep this due to it being sufficient.

Watch the video below to see how examiners assess ADI part 3. I spend 57 minutes explaining the marking sheet in great detail and you’ll need to know all of this to have a chance of passing. Part 3 tests are now marked digitally on a tablet, this started on November 20th 2022.

Not ready for part 3 yet? Read about ADI part 1 and ADI part 2 instead.

How hard is ADI Part 3?

ADI part 3 is very hard.

The pass rate for it at Kings Heath test centre in Birmingham in 2022/23 was 25%.

In Bangor, it was just 8%.

You can see the official DVSA ADI part 3 pass figures here.

The main reason people fail is that it’s very difficult to teach people to drive up to the standard required by the DVSA. This is where you find out that becoming a driving instructor isn’t easy!

When I took my part 3 test I had done 60 hours with my trainer, spent 40 hours watching videos and had done over 800 hours of lessons with real learners. Those 800 hours came from working as a trainee instructor for roughly 6 hours a day, 6 days a week for 6 months. I failed my first attempt and only just scraped through with the lowest grade on my second attempt.

The DVSA set a minimum of 40 hours of training required (signed off by an ADI) before they’ll consider you for a trainee licence. The reality is that 40 hours is nowhere near enough to be teaching. It’s not unusual to take at least 100 hours of tuition, spend hundreds of hours practising as a trainee and still fail your part 3.

To help increase your chances of passing I’ve spent hours making many free part 3 videos.

Why is ADI Part 3 so hard?

You’re being marked on 17 things at once and there are hundreds of variables that are changing every second. Each of them has an impact on the others.

Add to that all the members of the public who drive badly. They’ll insist on blasting the horn at you because you’re driving properly and not breaking the law like they are. You can get marked down for that by the way because you’re marked on everything that happens.

You can see an example of how members of the public treat learners in the video below, and a technique showing how to not let it bother you.

What else can happen on Part 3

As well as what’s listed above, add the pressure of knowing that you’ve spent thousands of pounds getting to this point. Your entire future, house and financial security depend on this test.

Then add the fact that learners can go into a meltdown when an examiner is sitting in the car. You’ll see this a lot on driving tests but it’s the same in part 3. Pupils that can normally drive well suddenly start doing everything wrong and your whole lesson plan goes flying out of the window and sailing down the river! With experience, you can handle this but it’s tough when you’re new. I heard of a pupil that was on a standards check and got so stressed that they stopped the car and marched off, leaving the door open and the instructor and examiner just sitting there!

If it really goes badly then you will collapse, the pupil goes into meltdown and the members of the public will be shouting at you – all at once! I have known tests go like that.

It’s not all bad though and you can pass, just don’t expect it to be easy and be sure to take plenty of good quality training.

What’s happening during ADI Part 3

Here are just some of the things you have to keep on top of. Let any of these slip and you can crash or fail a test.

  • Have you identified the learner’s needs correctly?
  • Are you using the correct level of instruction?
  • Have you got time to go where you want and get back on time?
  • Is the lesson plan changing appropriately?
  • Are you putting anyone at risk?
  • Are you giving instructions clearly?
  • Is the pupil aware of their surroundings?
  • Do you need to talk through any safety-critical incidents?
  • Is the pupil learning anything?
  • Are you asking the right questions?
  • How are you going to get them home avoiding that huge roundabout?
  • What role is the pupil playing?
  • Is your feedback relevant and timely?
  • Is your teaching style appropriate?
  • Have you answered the pupil’s questions correctly?

Look at each line of that list in random order. Look at one then jump to another 2 seconds later, then another and another…That’s what needs to be running through your head when doing a driving lesson.

There are many more and each can change at any second which then alters all the others. The examiner can sit back and relax as you keep all those plates spinning.

It’s so easy when you’re sitting watching someone else do it!

Is ADI part 3 easier than a standards check?

I often get asked if they mark part 3 more softly than a standards check because of your lack of experience. The answer is no.

A part 3 and a standards check are exactly the same things in every way although I would say part 3 is much harder because of your lack of experience.

My training for ADI Part 3

I’m not just going to teach you how to pass the part 3 exam. I’m going to teach you how to be a successful driving instructor.

Many trainers and schools focus so much on getting you through the test that they forget to teach you important things you’ll need to know when you start working as a driving instructor. Some of the topics listed below won’t be done in part 3 but it’s essential you can do them for when you start teaching.

Here are just some of the things you’ll learn about on my training course:

  • What to do when you meet new pupils
  • Lesson planning
  • Route planning
  • Giving lesson briefings
  • Risk management
  • Levels of instruction
  • Teaching and learning strategies
  • Using the dual controls
  • Handling difficult pupils and situations
  • Booking and planning driving tests
  • How the driving test is marked
  • Real driving test routes
  • What to do on the day of a driving test
  • How to do mock driving tests
  • Nighttime driving
  • Pass Plus
  • Post-test training with full licence holders
  • Advanced driving lessons
  • Motorway driving lessons (learners are now allowed on motorways)
  • Developing coaching skills
  • How to run a successful driving school and be booked for months ahead

How part 3 training is done

The nearest test centre to me that offers ADI Part 3 is Kings Heath.

I’ll play the role of a pupil and your job is to teach me to drive from start to finish.

Each lesson will start with me teaching you the subject (car controls, junctions etc.) before we swap places and you teach me.

To start with I’ll play nice and be a good pupil. As your training goes on I’ll start giving you more and more problems!

I have taught over 1,000 people to drive. I’ll pick one of those pupils in my mind and do exactly what they used to do in lessons.

I could play as Peter who would never use his mirrors. I could be Polly who could never get into 5th gear. If you’re really unlucky I might even act as “her”…

Where many trainers go wrong is that they just think of a fault to act out, like not checking their mirrors, and stick with it. That’s not how it should be done. The way I pick faults isn’t something I’m going to give away but it’s very realistic and effective.

Teaching you to teach

Teaching is not easy and it takes a lot of practice to get this right. If you have past experience of teaching you might find it easier but even ex-teachers say it’s much different when the classroom (the car) is moving and other classrooms are trying to crash into you.

Don’t worry because I’ll be helping you along at every step. We’ll break down each topic into small sections so you can develop your skills.

There is so much more to being a driving instructor than people think. Those drivers that sit behind learners blowing the horn and think we just need to say “go” to the pupil wouldn’t have a chance.

Trainee instructor scheme

While you are studying for part 3 you can work as a driving instructor. This allows you to teach real pupils for money for 6 months.

I do not offer trainee positions at

Although being a trainee instructor may sound a good idea it can actually reduce your chances of passing the part 3 exam.

I worked as a trainee for 6 months but it did little to help develop my skills. What helped me the most was my training sessions and a series of videos I watched. There was no YouTube back then, these were VHS tapes I ordered in the post! These days everything is online and I’m the one making the videos myself.

If you want to be a trainee then that’s not something I can offer you but you can do part 3 without being a trainee. Many people prefer doing it this way because they’re not getting distracted from their training by running a new business or getting tied into lengthy franchise agreements with schools.

You can see all the requirements for being a trainee driving instructor by clicking here. Once you’ve read that you’ll see why many people find it easier not to!

After Part 3

You’ll have to do a standards check (same thing as part 3) every 2 to 4 years.

You don’t just qualify and get left alone. The standards check is like the Terminator; it won’t ever give up and just keeps coming for you!

Well, that’s how it’s supposed to happen. Read the section below this on educational standards checks to find out what really happens.

After qualifying you’ll also need to decide on how you’re going to work as an instructor. Are you going to join a school? Go it alone? Qualifying is just the beginning!

Read about ADI Part 1 here and ADI Part 2 here.

No educational standards checks

Up until April 2014, you were supposed to take your first check test (the old standards check) within 6 months of passing ADI Part 3. This first test after qualifying was an “educational” test to show how you were doing and the result didn’t count for anything.

The system never worked very well though. In fact, it was 6 years after passing Part 3 before they gave me my first check test! I remember the examiner being shocked when I said how long it had been and he said “This won’t be an educational one then.”.

Educational tests no longer happen but you still sometimes have another standards check soon after passing ADI part 3. I met one man that had a standards check within 2 weeks of qualifying!

One aim of bringing in the standards check was to make the system more uniform. It was confusing to have part 3, an educational check test and then a normal check test. What happens with part 3’s and Standards Checks is all now the same, in theory!

With that in mind, you should now have your first Standards Check at least 2 years after passing ADI part 3. Your next standards check will then be at least 2 years away.

Just be ready to take your standards check at any time after passing ADI part 3 and yes, the result does count.

So what’s the difference between ADI part 3 and a standards check?

What’s the difference between ADI Part 3 and a Standards Check?

That’s a good question. The simple answer is that the two tests used to be very different but now they’re not. Let me explain.

Up until April 2014, the way you became a driving instructor was to pass a part 3 test in which the examiner would role-play two different pupils for half an hour each. The first pupil would be one without much experience and the second pupil would be almost ready for a test.

You’d then take a check test (the old standards check) every 2 to 4 years. On a check test, you could choose to take along a real pupil or get the examiner to role-play a pupil as in part 3.

In April 2014 the check test was replaced by the standards check but part 3 stayed the same. On a standards check you have to take along a real pupil and no role-play is allowed. It’s a much better system because although the examiners tried hard to simulate a pupil, it was never the same.

In December 2017 part 3 was changed to make it so that like on a standards check, you have to take a long a real pupil.

If you want to know more about how part 3 used to be then let’s take a look at that next.

The old ADI Part 3 – RIP

The old part 3 ended on December 23rd 2017, replaced by the new part 3 which is the same thing as a standards check but under a different name. The test was changed to make it more realistic and raise the standard of teaching.

Below are details of how the test used to be. Some of this no longer applies to the current test (such as the examiner role-playing a pupil) but much of what you do is the same. It’ll just be with a real pupil instead of an examiner pretending to be a pupil.

I think many instructors will be sad to see the old part 3 test go. It will forever remain as one of the toughest tests ever for any job. I’ve known many people from all walks of life who have found part 3 to be the hardest thing they ever did.

What happens on the ADI Part 3 test

In part 3 you must give two driving lessons to a senior examiner playing the role of a pupil. For the first half-hour, they will play the role of a pupil who is very new to driving. They’ll need lots of help on basic topics such as going over the car controls or turning left and right. Because the pupil is very new you’ll have to work hard because you’re telling them how to do everything.

In the second half an hour the examiner will play the part of a pupil who is not far from being ready for a driving test but has several weaknesses that you need to identify and sort out. This is a different style of teaching to the first half because instead of telling a lot you’ll be asking a lot of questions and sorting out the good answers from the bad.

The examiner will guide you around on this test so you don’t need to know the area. Many people take this exam away from where they live because the waiting times used to be very long (3 to 6 months) but since 2012 the number of people training has dropped and it’s now quite easy to get tests that are just a few weeks or days away.

Will the examiner help me?

The examiner is not going to make it easy for you. They may ask you if they can go through a flashing amber light at traffic lights. When you say “Yes but only if nobody is crossing” (which is correct) they will attempt to fill your mind with doubt by saying things such as “Well my last instructor said I couldn’t and I’d fail for it. I’m sure I read in a book that you can’t, are you sure?”. Even then they will continue to make you doubt yourself but you must stick to your guns if you are correct. Caving in is how people fail part 3, you have to show that you know your stuff.

We call these assists by the examiner “lifelines” and there are two things you can do with a lifeline; use it to pull yourself to safety or hang yourself with it. This is because sometimes the examiner is helping you and sometimes they are trying to throw you off track by throwing you a false lifeline.

So what do I have to do on ADI Part 3?

Here’s a quick example. Imagine the examiner is heading towards some parked cars on the left-hand side of the road and a vehicle is coming towards you. They try and squeeze through the gap and although they make it through, it was a bit too close to be safe.

You’ll first need to ask them why they did it to find out what went wrong. Imagine they just say that they don’t know and it looked ok to them. You’ll need to pull them over, give them a few examples of how to tell if the gap is wide enough and then use the correct level of instruction to fix the fault. There are 3 levels of instruction

1) Fully guided (Telling them what to do)

2) Prompted (Asking them what to do)

3) Independent (You say nothing and they can do it on their own)

The main reason for failing ADI Part 3

Not using the correct level of instruction is the main reason for failing part 3. It’s no good telling a pupil who’s been driving for 30 hours that the clutch makes the car move. It’s no good asking a pupil a question if you haven’t yet told them how to do it. There’s also no point asking or telling when the pupil can clearly do it alone, that just annoys them.

Next time the car moves you’ll need to choose the correct level of instruction. When doing level 2 (prompted) you will ask various questions to provoke thoughts from the learner. These are questions such as asking what, where, when, who etc. Avoid asking closed questions (ones with yes/no answers). It’s too easy to just guess the right answer when there’s a 50/50 chance. Instead, ask open questions that make the pupil think.

At the correct time, you will need to drop or increase your level of instruction to suit the pupil. The examiner will be making more faults as you’re doing that so It’s not easy at all. On top of all this, you need to be watching other road users.