Standards check myths. Learn the fact from the fiction.

Learn to drive without being taken for a ride

Standards check myths

Standards check myths

Standards check myths drive me mad. I’ve heard many driving instructors talking about the standards check at test centres and some of the things I hear are way off the truth. Let’s have a look at some of the popular standards check myths and rumours and sort the fact from the fiction.


You have to do anything the pupil wants

The big new element to driver training since 2014 is client based learning. Many driving instructors are misunderstanding what this means and how it should be done. Many training companies are also getting it wrong and telling ADI’s to start any lesson by asking the pupil “What do you want to do today?”. If you do that then you’re setting up the whole lesson to be a shambles.

You should base your lesson on the clients needs, not their wants. If a pupil says that they want to go and crash to see what it feels like then that is not what you’d go and do! Yes, I did once have a pupil who asked to do that. The video below explains this in more detail.



Nobody ever fails a standards check

One of the most common standards check myths I hear is that nobody ever fails a standards check and that they pass everyone to keep you on the register so they can make more money.

This myth comes from driving instructors misreading pass rates supplied by the DVSA because they don’t read the small print. First of all, take a look at the figures yourself by clicking on the link for Table INS0102 on the DVSA standards check pass rates page.

Those figures show the following data for the month of September 2015:

Grade A – 3,961

Grade B – 9,481

Fail – 308


I see a lot of driving instructors commenting on forums saying “Only 308 people failed out of 13,750 tests, hardly anyone ever fails!”. That is incorrect. The numbers show how many instructors held each grade for that month, not how many tests were done that month.

Using the figures above that would mean that in September 2015 there were 3,961 grade A instructors on the register and 9,481 grade B’s. The figures for October 2015 show 4,193 grade A instructors which means that 232 instructors got a grade A in the month since the figures were last issued. It isn’t 3,961 instructors per month getting a grade A, the figures show how many instructors in total hold that grade across the whole country.

If the numbers showed how many standards checks were done each month then that would mean that in September of 2015 there would have been 13,750 standards checks done. That’s about a third of the entire register in one month and by those calculations we’d all be having standards checks every 3 or 4 months.


How standards check pass rates really work

There are around 40,000 ADI’s on the register and it takes at least 4 years to give each one a standards check. There would have to be around 660,000 ADI’s on the register if they were doing 13,750 standards checks per month.

Instructors that get an F grade are recalled for test quickly, usually within 2 to 4 weeks. With that in mind we can see that although these figures show how many grades are being carried, not given out each month, a grade F is never carried for long because the instructors with them either get a higher grade or lose their badge. This means that there are around 300 failed standards checks per month as fails are not carried for months as a grade A or B would be.

Roughly 20% of standards checks result in a fail and ADI’s do lose their badge to teach due to failing. These people that fail are the ones that desperately email me asking for help because their re-test is 2 weeks away and they need to get better. It’s often too late because I’m booked for weeks ahead.

So much for nobody ever failing a standards check.


If you turn up without a pupil they just do role-play

Wrong. No role-play is allowed. I’ll go over what would happen in my standards check videos. This is another of the standards check myths that many instructors rely on and turn up without a pupil thinking they’ll get away with it.

Standards check myths - you MUST turn up with a pupil!

Me giving a mock standards check in south Birmingham. Julie did a great job.


If you fail it once then you get two more goes

You don’t always get another one or two goes, it depends on how you failed. You can be removed from the register immediately.


If you fail it three times you lose your badge

Not always. It depends on many factors and will go to the DVSA to be decided upon. You don’t just automatically lose your badge although in most cases you would.


I can move it to a better time that suits me

No you can’t. Not having a pupil available or not usually working at that time of day is not a good enough reason. I’ll go over what to do if you don’t have a pupil in my standards check videos.

Unlike other standards check myths on this page this is one that might be changing. The DVSA are looking into using a system to allow you to choose your own date and time when a standards check is due.


A standards check is nothing like a real lesson

This is true. You don’t usually have an examiner sitting in the back watching you on every lesson. You don’t usually start your lessons from a test centre. Nor do you usually do lessons knowing that if you make a mistake you could lose your job!

There are certain nuances to the standards check. You may know that you must make a mention of the fact someone is sitting in the back of the car and ask about how it could change the cars handling but do you know about the other things you have to say?

There are a few phrases and questions that you must say in front of the examiner. Even if you’ve said them to the pupil before you MUST say them to the examiner or to the pupil while the examiner is present.

You can learn exactly what those things are in my ADI standards check videos.


It makes no difference if you’re grade A or B

Any grade is only a snapshot that shows how you did on one particular lesson, several months or years ago. It is nice to get a grade A but it is not the be all and end all.


I’ve been teaching for years so it’ll be easy

Many ADI’s achieving a grade A have only been qualified for a few months. Many long-serving ADI’s who previously got grade 5 and 6 on the old check test are getting a grade B.

In many ways it’s easier for newer instructors. New instructors are trained around the techniques needed to pass a standards check. For those of us that have been teaching for years it can be tough.

My experience shows that while new instructors are good at knowing what boxes need ticking, they often fall down due to a lack of experience. For example they’re aware of basing the lesson around the client but lack the knowledge and experience of actually being able to teach the subject as well as an experienced ADI would.


The examiner is a hypocrite

The examiner that marks your standards check has usually never taught people to drive. Surely they have no right to sit and judge over someone else?

That is true and perfectly understandable. The DVSA tell instructors to make no comment at the end of a driving test. Even if they know the examiner is wrong. It’s like they can’t be wrong and never make mistakes; I can promise you they do and I’ve seen examiners make some real howlers on test!

Most examiners have never been driving instructors. Even if they have it would have been many years ago and they’d be out of date with teaching today.


When I come across more standards check myths I’ll add them. If you’ve heard of any then let me know.




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