June 7, 2009


Approved Driving Instructors (ADI’s) are given periodic tests of fitness to Instruct and to remain on the Register of Approved Driving Instructors. Each Instructor is graded on a scale of 1 to 6 the grade 6 being the highest possible grade obtainable.

The number of Instructors currently on the register who are grade 6 is not published by the DSA (Driving Standards Agency) the government agency responsible for overseeing the training and maintaining the standards of all driving Instructors and trainee driving instructors in the UK. Unofficial figures suggest that only 2 -5% of all ADI’s on the register are grade 6. 
Many ADI’s will readily admit to be a little unnerved by the check test, whilst others who may feel bolder and look forward to having there instructional ability re-assessed and receiving any additional information and guidance from the examiner. In order to retain or improve on your previous grade, which any ADI is capable of, you will need to plan ahead. The planning will start with your reply to the invitation, as you will need to advise that either you will supply your own pupil for the test, or will require the examiner to role play. The latter will be similar to that, of your part 3 qualifying exam.
I would strongly recommend that you use your own pupil, because, you will already know who would be the best person to choose for the test, and you will already have built up some rapport and trust with him/her.

Tell them to feel free to ask any questions whilst on the test, you may even suggest one or two that may be relevant to the lesson that is planned. You are also free to choose whichever lesson you wish to conduct, as opposed to the role-play option.

Choosing your pupil is one area that ADI’s can make a mistake, by bringing along their “Star” pupil!
This totally misses the point because the Examiner wants to see your ability to instruct, not your pupils ability to drive!

If you choose role-play, you will be required to pick one of a selection of subjects listed on your accompanying notes (ADI 40E) that came with your check test appointment letter.
On the day of your check test, I advise you to give your pupil a free 2 hour lesson; the free lesson is an incentive for the student to be available on the day of the test. You should also select a second “back up” pupil and keep them on standby, just in case your 1st choice cannot make it at the last minute! Pick your pupil up an hour prior to the allotted test time, and run through both the lesson and the chosen test route.

You may in the event of not having a provisional license holder available, use a full license holder, however, you must conduct a lesson appropriate to the driver’s ability, and NOT give a learners lesson. Pass plus modules are also acceptable for the check test however; in the interests of possible collusion you may NOT use another ADI.
You should know your route well and choose a lesson you are comfortable with, and try to avoid constantly looking at prompt sheets or reading from a script! The lesson should be natural and flowing. If you normally use training aids they are acceptable, but make sure they are close to hand and ready to use. If during the test something untoward occurs en route, do not be put off changing the planned lesson to cover something that requires more attention – just as you would do on a normal lesson. Many ADI’s get downgraded or sub standard grades because of such an occurrence, ignoring the now more urgent problem and sticking rigidly to the originally planned lesson. The planned lesson is NOT set in stone, and should be abandoned if other issues occur.

So the big day is here and you should arrive at the driving test centre ten minutes prior to the appointed time. Leave your pupil in the car and go into the examiner’s office, knock on the door and make yourself known. Take the car keys with you; it is illegal to leave the provisional license holder in charge of the unattended/unsupervised vehicle! You will need to produce your ADI Certificate and preferably some kind of a progress chart or records of your pupil’s progress to date, as the examiner will ask you some questions about your pupil. Such questions will include, how many hours tuition they have had, do they get any other tuition either privately or from another source and any strengths or areas of weakness you are aware of or finally what will be your lesson plan for the check test. You will also be asked the type of vehicle, you have presented for test.
The lesson/ct is scheduled to last for 60 minutes but usually you will be asked to return approx 10 minutes early, so he/she can speak with you after the test.

On arrival at your car the examiner will do a visual check of tyres etc and then introduce the examiner to your pupil. He/she will tell him/her that he/she is here to observe their Instructor not the driver, so to just act as they normally do on a lesson.
Having entered the car, tell your pupil, that with an additional passenger, the car may feel slightly different to handle such as acceleration and braking due to the weight of the extra passenger.
At this point I throw a joke in to break the ice such as “I am not saying the examiner is overweight” which usually gets a laugh from everyone in the car. Also point out that due to a passenger in the rear, you may at times need to rely more on your door mirrors if the rear mirror becomes obscured by the rear passenger.

If something humorous occurs on the lesson, don’t be shy about including the examiner in the fun, he/she is human and should not be treated as though they are invisible!
Instructor Characteristics

As a professional Instructor you should have the necessary skills and personal qualities to put your pupil at ease. You should be aware that your ability to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere in which to learn will be taken into consideration by the Examiner in the overall assessment of the check test.

Try not to rush your initial recap from the previous lesson, and remind the pupil of what was and was not achieved.
Instructional Techniques
Re Cap at start

Aims and Objectives
An aim is the first step to planning; it relates to a general strategy and is a broad statement of intent.

The objective is clearly defined and describes exactly what the pupil is expected to achieve.

All objectives should be SMART

Time related
Your aim should be to match the level of the lesson, to your pupil’s ability.

The lesson must have a start, middle and an end.

Don’t make the briefing too long and drawn out, cover the positive aspects i.e. “what to do” and not too deeply into “what not to do” Involve your pupil and try not to make the briefing into a lecture.

Can be a great aid to learning and is sometimes overlooked, it is a two way process in which the ADI can find him/herself the recipient of the question. Any question asked by the pupil should be fully and correctly answered.

There are two types of question Closed Questions are of limited value and can usually be answered with one word, Yes or No. This type of question does not establish what the pupil is thinking or understands.
Open Questions 

This type of question can be thought provoking and challenging and should be used, when it is the most appropriate way of dealing with a problem and will enhance the pupils learning skills. However overloading the pupil with questions is not good instruction, and can be tiring and distracting.
So use open questions only when appropriate.
Level of Instruction

The pupils level of ability, will dictate the level of instruction required. The art of successfully matching these levels lies in knowing, when to instruct and when to stay quite!
Over Instruction

If you never stop talking and telling your pupil what to do, you will find it difficult to assess a) how and what they are thinking b) their progress c) the effectiveness of your instruction.
Core Competencies

Just sitting and saying very little to a novice or partly trained pupil, and then pulling them up at the side of the road and rattling off a list of their faults is of little value.  The formula of the three core competencies must be adhered to, and are a vital part of your check test result. They are:
Fault Identification
{1} What happened

The Examiner will assess your ability to clearly identify, at appropriate times all important weaknesses which may need further guidance. You must be able to decide whether the fault was serious enough to bring to the pupils attention at the time, or was a very minor or “one off” not worthy of mention. This ability is expected to cover all aspects of car control and road procedure, at all times.  Quite a lot of ADI’s fall down in this area, because they are looking at the road rather than watching the pupil.
Many ADI’s are good at identifying the problem, but fail to follow with an explanation of why it happened and how to correct the fault.
Example: – You ask the pupil to move off from the side of the road, when it is safe. Whilst completing this maneuver, you should be watching your pupil closely as well as watching the road. This is the only way you have of knowing, if your pupil completed the correct routine to move off. Did he/she check the mirrors/blind spot? Failure to note such an emission would be bad instruction, and go against you on the check test.
Why did it happen?

Example: – When turning left, the pupil causes the nearside rear wheel to mount the kerb.
There could be various reasons for this a) too close to the kerb b) turned too early c) over steered.
The ADI responding with “You shouldn’t have done that, you can damage your tyre” or “pavements are for people not cars” will not tell the pupil WHY the fault occurred, only confirm that it did.
Analysis such as this throughout the lesson will result in an unsatisfactory result.


How to put it right

Having correctly identified and analysed the fault, the pupil will now need to know how to avoid repeating it.

Many ADI’s believe that a verbal explanation is all that is required, this is incorrect! Driving is a practical skill, and it is important that any verbal advice is followed by sufficient practice as soon as possible.
Driving Instructors use of controls/control of lesson/level of instruction

As on any normal driving lesson, the use of dual controls should be kept to a minimum. They should only be used to give a demonstration, to avoid a potentially dangerous situation or to avoid a situation involving actual danger. Should the need arise; the pupil should be immediately informed to avoid the belief that their actions alone kept the situation under control.

If an instructor has to make repeated use of any controls it raises the question of whether the instructor should be dealing with that level of the syllabus at this stage, as the pupil clearly cannot cope.
Recap at the End

There should be a summary of the main points covered during the lesson. The pupil should be told the objectives that were met, and those that required more practice. Praise should be given for achievements, and their strengths and weaknesses should be identified and they should be informed of the proposed content of the next lesson.
You will now exit the vehicle and the examiner will give you a de-briefing on how the test went.
He will ask you how you thought your pupil performed, and give you his own opinion. The grade you have attained will be disclosed to you, and any remedial advice will be offered to improve your teaching skills.
Passing Results
Grade Six – the overall performance was to a very high standard, no significant instructional weaknesses.
Grade Five – a very good overall standard of driving instruction, with some minor weaknesses.
Grade Four – A competent overall performance, with some minor deficiencies in instructional techniques.
Substandard Check Test Results
Grade Three – an inadequate overall performance, seen again in 12 weeks by SE
Grade Two – a poor overall performance, seen again in  8 weeks by SE
Grade One – an extremely poor overall performance, with incorrect or even dangerous instruction. No further visit from SE. HQ informed, to be seen by AOM or ACDE
If this is your first Check test and you put up a good performance, the Supervising Examiner will give you a grade otherwise he will class the test as an “Educational”. The Examiner will make recommendations on any weaknesses you may have and recall you for anther Check test in six months time.

Britannia’s trainers are ORDIT qualified and very experienced to deal with every aspect of Check test preparation. Use their expertise. They love to be asked!

Author: Barry J Henser ADI (Grade Six) – Check Test Specialist at Britannia Instructor College.

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