How Many Driving Instructors Are Grade A?

Three letter As made of wood with white background

When it comes to learning to drive, it's only natural that you're going to be looking for the best. Whether that's the best deal, the best driving school (allow PassMeFast to help you out there…) or the best instructor, it makes sense to aim high. Driving lessons and tests don't come cheap, so ensure you're investing your money with the right people.

In terms of driving instructors, to separate the great from the good, you might want to check what grade they've achieved. Yep, just like students taking exams, all DVSA-approved driving instructors receive a grade. The top one, of course, being a big fat A.

We're going to explore how the ADI grading system works and how many instructors out there actually manage to bag an A. Plus, we address the somewhat more pressing question: does it really matter if your driving instructor is grade A or grade B? Let's find out!

What does it take to become an ADI?

Cartoon red car with woman driving attached to car key

It should come as a bit of a relief (for learners, that is—maybe not potential instructors!) to know that the qualification process for driving instructors is fairly rigorous. To achieve ADI status takes a lot of hard work, money and practice. On top of that, they have to sit and pass 3 different tests! This is not a career that people go into on a whim.

Road safety is incredibly important, so the DVSA have to make sure that these people are great drivers with the ability to work well with others and pass on their skills. You can't have learners handing over their hard-earned cash to just anyone!

So, trainee instructors have to apply to and be accepted by the DVSA, before embarking on a fairly long period of preparation and practice. They'll also be subject to thorough criminal background checks and be expected to meet certain standards of behaviour.

How are they tested?

As we've said, instructors have to complete 3 tests to qualify as bona fide ADIs. The first two are very similar to the theory and practical tests taken by learner drivers. Unlike learners, though, potential instructors will face more questions on the theory section and be judged to a much stricter standard on both. Test 1 can be taken as many times as necessary, but trainees will only get 3 attempts at test 2 before they are forced to go back to the very beginning. No pressure, then!

The final test assesses instructional ability. Candidates have to carry out a complete driving lesson (with a learner driver or a qualified driver acting as one) under the watchful eye of an examiner. They are marked on 17 areas, each of which can earn them up to 3 points.

The grading system

Man's hands using a pen to write on pile of white paper

Pre-April 2014

Driving instructor grades actually used to be awarded as a number, rather than the letters you see today. Indeed, up until April 2014, those taking part 3 of the ADI test received the following grades:

6 (Very high)
5 (Good)
4 (Satisfactory)
3 (Inadequate)
2 (Poor)
1 (Extremely poor)
E (Educational check test)

The new system

The DVSA realise that the numbers system isn't exactly easy for anyone outside of the industry to understand. For a learner, being told that an instructor is a grade 6, for example, doesn't really mean anything. Unless you know the ins and outs of the test, 6 could be great, terrible or average! And so, just over 5 years ago, the current grading system was introduced.

Today, an instructor completing part 3 of the qualification process will be marked as either grade A, grade B or a fail. As you can probably guess, only the first two earn you a place on the ADI register. Here's how they're doled out:




A Instructor has shown a high standard of instruction.



B Instructor has shown a satisfactory standard of instruction.


(Less than 60%)

Fail Instructor's performance is unsatisfactory.

Even once qualified, driving instructors have to take what is called a standards check test every 4 years. This involves them sitting what is pretty much part 3 of the qualification tests all over again. The grading system is exactly the same, which means ADIs may hold both grade A and grade B status at different points in their career.

How many instructors are grade A?

Cartoon of Mark Sheet

So, now you know how they're graded, you're probably curious as to how many instructors manage to snag that elusive (or is it?!) grade A. Of course, the standards check system means that the number of driving instructors with grade A status is changing all of the time. We can, however, get a sense of the bigger picture thanks to statistics provided by the DVSA.

As of December 2018, the following are the grades of the 35,732 driving instructors on record, according to their most recent test:

  • Grade A: 11,184 (Just over 31%)
  • Grade B: 23,218 (Nearly 65%)
  • Failed: 1,330 (7%)

*These figures do not reflect the entire population of driving instructors operating in the UK, as some are recorded as 'unknown'.

Looks like landing a grade A is no mean feat! Just under a third of the DVSA's sizeable sample managed to earn the top mark. So, if you find out you're working with a grade A driving instructor, you should be suitably impressed!

Should I ensure that my instructor is grade A?

Magnifying glass held over the keyboard of a laptop with black keys

When hunting for an instructor, it's important to keep in mind that both grade A and grade B ADIs have been approved for the job by the DVSA. In fact, potential driving instructors waing to be graded are also legally allowed to teach learners how to drive, as long as they're working for an established driving school or qualified ADI. In many cases, there will be little to no difference in the teaching ability of one or the other. After all, their grade is based on how they performed during one test. Everyone has off days or circumstances that prevent them from producing their best work! As long as they are DVSA-approved, you're likely to be in very capable hands.

Some driving students are even happy to learn with PDIs. These are individuals who haven't passed part 3 of the test yet, let alone received a grade! All instructors who are legally allowed to charge money for driving lessons have jumped through multiple hoops to get to that position. So, don't worry if yours is only grade B; we're just pointing out that you should be extra impressed if they're grade A!

How to find out your driving instructor's grade

Got a bee in your bonnet and determined to find out a particular instructor's grade? Fair enough. The best approach, to be honest, is to just ask them. If that's not possible, you can also try checking on their listing or website, as many ADIs will include that information here.

Finally, there is always the 'Find your nearest driving instructor' tool on the DVSA's website. This is a great resource that helps you get an idea of the various options in your local area. The thing is, though, that instructors are not obligated to include their grade on this database. As a result, you will only be able to access their grade here if the instructor in question has chosen to declare it.

Grade A driving instructors

Pass Plus course student

Grade A driving instructors certainly have a lot to be proud of. After months of intense training and testing, they managed to earn the highest grade possible. The odds are against them, too—with well over half of DVSA-approved driving instructors only landing a grade B.

Don't dismiss those grade B guys, though! At the end of the day, all qualified driving instructors have to meet a certain standard. Those that are grade B will still be excellent teachers who can get you confident behind the wheel and test ready. Plus, you can take comfort in the fact that all ADIs are routinely tested to ensure that they are continuing to meet the requirements of the job.

At PassMeFast, we only work with DVSA-approved grade A and B instructors. Everyone on our database has been fully vetted by our experienced team. Rather than obsessing over whether someone is grade A or B, a much better indicator of their skill level is what other learners have said about them. You only need to check out our reviews to see that PassMeFast works with the best in the biz. Book in today and see for yourself!


  1. Nigel ALBRIGHT

    My understanding is that under the 6 grade system HMG asked DVSA why the numbers in the top grade were so low (only 6.3%) and what the DVSA was going to do to improve those figures? So the DVSA just changed the grading to two which means that (as of March 2021, for example) 26.9% of ADIs are in the top grade. Job done.

    2 years ago

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