Whether you’re about to come of (driving) age, or are finally getting round to taking your lessons, most new learners wonder exactly how many hours of lessons it takes to learn to drive. The simple—and rather unhelpful—answer is that it varies wildly. No provisional-to-pass story is ever the same, and the average time it takes to learn to drive ranges from just a few days to several years to get your licence. But don't despair: here are some factors that can affect how long it takes to pass your driving test, with our top tips on how best to accelerate the process.
So, you've made the decision to learn to drive, and you're impatient to get going. You should have clutch control mastered by the end of the week, right? Well, first things first: you’ll need a provisional licence before you’re allowed out on the roads. It’s not a long wait, but you do need to factor in a couple of weeks for your green card to arrive. That fortnight can be a blessing in disguise.
Whether you’re looking for an independent instructor, or going through a driving school, you’ll want to have a good idea of their track record. Use the time to check out reviews, get familiar with their policies, and make sure they're DVSA-approved.
Want to start driving as soon as you turn 17?
You can apply for your provisional before your birthday! Just remember that it only becomes valid on the date you actually turn 17. This means that you won't be able to take any tests before your 17th birthday. Provisional licences remain valid for 10 years—ample time to convert that green licence into a full pink one!
Once you’ve hit the roads, the number of lessons that it takes to pass your driving test can depend on a number of factors. As a rough guide, learner drivers in the UK require approximately 45 hours of professional tuition and around 20 hours of private practice before they are ready to take the practical test. Of course, an average time is just, well... an average.
Some people defy all odds—check out Ruhith, who earned his licence in just 25 hours—but for most of us, learning the ropes takes considerably longer. This is especially true if you have a condition that can contribute to learning difficulties, like dyspraxia. There are plenty of skills you’ll have to develop: becoming a competent driver involves confidence on the roads, quick thinking, and strong hand-eye-foot coordination. No wonder it takes a bit of time—though those who already have a motorbike licence may find the transition easier.
Not sure how many hours you need to be able to pass your test? PassMeFast's course recommender tool can help!
① Theory test
You can’t book your practical test until you have passed your theory. This is to ensure that all drivers have a competent knowledge of the highway code, are able to recognise road signs and markings, and can demonstrate a good level of hazard awareness.
Learn to drive quicker by taking your theory test early on
While it doesn’t pay to take your theory test too early (passes are only valid for 2 years), it is a good idea to get it booked in as soon as you’re starting to think about learning to drive. Not only will it prevent any delays in booking your practical, but having a test date will give you the incentive to revise.
Remember, the sooner you know your theory, the sooner you’re able to put your knowledge into practice on the roads—it should help in your driving lessons, too. If you want to ace your theory test the first time around, make your way through our list of ultimate theory test revision resources.
② Waiting for your practical test
One of the most time-consuming parts of learning to drive is driving test waiting times. With a lot of learners competing for a limited number of test centres, examiners and time slots, it can sometimes take months between booking your practical and actually taking it.
Pass quicker by booking a fast-tracked practical test
At PassMeFast, we book your practical test first so you have a date to work towards—and a better idea of how long it will take to get on the road. Our team works around the clock to book fast-tracked tests, so we can get you on the roads as quickly as possible.
③ Time between lessons
It goes without saying that an hour’s tuition a week will mean that it will take months to pass your practical. Not only are you limiting the amount of learning that can take place in each lesson, but a lot of that time will have to be spent recapping skills instead of developing new ones.
Learn to drive quicker with an intensive course
Intensive courses make more valuable use of your time than traditional hourly lessons, as you can constantly build on your new skills. If that’s not a feasible option for you, it’s worth looking at semi-intensive driving courses instead. By doing so, you can book longer lessons or have more sessions a week—enabling you to learn much faster.
④ Failing your driving test
It’s tempting to underestimate the amount of tuition you will need to learn how to drive. But cutting corners usually extends the learning-to-drive process rather than speeding it up. If you aren’t fully prepared to sit your test, chances are you’ll fail. The DVSA doesn’t allow you to take your practical again for at least 10 working days—which is frustrating, but not the end of the world.
In reality, though, the lengthy practical test waiting times mean that failing your test can easily set you back several weeks. There’s no cheating the system either. You cannot preempt a fail by booking multiple tests: only one practical can be booked under your provisional licence number at any time.
Increase your chances of a first-time pass
Set yourself realistic expectations by working out roughly how many course hours you'll need before attempting your practical test. A good instructor should develop your confidence on the roads as well as your skills. Don’t be afraid to raise any concerns you have, so that these can be addressed as soon as possible. Test day nerves are often a key factor in whether learners pass or fail. Check that you have your provisional licence and get to the test centre early, so you have a chance to relax before your test.
⑤ Cash flow
Without even factoring in the cost of a practical test, the process of learning to drive is expensive. However, taking breaks in between lessons to stump up the money for the next one is going to drag the process out—and you may end up spending more in the long run. Beware, as well, of too-good-to-be-true deals. Check whether you're really saving money with this guide to cheap driving lessons.
Learn to drive quickly with alternative payment options
If you're struggling to cover the costs of learning to drive, you may be able to get the ball rolling with a deposit. At PassMeFast, we only ask for £250 up-front. This allows us to book your practical test for a suitable date at the end of your course, and match you up with one of our highly-graded instructors. You can then pay the balance as soon as you’re able, as long as it’s settled at least a week before your lessons are due to start.
Instructors can get very booked up, particularly in holiday seasons. If you suddenly realise in August that you want to get your licence before heading back to school or uni… well, your chances aren’t looking all that great. Booking lessons in advance makes it much more likely that you’re able to learn to drive when it most suits you.
If you’re fortunate enough to have use of a car, and have someone willing—and suitable—to accompany you, then practising in between lessons can be helpful. Avoid picking up bad habits or getting confused with conflicting advice by writing some key points after each lesson and recapping them before each practice drive.
Hitting the roads on your own can actually be the biggest learning curve of all! In fact, this is so widely recognised that, even after you've earned your licence, you'll still be subject to a probation period: get 6 points within 2 years of passing your test and you'll end up having to take it again.
Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to road experience, but if you’re nervous about the transition, a Pass Plus course might help ease you into a life of solo drives—it might also reduce your young driver insurance premiums. Whether you opt for more lessons or choose to go it alone, every journey should help you develop your skills—and you’ll learn to drive that bit better all the time.