Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) Test Part 1: The Ultimate Guide

Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) Test Part 1: The Ultimate Guide


Becoming a driving instructor can be an extremely rewarding career path, where as part of your day-to-day, you’ll be able to help people and earn a good wage. But just how easy is it to become one?

If you want to learn how to become a driving instructor in the UK, you must understand that it requires a good amount of patience, hard work and dedication. It can be a demanding job at times and you’ve got to love what you do.

Firstly, you’ll need to ensure your driving skills and knowledge are of a high standard. Alongside this, you also need to learn how to teach these skills to learner drivers: your potential clients.

Now comes the challenge, you must pass the required tests to become a fully qualified driving instructor.

This guide will explore part 1 of the API (Approved Driving Instructor) test, looking into what the test consists of and giving you our top tips on how to pass it.

How to become a driving instructor

Becoming a driving instructor can be a great career move for the right person, allowing them to enjoy more freedom and manage their own hours, but, it requires a good skill set and determination to learn.

The first thing you will need to become a driving instructor in the UK is a full UK driving licence, which must have been held for a minimum of three years.

Other requirements to become a driving instructor in the UK include:

  • Have not been banned from driving within the last 4 years
  • Have less than 5 penalty points on your licence
  • Pass appropriate background checks
  • Be over 21 years old
  • Read a licence plate from 27.5m or 90 feet, via an eyesight test

Upon meeting all of these requirements, you’ll be able to apply for your first stage of training to develop your skills and help you to pass your driving instructor test.

The driving instructor training process

At Bill Plant Driving School your driving instructor training will consist of three different parts.

  • Part 1: this will provide you with the resources and study materials required to give you the best opportunity to pass your Theory and Hazard Perception test.
  • Part 2: involves training to improve your driving skills. You will also learn more about car maintenance which is required for the ‘Show me, Tell me’ part of your examination.
  • Part 3: this is the training section, that’ll help to develop your instructional skills. This will help you learn to teach pupils how to drive safely.

Between parts 2 and 3, you will also have the option to obtain a PDI licence – this allows you to work as a trainee driving instructor for up to six months, gaining that all-important experience of teaching pupils ahead of your final exam. (Did you know that trainee driving instructors can charge for lessons?)

The road to becoming a driving instructor.

What is the ADI Part 1 test?

Part 1 of the ADI test is the theory test. The ADI theory test provides candidates with the knowledge required to become safe drivers and teach others to drive safely.

The ADI part 1 theory test will require a deeper knowledge of:

  • Road procedures
  • Traffic signs
  • Signals
  • Car Control
  • Mechanical knowledge
  • Pedestrians
  • Instructional techniques
  • Road laws

You can study for the ADI Part 1 test at home and online.

What does the ADI Part 1 theory test involve?

The ADI Part 1 test consists of two parts. The first is the ADI theory test and the second is the ADI hazard perception test.

The ADI theory test is a multiple-choice test consisting of 100 questions and is conducted on a computer at approved testing centres. The test is divided into four different categories, each with 25 questions. The four categories are:

  • Road procedures
  • Mechanical knowledge, pedestrians, car control, traffic signs and signals
  • The driving test, road laws and disabilities
  • Instructional techniques and publications

Prior to the test, candidates will be given 15 minutes to familiarise themselves with the test format.

When the test begins, candidates will have 90 minutes to answer the 100 questions. One of the benefits of tests being carried out on computers is that results are provided immediately after completion!

The ADI Part 1 hazard perception section of the test is similar to that of the regular theory test. However, as this is designed for advanced drivers, it is significantly tougher.

The hazard perception test is made up of 14 videos depicting developing hazards. The aim of the game here is to acknowledge the hazards as soon as they pop up on the screen. 

Each hazard has a maximum of 5 points that can be scored by clicking as soon as developing hazards appear, and the amount of points you can be awarded for each hazard decreases as the developing hazard becomes more apparent.

There are 15 hazards to spot in total, meaning that one video contains two hazards. You will not be told which video has two hazards so you must remain attentive throughout the test, even after identifying a developing hazard!

It’s important to note that pressing too soon can also forfeit points. This means that anyone that had ideas of clicking repeatedly should reassess their tactics.

How long is the ADI Part 1 theory test?

In total, the test can take anywhere from 110 minutes to 125 minutes depending on how long the candidate sets aside for preparation or rest.

The multiple-choice section of the ADI Part 1 test is 90 minutes long. Candidates will also have an additional 15 minutes at the start to get used to the system. Alongside this, an optional 3-minute rest is available at the end of this test if the candidate passes.

The hazard perception section of the test will take approximately 20 minutes to complete.

Young woman on a driving test with her instructor

Example test questions for the ADI Part 1 theory test

To help you get a better idea of what to expect from the ADI theory test, here are some examples of questions and multiple-choice answers you may see:

What should instructors teach pupils to do before emerging from a road junction?

  1. Look left, then right
  2. Take effective observation
  3. Look left only
  4. Look right only

The correct answer here would be B, to take effective observation. This allows the pupil to fully assess the situation.

What does it mean if a vehicle continues to bounce when testing its suspension?

  1. The tyres are worn
  2. The steering is unstable
  3. The shock absorbers are worn
  4. The tyres are under-inflated

The correct answer here would be C, the shock absorbers are worn.

What is required when a child under 3 is travelling in the vehicle’s front seat?

  1. The child must wear an appropriate child restraint
  2. The child must be carried by an adult
  3. The child must wear the adult seat belt where there’s no appropriate child restraint
  4. The child must be in a rear-facing seat

The correct answer here is A, that the child must wear an appropriate child restraint.

The best way to explore potential test questions and familiarise yourself with how they are worded is by taking practice tests.

How to prepare for the ADI Part 1 theory test

The best way to prepare yourself for the ADI theory and hazard perception test is to study the materials provided by your driving school. These will provide you with all the information you need to begin taking the practice tests.

ADI theory and hazard perception tests can be found online and provide the types of questions and answers you will get in the examination. Doing practice tests like these will help you get used to how the questions for the multiple-choice theory section are worded, it will also help you to practice under exam conditions.

You will be able to time yourself and carry out these tests, and then go over the example questions and answers. Upon finishing each test, you can then check where you went wrong and whether you need to dedicate more time to studying specific topics.

We’d also recommend practising the hazard perception section of the test, as some people can find this section more equally if not more challenging.

Bill Plant Driving School provides hands-on teaching and study materials. These will help get you on track with top tips for training to become a driving instructor.

What is the average pass rate of the ADI Part 1 test?

According to government statistics, the pass rate for the ADI Part 1 test for the year ending in March 2022 was 45.2%. This just goes to show that getting additional practice and preparation ahead of time is incredibly important if you want to maximise your chances of passing on your first attempt and accelerating your progress towards becoming a qualified driving instructor.

In order to pass the ADI Part 1 test, candidates must achieve at least 85% on the multiple choice section (answering at least 20 out of the 25 questions in each of the 4 sections correctly) and score at least 57 out of 75 on the hazard perception section. This will indicate that you have a solid understanding of both sections of the test.

What happens if you fail the ADI Part 1 test?

If you fail Part 1 of the ADI test, you will be informed at the test centre. You will then be provided with information detailing what caused you to fail. This will allow you to dedicate time to studying and practising questions around this area.

If you don’t pass the ADI Part 1 first time around, then it’s not a problem! You will then be able to rebook a test, but you must wait a minimum of three working days before you can take the test again.

There’s no limit to how many times you can take the ADI Part 1 test, so don’t worry if you don’t quite meet the pass mark first time around. However, you will have to pay again every time you want to re-take it.

Driving instructor training with Bill Plant Driving School

The knowledge and skill required to become a driving instructor is incredibly worthwhile and rewarding. You must have the driving ability and skills to teach your pupils comprehensively and with patience, giving them the confidence and skill set to earn their driving licence and become safe drivers.

The ADI Part 1 test requires a lot of study and practice. Preparing well will give you the best opportunity to pass both the theory and hazard perception parts of your test.

Here at Bill Plant Driving School, we have the knowledge and expertise to help you gain the qualifications and skills needed to become a top driving instructor, and will support you every step of the way – including right at the beginning with your ADI Part 1 test.

Investing your time in a reputable and award-winning driving instructor training school is essential. Bill Plant Driving School is proud to offer its students a comprehensive learning experience that will prepare them for the ADI part 1 test.

You will also learn to improve your driving ability for the ADI Part 2 test. Add to this the instructional learning for your ADI Part 3 test, and you will be well on your way to your new career.

FAQs about ADI Test Part 1

What is the difference between a regular theory test and an ADI theory test?

The ADI theory test is more in-depth than the regular theory test that learner drivers will take before taking their practical driving test. It requires far greater knowledge and road awareness to pass, as you will be tasked with maintaining road safety and teaching at the same time.

What pass mark is required for the ADI part 1 test?

Candidates must achieve a pass rate of 85% or higher in the multiple-choice section of the ADI theory test. This must be made up of at least 20 correct answers for each section.

The pass mark for the hazard perception test is 57 out of 75. So, candidates should aim to score an average of 3 to 4 points per hazard.

What mechanical knowledge is required for the ADI part 1 theory test?

The ADI part 1 theory test covers a lot of topics including a mechanical knowledge driving test, and car control.

The mechanical knowledge covered in this section can cover many topics. This can include how often you should check lights and how the vehicle brakes work.

A lot of the mechanical knowledge will not be found in your theory test and highway code books. Good driving instructor training courses will provide further study materials and teach about the topics that may be covered.

How much does the ADI part 1 test cost?

The ADI Part 1 test costs £81. If you have to resit the test it will still cost £81, so it pays to put as much effort as possible into studying beforehand.