How long does it take to learn to drive? Everything you need to know

How long does it take to learn to drive? Everything you need to know


Learning any new skill takes time. It’s well quoted that to master any skill takes 10,000 hours, and we’re here to reassure you that you don’t have to be a master to be a good driver. While some people will take hundreds of hours of driving lessons, you’re certainly not going to need 10,000 before you’re ready for your driving test.

So what is the magic number? We will talk you through this and help you work out how long you may need to learn to drive and what you can do to make it as quick as possible.

How Long Does It Take To Learn To Drive

Learning to drive needs to be thought about as a process. This process involves the following:

  • Driving lessons
  • Practice and learning
  • Your theory test
  • Your driving test

Each of these makes up the learning to drive journey, and each one takes time. Even if you only need a handful of lessons, you need to account for potentially long wait times for either the driving test or theory test. You may also pick up the practical driving element very quickly, but take time to pick up your theory and hazard perception skills.

How Many Hours Does It Take To Learn To Drive?

The average number of hours it takes to learn to drive is 45 hours of lessons and 22 hours of private practice. These numbers come from the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) themselves.

As this is an average, some people will take significantly longer while some people will take a substantially shorter time. It comes down to you as an individual, your ability to learn, and your instructor.

How Many Driving Lessons Do I Need?

This will depend entirely on the individual learner. However, if you take the average number of hours needed to learn as 45, you can use this to roughly calculate how many lessons you may need.

It will depend on the length of lessons you take, but using the 45-hour average, it can be:

  • 45 lessons of 1 hour
  • 30 lessons of 1.5 hours
  • 22.5 lessons of 2 hours

Again, these are just averages.

How Many Driving Lessons A Week?

The number of lessons you take a week comes down to personal preference and your instructor’s availability. Many people only have one lesson a week, but if you are trying to pass quickly, you may want to have two or three a week. As with any new skill, the more you do it, the better you will become.

Where Should I Be After 20 Hours of Driving Lessons?

Twenty hours of driving lessons may well feel like a significant milestone, and it may also feel like you’ve been learning for ages. Setting goals for yourself is important and reviewing where you’re at once you reach 20 hours of lessons can be a good idea.

If you are doing this, always remember that everyone learns at different speeds. Some people take to driving more naturally, while others may struggle with lots of little things.

There is no set level that you should be at after 20 hours of lessons; however, your instructor will likely have covered the basics that they feel you are ready for, like:

  • Stopping and starting safely
  • Driving on A roads
  • Manoeuvres that may come up in your test
  • Emergency stop

Driving instructors will assess where you are at and give you feedback at the end of each lesson. They will let you know how far along you are and will also let you know when they feel you should start looking to book your test.

How Long Is The Waiting List For Driving Tests?

The length of a waiting list will vary depending on your test centre. Your driving instructor will know what the test centre’s waiting list is like and build this into their assessment of your driving lessons when they recommend you to book your test. I.e. If they think you’re four weeks away from being ready and your test centre has a 4-6 week waiting list, they’ll recommend that you should start looking to book your driving test.

Some places, like rural Scotland for example, may only have wait times of a couple of weeks, but some busier test centres, like those in London, could have wait times of 12 weeks or longer. Keep an eye out on your local area test centre when you’re learning.

While theory tests don’t tend to have such long wait times, there are comparatively fewer theory test centres. You may still have to wait around a month for a slot.

What other factors affect the time it takes to learn to drive?

When it comes to learning to drive, multiple factors can affect the total time it takes that aren’t simply down to the number of hours you spend having lessons. These include:

  • Passing your theory test – Your theory test is your first real obstacle to overcome. You can’t book your driving test until you’ve passed your theory. If you’re looking to pass quickly, you’ll want to get your theory booked in early, especially as failing means having to re-book.
  • Booking your driving test – As we’ve already mentioned, it can take weeks or even months to book your test during busier periods and in areas of high population density. This is often one of the main reasons people take longer to pass.
  • Failing your driving test – We all have bad days, and failing your driving test means you’ll need to re-book. In those busier areas, that could mean another long wait. 
  • Lesson regularity – If you were only to have one hour a week, it’s probably going to take you longer to learn. Increasing the time and how often you take your lessons should speed up your learning.
  • Instructor availability – That being said, if you’ve got yourself a good instructor, they’re probably going to be popular. Make sure you book multiple lessons at a time and well in advance to get the time slots you desire.

How Long Does it Take to Learn to Drive With an Intensive Driving Course?

Some intensive driving courses can see you become test ready in as little as one week. These intensive courses usually have a week to two weeks of long driving hours per day and a test at the end.

At Bill Plant Driving School, our intensive driving courses are a bit different. They’re still designed to help you pass your driving test quickly, but they’re aimed at giving you lasting skills. As such, you’ll have an assessment as your first lesson; then, we’ll create a completely bespoke intensive driving course depending on your needs.

8 Ways of Shortening the Time it Takes to Learn to Drive

If you’re looking to pass as quickly as possible, we’ve compiled a few tips.

  1. Apply for your provisional driving licence as soon as you’re able to
    You can do this as soon as you turn 15 years and 9 months, so get it sorted early if you want to start learning to drive as soon as you turn 17.

  2. Book your driving theory test immediately
    Get your theory test booked as soon as you can. You could, in theory, even do this before your first lesson.

  3. Revise, revise, revise
    Once you’ve got it booked, or even before, get revising. Learning everything you need to know about the highway code and practising hazard perception scenarios can help you pass your theory the first time.  We provide a theory subscription service that allows you to monitor your progress. Please give us a call on 0330 555 2254 for more information. Alternatively, why not try our free online theory test & free online hazard perception testto help you revise.

  4. Talk to your instructor about a lesson plan
    After your first lesson, you should chat with your instructor about how quickly you want to pass your test. They can then help you put together a complete lesson plan. This will include the number of lessons you should have a week and the amount of time you should have for each lesson.

  5. Practice
    If you can, practice outside of your lessons. Ideally, you’ll be able to get insured on a parent or friend’s car. It is recommended by the DVSA to have 22 hours of private practice to improve your driving skills.

  6. Take feedback on board
    Your driving instructor will give you feedback at the end of each lesson. Take this away and work on it during your independent practice (if possible). The sooner you iron out any issues, the sooner you’ll be ready for your test.

  7. Book your test in advance, based on your instructor’s feedback
    After a few lessons, your instructor will know how far off they think you are from your test. Booking your test proactively, even if it’s a few months down the line, can stop you from having to wait months once you are ready.

  8. Consider an intensive driving course.
    Finally, consider booking in for an intensive driving course. These can drastically reduce the time it takes you to learn to drive if this learning style works for you and your instructor has the right availability.

Learn at your own pace with Bill Plant Driving School

While you may be desperate to pass your test as quickly as possible, it’s always worth learning at your own pace. Everyone is different, and while some people pick up driving incredibly fast, for others it may take longer for it to stick.

At Bill Plant Driving School, our driving instructors will help you put a lesson plan together to help you learn how to drive. Creating great drivers who do more than simply pass their test is our goal, and our instructors always make sure they feel their students are ready for their test before they recommend booking it. Book a driving lesson or intensive driving course with Bill Plant Driving School today.