The Road to Becoming a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor UK

The Part Three Test On Passing

This is designed to be an overview by Chris Bensted, DITC and ORDIT Trainer. There are many approaches and plenty of sources for advice. However, Chris is a big fan of 2 things:

  1. Keeping things simple.
  2. Knowing what is required to succeed.

Over to Chris:

Before we start, print a copy of the Part 3 assessment form (ADI26) and rewrite it in your own words as we go through.

Lets begin…

As you will see, the assessment sheet is not specifically about a driving lesson. It is about:

  • Goal setting
  • Responsibility
  • Safety
  • Learning
  • Reflection

In fact, the DVSA is looking for three things – Is there a relevant point? Is it safe? Is learning taking place? Achieve these and you are likely to be successful.

We also have to acknowledge the obvious move towards ‘Client Centred Learning’ (CCL) and ‘Coaching’ (Facilitating rather than directing learning).

First step! Get a big black marker and cross out the ‘Information’ box, noting the ORDIT and Logbook questions and that you can ask your trainer to sit in on the test (Though not under COVID rules).

Second step! Use the same big black marker to cross out the ‘Lesson’ and ‘Lesson theme’ boxes. You do your thing, and let the examiner decide what is being taught.

Personal note: I get occasionally get criticised because I can’t quote the phrasing used on the ADI26 or remember what ‘Competency 16’ is without checking. There is nothing wrong with someone knowing these by heart, but do not confuse someones ability to read and recite the information with understanding.

In the same way, it is not enough for the person taking the test to read and recite the competencies. Make sure that you UNDERSTAND them. The journey from ‘Knowledge’ to ‘Understanding’ is where the learning takes place.

Now we have the 3 sections that are relevant to you, the 17 competencies:


This doesn’t mean that the trainer has to decide the learning goals. They have to identify them. These goals should be clarified and agreed on. If a goal is not suitable or achievable then it may need to be parked for a later date, or ‘stepping stones’ may need to be put in place as sub-goals to work towards the desired goal. Remember to be a goal it must be achievable. A roundabout, for example, is not a goal as you cannot achieve it. Whereas ‘Judging my approach speed correctly’ is.

Equally any needs of the pupil need to be identified and addressed. 

Words to note: Goals, Needs

Were they out of their depth? Or, Were they not being challenged enough?

Adjusting the level of support, the difficulty of the situation, and the developmental task to suit the pupil is one of the core skills of an ADI. Breaking down ‘Driving’ into subsets of skills and tasks, isolating individual skills and tasks to focus on, and then transferring them into different situations to develop them and the required independence.

This is a big one! It is often a key factor in not achieving high marks and connects to Competency 3.

Words to note: Agreed, appropriate, experience, ability

Did the area provide what you needed?

Was it of a suitable difficulty?

Were you able to develop the lesson as learning took place?

Was the risk controllable?

Plan a route that allows you to double back, adapt and simplify.

Did you change the plan when needed?!

This is (in my opinion) THE most common cause of failure on the Part 3 and Standards Check. We know the date, we choose the pupil, we make the plan – and then WHATEVER happens we stick to it…


Stay fluid!

Teach ‘in the moment’ and respond to the needs and errors of the pupil and the situation.

Plan to change the plan! and make sure the route/area allows for this.

(I would add ‘Were the lesson goals adapted, when appropriate, to help the pupil work towards their learning goals?’ Sometimes life gives you lemons… Don’t be afraid to throw the plan out the window!)

Words to note: Adapted, appropriate, learning goals


This has caused huge issues from day 1. Risk management is a rolling process that includes identification, mitigation and control of risk. This is part of the competencies in this section, but the simple title does not define the roles.

Let’s call it ‘Job Share‘. In any successful role, we need to know who is doing what. That means that the job gets done, we don’t clash, and we can communicate effectively. We know what we are expected to do and how to identify when we need to do it.

Think about your personal life – Who puts the bins out? Who pays the bills? How do you ask for help?

The professional relationship on lessons is no different.

Who is doing what?

What are the jobs? What are the risks? What is the pupil responsible for? What do they want from you, the trainer? How will they let you know if this changes?

What will happen if the situation changes or develops and you need to step in?

A common myth is that you need to say “I have dual controls and I will use them if necessary”. However, what do those duals mean to that pupil at that time? In an early lesson, they may represent safety and support. Nearer to independence, they may represent failure or inadequacy. If you don’t ask, how will you know?

Words to note: Ensure, responsibility, shared

This competency is fairly self-explanatory.

This is often connected to the need to change the level of instruction or involvement by the trainer. A great way to work on this is by recording yourself and listening back to it. It is amazing what people think they say.

Words of note: Clear, good time

Were you looking in the right place at the right time?

Remember this is in the risk category. Did you see what was happening around you? Did you see what the pupil did OR didn’t do? Did you see it early enough? (Links with the timing of directions and instructions – Competencies 6 & 8, )

Blindspot checks, not relying on mirrors alone, and looking AT your pupil.

Remember that your first dual control is your voice, then ANY actions.

Interventions must occur if they are needed, and should be suitably timed. If they occur should be explained and discussed (see competency 9).

Words of note: Or, Timely, Appropriate

Does the pupil understand what happened?

Does the trainer understand why it happened?

Does the pupil understand what action the trainer took and why?

Does the pupil understand the consequences and potential outcomes of what happened?

Make sure you cover mitigation and prevention strategies – how can you stop it from happening in the future (this could be a possible opportunity for that change of plan?!).

The Risk Management/Job Share section is important as it makes up a minimum requirement for a pass. Achieve 7 or less and it becomes a fail. Equally, if an examiner believes your behaviour is causing a danger they may step in and record an immediate fail.


This can refer to Kolb, VARK or VAKAd (From NLP – Neurolinguistic Programming). Honey and Mumford or Felder-Silverman…. But it doesn’t have to be that technical.

Did you deliver the training in a style the engaged the pupil? Did they understand it? Not just in your opinion, but to the outside eye (particularly the one in the back seat). If the pupil isn’t working one way, switch it up and find another. Use diagrams, commentary, visual pointers, rhymes, rhythm…

You can often find clues to a pupils style in their school subjects, job, interests, even style of dress! But it doesn’t just refer to the pupil, it says ‘teaching style’. Knowledge of your own style, preferences and weaknesses can really benefit a trainer. Are you strong with visual or audio, but weak with the wheels moving development style (often associated with kinaesthetic pupils). This can help you improve and turn weaknesses into strengths.

The second half – don’t let it slip by unnoticed – Does it suit their current ability? On the day ability, and we all have ‘bad days’ when we need to take a step back, and equally good ones where we are ready to learn. Respond to how they are learning, make it Client Focussed and these often come under the title of ‘Good teaching’.

I remember Trevor Wedge, then Chief Examiner at the DSA, saying something to me that changed my world. I was taught like most at the time – See it, Say it, Solve it. (It is still true now) Trevor said “We (The then DSA) never said WHO had to Identify, Analyse or Remedy…”

Finally the system has caught up with the thinking that being encouraged to take ownership of your learning delivers better results.

You can still point out the issue you have seen, you can still tell them whats wrong and why, and you can still tell them how to fix it. Some pupils prefer this! (Although in my experience that is because they are yet to be taught otherwise.) However, they need to be included in that. Do they agree? Why did they do it? Do they understand what is being asked of them?

Then, own it! This might involve revisiting the job share. Is it everyone else’s problem, or are they recognising their own actions? The cause and affect of driving.

What could your actions have resulted in? What do you need to do differently? How can you remember to do that?

We know that learning benefits largely from experience. Using real life situations and examples to aid exploration and development helps to make the reasons and responses make sense. “Does it makes sense?” is  a very important question, which many misunderstand. Does it make sense to the pupil and their understanding, not the trainer and theirs.

Did you take the opportunities that presented themselves? Or did you explore hypotheticals to reveal the learning? Doing this well requires an openness, as well as observational and listening skills.

There are a lot of myths, misinformation and blagging which goes on. If you don’t know then look it up, don’t make it up. In the same way, you would want someone you are paying to know their job, you need to be accurate in what you are delivering.

You can’t always deal with things in the moment, but you do need to make sure that all questions are answered, situations acknowledged and addressed. Don’t be afraid to make a note of it so you come back to it.

Use ‘sign posting’ techniques to help the pupil remember where you are referring to, but if you can stop and address it at the time if it is appropriate to do so.

We are there to answer questions and complete the pupils understanding. Make sure you do so and don’t leave things left open.

This is both towards the pupil and other road users. Negative and derogatory references are not acceptable, this includes ‘White van man’ or ‘BMW drivers’ etc.

Equally beware of ‘pet names’ like duck, sweet, or darling. These are not deemed to be professional even if you do use them with everyone or the pupil is a close friend or relative.

Note: This is the only one that says “At the end of the session”

Summarising the session at the end and encouraging the pupil to reflect and feed back on how they did and what they learnt. Scaling, referring to the goals and making new plans can all be part of this process.

Reflective logs can be useful but make sure the examiner sees their use. While they are for the pupil they need to be part of the lesson. Equally, it wants to see the pupil reflecting, while it can be instructor-led they do want to see pupils involved in their own learning.


Now take a moment to look at how many of these competencies can be linked and affect each other. If they are not in a suitable area this could restrict learning, or more importantly impact safety.


Each competency is marked:

  • 0 – No evidence
  • 1 – Demonstrated in a few elements
  • 2 – Demonstrated in most elements
  • 3 – Demonstrated in all elements

The total of these resulting score gives you your outcome:

0 – 30 – Unsatisfactory performance – Fail

31 – 42 – Sufficient competence demonstrated to permit entry to the Register of Approved Driving Instructors – Grade B

43 – 51 – A high overall standard of instruction demonstrated – Grade A

It is worth noting that the result of your Part 3 is NOT your Grade. You do not receive a recognised grade until your first Standards Check which is likely to be around 6 months after you qualify.


Take time to reflect on your lessons against the marking criteria. I genuinely believe that the Part 3/Standards Check form is an excellent assessment tool. It identifies key learning criteria – a good lesson.

What it doesn’t identify is a great lesson, That is down to you and your pupils!

The Part Three Test On Passing

Posted by Chris Bensted

April 10, 2021