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The Cardington Special Driving Test2017-08-11T21:09:30+00:00

Only qualified driving instructors are allowed to take this exam. It is conducted at the DVSA training establishment close to the village of Cardington in Bedfordshire. A very high standard of driving is expected.
A permanent senior staff instructor conducts the test. You will drive for 90 minutes around a varied route but there will be a predominance of higher speed driving. It requires a very high standard of driving to be consistently displayed whilst driving on all types of road, including a motorway and a variety of road situations. Candidates must be able to demonstrate a positive, courteous attitude and the ability to control the position and speed of the vehicle, safely, systematically and smoothly. A high consistent driving competence based on concentration, effective observation, anticipation and planning is expected. In particular you must demonstrate:

  • Expert handling of controls
  • Use of correct road procedure
  • Anticipation of the actions of other road users and taking appropriate action
  • Sound judgement of distance, speed and timing
  • Consideration for the convenience and safety of other road users
  • Only three (3) minor driving faults are allowed, but not the same faults repeated. In other words, there must not be any patterns of error.
  • ADIs who pass this examination are recognised by the DVSA as amongst the most professional drivers in the industry

All successful candidates who achieve a Grade A [3 faults or less] pass mark will be sent a certificate.

Test Grades
All tests carried out by the DVSA are marked on a four grade, A to D which are;
A – Able to demonstrate a high standard of driving competence, to have a knowledge of the principles of good driving and possess the ability to apply them
B – A safe and skillful driver who is able to demonstrate the ability to be safe at all times, but lacking the high standard of driving competence required of a Grade A driver
C – Able to drive at a level somewhat above that of a learner driver, but lacking in some of the car handling skills of Grade B and not able to demonstrate the high standard of driving competence required of Grade A
D – Not able to demonstrate a good safe drive, and involving some degree of potential or actual danger at times

DIAmond Special Test2017-08-11T21:08:37+00:00

The DIAmond Special Test is aimed at drivers and professional driver trainers who want to take their driving or riding to the highest level.
Going beyond the DIAmond Advanced Test, and adding new elements such as commentary driving, it is the perfect springboard on to opening up your career as a driver trainer.Perhaps the most demanding driving qualification outside of the emergency services, the DIAmond Special Test proves you’ve got what it takes.

The test lasts for 90 minutes and is assessed over a route of mixed driving. You need fewer than three faults to pass and any fault must not be repeated. The Special Test also includes a commentary driving element and candidates are expected to have a thorough understanding of eco-safe driving.

DIAmond Advanced Test2017-08-11T21:07:56+00:00

The DIAmond advanced test lasts 60 minutes and covers a variety of roads and where possible motorways, rural roads and an emergency stop exercise. You will be expected to do at least 2 manoeuvres involving reversing and demonstrate eco-safe driving. A pass will be awarded if you achieve no serious or dangerous faults and you do not exceed 6 driver faults.


DIAmond is the UK only government accredited advanced driver and rider development programme wholly delivered by regulated, professional trainers and examiners and available to both individual motorists and fleets alike.

10 Most common Reasons for Failure2017-08-11T20:55:59+00:00
  • 1. Observation at junctions – ineffective or bad observation and judgment.
  • 2. Reverse Parking – ineffective observation and / or lack of accuracy.
  • 3. Use of Mirrors – not checking often enough, and / or not acting on the information.
  • 4. Reversing Round a Corner – ineffective observation and / or lack of accuracy.
  • 5. Incorrect use of Signals – giving misleading signals, or forgetting to cancel them.
  • 6. Moving away Safely – ineffective observation.
  • 7. Incorrect Positioning on the Road – particularly at roundabouts and on bends.
  • 8. Lack of Steering Control – steering too early or too late.
  • 9. Incorrect Position for turning right – at junctions or one-way streets.
  • 10. Inappropriate Speed – driving too slowly or too quickly.
Myth: This is the oldest one in the book. However, it is true that recently a government task force recommended that learning should begin at 17 and the driving test taken at 18. However, for the age to change, it would require an Act of Parliament, which takes at least 2-3 years to become law. So, no need to worry about this for a while.2017-08-11T20:53:20+00:00

The best advice we can give you at Oaks Driving School is: trust the examining system and assume the examiner is a professional. Treat him or her with respect. If you have any issues or problems about a failed test, talk to us at the School and we will investigate if appropriate. Never tackle the examiner directly.

Examine these closely and try to avoid them.

Myth: Driving Schools make you take more lessons than you really need2017-08-11T20:52:54+00:00

We certainly don’t at Oaks Driving School. It is not in any school’s best interests to have lots of learners taking lesson after lesson with no end result. We want our former pupils to spread the word about their success! We give you advice, and if you want an independent rough guide: you are ready to take your test if you can drive for an hour without the verbal aid or assistance of your instructor. The DSA says that most people fail simply because they take the test before they are ready.

Myth: If you stall the car, you will fail2017-08-11T20:52:26+00:00

Stalling happens. If it happens in a dangerous situation, say, on a roundabout, you could be in trouble. If it happens on a normal stretch of road, the important thing is how you deal with it. Panicking is not a good idea. Just take a deep breath, start again, and it is unlikely you would be failed on that one thing alone.

Myth: My father tells me he took only 8 hours of driving tuition and passed first time.2017-08-11T20:52:10+00:00

This may have been possible in the dim distant past, or perhaps he has ‘competitive dad’ syndrome. The test has grown to match the changing conditions on the roads. There is an ever larger number of cars, more complicated traffic conditions and signs and routes to follow. There is now also the theory test, reverse parking manoeuvres and the ‘show and tell’ section. Years ago, a candidate would just be asked a few questions on the Highway Code. Older drivers often acknowledge that they might have difficulty these days passing a test.

The Driving Standards Agency estimates that a new learner driver needs a minimum of 45 hours professional training with a further 22 hours of private practice. You can console yourself that with a more serious, complex test, you will be a much more competent driver in a shorter space of time than your father. As soon as you pass, take him out on the road and impress him!

Mistake: Delaying the learning and taking the test until you are older.2017-08-11T20:51:48+00:00

There is no time to lose: younger candidates outperform their seniors in passing the test. In 2004-6, the pass rate for 17 year old boys was 51% and for girls 48%. Pupils ten years older at 27 had pass rates of 43% and 36% respectively. At aged 47 the rates when down further to 35% and 25%. But also in that period, the oldest successful candidate was female. The DSA says a pupil needs 2 hours driving tuition for every year of life. In other words, if you are 17 you will need about 34 hours, and if you are 20 you will need 40 hours.

All in all, it is easier and cheaper to learn at the youngest age possible. Anyone who has been ‘back to school’ or learnt a new skill knows that learning becomes more difficult as you get older

Mistake: Taking the driving test in your own car.2017-08-11T20:51:22+00:00

This might seem like a good idea, but in fact it isn’t. The pupils who turn up in their own vehicles are usually those who have had no professional driving tuition, or are so dangerous the driving school has not let them use their vehicle. The examiner will be aware of this from the beginning and it is likely to make him or her nervous.

In addition, the car will not have a dual braking system, which may mean the driving examiner might be inclined to intervene, verbally or physically, prematurely. Intervention by the examiner means failure, so you don’t want to increase the chances of that happening by using a car without the dual brake. You have a far better chance of passing if you use one of our Harwood Driving School cars.

Myth: There is a particular examiner who has tested me at the same test centre several times and failed me because he does not like me.2017-08-11T20:51:03+00:00

It would be easy to blame a ‘personality clash’ for failure, but again, driving examiners are professionals. Personal feelings or prejudices are irrelevant. An examiner whose work record showed an inclination to fail, for example women or a particular ethnic group, would soon be spotted. We would all like to blame someone else for our mistakes. The only way you will eventually pass is if you take responsibility for your performance and work hard to correct your faults. Talk to the experts at Harwood if you can’t understand why you keep failing.

Myth: Driving examiners enjoy failing learner drivers.2017-08-11T20:50:51+00:00

Examiners are professionals: their personal feelings do not enter into their assessment of you. Also, they have their bosses to report to – an unusual or inexplicable number of passes or failures would be looked into. It’s easier for an examiner to give good news rather than bad, and a pass means less paperwork for them.

Myth: Driving examiners are only allowed to pass a certain number of pupils per week.2017-08-11T20:50:33+00:00

This is just not true. Perhaps this myth originates with those embarrassed by failure trying to come up with a convincing reason for family and friends. If you are up to driving test standard you will pass. It’s not meant to be easy, and the fact is that over 50% of candidates are just not up to the standard required. Driving examiners don’t fail you: you fail yourself.

What should I look for?2017-08-14T12:36:55+00:00

We’ve made a handy list of points to consider when choosing someone to help you learn to drive:

Times and location:

  • Do they teach in your local area? For example, near your home, work or college.
  • Is the driving instructor available at times to suit you? For example, after work and weekends.

Driving lesson quality standards:

  • What grade has the DVSA given the instructor (Grade A or B is ideal)? Ask your driving instructor to bring their certificate to your first lesson. Or, if they’re still a DVSA licensed instructor under training, can you negotiate a discount?
  • What car do they use and is it fitted with dual controls? Learner drivers may find it easier to learn with a smaller car that’s in good condition and less than three years old. If you are particularly short or tall, then you may want to ask if the car is suitable for your needs.
  • How long has the instructor been teaching learner drivers?
  • Does the driving instructor pick-up other students during a lesson? (This could impact on your lesson time and divert the driving instructor’s attention.)
  • Do you know anyone else who has used the driving school or driving instructor? What did they think of their driving lessons?

Driving lesson costs and materials:

  • How much does the driving instructor charge (remember cheapest isn’t always best)? Does the cost cover a full-hour of tuition and exclude picking-up, dropping-off time?
  • Can you try an initial lesson out for free, or at a discount, to see if you will get on with the driving instructor?
  • Does the driving instructor offer a discount for block bookings?
  • What is the driving instructor’s policy if you cancel a driving lesson?
  • Are any additional study aids such as DVDs or workbooks included in the price?
  • You can find more DVSA information on choosing a driving instructor at

Further thoughts:

  • If you’re eager to pass your test, make sure your driving instructor understands your expectations and you both agree a realistic plan.
  • If English is not your first language, would you prefer to learn with a driving instructor who speaks your first language?
  • Have you a preference for a male or female instructor?
What qualities should you expect in a good driving instructor?2017-08-11T20:47:30+00:00

Like any teacher, some driving instructors will be better than others. FTD heard of one driving instructor who had a penchant for 1970s’ heavy metal on the car stereo. Another driving instructor built in a trip to the butchers to pick up the shopping for his wife as an essential part of every driving lesson. But luckily examples of driving instructors such as these are rare.

Good driving instructors should make the most of your lesson time. You should have their full-attention throughout the lesson, with no stops to pick up or drop off, fill-up with fuel or make phone calls. They shouldn’t shout or make you feel uncomfortable in any way, even if things go wrong.

Your driving instructor should always:

  • Be punctual
  • Arrive in a clean well-maintained car
  • Have a prepared lesson plan based on the DVSA Syllabus.
  • Remember, you are the customer and paying to learn to drive. If you are unhappy with your driving lesson or driving instructor, try and discuss it diplomatically to resolve any issues. If nothing changes, then you may decide to find a new driving instructor.
How to choose a driving instructor2017-08-11T20:47:10+00:00

You are spending money on driving lessons, so it’s important to take your time over choosing a qualified driving instructor or driving school, and one that you feel at ease with. In the UK, the Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) approves driving instructors. Only DVSA Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) or DVSA licensed instructors under training can charge you for driving instruction.

How can I tell if a driving instructor is DVSA approved?2017-08-11T20:46:53+00:00

It is important to check the badge in the driving instructor’s windscreen. A green octagonal badge shows the instructor is fully qualified and an ADI.

A pink triangular badge shows the instructor is not yet fully qualified, but undertaking practical training. But they are allowed to charge you for driving instruction. The DVSA is working on improving the standard of driving instructors and have introduced grades for ADIs. Grade 4 is competent, and Grade 6 indicates a very high standard or new check grades of A or B. ADIs and DVSA licensed driving instructors under training are also now checked to see if they have a criminal record with the CRB.