Learner Questions

1. What happens on your first lesson?

2. What happens after I pass my driving test?

1.What happens on your first lesson?

If you’ve booked your first driving lesson or are currently considering your options, you’re probably wondering what happens on your first driving lesson. We’re here to help and have outlined what generally happens from start to end on your first driving lesson.

What to expect on your first driving lesson

It’s a common question that some of you may have. You might have an idea of what to expect on your first driving lesson; others take a guess or go on what someone else has said in the past.

There are myths that you can spend the whole lesson  stationary and the car doesn’t move. We have heard of companies out there that do that, but it’s not something we practice.

Our goal is to get you driving as quickly as possible on your first lesson without compromising your safety.

Here’s generally what happens from the beginning to the end of the first hour:

Eyesight test and checking provisional licence – You will be asked to read a number plate which will be approximately 20.5 meters away (5 car lengths). Once your eyesight has been checked, your instructor will then look at your provisional licence and take down some details, including your driver number.

Quick Q&A – Your instructor will spend 2-3 minutes asking questions and finding out your previous experience. Although you may not have driven before, you may have experience with other vehicles such as a moped, go karting, farm vehicles or you may have practiced with family/friends. Some pupils getting into the car for the first time know absolutely nothing and others have some knowledge, like which pedal is which, basic controls like the handbrake and how to adjust the mirrors. By quickly finding out your prior knowledge at the beginning, your instructor can pitch their level of instruction accordingly.

Drive to site – Depending on where you live, your instructor may have to drive you to a quieter area. It’s important that you start in an area free from activity, like approaching vehicles and busy junctions. Depending on where you live, this make take 5-10 minutes. Your instructor will take you to the nearest suitable place possible.

Controls – Once the instructor has found a suitable place, it’s important you know the controls of the vehicle. Little things like adjusting the seat and mirrors vary on every car.

Knowing which pedal is which, where the direction indicators are, how to adjust the seat – are all important need to knows before you start trying to move the car. These are very simple things for someone who can drive, but many pupils don’t know this on their first lesson, so it’s important to lay the foundations correctly, so the pupil doesn’t panic later when the car is moving. A controls lesson can take up to 20 minutes. Depending on your prior knowledge, it can be shortened to just 5 minutes too.

Clutch control – Before commencing moving off and stopping, it’s important you understand how the clutch works and you should have a little practice to become familiar with the sensitivity of the clutch. The use of the clutch is required to move off and to stop, so an understanding and a feel for the clutch definitely helps.

Moving off and stopping – Your instructor will need to brief you on what to do first. This can take up to 7 minutes, depending on your prior knowledge and experience. After the briefing you will practice moving off and stopping in first gear initially. Once you are comfortable exceeding 10mph, your instructor will encourage you to change into 2nd and possibly 3rd gear too. Because the foundations were laid earlier in the controls, the need to stop and go through the gears is unnecessary. You can expect at least 7-10 moving off’s and stops within the first lesson. To do this many ‘moving offs’ a long stretch of straight road is required, this is why location is important at the beginning.

Debrief and drive back – Depending on where you live or want dropping off, your instructor may have to drive back in the interests of safety and finishing your lesson on time.

Feedback and Rebook – Your instructor will offer feedback, usually including strengths and weaknesses, for you to bare in mind. Before leaving, your instructor will book you in for your next lesson.

2.What happens after I pass my driving test?

Taking to the road without the safety net of your instructor is a big step, and it’s only natural to feel a little apprehensive.

Plus there’s the minefield of car ownership to navigate – have you sorted insurance, road tax and an MOT?

To help clear the confusion facing new drivers, our essential guide answers your most pressing questions.

Can I drive straight away after passing my test?

Yes. Your examiner will normally arrange for your provisional licence photocard to be sent off to the DVLA, where it will be upgraded to a full driving licence.

Although it could take up to three weeks for you to receive your updated photocard in the post, you don’t need to wait for it to arrive before you drive.

As long as your car is taxed and insured, you’re good to go.

Do I need P plates after I’ve passed my test?

Some new drivers choose to display green ‘probationary’ P plates on their car, but they’re not compulsory.

P Plates are a way of indicating to other motorists that you’ve recently passed your test and are still getting to grips with the roads.

If fellow drivers see a P on your car, they’ll (hopefully) give you a bit of breathing space at junctions and roundabouts so you don’t feel under too much pressure.

You can display P plates for as long as you want.