Are intensive driving courses really worth it?
Hey everyone! Finally, after a very long overdue period, I am back. So much has gone on since I last gave you all an update, including a week long intensive course, buying my first car and failing my test (again!). I am still yet to pass my driving test but I drive daily with my boyfriend – if you’re a learner driver make sure you ALWAYS have someone with you who is over the age of 25 and they have also been driving for 3 or more years – which keeps me on the road and also helps to ensure I am ready for that next and hopefully final test! In this blog I will be giving you every detail of my Intensive Driving Course! Please remember that these are my own views and my own experiences so please don’t let my heavy opinions and experience put you off, I know for some people an intensive course is one of their only options.
Just before Christmas (it really was that long ago?!) I sat down with my boyfriend, and we both decided that the quickest way for me to be able to get back onto the road and hopefully get those now faded L plates off of my car, would be an intensive driving course. I felt at the time this was the best option as I had already had plenty of experience on the road and felt it was just the last little bit of help I would need in order to help me pass my test. We looked at a 5 day course which was pretty near to where I live.
The course price of £964 seemed reasonable as I was under the impression that I’d be receiving loads of hours driving for this price and they also have on their website this includes your theory and practical test price – one problem was that I had already passed my theory but when I selected this option the price stayed exactly the same which I was a little disappointed about. Nonetheless, I continued and went on to book the course which took place in early January. I wrote notes on my break and when I got home so I was able to fill you all in on my experience!
The training begins
Day 1: I received an email stating that my course begun at 9am, so to be there for no later than 8:45am. Being my total practical and sometimes annoying self, I got dropped off nice and early at 8:30am. Upon arrival I realised being this early was a complete waste of time, as I was the first person to arrive and all the doors were locked and the car park was deserted. Around 10 minutes after my arrival, a middle aged lady arrived, and also looked a little lost so I took it upon myself to approach her and soon learned she would also be taking the course with me.
Within time, other members of my group arrived – there was 8 of us in total – soon to be followed by the course instructor. We were taken upstairs to what can be described as an old classroom, there was desks set out in sets of 2 each with their own computer and a large projector at the front of the room. We were each given a booklet with the breakdown of the week, this is where my major disappointment begun and the day was timetabled as followed:
9:00 – 9:45: Morning Briefing
10:00 – 12:00: Driving with Instructor
12:00 – 12:30: Lunch
12:30 – 14:30: Driving with instructor
14:30 – 14:45: Small Break
14:45 – 17:00: Theory Practice
Naturally, my first question (I asked so many questions!!) was that I have already passed my theory test so what did that mean for me during the practice time, once I had asked this question there was another member on the course who also made the tutor aware that he had also passed his theory prior to booking the course. The tutor seemed slightly taken aback by this and asked for our certificates with our pass numbers, which we both had seemed to come prepared with. Both myself and the other member of the course said we selected the option for already passing our theory when we booked the course to which the tutor didn’t really seem to know what to say.
Not quite what I had in mind
He made us both aware we had two options either we could practice and resit our theory tests for a better score or that we could go home after the small break and registration at 14:45. We both made our tutor aware that we would be leaving early so we were able to get home, he was okay with this. I was slightly disappointed that there wasn’t an option to get a portion of your money back if you’d already passed your theory seeing as we had both selected that we had already passed. Theory tests expire within two years of pass date if you haven’t passed your practical, again both myself and the other member of the group both had well over a year left on our theory certificates so didn’t see this as something we needed to do.
The brief went quite quickly and we were soon all getting our belongings together and heading outside to meet our driving instructors for the week. I had no idea where we were going but soon learned that we were just going over the road and there were eight branded cars all lined up. We were introduced to our instructors, I was paired with mine whom after a short half an hour in the car I knew how well we would get on and was very happy. As I first got into the car, I made the instructor aware that I had previous driving experience already, which he seemed pleased with! He asked me to drive for a short while and then he gave me directions so he could see what I already knew.
At the end of each day, the instructors update a booklet on progress, scoring from 1-3. With 1 being that the learner completed the set task but with full instructions, 2 being the learner was able to complete the task with little to no instructions, and finally with 3 that the learner was able to complete all tasks with no help or instructions at all. I was happy to learn that I received all 2’s with a couple of 3’s and a single 1. I went away from my first day happy with what I had achieved, despite having only a short 4 hours driving.
Growing my confidence and feeling ready
Day 2, 3 and 4: I’ve grouped these days together as being completely honest we done the same routine! Each day myself and my instructor covered all the manoeuvres and each day my confident grew enabling me to perform all manoeuvres with no instruction and practically faultless and I was able tackle a well known roundabout in my area which can be a nightmare for any driver! My instructor made me aware on the Wednesday, so only 2 days in that he felt I would be ready for my test by Friday which I was slightly wary of yet at the same time pleased!
Even though I was confidentially performing all manoeuvres and driving by myself, we hadn’t run through any test routes and other than my driving in the previous days I hadn’t had any other experience of driving around these areas so didn’t know the roads that well. I expressed my concerns to the instructor, and we spent the fourth day going through different areas, performing each manoeuvre as spots that were most likely to crop up in my test. Once my driving was complete for the fourth day the instructor and I discussed booking my test and he said to go for it! I went home and explained it all to my boyfriend, who also said to go for it as he too felt I was ready…
Want to find out what I got up to on the 5th day? Check out part 2 here!