What to expect on your first driving lesson

Discover how to get ready for your first lesson and what happens when you do get behind the wheel for the first time with an instructor.


By Marmalade Author

Updated on Feb 16th, 2022

Learning to drive is a huge milestone in life, and taking that first driving lesson is one of the biggest steps to freedom – but what to expect for your first driving lesson? It can be scary, confusing and cause a lot of worry so we’re here to help! Below is a sort of checklist for learner drivers – some first driving lesson tips and things you need to prepare, as well as what happens on your first driving lesson when you do get behind the wheel for the first time.

Basics to know before your first driving lesson

Should I take my theory test first or driving lessons?

While there are no set rules for this, it’s best that you get a few lessons and some private practice in before you book your theory test to help you gain some experience on the roads. It will be really helpful for you to get used to certain road signs and junctions in real life before you tackle the test. Of course, if you will be practicing in a friend or family member's car you'll need Learner Driver Insurance.

The theory test is a series of mostly multiple choice questions to gauge your understanding of the Highway Code, hazard perception, road signs, braking distances and other driving related situations. Just remember you cannot book a practical driving test until you have passed your theory test - when you do, you will receive a pass number which is required when you book the practical. Did you know you can take a mock theory test?

What do I need for my first driving lesson?

  • Get a provisional driving licence

    We’ve outlined everything you need to know in our blog on how to apply for a provisional licence. After that you'll need to go online to the GOV.uk website and apply for your provisional licence – without it, you can’t drive. You have to fill out the application online which requires a few details - Once approved, all you have to do is wait for it to arrive in the post!
  • Choose a driving instructor

    Whether you’re booking weekly lessons or driving courses, our top tip would be to ask around and see who your friends and family used. Whilst everyone is different, and what may work for one won’t work for another, it’s good to hear what people close to you think. You can also see if they have reviews online via Facebook or Trustpilot.
  • Find time for the first lesson and beyond

    Stopping and starting lessons will cost you more in the long run. Some questions to ask yourself -  Is this the right time to be doing this? Can you commit to at least weekly or fortnightly lessons? Can you afford to learn to drive at the moment? When you are good to go, make sure you’re feeling fresh and able to take it all in, so it’s probably not best to book it after a long shift at work or on a busy day you’ll need to be focused!

What do you do on your first driving lesson?

In your first lesson you’ll likely be shown a few of the basics, such as setting your seat and mirrors to be right for you. You will also learn how to secure and manoeuvre the car using the handbrake, gears and of course, the basics of clutch control. First driving lesson nerves are natural so don’t worry!

Everyone learns at a different pace so whilst the basics are the same for most in the first practical driving lesson, what happens after that will likely be different for everyone. Young driver Cailyn shared the story of her first driving lesson with us. Yours may differ but hearing how it went for someone else may help calm any pre-first lesson nerves you’ll likely be experiencing!

learner driver first driving lesson

Cailyn - What happened in my first lesson?

I was scared for my first driving lesson. I’d had little to no experience in driving – so I didn’t really know what to expect. I also started my driving lessons the same day my sister passed her driving test, which added an element of pressure on me! Before my lesson, I read a few articles including an instructor’s tips for calming my nerves on Marmalade’s Driver Hub which helped me to understand what the lesson may be like. I remember sitting in the car, slightly shaking but my instructor assured me it was completely natural to be nervous, which helped me in feeling a lot calmer.

I met with my instructor at my college as this was the closest meeting point for us. We chatted for around 15 – 20 minutes – mainly to get to know each other and discuss what I expected from my first lesson and how I was feeling a.k.a calming my nerves! After our discussion, she drove me to a quiet area of town where I learnt safety procedures, cockpit drills then hit the pedals!

My instructor introduced me to the pedals, and we practised finding the biting point while parked up. Once I gained confidence, we ‘trundled’ up the road to my first junction. She got me to use the brake for the first time – basic stuff but enough to introduce me to the journey of driving.

After my first junction, I did a little loop around the quiet part of town. I was quite impressed that I even moved the car more than 10 yards, let alone tackled junctions! I was simply practising using the clutch, brake and acceleration pedals. We looped around this area multiple times to make sure I was understanding how each pedal worked.

By the end of the lesson, I was feeling more confident than ever and a huge step closer to my goal of independent driving! I was worried and scared of the road before starting, as you always hear horror stories of terrible accidents and awful drivers. I was so excited about the next lesson that I went home and told my family about my lesson in detail – which they eventually told me to shut up about because I went on and on! It’s exciting though – the roads aren’t a place to be petrified of. Yes, other drivers can act recklessly, and accidents can happen – but I was on my way to learning how to be a safe and confident driver, and I can’t wait for the day I get to that test centre and pass!





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By Marmalade Author

Providing tips and advice for young drivers on all aspects of driving - from getting through the driving test to buying and running your first car.

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