Step by step learner guide

Get set to start learning to drive with our ultimate guide to getting behind the wheel!

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Thanks for signing up to Marmalade! Below you’ll find everything you need to know to successfully get on the road. From where to start, what to practice and how to book your test, and it doesn’t to end there – visit our Driver Hub for blogs, real life stories and more!

Learner Driver Insurance options

There are a few ways to get insured driving whilst having a provisional licence, pick one that suits you the best and make sure you’re aware of all the rules before you set out!

Practice makes Perfect

Get extra driving practice alongside your lessons in a parent's or friend's car from just £1.23 per day!
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These steps can be taken before you turn 17!

1
Apply for provisional licence
This can be done as early as one year and three months before your 17th birthday and is the first step of the journey!
2
Find a driving instructor
We have loads of advice for finding your perfect instructor, get one secured ASAP to start your lessons!
3
Study for your theory test
You can book this as soon as you have your provisional licence, and study straight away! More details below

Steps to getting on the road

1
Driving lessons
Your first lesson is possibly one of the most exciting steps - discover what to expect and top tips!
2
Private driving practice
Increase your confidence and maximise your chance of passing first time by getting extra practice outside lessons
3
The driving test
Be prepared for the big day - we've got some handy advice on how to book your test and what to expect!

Step 1 - Apply for your provisional licence

When can I apply?arrow
You can apply for your Provisional Licence from the age of 15 years and 9 months as you can technically drive a moped from 16. If you apply for it early, you won't receive your provisional car licence until nearer your 17th birthday. If you won't be driving a moped, and you're eager to get started at 17, we'd recommend applying within the 3 months before your birthday. The DVLA also states you must be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away – so make sure you’ve had an up-to-date eye test!
How to applyarrow
You can apply easily online via the Government website at a cost of £34 – just click here to apply. You’ll need proof of identity (if you don't have a biometric passport), the addresses of where you have lived for the last 3 years and your National Insurance number if you know it.

If you’d prefer to apply for your licence by post, you can obtain a D1 application form from the Post Office or DVLA.
When will it arrive?arrow
Once you’ve applied, you’ll get a confirmation email from the DVLA and your licence should arrive within one week of you applying – however, this can take a little longer during busy periods or if the DVLA feel they need to do a few more checks.

Step 2 - Find a driving instructor

Start looking a few months before you want to start lessonsarrow
There is currently high demand for driving instructors in the UK due to delays in driving tests and backlogs as a result of the pandemic. Some instructors may have waiting lists so it is a good idea to start looking as soon as possible - so if you're keen to start lessons at 17, you may want to start looking a few months before your birthday.
Ask for personal recommendationsarrow
What better place to start than asking friends and family for recommendations - they will also be able to give you a bit more detail about the instructors teaching style!
Do a local search online and check reviewsarrow
A simple online search of "driving instructors near me" should turn up a few instructors in your area, or the DVSA offer the facility to find a driving instructor. From there it is worth checking out their website or Facebook page and, of course, independent online reviews and will be a good indicator of what they are like. For independent driving instructors reviews are likely to be on their Facebook or Google business page, but some larger schools may have reviews on review sites such as Trustpilot or Feefo.
Check their qualificationsarrow
Anyone receiving payment for driving lessons must be a DSA-approved Potential Driving Instructor (PDI) or an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI), so it is worth checking this before you commit.
Check their pricesarrow
The average price for an hour driving lesson is £24 – but this will vary massively up and down the country, and may have risen recently due to the cost of following new covid measures. Make sure you’re not paying over the odds and don't forget to ask your instructor about any offers they have for bulk booking lessons.
Check availability and ask questionsarrow
Don’t be afraid to ask a few instructors to see who feels the best fit for you. Here’s a few to get you started:

- How long have you been teaching people to drive?
- What is the average pass rate for your students?
- What is your teaching style?
- Last but not least a key question is "When can we start?" - if it is no for another 6 months, you may need to look again (unless you're happy to wait of course).

If you can only spare one afternoon a week, make sure that fits with your instructor. You need to make sure that starting your lessons now is a good time to see you through to the end as stopping and starting lessons can cost you more in the long run. Can you commit to one at least every 2 weeks?
Don't be scared to switcharrow
So you've started your lessons, and something doesn't feel quite right. You may be dreading lessons or feeling like you are just not getting it! We're all different and have different learning styles (and all instructors have different teaching styles), so if it doesn't feel right to you, don't be scared to look for another driving instructor. It is likely you will progress much better with an instructor that suits your learning style.

Step 4 - Driving Lessons - our top tips!

Know what to expect in your first lessonarrow
In your first lesson you’ll likely be shown a few of the basics in driving, such as setting your seat and mirrors etc to be right for you, as well as securing the car with the handbrake and gears. Depending on how long the lesson is, you’ll may drive the car a small distance too and practice clutch control.
Wear the right geararrow
Think about what to wear so you’re as comfy as possible. Allow for easy movement and clothes that aren’t too hot or heavy. Don’t forget the shoes – heels or shoes with thick soles aren’t ideal. Stick to flat, thin-soled shoes so you can feel the car responding to what you’re doing. Don't forget your glasses, if you wear them, and a face mask!
Be realistic with your learning goalsarrow
Learning to drive takes time - so don't expect to be test ready overnight! You're instructor will guide you through step by step. You can help develop your skills and confidence by taking private practice with a friend or family member between lessons – more on that later on!
Take time to relax tooarrow
Don't put too much pressure on yourself! Take time out from work, your studies, or cramming for your theory test regularly – and spend some time doing something you love – rewarding yourself and giving your brain and body a break can really help.

- Get enough sleep
- Stay hydrated
- Practise deep breathing exercises

Step 3 - Study for your theory test

Choose the best resource to revisearrow
There are loads of resources available to revise for your Theory Test online and in the shops - from books, to practice exam questions and apps. The DVSA have a great selection of resources on their website, or there are some great Theory Test apps out there. Why not read our guest blogger, Isabel's review of a few of the popular resources!
Multiple choice section of theory testarrow
The Theory Test is basically based on the Highway Code, so grab a copy of this and start to observe whilst you’re a passenger in a car, and lets get started!
You’ll have 57 minutes to complete 50 multiple choice questions, and you need to score 45/50 to pass. You can flag questions you’re struggling with and come back to them at the end, to give them some more thought.
You can take free mock tests on the Government website to check how ready you are!
Hazard perception section of theory testarrow
For the hazard perception part, you’ll watch a video on how it works, and then watch 14 clips featuring every day scenarios. Each features a developing hazard but one will contain two. Points are awarded for spotting developing hazards as soon as they start to happen, the earlier you spot the hazard the higher you’ll score. If you want to know more, why not take a read of our full hazard perception guide.
How and when to book your testarrow
Your theory test certificate will be in date for 2 years, so you want to complete this when you know you’ll be able to pass your test within this time - check up on booking wait times as well and ensure you can be well prepared for the day.
The cost to take the test is £23 and you can book online on the Government website. You’ll need the following information to get your test booked:
- Driving licence number
- Email address
- Credit or debit card to pay the £23 fee

Step 5 - Driving practice outside lessons

Should I practise between lessons?arrow
It's not going to be feasible for everyone to practise between lessons, but if you have access to a car and have a willing supervisor, then it can really help you build your confidence and will give you experience of a variety of situations that will help you feel more prepared when you head out on your own (after you've passed, of course!).
What's more it could also increase your chance of passing first time by around 23%.
What you need to get startedarrow
The DVSA specify that you will need: - A car to practise in that is roadworthy and has a valid MOT - Insurance that covers the learner driver to drive (and the supervising driver to take over) - L-plates that show clearly at the front and rear of the car - A supervisor accompanying you in the passenger seat that is aged over 21 has held a full UK licence for 3 years
Choose the right insurancearrow
It's important to check that the insurance meets your needs and to read the terms and conditions - for example, many insurers (ourselves included) specify the supervising driver must be aged over 25 and have held a full UK licence for 3 years. It's also a good idea to see if the insurance will cover you after you pass your driving test. Our short term learner insurance will no longer provide cover after a learner passes their driving test, however, our annual policies will provide continuous cover. You can read more about the options below!

Step 6 - The driving test

How to book a driving testarrow
Head to the GOV website to book your driving test. When you choose ‘start now’ you may be be put in a queue, you must remain here without closing your browser or you will lose your place. When it’s your turn you’ll have 10 minutes to start your booking, you’ll be shown driving test appointments within the next 6 weeks – at the nearest centre to you at that time.

Make sure you have everything you need to hand before you book:
- Your driving licence number - Credit or debit card (the cost of the test is £62 on a weekday or £75 on a weekend) - Your theory test reference number (yes, you'll need to have passed this before you can book your practical test!) - Your instructor’s personal reference number if you want to check they’re available, unless you’re choosing to take the test in your own car
What the test involvesarrow
Eyesight check - This is done first to make sure you can read a vehicles number plate from a distance of 20 metres – as it’s the law. It's important to bring your glasses if you need them, as the test will not continue if you don't pass this part.
Show me, Tell me - You’ll be asked 2 vehicle safety questions requiring you to demonstrate something, such as operating the horn, and explain something, for example how to check the brakes are working before starting a journey. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the potential Show me, Tell me questions you could be asked.
Your driving ability- Your examiner will ask you to pull over and away during your test, which may include pulling out behind a parked car and a hill start. You may also be asked to perform an emergency stop and will be asked to drive around 20 minutes with directions from a sat-nav or following traffic sings to demonstrate independent driving. You will also be asked to perform one of the following reversing manoeuvres:
- Parallel park
- Bay parking
- Reversing on side of the road
How do you pass?arrow
This is the million pound question! To pass, you need 15 or less minor faults and no serious or dangerous faults (majors). You won’t find out the result until the end of the test. Minors are faults that are not potentially dangerous, but things like hesitation, hand positioning on the steering wheel. If they’re one offs it's unlikely you'll fail your test.
What happens if I fail?arrow
It should be re-assuring to know that less than half of learners pass first time, so if you fail you are not alone and shouldn't be disheartened. It's a good idea to talk through the driving test mark sheet with your instructor to discuss where you need to improve - and next time you're sure to ace it! Why not read our blog on the top 10 reasons people fail their driving test - knowing what the common faults are could help you avoid them!
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Learner insurance on someone else's car

Ideal to practise in a friend's or family member's car as you can get cover for 1 month to 6 months to help you get test ready - and there's no risk to the car owner's No Claims Discount!

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Learner insurance on your own car

If you have your own car, starting cover before you pass your test can save you money, and you start earning your No Claims Discount. And with us, the price won't go up when you pass!

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Annual insurance on a parent's car

If you will continue sharing a parent's car after you pass your test, we have an annual policy that will cover you before your driving test and beyond - with no risk to your parents' NCD!

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Visit the Learner hub

Check out the latest news and read blogs from learners like you

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How to save money

Discover our tips and tricks to save money when learning to drive!

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