Intense driver
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Learning to drive

Intensive driving course: the pros and cons

Sounds great, right? One week, one cheque, one test and off you go.

Unfortunately, while there are obvious pros to taking an intensive driving course (the big one: it's fast), there are a lot of negative aspects to think about before you set you heart on it.

 

Pros

  • In theory, you'll get to test time in anything from 2 to 14 days
  • You'll have the option to pay 1 set fee for your theory test, lessons and practical test
  • You don't have to handle any of the admin - everything will be booked for you

Cons

  • You won't get the same experience of different road and weather conditions
  • You may pay pumped-up costs for the 'extras' like theory test booking
  • The 'guaranteed pass' is a myth - you'll usually just get a free first retake
 

Is an intensive course right for you?

  1. Will you feel safe and prepared after just a couple of weeks?

    Doing an intensive driving course is like reading the study guide instead of the novel. You could probably pass your English exam on Of Mice and Men by memorising all the allegories you need to write about - but you wouldn't actually understand the book and be able to talk about it under pressure.

    Likewise, cramming the learning to drive process into a week or 2 could result in a driving test pass. But will it really set you up for handling all the random and potentially dangerous situations you'll encounter just days later as a solo driver?

    The DVSA recommends 47 hours of lessons and 20 hours of private practice - you're not going to be able to fit that into 2 weeks of 5 hours a day.
  2. Does your brain reach saturation point after a few hours?

    My first few months of lessons, my driving instructor would have me pull over for a break about every half hour. If we went over that, I would start to make silly mistakes because my brain was too full of all the mechanical and safety processes I was trying to deal with.

    Driving for hours is tiring for even the most experienced driver. If you're starting from scratch, a 2-hour lesson is going to feel like a 5-hour slog. When you first start learning, driving is EXHAUSTING. So signing up to do 5 hours or more a day for 2 weeks puts you at serious risk of reaching saturation and actually failing to learn any more.

    Scientists reckon you should take a break from studying after an hour because your brain just stops taking stuff in - so 5 hours of learning to drive a day is a big challenge!

If you're still desperate to go for an intensive course:

  • Do a few driving lessons beforehand so you can learn the physical side of driving: the steering, the gears, the brakes
  • Start your driving theory knowledge on your own time - getting to grips with hazard perception will do you massive favours as you start the intensive course
  • Go on some trips with a driver you trust in the weeks before you start driving - get them to tell you what they're doing so you can see the kind of situations you'll encounter and how to deal with them
  • If you pass your driving test, try to get some follow-up driving practice in with a parent

If it's maybe not the one for you, check out how to find the right driving instructor.


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Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .