Passing part 3 (or standards test) is EASY!

It must be over ten years since I penned an article of almost the same title. This article is the updated version of that one. When I say updated, most of it is still true today and the mysteries of passing these tests are nothing more than following the simple rules. The rules are laid out by the DVSA in their Standards for driving instructors, but this can all look very daunting to the new instructor. Let me begin.

Part 3, and when I say part 3, take it to mean the standard test too, is NOT about impressing the examiner. It is not about delivering YOUR best lesson.

driving instructor standards check

It is not even about how many qualifications you have or don’t have. Its not about your car or where you live. There is no right or wrong pupil. Its not about how people on Facebook will have you believe “don’t do manoeuvres” or “don’t do this”.

What it is about is delivering a lesson to a pupil that meets the needs of that pupil here and now. I get asked on a regular basis, “what’s the best lesson for my part 3 test?” It will be met every time with the same answer, one that meets the learner’s needs now. My advice normally follows with, whatever time your test is, look for a pupil who would normally have that lesson time, teach them whatever you would have taught them on that lesson normally.

Grow and grow again.

Now the above advice is a little simplistic in that we must assume that you are normally delivering a proper driving lesson. A lesson that you set goals with the pupil and recap the prior learning to assess if this lesson is reasonable. A normal lesson would have you asking pupils how they would like you to teach them today and ensuring the pupil knows how you will both share the responsibility.

One of the best methods of achieving this is by using the GROW model.

If you’re not familiar with the GROW model, I’ll recap below:

driving instructor grow model


EVERY lesson we set and establish a goal for the lesson, something that is achievable given the time frame of the lesson. These are usually pupil-led.

Simply ask them what they would like to achieve today.

If you are using a progress record that you tick off after every lesson, the pupil will have a good idea what they need to do today.


Is the goal you have chosen realistic?

A quick question and answer session of knowledge that they have previously covered that can support this goal. For example, if this is their first manoeuvre, then maybe clutch control and hill starts. Draw out the sub skills so they know they already know part of today’s lesson. This is often called the transfer of skills.


ASK THEM, how they would like to do this lesson today. Don’t assume you’re getting out the lesson planner and going to give them a 7 minute-36 second briefing followed by guided, prompted practice. Maybe they fancy a change today, probably not, but give them the option.

Different pupils respond better to different teaching methods. Different lessons transfer better using different methods. Essentially, it’s pupil-led so ask them.

Way forward

Having set a goal, worked out it’s realistic and found out how your pupil would like to be taught today, set out your plan.

“So in the next 20-minutes we will…” Give it a time frame, ask them how would they like to share the responsibility, what help would they like? Let them know you’re there if they need you. In early lessons this might be “I have the dual controls if needed” and in later lessons that might be “I will only say anything if I see something wrong.” A great way to do this is to use scaling. Asking a pupil how confident they feel from 1 to 10. If a pupil says 5, then you are going to get them to 7,8, or 9 by the end of this lesson.

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Now this whole GROW process takes just a few minutes and you need to do this EVERY lesson so it becomes natural not just for you but your pupils. As you get more practiced, it becomes no more difficult than the well-practiced, “hello, how are you today? Parents OK?” We ask these things automatically and in reality, they are just words with no real feeling often.

Get into the habit of using the GROW model every lesson.

An all-too-common story.

If you use the GROW model, many of the 17 Standards set out by the DVSA are covered.

Then, its just about delivering the lesson as it happens. One of the most common things I say is “deal with the here and deal with it now.” You all have the skills to deal with every situation but often we defer it.

Let me give you a common example. Many of you will recognise this and if you do, be brave and give your examples in comments below:

Your POV:

You’re delivering a lesson when you see something simple going wrong, something you know your pupil knows how to do yet they seem to be not doing it. Mirrors is an example of this. You maybe give it a brief mention like “don’t forget your mirrors” but you carry on with your main lesson, puzzled by why your pupil is not doing it.

You keep plugging away at the original lesson goal, partly distracted by the strange out-of-character fault and partly by hoping the examiner has not seen the fault (they have by the way). You may mention, often in the debrief at the end as to “we will look at that next week”.

Now I am sure this is so familiar to many in many forms. Let’s look at the exact same scenario from the back, from the examiners point of view.

Examiner’s POV:

Lesson going well, oh some mirror faults, ok. Umm instructor has made a brief reference to them but why are they not dealing with it? Hmm mirrors are a basic skill, why is this not being picked up? It’s dangerous not to be checking mirrors. OK nice manoeuvre being taught, I like the transfer to the reference points but hey, what about the basics, the mirrors. Oh that was disappointing, they would have passed if they had dealt with that safety critical point, I’ll give them some advice and will see them next time. Shame!

There may even be examiners reading this too who might recognise this type of scenario!

And let’s not forget our pupil, what are they thinking.

Pupil’s POV:

OMG is this man in the back watching me? Damn, I think I forgot my mirror. It’s ok my instructor’s not noticed because they said nothing. Hopefully the man in the back missed it too. Damn and another one, why is my instructor not saying anything, they usually do and why do they look so nervous? I wonder if I will get this man in the back as my examiner on my test, oh I’m struggling to concentrate today…

Deal with the here and deal with it now, if you deal with it straight away, then all is well. Let’s try again.

Let’s deal with it:

“Ah you missed you mirror there.” “What mirrors should you use?” “Ah you’re not sure, that’s OK, let’s have a little chat.” “Let’s set a mini goal based on the mirrors” (ask a few mirror related questions – realistic). “How shall we do this, shall we go back around the block and we practice the mirrors?” (Options) “Ok then, for the next 5 minutes let’s just concentrate on the mirrors again” (way forward) …5 minutes on and “brilliant so lets go back to our original goal of…”

In the last scenario, everyone is happy, the examiner sees a refreshing change, they see the pupil sort a fault. They know that if you can sort this one out you can sort anything out. The pupil feels happy because you are in charge and they are learning, and you will be and feel in charge. A win-win-win situation.

So, to recap, use the GROW model every lesson, and deal with the here and now and strangely – the rest will take care of itself to some degree.

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