Intensive driving courses: the ultimate guide

When it comes to learning how to drive and passing your test, intensive driving courses are amazing. Basically, they can save learners loads of time, money and hassle.

And let's be honest, when you're faced with the expensive prospect of having lessons over many months (or maybe even years), who wouldn't be tempted by quicker alternative?

But intensives aren't for everyone, which is why we created this comprehensive guide. It contains everything you need to know about these courses... but were afraid to ask.

Either click on the section that interests you the most or settle back, start scrolling and get fully clued up.

What are intensive driving courses?

An intensive driving course is a set of driving lessons that are specifically designed to help learners pass their test as quickly as possible, much faster than by taking traditional driving lessons every week or so.

With a more intensive lesson schedule and a sharper focus, it's possible to drastically cut down on the amount of time required to pass your test.

And these courses save learners plenty of cash in the process too.

According to Government surveyson average, UK learners buy 52 hours of professional driving lessons and take around 14 months to pass their driving test.

That's quite a time commitment and a big financial outlay.

Crash courses are a cheaper, faster option, but teaching someone to drive and getting them to pass their test in a short space of time is tough. The tuition needs to be both carefully structured and expertly delivered. 

Now, for the record, you may also hear an intensive driving course referred to as a crash course, crash course driving lessons, a driving crash course or something similar.

Regardless, it's all the same thing.

And note that intensives are not to be confused with an advanced driving course or the Pass Plus. These are optional courses that some drivers choose to take after they've passed their test to enhance their driving skills and reduce their insurance premiums.

Who can take an intensive driving course?

Anyone can take an intensive driving course, so long as they hold a provisional driving license in either Great Britain or Northern Ireland.

You can apply for a provisional driving license when you’re 15 years and 9 months old, but you won’t be able to take any driving lessons or intensive driving courses until you’re 17.

You can apply for a provisional driving license on the official GOV UK website. Just ensure that you’re able to:

  • Read a number plate from 20 metres away.
  • Show a form of ID, such as a passport.
  • Present proof of address for the last 3 years.
  • Pay £34 by credit or debit card.

When you’ve done those things, your provisional licence should be with you in a week. Speaking less technically for a moment, anyone can take an intensive driving course regardless of how much driving experience he or she has.

Most intensive driving courses are designed to take someone with zero knowledge to pass their test quickly, so don’t worry if you’ve not driven before. If you're in any doubt as to the application process, check out our guide on learning to drive.

How do intensive driving courses work?

After booking a course, the learner will have a number of driving lessons over a short period of time, all of which will bring him or her up to the required standard needed to comfortably pass a practical driving test.

The learner will then take a driving test after the course has been completed (the test is booked by the driving school or driving instructor as part of the service). 

The ideal scenario is for the driving test to be taken on the final day of the course (or as soon as possible after the course finishes when everything is still fresh in your mind).

This is what usually happens, but it's important to note that driving tests are carried out by an independent examiners at test centres and these centres sometimes have lengthy waiting lists that can cause minor delays.

However, whilst there's no guarantee that a test will take place on a convenient date, most driving schools and driving instructors have access to test cancellation tools that alert them to any available slots that might crop up. In reality, tests are cancelled all the time and learners shouldn't have to wait long for a test.

How long do intensive driving courses last? 

There are no set rules, but intensives typically last 12-40 hours, with the exact length of a course depending on how much previous driving experience a learner has and how quickly they master what's being taught once the course has started.

If you're a total beginner or a learner who is short on confidence, you'd probably be looking at a 40-hour intensive course (most high-quality driving instructors agree that 40 hours is enough time to teach a new learner everything they need to know to pass their test). 

Meanwhile, experienced drivers who just need a little help might only require a 12-hour intensive and other learners might require something in between. However, the length of your course can be adjusted once it has begun.

And regardless of your course, each daily session within an intensive normally lasts for 4 hours (it's widely accepted that 4 hours of driving in one day is more than enough for most people).

How much do intensive driving courses cost?

Generally speaking, the price of an intensive will depend on how long it the course is and whereabouts in the country you live.

At The Drive Hive, we offer 2 different kinds of intensive driving course.

The first is our Pass In A Week intensive. This is 20 hours of driving in 5 days, with a test at the end. The price is £1,399 and it requires some previous driving experience.

The second is our Zero to Hero intensive. This is 40 hours of driving spread over 2 or more weeks (whatever best suits your schedule), with a test at the end.

The price of this course is £1,599 and requires no previous driving experience - this intensive is specifically designed for total beginners and learners who are maybe low on on confidence.

Both intensive driving courses can be paid for in one lump sum or you can choose to spread out the payments. Check out our home page for more details.

Are intensive driving courses worth it?

For the right person, intensive courses are awesome.

The main benefit of taking an intensive driving course is that it will save you serious amounts of time.

Rather than spend a year or more taking lessons, you can get everything done and dusted in a week or two.

Then there's the money you'll save.

At first glance, the price of an intensive course might seem quite high... but you need to consider the cost of having weekly driving lessons in the traditional manner.

The average UK learner has 55 hours of lessons before they're ready to take their test. Depending on where you live, the cost of a single driving lesson could be £25-45.

That means you're looking at approximately £1,375-£2,475 with the traditional route. 

That price doesn't include your Theory Test or your practical test, plus we're also assuming that you pass every exam first time.

The pass rates are currently 47.7% for the Theory Test and 49% for the main practical. You're basically looking at a 50-50 shot for both tests and, if you fail either one, you're looking at more lessons, more test fees and more waiting time.

With an intensive driving course, not only will you save time and money, but the pass rate is significantly higher. We have been running intensives for over 10 years and boast a 97.3% pass rate.

That's due to focused, expert tuition delivered over a condensed period of time.

So, in summary, whether intensives are worth it depends on your reasons for taking a course in the first place.

What is your budget for learning how to drive? How much do you value your time?

Some people can't stand the thought of having driving lessons for months on end. Others need to pass their test quickly for a particular reason (maybe they're off to college or university, or they're starting a new job soon that requires them to drive).

Many learners have a real incentive to pass their driving test fast and these learners are perfectly happy to put up with a handful of intensive driving lessons if it means they can learn how to drive and pass their test in 5 days flat.

But an intensive is certainly hard work and there's nothing wrong with taking a more relaxed approach. If you're concerned about the viability of learning to drive in a week or two, then don't forget that we can always spread the sessions out over a few weeks.

This means you can have something more semi-intensive. But we can discuss all your options on your free consultation call.

Are intensive driving courses safe?

Because intensive driving courses can help learners pass their test in just a few days, there's a popular misconception that these kinds of courses aren't particularly safe.

That's a complete myth.

The driving test itself is carried out by an independent examiner and the test remains the same no matter how the student has had their training. Because the test is consistent, pupils must learn exactly the same things on an intensive course as they do when they’re taking lessons on a weekly basis.

Some critics also argue that pupils don’t pick up as much driving experience on an intensive as they do with traditional lesson schedules.

And that’s kind of true (certainly as far as weather conditions go, anyway). After all, if you book an intensive course in the summer, then you won’t be familiar with driving in icy conditions.

But if we stop and think about it, how valid is this opinion in reality? How much extra experience will you actually build up with one lesson a week over a number of months? It’s certainly debatable.

If anything, you're more likely to forget stuff if your lessons are spaced out over a long period of time.

Anyway, experience is relative... and a bit of an arbitrary concept.

The likelihood is that you’ll see something new every time you get behind the wheel, so where do you draw the line? In theory, you could have lessons forever.

Ultimately, we think that the test is there for a reason – to prove that you can drive safely.

And if you can pass the test, you’re good to go. 

Am I guaranteed a pass with an intensive?

The guaranteed pass is another myth associated with intensive driving courses and it's something that we get asked about quite often. The reality is simple: 

Driving tests are always carried out by independent examiners at official test centres, so there is no such thing as a guaranteed pass.

No driving school or driving instructor can guarantee a pass.

Ever.

That said, intensive driving courses really do work. 

They're much more effective at preparing you for a driving test and they offer as much of a guarantee as you'll ever get.

Remember, they have really high pass rates, far higher than the general pass rate for tests after normal lessons.

We have been running intensive driving courses for over 10 years and, across the decade, we have a pass rate of 97.3%.

That's a world of different from the average pass rate in the UK. Learners who just have normal weekly lessons are looking at approximately 49%. Basically, someone could have lessons for months, but the final test is nevertheless a coin flip.

Do I still need to pass a Theory Test?

Yes. By law, every learner must take and pass a Theory Test before they can take a practical driving test. 

In fact, the Theory Test must be passed before a practical test can even be booked.

For this reason, we advise learners to pass their Theory Test before starting an intensive driving course. It's not an essential requirement, but it certainly makes life easier.

Here's why:

Suppose you were taking our Pass In A Week intensive driving course and you needed your Theory Test, too.

Ideally, we would like you to take your driving test on the Friday after the last lesson, but we aren't legally allowed to book a practical until the Theory Test is sorted.

That doesn't give us a lot of wiggle room between the Theory Test taking place early in the week and the big one at the end. 

We have the expertise and technology to book last-minute practical tests and usually do, but there's no guarantee. 

You might have to wait another week or so.

Also, if you were to fail that Theory Test during an intensive, there would be an even bigger delay. The intensive could be completed, but we'd have to wait for the re-arranged Theory Test to be sat and passed before we could book a practical. 

In reality, that could mean a few weeks before the last driving lesson and the practical test taking place. It's not a huge issue, but it's not ideal and we'd like to set expectations.

However, you might be comfortable with this situation. As we said, you can still book an intensive course with us without a Theory Test under your belt, but it's good to be transparent. 

Should I take an intensive driving course?

Intensive driving course aren't for everyone.

In fact, intensives are challenging for most learners. Driving for 4 hours at a time over several days can be really exhausting. And with a test looming, failing to grasp a particular manoeuvre suddenly can become more frustrating and overwhelming than it should be.

Of course, if you’ve got a little bit of driving experience, then that will be beneficial. Staying hydrated, eating healthily and sleeping well the night before lessons will also help. But really, so long as you know what you’re getting into and can demonstrate enthusiasm, then that’s half the battle.

And if you have a specific need to pass your test quickly then that will also serve as great inspiration. 

But remember that you don't have to learn how to drive in a week. With our flexible platform, you could spread out your sessions and have something more semi-intensive - you’d still be saving a lot of time and money.

And if you feel that you can’t handle the intensity of your course once it has started, you can always speak to your instructor and see if you can adjust the schedule. 

However, please note that once your intensive course has started, any adjustments are made entirely at the discretion of your driving instructor. If your instructor is unable to accommodate your wishes, you must either complete the course or end it without a refund.

The best thing to do is think carefully about how you'd like your intensive to play out beforehand. If you're a  worried about it being too much, either spread out your sessions accordingly or stick to traditional lessons.

Can an intensive help if I've had lessons before?

Intensive driving courses can definitely be used to complete your training. 

In fact, even if you've only had a handful of sessions with friends and family, they're an ideal, cost-effective way of getting people over the line in no time at all.

Perhaps you've been having lessons with an instructor for a while and you feel like you're not progressing anymore (for whatever reason)? If that's the case, a crash course can fill in any knowledge gaps quickly.

Maybe you've failed a driving test in the past? Many learners feel so despondent at the thought of having more lessons that they lose sight of how close they are and struggle to get going again. 

In any scenario, the idea of getting everything done and dusted in a few days is a welcome thought.

What will my driving instructor be like?

We're laser-focused on ensuring that we only provide the best driving instructors , so all instructors must meet our high standards if they are to work with us. 

They are all CRB-checked and fully qualified to DVSA standards, possessing all the skills needed to deliver an effective intensive course. We also consistently monitor our driving instructors and assess their reviews.

We think that good instructors must be great teachers, too. A quality instructor will be able to connect with learners and quickly ascertain what they’re good at and what needs work.

Everyone learns differently and the right driving instructor will know how to tailor lessons for you and develop your driving ability in a fun, relaxed environment.

What kind of car will I learn in?

This depends on the instructor you choose. Some teach in manual car, others in an automatic. Some will offer both options.

But we insist that all cars come fully air conditioned and with power steering, electric mirrors, windows and everything you'd expect to be comfortable.

Please note that, unfortunately, you can’t learn to drive in your own car. Checking that learners have a car that's roadworthy and insured properly would be difficult logistically, so we insist that instructors use their own vehicles.

However, you can choose to have intensive driving lessons in a manual or automatic car.

Because you don’t have to worry about gears, clutch control and the like, driving an automatic car is much easier. However, as a result, you can’t drive a manual car until you’ve passed a manual test.

You should only choose automatic driving lessons if you’re 100% sure that you’ll be driving an automatic car when you pass your test.

Why should I book an intensive with you guys? 

Quite simply, the Drive Hive offers expertise at a fair price.

But also, when you book an intensive driving course with most driving schools and independent driving instructors, you'll have little flexibility with your sessions. You'll have to block out your schedule and hope things work out. 

But we'll give you the course that's right for you. 

Basically, that means we'll connect you with the right instructor with the right personality at the right time.

Also, the instructors on our platform cover 99% of UK postcodes, so you'll always be about to find a convenient intensive driving course near you. This is learning to drive on your terms.

How do I book an intensive course with you?

Booking an intensive driving course with us couldn't be easier. 

Just arrange for your free consultation call and we can look at the best plan for you. We'll go over how everything works and answer any questions.

There's absolutely no obligation to buy anything but, if you're happy to go ahead, we'll then book you in at a time that suits your schedule and arrange payment.

Other common FAQs

Can I cancel my intensive driving course?

Can I cancel a session within my course?

Can my instructor cancel my course?

What if my instructor's car breaks down?

What if I need to cancel either of my tests?

What if I don't like my driving instructor?

Ever considered an intensive driving course?

You'll save time and money. Hit the button below, register your interest and we'll arrange a no-obligation call to go over how everything works.