Intensive driving courses: the ultimate guide

Want to save loads of time and money?

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. Don't worry; 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?

We allow the driving instructors on our platform to set their own fees and we give you the freedom to choose between them based on their rates, reputation and availability.

But generally speaking, the price of an intensive will depend on how long it the course is and whereabouts in the country you live, but it's easy to work out an approximate figure. 

The average cost of an hour-long driving lesson in the UK is £24 so, if you're having a 40-hour intensive, you'd be looking at something in the region of £960. Intensives work because they're laser-focused, so you'll undoubtedly pay more if you're having normal lessons. 

If you were having weekly lessons in the traditional way, you could need over 50 hours of driving. If this was the case, you'd be paying way more and taking much longer to get the job done.

Are intensive driving courses worth it?

For the right person, intensive courses are awesome.

Intensives will certainly save you some cash, but the main benefit is that they'll save you serious amounts of time. So, in a nutshell, whether they're worth it depends on your reasons for taking a course in the first place.

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).

For them, they have real motivation to pass their driving test fast and these learners are perfectly happy to put up with a stressful few days if it means they can learn how to drive in a week.

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 perhaps a hybrid solution is in order.

Thanks to our platform, you have the ability to schedule lessons whenever you want, so maybe make your intensive driving course stretch out over several weeks instead of a few days? This means you can have more of a semi-intensive driving course.

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 know what it’s like to drive 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. 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'll certainly prepare you well and 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.

And, as unlikely as it is, if you do end up failing your test, we've got a tried and tested plan for you to follow to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

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 just makes life a lot easier for everyone.

If you were to take your Theory Test during an intensive, there's no guarantee that you'll be able to arrange a practical test to take place at the end of your course. It would be pretty short notice, especially if you're only taking a short intensive that lasts a few days.

Also, if you were to take and fail a Theory Test during your course, that would potentially cause an even bigger delay. You'd have to wait for another Theory Test date to come through and pass it before you can think about arranging the practical. Your intensive course might have finished some time ago.

However, you might be comfortable with such a risk. And if you are, then the good news is that learning to drive will definitely help you to pass your Theory Test. Ultimately, it's hard to answer driving questions with no practical driving experience whatsoever.

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 have the best driving instructors on our platform, 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 instructors and assess their reviews.

Look carefully at all the reviews, because 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.

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 a logistical nightmare, so we insist that instructors use their own vehicles.

Also, bear in mind your long-term driving goals when choosing between the manual or automatic option.

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? 

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

But with our platform, you're in complete control of every aspect of your learning. This is about being able to create the course that's right for you. Basically, with us you can decide when and where you take your lessons, who they're with and for how much. 

Need to pass your test in a few days? No probs. Want a 40-hour intensive spread out over several weeks? That's cool. After an intensive that's within your budget? Sure thing. Prefer to have a female instructor on a Monday afternoon? You get the picture.

Oh and 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. 

Once you've decided how many hours of lessons you'll need and have had a think about the level of intensity you're prepared to cope with, just enter your postcode into our search tool to see a list of all your local instructors. 

Choose the one you want based on their rates, reputation and availability, then simply book out the slots you want and pay a non-refundable fee of £200 to reserve your spot.

You'll then be emailed confirmation and a welcome pack. Next, your instructor will be in touch and your course will begin. The remainder of the fee is to be paid directly to the instructor once the course starts.

Other common FAQs

What is the £200 fee for?

Can I cancel my intensive driving course?

Can I cancel a session within my course?

Can my instructor cancel my course?

Who's job is is to book tests on an intensive?

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?

How many driving lessons will you need and how much will learning to drive cost?

Give us 60 seconds, take our FREE quiz for learners and we'll tell you.
Plus, you'll also get a custom action plan to follow based on your personal situation.

Want to spread the cost of a course? Pay in instalments