I decided to learn driving at the ripe old age of 34. Why? I’ve always wanted to learn but I finally feel that I have the time to properly learn this life skill. Also, self-driving cars don’t seem to be coming to our neighbourhood anytime soon so I’m not betting on it.
Anyway, if you are starting your driving journey, you probably have a lot of questions, I know I did. The first people I went to are those that already have their driver’s license like my husband or friends but, in reality, most of them have already forgotten what the process is exactly like so I couldn’t get too much detailed info out of them. Therefore I think I should make a record of my entire journey of learning to drive in Singapore here on the blog.
Ok first of all, my school is Bukit Batok Driving Center which I assume is similar to other two driving schools Safety Driving Centre (SSDCL) in Woodlands (north of Singapore) and ComfortDelGro Driving Centre in Ubi (east of Singapore). I’m taking the Class 3A license, which is very similar to the Class 3 license except for the clutch bits. If you are a private candidate, or going for a conversion license, then this post is not for you. Feel free to browse my other very popular articles like “How to Make a Niffler Amigurumi” and going to the “Pontian Fish Market“. With that out of the way, let’s start driving!
Bukit Batok Driving Centre aka BBDC
Touted as the best driving school in Singapore, with the highest pass rates on the first try. People give numerous reasons for this like better roads and traffic condition in the West area or better Instructors, but I chose this school not because of grades but because I live in Bukit Batok. It’s a no-brainer.
Signing up and registration
Bring your IC and go up to the Customer Service counter and tell them you want to learn how to drive (duh). You’ll be given a form and a number. The counter staff are very experienced in serving customers so the registration process is a breeze. You submit your form and pay the school and you are all set. So far so good!
General Overview of the Process
BBDC will provide you with a complicated looking chart disguised as a simple procedure:
If the chart helps, good for you! If not, read on.
First: Theory Lessons
So what the chart is telling you is, go for Theory Lessons first, there are 2 Basic Theory Lessons, and 2 Advanced Theory lessons. Just get those out of the way by booking for the lessons online or through the computers. That is, if you have 4-5 hours to spare on a weekend, I recommend just going for all the lessons at one go, but take note of the order. You have to go for the Basic Lessons before the Advanced Lessons. For e.g. I booked Basic Theory 1.02 before 1.01 and that’s alright, then I went for the Advanced Theory Lessons.
After attending all the lessons, practice and evaluation comes next! I know, you are dying to get into a car right now, that’ll have to wait.
Passing the Theory Evaluation and Test
Do Not: Go for the evaluation right after reading the books and the lessons. I did this and, trust me, it doesn’t work. The questions are tricky and you can only get 5 out of 50 wrong so it looks easy but it isn’t.
Do: Book your theory practice lessons and finish all the booklets. It’s a guaranteed pass if you do that.
So the process is like this for each of the Basic and Advanced Theory stages: Book practices, book the evaluation and if you pass that, book and do the test.
Basic Theory Booking in detail: For the basic theory, there are 5 booklets in total. You can finish about 2 booklets per practice session so I booked three practices for the basic evaluation in a block and then book the evaluation right after the practices. With that out of the way, you can book your test which is typically 2 weeks later. After passing, apply for your PDL (Provisional Driving License) and you can book your practical lessons!
Advanced Theory Booking in detail: For advanced there are 11 booklets but you can complete about 3 books per practice or even 4 if you are super fast so I booked about 4 practice sessions. That’s 5-6 excruciating hours on a Saturday!
Practical Driving Lessons
Like I mentioned above, you can book your practical lessons anytime after passing your Basic Theory test. It will be a long 2 months wait and so I took that time to finish up all my Advanced Theory practical and tests. BBDC likes to tell their pupils to block-book 25 lessons at once. I wholeheartedly agree. Nothing sucks like block-booking 16 lessons and have to wait 3 weeks for your 17th lesson because you think you can finish in 16 lessons. I know cos I did that. Anyway if you are a fast learner, you can cancel lessons 2 days in advance and get a full refund.
When the date arrives, the anticipation mounts! The first you do is arrive about 5 minutes earlier and scan your IC at the station to get your slip. Oh and, I didn’t sign up for the Fixed Instructor scheme so I get to know the car and instructor only on the actual day of practice.
This slip shows your car number. Be there early and wait at the shelter try to spot your car from there. Wait for the bell “ding dong ding dong” and follow everyone else to the car park. The instructor will want to see your IC and PDL so remember to bring those! It is illegal to drive without your PDL.
Thus begins your first lesson! The first lesson is the easiest. Don’t worry, it only gets harder and harder. Yup, you read that right!
Driving Lessons Stage 1 & 2
Phase 1 and 2 was quite overwhelming. I felt like a deer in the headlights all the time and only could digest what I learnt that day after the lesson. Every lesson felt like an information overload. I find that relaxing and trying to enjoy each lesson helps with the stress.
After stage 2, you will be asked to attend the Driving Simulator. You can take this lesson anytime before you take your final test. Like I said, I just got it out of the way as soon as possible so I don’t have to worry about it.
At the same time, you can book the Final test date, which is about 2 months away. That will give you plenty of time to finish stages 3-5.
I think the purpose of this exercise is to tell you that your reactions, no matter how fast, is certainly not fast enough. It is the most enjoyable lesson because it is like playing a video game, although I have to say, some of the arcade games have a better “feel” than the simulator.
Driving Lessons Stage 3
At Stage 3 it is ALL circuit practices. This is what sets your driving school lessons from private Instructors. You can do crank course, S-course, ramps and parking over and over and over again for 6 lessons until you’re sure you will forget what driving in the real road is like.
But, just like that and before you know it, the agony is over and you are asked to attend the Risk Forecast training.
Risk Forecast Training
Aiyoh, why so leh-cheh? I have waited weeks and weeks and weeks and I can’t wait to take my test!!! However once again, the government’s LTA says you must attend this lesson so here we are.
It looks fun but it is actually a boring way to spend 110 mins.
Driving Lesson Stage 4-5-Final
The final stretch is just homing in your skills and practice practice and more practice! The instructors will be rather strict at this stage in order to prepare you for the final test.
I also booked a couple of extra lessons in the days right before my test as I was afraid I will lose all my skills and what I’d learnt in the 2 weeks before the test.
Finally months of preparation has led you to this moment. Believe me, I had the worst attack of nerves, so much so that I couldn’t sleep well the day before. Come 30 minutes ahead of your warm-up time and you will be told where to wait. When your car is ready, you have a warm-up exercise which is around 30 minutes long. I feel like the warm up also helps a lot and acts like a final revision.
After the warm-up, you will have to follow the instructor to a waiting room and wait for your tester to come. The room was really cold and I was fighting the urge to puke. Honestly, it has been such long while since I had set in any tests or exams that I forgot the feeling of being tested. Most testers are retired traffic police officers so just be respectful and polite and making a good impression on your first meeting really counts.
After the test, which is only really about 30 minutes long, you will follow the tester back to the room and wait for your results.
Congrats! It is all over if you passed. If not, don’t be disappointed because you are nearly there!