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Driving License Singapore (Ultimate Guide – Driving Test for Private & School)

ssdc Driver's License driving test

Finally reached legal age and want to get a Driver’s Licence but don’t know how to start? In this article, I will attempt to help you understand the flow of getting your driver’s licence to make an informed decision in choosing to take lessons as a Private or School candidate. I will be sharing some tips from my personal experience that may help too, including the process of taking a test!

Disclaimer: I am no expert, and this is just a sharing of my knowledge. This driving license guide may not be 100% accurate, but it is just how the process was for me. 

Warm yourself up; this is a very long and detailed driving license article! Be sure to bookmark it too! Like us on Facebook! Important 2nd Part: Dedicated driving license guide on how to ace the driving test segment here

I was a manual transmission (Class 3) private student at BBDC, passed my driving test on the first try and spent around $1.2-1.3k in total, clocking 22.5 hrs of lessons in slightly less than two months since BTT & PDL. If you have no idea about what you have just read, it’s okay. Read on, and I believe you will be enlightened.

Step 1. Registration in School

1) The first thing to do is enrolling at a school, regardless of whether you choose to be a private or school candidate.

2) Head down to any school convenient for you to register yourself. 

3) Bring along your NRIC or passport. 

4) Registering is compulsory so you can book tests that are required – BTT, FTT, Driving test. 

5) After registration, I highly recommend you to top up your account with at least $46 ($33 for driving test and $6.50 x2 theory tests, NOT including additional registration fees) immediately. You will eventually need it as all bookings from then on will be online.

Related: What Uber and Grab do not Want You to Know – A Deeper Insight to the Private Hire Industry


Driving License Important Information: 

Register as a private or school candidate. You may have heard about the passing rates and costs of school / private, so continue reading on in part 4 and you will find out more. You will also have to choose either Automatic or Manual transmission (Class 3A or 3). I will not bore you with the details but all you need to know is Manual (Class 3) is the one where you have to change gears yourself with the gear stick and clutch, while Auto (Class 3A) is the one where you only need to brake and accelerate. The Class 3 Licence allows you to drive both automatic and manual transmission vehicles. But usually, Class 3A takes a shorter amount of time to complete than Class 3 (for private at least), as automatic cars are easier to handle than manual.*WARNING – Bookings online or registration/applications in schools for PDL/Driving License or (QDL – qualified driving license) may require a long waiting time. 


Step 2. Driving License Theory Tests

Before you are allowed to learn driving, you are required to pass the Basic Theory Test (BTT). Book a test date online, study and ace it. You may purchase the practice book at Popular or download an S$0.99 app on your phone, which is sufficient. The passing mark is 45/50 and the validity for BTT is forever. 

Final Theory Test (FTT) is not required as of yet but is a must before you can book your driving test in future. Since it is valid for two years from the date you pass, I suggest booking it as soon as possible to get it over and done with as waiting for available slots may be quite a hassle. The passing mark is also 45/50.

*Both theory tests are compulsory for both school and private candidates. However, school candidates are required to attend a few theory lessons (should be 3) before being able to book the theory test while for private candidates, you will have to self-study. The theory tests are not that difficult so don’t be intimated by the passing requirement.

Related: 50 Bad Habits of Driving Instructors in Singapore

Test fees aren’t that expensive either – $6.50 each, but it is recommended to pass it the first time because the trouble is real if you have to wait and book another one.

Continue reading for step 3 and more! 

Step 3. Provisional Driving Licence (Not a Driving License Yet!)

Once you’ve completed your BTT, you are then qualified to apply for a Provisional Driving Licence (PDL), which will cost you $25. After successful application, you will get it on the spot and this licence will allow you to drive an L plate car. (*For private candidates, you may find a private instructor before or after you have obtained your PDL.)

*I suggest you apply for the PDL  on the day you pass your BTT itself to reduce the no. of trips down to the school. However, the PDL is only valid for 6 months, so if you foresee that you will not be able to complete the Driving Test within that period, you may choose to apply for it another time to suit your schedule, or pay another $25 to extend the validity when it expires (Post offices offer the extension service). Update: Learner motorists who apply for PDLs from 1 December 2017 onwards will receive PDLs with a two year validity period instead of 6 months.

Weird Life hack: If you are confident in passing your BTT, the queue for PDL is going to be long, so you MAY want to get a line number before going into the room to take your test. Even if your number has passed when you’re out, bring it to the counter when they are free and say “Oops, I was in the toilet “or something (This is morally wrong, please do not do this. Unless you are in a rush. Or you do not care. Or lazy.).

If not, try to be the first one to complete the test and head out to get a number to be the first in the queue (not actually. Probably 5th or 6th cos there are probably people with no morals in the same test room as you. Just kidding, there will most certainly be people already there not even for BTT. And probably some with no morals.)


Step 4. Driving Lessons

Once you’ve gotten your PDL, you have to bring it for every driving lesson. Your instructor may not allow you to drive at all. Do not forget to bring your common sense and alertness as well because you will need it to drive safely. You will arrange driving lessons, so there is nothing much to explain about this.
This is where I will tell you a little bit about the lessons and main differences between a school and private candidate.

Driver's License

 Mr Wong is one of the greatest instructors I recommend. Hp: +65 98521951

Related: 25 Anime That Deserve A Watch! 


Cost of Driving Test

Private

1) A registration fee of about $50-60. This is to prevent students from changing instructors like clothes.

2) Manual – Price for me was around $32/h on weekdays and $35/h on weekends. Auto – about $3 more per hour depending on instructor.

3) Circuit fee is $17 per use (usually about 3-7 circuit lessons in total based on confidence level).

School

1) Not very sure about registration fee and  extra administrations fees (do check the website of your school, I believe the fees vary between schools)

2) Lessons are about $68-77 depending on peak/non-peak hours for 100min (BBDC price)

3) The circuit is free, no extra charge for School Students!


B) When will you know you are suitable to book your driving test:

Private – Your instructor will tell you when he/she thinks so. This is usually about 20-30h of lessons in total. This is little as compared to school, which also means that the pace will be fast. Some might leech you off so please be very careful in choosing the best instructor. 

School – There is a minimum no. of lessons to fulfil in order to get your driving license. This should take about 20-25 sessions of 100min (1h40min). After which, you will have to go through a mock test, which does not apply to private candidates.

So naturally, it will take a longer time for school lessons.


C) No. of Circuit Practices

Naturally, school candidates have more circuit lessons as it is free to use. If you’ve been to the circuit, you will realise that there is a lot of waiting involved most of the time. For private candidates, you will use the circuit about 5-7 times. Also, your first few lessons for school candidates will be on the circuit while Private will start straightaway on public roads (usually at the more ulu roads, of course).


D) The focus of Instructors

If you’ve done some research, you will find that first time passing rates for school students are noticeably higher than private students. I believe this is due to the fact that schools tend to focus on helping you pass the test. (e.g.,. always catching you on safety checks – which isn’t always the best thing to do actually in real life driving) while private instructors focus on helping you get accustomed to regular road driving.


E) Fixed Instructors

For school, instructors may change every lesson unless you opt for a Fixed Instructor Scheme or group scheme where you will be taught by a smaller group of instructors or by a single instructor (not sure how it works, do some research on your school website. All I know is it should be more expensive). However, for Private students, it’s always the same old man scolding you (usually, unless you get a female or a young man).


Step 5. Driving Test 

When you are finally ready for your test; you can then book your test online.

Private – $300+ + $33 per test (It was $345 + $33 for me.)

Private will be more expensive because you are paying for the use of the vehicle and it usally comes with a final practice (around 1.5-2h) before the test. The administration will be done by the instructor, so all you need to do is wait for an available test date that your instructor is okay with and book online.

School – $33 per test – just book the test, and you are ready to go.

You have to score below 20 (or max.18 points) to pass the test. The score is calculated by the mistakes you commit, each carrying a penalty (depending on severity). Some errors may even lead to immediate failure.

*If you are still confused about the costs of private and school and to put it simply:

• Private candidates take FEWER and CHEAPER lessons by about $5-10/h.

• BUT, at the same time, Private candidates also pay MORE per driving TEST.

 This means that even though lessons are cheaper for private, to have an overall more affordable cost, you will have to pass in the first 1 or 2 tries because each failure will increase your cost by at least $300+.

Taking my expenses as an example, my total driving expenditure was around $1.3k inclusive of ALL costs and passing on the first try. The average school candidate pays about $2-2.5k, you can deduce that by passing on the 3rd try or 4th, you will pay roughly the same amount as school candidates.

However, you may meet some setbacks while getting your driving licence, because you will have to wait for availability of slots again. Rumour has it that when you fail as a private candidate, it may take quite awhile before they let you take a test again so as to give priority to the school candidates. But I am not sure if this is true.

Also, your instructor may also want you to take more lessons before your retest.
With this information, it is entirely up to you to choose the path you want to take to get your driver’s licence. Although I have saved about $700 or more in comparison to school candidates, my advice is to choose the teaching method that suits you the best, whether it is the step-by-step but slower approach by the school, or the more cost-saving but faster-paced private. The end game is still the same, your aim is to pass and get your driving license!

driving license

Continue reading for the last step and bonus information

Related: 12 Fond Memories We All Had In Secondary School

Step 6. Qualified Driving License!

WOOHOO! You will be a happy man/woman when you have finally passed your driving test because your learning journey should have taken quite awhile. However, this is the hardest part. Follow the following steps as closely as possible.

1. Wait

2. Wait even more

3. Watch a safety video

4. Get Queue No. for Qualified Driving Licence (refer to the hack in step 3)

5. Wait

6. Wait even more

This is the worst step. You will have to pay $50 for your Driving Licence which you will not get immediately. (This part is important though, bring a passport sized photo from home to speed up the process, even though some schools such as BBDC provide the service, but it is still better to be safe than sorry. You definitely do not want to go through the process of waiting again in the case that they are closed or out of service..)

Related: Detailed Breakdown of Costs to Afford a Car in Singapore

You will get a piece of paper (temporary driving licence) that allows you to drive. The waiting period for the real one to be mailed to you is around one week. 


That is all for now. I hope that you have a better understanding of how to get a driver’s licence and which path to choose. So, don’t procrastinate and go for it! Good luck and have a safe and enjoyable driving experience!

Driver's License driving test 


Additional Driving License Tips

1. When taking a bus, taxi or Grab/Uber, instead of being stuck with your phone, take a look outside the window to observe other road users’ driving habits, road signs, etc or even try to feel the way the driver handles the vehicle you are in, eg. when he applies the throttle and when/how hard he brakes. You may not feel it, but it gives you an understanding of what is happening when you drive.

2. If you want to play games on the bus/train, download some parking games to play. They are fun and gives a visual representation of the path the car takes when you manoeuvre it. (especially when reversing)

3. Before your driving test make sure look at marking scheme (you can ask friends that have already passed or even your instructor). Some points may have been missed out by your instructor during regular lessons especially for private candidates, and you do not want to waste points on committing these.

4. For private candidates, choosing a good instructor matters. Make sure you do your research or ask around from friends for recommendations. Having a good instructor may save you up to $300 or more. Bad trainers are like vacuum cleaners. They suck. Sometimes suck so much that even your money is sucked away. True story bro. Each time you fail a test, your instructor sucks more than S$300+.

Related: One Big Reason for the Merging of JCs in Singapore

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