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How long does it take to learn to drive?

Learning to drive is a milestone, and while you might be raring to go after a few spins around the car park, safely mastering driving can take a lot longer.

Last updated: 16/02/2024 | Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

Learning to drive is a milestone for many Brits, whether they’re working toward their licence at 17 or later in life. But while you might be raring to go after a few spins around the car park, safely mastering driving can take a lot longer.

Most people learn to drive through a combination of lessons with a qualified instructor and practice with a licenced parent, family member or friend. There’s no mandatory minimum number of lessons or hours of practice, but the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says it takes most people 45 hours of lessons and 22 hours of practice to learn to drive.

In This Guide:

How long are driving lessons?

Driving lessons usually last between 60 and 90 minutes. This gives you enough time to learn new skills and try them out under the watchful eye of your instructor.

If you take an intensive driving course, packing hours of lessons into a week or two, you should expect lessons lasting between two or six hours, with breaks.

How many driving lessons do I need?

There is no legal minimum number of lessons you need to take before sitting your driving test. But with the practical test costing £62, you don’t want to try before you’re ready. Instructors usually won’t suggest you book a test until they’re confident in your abilities.

According to the DVSA’s data, the average person needs 45 hours of driving lessons. If you take one or two lessons a week, it should take you between six months and a year to finish your lessons. 

Government data backs this up, showing that 67.7% of learner drivers obtain their full licence within a year of first receiving their provisional licence. Just 18.5% manage it in under six months.

However, everyone is different. Older drivers tend to pass more quickly, while those under 34 take a little longer.

Some people find it easier and quicker to learn to drive on an automatic vehicle, rather than one with a manual transmission. However, if you pass your practical driving test in an automatic, you’ll only be licenced to drive automatic cars.

How long does it take to learn theory?

While most drivers focus on the practical test, you’ll also be tested on your knowledge of the highway code, traffic signs and driving skills in the theory test. As with practical driving, the length of time you’ll need to prepare for the test varies, depending on how quickly you retain new information.

Most learners study theory a few hours each week over a month, then take a few mock tests online before sitting the real thing.

Once you’ve passed your theory test, your pass certificate is valid for two years. You must pass your driving test within that time or you’ll need to pass the theory test again.

How long does the test last?

The driving test should take around 40 minutes, including 20 minutes of independent driving from traffic signs or a sat nav. However, if you’re taking an extended driving test because you’ve previously been banned from driving, you'll need to allot 70 minutes.

During the theory test, you have a maximum of 57 minutes to complete 50 multiple-choice questions. You’ll then have to spot the hazards in 14 one-minute videos. This means the test takes a maximum of one hour and 11 minutes, although you may progress through it more quickly.

How can I speed up the time it takes to learn to drive?

While you shouldn’t rush learning to drive, there are a few steps that can safely put you behind the wheel as soon as possible:

  • Book an intensive driving course: Intensives allow you to pack many hours of lessons into a week or two weeks.
  • Find an instructor who fits your schedule: Want to take three lessons a week to learn more quickly? Find an instructor who has that availability and book your lessons in advance.
  • Practice at home: between lessons, you can practice driving with a family member or friend over 21 who has had their full driving licence for three years. A short-term learner driver car insurance policy will cover you behind the wheel of their car without impacting their insurance.
  • Study theory from the start: You can’t take your practical driving test until you’ve passed the theory test. So don’t neglect to study the rules. Taking practice theory tests can help you bone up.

Of course, you shouldn’t be afraid of slowing down and perfecting your driving skills. As a confident, knowledgeable driver, you’ll be more likely to pass your test on the first try and be safe on the road in the future. You can also turn your impeccable driving skills into discounts on your young driver's insurance policy through telematics.


How many hours does it take to learn to drive?

The time it takes to learn to drive varies significantly from person to person, depending on their ability to master the skills required. On average, it is suggested that most learners need approximately 45 hours of professional lessons combined with 20 hours of practice to become proficient. However, this can vary widely based on individual learning pace, previous experience, and the complexity of driving conditions in their area.

Is 20 hours of driving lessons enough?

For some learners, 20 hours of driving lessons may be enough to grasp the basics and feel comfortable behind the wheel in low-stress environments. However, this amount of time is often considered below the average needed to fully prepare for a driving test. Most experts recommend more comprehensive training, typically around 45 hours of professional instruction, to cover all necessary skills and scenarios.

How long does it take to learn how to drive an automatic?

Learning to drive an automatic car can be quicker than learning in a manual, as it removes the need to master clutch control and gear changes. The time required can still vary, but learners might find themselves comfortable with the basics in as little as 20 to 30 hours of practice. This reduced learning curve makes automatic vehicles an appealing option for many new drivers.

How many driving lessons do you need to pass your test?

The number of driving lessons needed to pass the driving test varies widely among individuals. The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) suggests that most people require around 45 hours of professional instruction, along with 20 hours of additional practice, to reach the necessary standard to pass the test. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that the learner is fully prepared and confident in their driving abilities, regardless of the exact number of lessons.

Is three driving lessons a week too much?

Taking three driving lessons a week is not too much for most learners; in fact, it can be beneficial. This frequency allows you to retain information and skills more effectively and may help you to pass your test more quickly. However, it's important for everyone to assess their learning needs, balancing lessons with personal practice, if possible, can also help reinforce learning.

What is the fastest way to get your license in the UK?

The fastest way to get your driving license in the UK involves a combination of intensive driving courses and timely booking of your theory and practical tests. Intensive courses, where learners are trained for several hours daily over a week or two, can significantly reduce the learning period. It's crucial to pass the theory test early, as you can then book your practical test while continuing to practice driving. Remember, the key is not just speed but also ensuring you are thoroughly prepared and confident in your driving skills to pass the practical test.

Is it worth doing an intensive driving course?

Whether an intensive driving course is worth it depends on individual circumstances and learning preferences. These courses, typically spanning one to four weeks, are designed for quick learning and can be particularly beneficial for those with limited time. The main advantage is the potential to become test-ready in a much shorter period compared to traditional, spread-out lessons. However, the condensed learning experience might not suit everyone and it can be intense and stressful, offering less time to absorb and practice new skills in varied driving conditions. 

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