Intensive driving courses explained: Are they worth it?
Intensive driving courses cram hours of tuition into a short period of time, but do they work?
Last updated: 11/03/2022 | Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
According to the DVSA, learner drivers need an average of 47 lessons before they pass their practical driving test. Many learners spread these lessons over six months to a year. But if you’re in a hurry to obtain your licence, you can blitz lessons with an intensive driving course, also called a ‘crash course’.
In these courses, you receive hours of tuition every day over a short period of time before taking your practical driving test—and hopefully passing and becoming a certified driver.
Intensive driving courses vary in length, cost, and effectiveness. If you’re able to handle the pressure and gruelling schedule, or you’re looking to simply brush up a few areas before your test, they’re a good use of time and money. But other drivers, especially young motorists, may benefit from a more leisurely approach.
An intensive driving course crams hours of tuition into a short period of time, with the aim of getting you to pass your practical driving test as quickly as possible. Often, they will help you pass your theory test too.
In an intensive driving course, you receive the same one-on-one in-car tuition with a qualified instructor that you’d normally spread over weeks or months. An intensive driving course may also be tailored to focus on aspects of driving you struggle with.
Most intensive driving courses are structured so you take the practical test at the end of the course. This means you typically need to have passed your theory test before signing up. Usually, you’ll learn in your instructor’s vehicle, but if you use your own car, you’ll need to be covered by short-term learner driver insurance.
Intensive driving courses vary in length, depending on your skill level, availability, and the school or instructor.
Week-long courses are popular, with students committing nearly full-time to lessons for five or seven days. During these warp-speed courses, you may be in the vehicle for as long as five hours a day. Other courses spread instruction over two weeks. Some courses bill themselves as ‘intensive’ (or ‘semi-intensive’) but spread the lessons over even longer.
If you’re starting from scratch or you think you’ll struggle with long days in the car, you may want to opt for a longer intensive course. If you simply need to brush up on a few skills before the test, you could choose 10 hours of lessons spread over two days.
Your driving school may offer you an assessment to determine how much instruction you need and can point you to an appropriate course schedule. For some shorter courses, you need to demonstrate a basic grasp of driving before you begin.
The cost of driving lessons and the tests is one of the major reasons young people don’t get their licences. Intensive driving courses aren’t cheap, but they can be a way to save some money compared to spreading lessons across months.
The price of intensive driving courses depends on their length. Usually, a one-day course costs between £180 and £200. You’ll likely pay between £8,000 and £1,000 for a week-long course, while two-week courses can be double that.
There’s no question intensive driving courses are an investment. But when you consider that the average hour-long driving lesson costs £24 and that drivers require an average of 47, you can see that spreading out the lessons is also pricey. In fact, you typically get a discount on this hourly rate when you opt for an intensive course. However, you need to have the cash up front.
The cost of driving lessons, intensive or not, also depends on your region. Intensive courses, like most things, are more expensive in London.
Driving schools all pitch their intensives as the perfect way to prepare for your driving test. But are you really more likely to pass if you take a crash course? It depends on your learning style and confidence behind the wheel.
Some people thrive in cram sessions, able to maintain their energy and focus and retain new information even after hours behind the wheel. They can also handle the pressure of taking the practical test after just a few days of instruction. Other people could benefit from learning at a more leisurely pace, giving them time to refresh and practice at home between lessons and slowly build their confidence as a driver.
There’s also a question of safety behind the wheel. While an intensive driving course may help you pass the test, you may not get experience driving in different conditions, including at night and in inclement weather. Some road safety organisations urge caution with intensive driving courses, which they argue don’t produce well-rounded drivers.
Intensive driving courses can put some learner drivers on the fast track to their licences. They’re a particularly good choice if you’re a quick learner or if you know the driving basics and just want experience and additional instruction before you take the test.
However, they’re not worth it if you think you’ll struggle with the long days or want more diverse driving experiences before you take the test and set out driving solo.