If you want to save money while getting a driving license in Singapore, you should read this post!
Below are some tips and advice I’d like to share. Let’s go through them step by step.
1. Manual or Auto?
I chose to take an auto car license because manual cars are not in production any more. Even if I plan to self-drive overseas, they have a range of auto cars to choose from. Looking forward, it is more practical to get an auto license.
2. Ubi, Bukit Batok, Comfort Delgro or Woodlands Driving School?
Registration fees for all of schools are almost the same. You have to head down to the school nearest to your house and register. Concurrently, start searching for private instructor if you plan to get one. If you have recommendation from your friends, do give them a call first to check on their availability.
Plan when you are able to complete your Basic Theory Test (BTT) and get your Provisional Driving Licence (PDL) after you have passed your BTT. Take note of this!
You have to register for an account with the schools on the spot upon enrolment. After signing up, you have to top-up the account with money to book for BTT, FTT (Final Theory Test) and your TP Driving Test. The money left inside the account is refundable once you graduate or close the account. Top up at least $100 the first time.
3. Private or School?
After going through the experience of dealing with private instructors, my opinion is to choose private for a manual car license and school for an auto car.
Don’t ever think that learning driving for auto car is easy.
Yes it is true it is easier than learning manual car, but picking up auto car driving skill is quite challenging too. You have to make sure that your instructor is not money-faced. If not, you have to keep worrying whether he or she is trying to earn more money from you by delaying your lesson progress.
If you sign up for lessons in the driving school, you will get a different driving instructor each time. Everyone will give different driving tips and opinions; You can choose which technique or advice to follow. Each student will have a progress card where the instructors will rate Pass or Fail at the end of the lesson, to show that you can move on to the next lesson in the course structure. If you happen to ‘Fail’, you have to re-take that lesson the next time.
For private instructor, if you are lucky, you will get an instructor who will teach you proper techniques on driving. For mine, he will paste stickers all over his car, so it will be easier for beginners to pick up. These stickers will also act like a ‘cheat sheet’ during Test Practical. Yes the sticker is very helpful; However, if you rely too much on stickers, you will have difficulty when you are driving outside by yourself.
If you plan to get a private instructor, do check for reviews on them. It will be great if there are recommendations from people.
4. Book your first BTT (Basic Theory Test) as Early as Possible !
This tip is for those who are learning under private instructor. Do take note that you have to follow the training structure before you can take BTT if you choose to follow school. Refer to the table from driving school website for more information.
There is a trick to complete BTT as soon as possible: try to login to the booking page every day. On some lucky day, you can find the latest test date. The latest test date could be in 2 weeks time.
BTT is easy to pass. You can google for free questions here. Practice 2 times and you are good to go! Just a caution, do not expect the questions to be exactly the same. Some are based on common sense and some are quite tricky. You still have to read through the text book after you have completed the online questions.
For students learning under the school, you are entitled to practice sessions. You have to pay for it (nothing is free here). What I hate about this is that you have to travel down to the school in order to use their computers to practice on the questions. There is no way to access them online. (Even in the year of 2016).
BTT costs $6.50 per booking. If you happen to cancel your booking, the money will NOT be refunded to you.
5. Get your PDL (Provisional Driving License)
Do it IMMEDIATELY after you have passed your BTT if the traffic police counter is still open. A PDL costs $25 and is valid for 6 months. After you have taken your PDL, give a call to your driving instructor and book your first lesson as soon as possible. It only lasts for 6 months!
6. Taking Practical Lessons.
Private: The cost of each practical lesson is around $34 for a one hour lesson during peak hours. It is recommended to take a 1.5 hour lesson each time, twice or thrice a week.
Do not forget circuit lessons. Check with your driving instructor when you are able to drive in the circuit and constantly remind them. If you are a student, good for you! Try to take lessons before the peak hours; it is much cheaper.
School: Check the rates for practical lesson from the website. You are expected to book the slots yourself, so be prepared to camp in front of the computer to snatch the slots!
For private students, the driving instructor will book a circuit slot for you. However, the slots they can get are usually as early as 7am or as late as 9pm, or 7pm onwards on weekends. Be prepared for this. In the evening, the circuit will be badly-litted up. The lines on the road and signboard will not be as clear as daylight. Therefore, the charges for circuit in the evening/night is a lot cheaper than in the daytime.
8. FTT (Final Theory Test)
DO NOT FORGET ABOUT THIS. You are required to pass your Final Theory Test (FTT) before your practical test.
Do the same thing as BTT. Camp in front of the computer to snatch your test slots. They will have more test dates and time slots to choose from compared to BTT. For private students, you are able to practice here for free! A FTT costs $6.50 as well, and is non-refundable if you were to cancel/change booking. The questions for FTT are much more difficult than BTT, more tricky and you need to think harder. Study well for this test.
9. TP Driving test
Your driving instructor will let you know when you are ready to take the test. You have to camp in front of the computer to snatch the ‘best time slot’ with everyone. 1130am is the lunch time for the school instructors, leaving an almost empty circuit for you to take your test. Be confident, do not panick. Take a one hour refresher lesson before your test. Rest well the night before.
Everyone has a different story to tell, I have mine.
Fast forward to finding an instructor. After short-listing a handful of teachers whom I found on the traffic police website, I googled each and every one of them for reviews. This instructor, I would call him Mr A, said he was full at the moment and could not take in any students anymore. I told him I can wait for a month (because his reviews were so good). He promised to call me back after a month when there is available slot.
However, I waited for more than a month, and doubted that he would return my call. I went searching for another instructor. I found Mr B. I thought everything was fine and I decided that I should not search any longer as my PDL was only left with 3 months instead of 6 months.
On my first lesson, I learnt the basics of steering the wheel and controlling the pedal. I was given a chance to drive on the road, with the instructor controlling the wheel of course!
Learning was quite easy as he pasted a hell lot of stickers in his car. Every lesson I asked lots of questions, and all he said was ‘don’t ask so much. Just do what I say.’ His pronunciation was unclear, and sometimes he would mumble. The worst thing is that he will start the lesson speaking Chinese then suddenly switch to Hokkien all the way. He is a very talkative person, will keep talking to you on political matters while driving.
After about 8 lessons, he started teaching me how to park. He has his parking barriers in the car boot. He will take them out and do a layout each time I learn parking at multi-storey car park. He passed me papers of hand drawn sketches of techniques to park the car, sometimes explain using his toy car on the paper.
He forgot to sign me up for circuit even though I reminded him lots of times. He has limited slots at the circuit each time as he will do a bulk booking and distribute the slots out to the students. I wanted to take my driving test as soon as possible, so I ended up taking all the unwanted slots. In the circuit, he gives me his hand drawn sketch of the circuit and uses his toy car to simulate the scenario. Again, in the circuit, I kept getting scolded.
On the actual day of the driving test, he booked a one hour slot for circuit and a one hour slot to practice on the road. By the time I took my test, I was very tired from all the driving lessons in the past 2 hours. In the circuit, I looked at the wrong sticker, and succumbed to 2 immediate failures LOL.
I booked the second test a week later, and made sure I had only a one hour practice before taking the test. This time, I passed, albeit unknowingly.
I re-newed my PDL once, did 7 circuits and had 28 road driving lessons. In total, I have spent approximately $2200, including the re-test.
All I can say is, in order to pass, you will need ample rest, practice and most importantly, luck. Wearing short shorts or skirts is USELESS. Of course, if you feel uncomfortable with your driving instructor after the first lesson, you can switch to another instructor. The registration fee of $50 with him is non-refundable though.
Good luck to you if you are starting your learning journey! I hope this post will be of great use to you. Feel free to leave comments or queries in the comment box below.