Getting a driving license in Singapore, like many other transactions between the government and the people, is a rather tedious and complicated process. Look at the image above, the very first time when the lady at Buki Batok Driving Center (BBDC) explained to me how to get a driving license, I was a bit intimidated. There are so many steps involved! What makes the process complicated is that you have many ways to go about getting it and different people have different opinions on which way is better. For example, is it better to learn driving from private driving instructors or from a driving school? If you have picked the driving school option like I did, is it better if you fix the instructor, fix the group of instructors or not fix anything at all? I hope that by sharing how I got my driving license, this will shed some light into the process for aspiring drivers.
I managed to get my Class 3A driving license in 50 days based on two prerequisites – 1) I have already passed my Basic Theory Test (BTT) and 2) I had plenty of time to learn driving (thankfully I got my license before I get busy!). For the uninitiated, there are 3 tests that you have to do before you can get a driving license in Singapore – 1) Basic Theory Test (BTT), 2) Final Theory Test (FTT) and 3) Traffic Police Test (TP test). The tests have to be done in sequence. After you have passed BTT, you can apply for the Provisional Driving License (PDL) and that will allow you to drive a L-plate car under the careful guidance of a certified driving instructor. A PDL costs $25 and it only lasts for 6 months so no dilly-dallying after getting your PDL; learn to drive as soon as possible! Another point to note is that “passing” BTT/ FTT doesn’t mean you just need >50 % of total score. “Passing” means you need a score of > 90%. For each test, there are 50 questions, and mathematically this means you can at most answer 5 questions wrongly. Be very careful! So here is my driving story:
1) Theory tests
Having already passed BTT, I attended the 4 mandatory theory classes in one day and quickly applied for my PDL on the next day. There is a rule at BBDC that you have to attend all 4 theory classes before you can get your PDL so clear the 4 theory classes as soon as you can and you can get onto the road! The next mandatory test after BTT is the FTT. But before you can take the theory test, the rule at BBDC is that you have to pass a Final Evaluation Test, which is essentially a mock FTT, before you can even book a test date. I did the Final Evaluation Test about 3 days after I got my PDL and I quickly booked a test date for FTT. The fastest I could take my FTT was about a month later from the time of booking. So try to get it right on your very first attempt if not it will hinder your progress significantly!
2) Driving lessons
I learnt driving at BBDC and I did not fix a group of instructors initially. I took 22 driving classes and 3 revision classes before taking my driving test. After getting my PDL, I went for driving classes pretty intensively. For the month of November, I had driving classes every weekday. A problem that students at BBDC face is that BBDC driving classes are quite over-subscribed so it is difficult to find available driving slots. What I realized was that people have been playing with the system at BBDC. The rule at the driving school is that if you cancel your booked driving slot and another student takes up your slot in the system, you get a full refund for the cancellation. I realized that people tend to “release” their booked slots about a day or two before the driving classes so I checked the website regularly and picked up these slots. That’s how I get to learn how to drive at the school every weekday. Towards the end of my driving course when I was in Stage 4, an instructor advised me to fix a group of instructors. I forgot what he said exactly but I remembered I was convinced that if I fixed my group, I would have a higher chance of passing the driving test. I think he mentioned that the instructors in the group that I was assigned to were very experienced and I would benefit a lot from their guidance. So I did that. I had to pay a small nominal surcharge for fixing the group. I am not sure if that makes a difference to the final outcome but that is part of my story. 🙂
3) Driving test
Many driving instructors would advise against booking the very first and the very last test slot as there will be more cars and the road condition is more challenging at those hours. I took my test at 9.35 am and I am really glad that I passed! That is the best Christmas gift that I could ever wish for this year. Now I have to face the new challenge of driving safely through public roads outside the vicinity of BBDC. Can’t wait to become a better driver! 🙂