Learning to Drive with Intensive Lessons or a Normal Course, Which Is Right for You?


Learning to drive in the UK is a really a simple, five-step process:

  1. Acquire your Provisional Driving license
  2. Prepare for your Driving Theory Test
  3. Pass your Theory Driving Test
  4. Take professional driving lessons to prepare for your Practical Driving Test
  5. Pass your Practical Driving Test


Acquiring your Provisional Driving License is straight-forward and easy. It requires absolutely no preparation, and all you need is to be the correct age, have a valid ID, and to pay the fee.

And everyone who is ready to learn how to drive in the UK has already completed many years of primary and senior school, so the next two steps are fairly intuitive. You get some learning materials and study a bit, then you take and pass your written theory test driving exam. We created a resource to help learner drivers understand the Theory Test that you can find here.

But once you complete the Driving Theory part of the process, most learner drivers are stepping into the unknown. There are lots of choices when it comes to driving schools. Most of them are reputable firms (of course, there are exceptions in every case). But practical driving schools are divided into two types — intensive and regular.

Before you search for a driving school by location or cost, your first thought should be which type of learner driver course — regular or intensive driving school — is right for you. Let’s explore the similarities and differences that will help you make that determination.

How Are Intensive Driving Lessons Different From Regular Driving Lessons?

How Long Should It Take To Get Your Driving License?

The number one difference between intensive driving lessons and regular driving courses is the amount of time it takes to complete the course. Regular driving courses are usually spread out across five to twelve months. Sometimes student learners can complete them a bit faster. Sometimes students take longer.

There was even the ridiculously-long student who took more than two decades of lessons before finally passing his exams. This is CERTAINLY not typical and you will forgive us if we still hope to avoid meeting that guy on the roadways. But the point is that regular driving school is set up on a schedule similar to college night-school courses lasting one or two full semesters.

In regular driving courses, each session typically lasts one to two hours. Some regular driving courses have weekly sessions lasting longer, but these are usually group lessons where two or more students share the instructor’s time each week (more information below).

Intensive Driving Lessons are usually designed to be completed in five to twelve days. Lessons occur daily — or nearly every day, depending on the student’s schedule — and each lesson lasts three to four hours.

Individual Instruction or Group Driving Lessons?

Regular driving lessons can be either individual or group lessons. Individual lessons mean that the instructor works with only one practical driving student at a time.

With group lessons, some normal driving instructors may have two or more practical driving learners scheduled at the same time with each student taking their turn behind the wheel. This means that during practical group lessons, some of the students wait while one of the students drives with the instructor, and so on.

In intensive driving courses, all driving lessons are one-on-one. This allows the driving instructor to better focus on the specific needs of each individual student and the lesson periods are not shared with other students. In our experience, the privacy, lack of peer pressure, and focused attention from the instructor generally seems to help the learning process greatly.

How Are Intensive Driving Lessons and Regular Driving Courses Similar?

What Will You Learn In Your Practical Driving Lessons?

Both regular and intensive driving courses are set up to provide real, behind-the-wheel experience, instruction, and practice time. It’s one thing to read about the need to signal and the proper technique for a lane change. It’s quite another to perform the operations on the road with other motorists and distractions going on about.

In both intensive and regular driving school formats you will learn and practices the skills and maneuvers that you need to know to pass your driving test. studied for the theory driving test. This includes merging on to roadways turns in the road, proper signaling, lane changes, parking, and much more.

The purpose of the practical driving instructor is to be there to guide and encourage you and to help you gain the confidence behind the wheel while learning the skills of actual driving. These are skills that you will need to pass your practical exam and become a successful driver in Great Britain.

In the end, “what” you learn in your driving lessons will be very similar in both methods.

Total Driving Instruction Time

Intensive driving courses are not necessarily designed to shave hours off the total time of completing your practical driving lessons. Rather, they are designed to deliver personal, one-on-one attention over fewer sessions and a fewer number of days. For most students, this appears to be a better way to learn.

And even though intensive driving courses take fewer days to complete, each lesson lasts longer than a regular driving lesson. The result is that the number of instruction hours are roughly equivalent.

For example, if you have one-hour of actual teacher attention once per week over five to six months, you will have between 22 and 26 hours of total instruction time. That’s roughly the same as four hours of intensive driving instruction for six days. The point is that both regular and intensive driving courses deliver roughly equal amounts of actual teaching time.

The exact number of hours each student will need depends on the individual student’s level of previous experience and relative aptitude.

How Much Do Driving Lessons Cost?

Some people are surprised to learn that the net costs of regular driving lessons and intensive driving courses are roughly the same. The difference is in perception. With regular courses the costs are spread out over a much longer period of time, which can obscure the actual total costs.

But since intensive driving schools complete the education requirements in just a few days and the focused learning methods usually allow students to learn more driving skills in less time, ultimately the total costs of completing your learning and passing your practical exam can often be the same or less with intensive driving courses than with traditional “regular” driving school.

Why Do Intensive Driving Courses Have a Good Success Rate?

Over the years, some people have tried to argue that shorter courses — such as intensive driving school — might not be as beneficial to the student as courses lasting several months. But in fact, the opposite is true.

One of the problems with having once-per-week lessons that last only one hour or so is that there tends to be not enough time for the practice and practical application of what the student has learned. Further, when there are larger gaps of time in between individual classes and topics, students can forget much of what they learned in the preceding lessons.

If you think back to your school days, this makes a lot of sense. Remember how each autumn the teachers spent a week or two reminding and re-teaching some of the core lessons of the previous year. It’s simple … students just forget some of the important details when there is a gap in their learning.

There is even some research to back this up when it comes to primary schools in the States. And an article in The Telegraph made a similar argument a few years ago for schools in the UK. The point is that we all likely learn more, better, and faster when we focus our learning in bigger chunks without breaks in that learning. This is especially true with single topics and objects like acquiring a driver’s license.

Choosing The Best Driving School Type For You

Without a doubt, regular driving schools and intensive driving schools have both yielded successful students who passed the practical driving exam and went on to become skilled, responsible drivers in the UK. The only thing left to determine is which type of driving school — regular or intensive driving lessons — is the best driving school type for you.

We know that there is little or no difference in total cost between reputable intensive driving courses and regular driving schools. We also know that the skills and topics covered in both kinds of schools are the same as well. This allows us to find your answer by focusing on other things.

When Do You Want To Start Driving?

Since many learner drivers start the process in order to complete a goal or objective — getting a new job, starting a family, moving to a new home, starting a business, etc. — the time it takes to acquire a driving license has become more important to a lot of people.

If “when” you get your license is not important to you, then either method will work for you. If you need or want to complete your driver training and pass your practical driving exam quickly or by a certain date, then an intensive driving course is likely the best learner method for you.

What Kind Of Learning Environment Do You Want?

As we have discussed, regular practical driving lessons last one to two hours each — covering less material per lesson and limiting practice time. And though certainly not all, some regular driving schools schedule group practical lessons with two or more students at the same time. This kind of environment works for some learner drivers.

If you learn better with more thorough lessons and additional practice time — and if you prefer more private instruction — then consider that intensive driving school might be a better choice for you.

If you have more questions about intensive driving courses, one of the best ways is to start with a one-hour Assessment Lesson. No matter which type of driving school you choose, our Assessment Lesson is very inexpensive and can help you start your journey as a driver on the right foot.