So, very recently, on 22nd August, I finally passed my TP test to get my Class 3 licence. :) OK, I use the word "finally" because I failed my very first test (18pts with immediate failures), but thankfully I managed to pass my TP test on my 2nd try! I thought I'd write a little on my experience on getting my Class 3 licence, because it always is interesting to read about these sort of stuff (to aspiring driver-to-bes), right? I know I liked reading a lot about people's experiences on getting their driving licence, haha! So I just thought I'd share mine.
Class 3 licence VS. Class 3A licence
First off, I chose to take up a Class 3 licence, which enables me to drive both Manual and Auto cars, namely because:
1. My father kept telling me Class 3 was better, in the sense that "if you're going to spend so much $ on getting a licence, might as well go all the way and get a Class 3 because it's more useful"
2. Plus, we can convert it to an international licence anytime we want. I know that Class 3A licences (enabling you to drive Auto transmission cars only) can also be converted into international licences, but I read that it depends on the country and the state that you're going to. It's easier in the SEA region, not so sure for US/UK/Europe. Class 3, on the other hand, is much more versatile and you probably won't face restrictions when it comes to any conversion of licences. :) But of course, if you think that you'll only ever drive in Singapore and/or the SEA region, by all means go for Class 3A if you want to get your licence easier and faster!
3. Eh, people always like to say that girls can't drive manual cars! Prove people wrong!
4. Another lame reason is that my 16 y/o brother (not legal to start learning driving yet) says he's going to get a manual licence, and me as the older sister can't lose to him!!!Joining a driving school VS. Getting a private instructor
Secondly, I decided to enrol in a school to learn my driving. There are 3 driving schools in Singapore: BBDC (at Bukit Batok West Avenue 5); CDC (at Ubi Ave 4); SSDC (at 2 Woodlands Industrial Park E4).
Why did I enrol in a school? 'Cause my dad said so. HAHAHA, he just said that "if you're very confident you'll be a good driver, then you can get a private instructor. Otherwise, go for school." I think he just has his opinions about it la (seeing as we go by the training book in school and we manually tick off learning checklists with every new lesson), but actually in the end I really find that learning driving in a school is much more beneficial (for me) than learning under a private instructor. I understand that private instructors can go at your own pace and know your driving habits very well to the point they can pinpoint your little nitty gritty mistakes and get you to correct them etc, plus private driving lessons are MUCH cheaper (it's half the price - usually only $30+ for a driving lesson, while school charges $68-77 depending if it's peak period or not), but let me just elaborate on why I think school is better!
I went to CDC at Ubi, so here's just my experience from there:
If you sign up with a driving school right from the start (which is about $100+ registration fee), even before you study and book your Basic Theory Test (BTT), the school will give you:
1. Free classes that you can attend at the school for your BTT and FTT
2. If you don't want to go for physical classes, the school also offers E-learning on their website (just login to your account)
3. You can book free (about up to 6 sessions i think) sessions at the school where you can do trial quizzes in their computer labs... and you can do unlimited trial quizzes in the time frame they give you. This is VERY IMPORTANT. Just utilise it since it's free. I found that the questions that came out in the trial quizzes were the exact SAME questions that came out in the actual BTT & FTT. Which means the school just re-uses the questions! You confirm have a chance of getting full marks if you do most, if not all, of the trial quizzes they offer you. :) (I didn't do all of the quizzes, by the way. I did maybe 3/4!)
4. School learners get priority when it comes to booking their TP tests. And we get the dates much faster and easier. Private learners have to get their instructors to book it for them, which may take a longer period of waiting time.
5. School learners drive in the circuit from day one. School driving instructors have a habit of making you drive in the circuit for a bit to warm-up, before bringing you out onto the roads, so by the end of ALL of your lessons, you confirm will know very clearly how to navigate around the circuits, and all the neat little tips and tricks about particular lanes or curbs. Plus, school instructors will tell you all these tips, especially if you ask often. :) Private instructors have to BOOK for circuit lessons, and they have limited slots to share between all their students + other private instructors fighting for the same slots, so you won't be getting as much circuit exposure as compared to if you sign up with a school.There a couple of downsides to CDC at Ubi, though, which I also must highlight:
1. Out of all the 3 driving schools, CDC at Ubi is said to have the worst traffic situations, as there are many lorries and trucks around the area (it's an industrial area). However, it's said that if you learn to adapt to such road situations, you'll be able to drive anywhere in Singapore with such experience :) So might as well learn to get used to it from day one! Of course, if you're afraid that their traffic situations might cost you your TP test, then by all means go to another driving school, haha.
2. CDC at Ubi is really, really, REALLY, very hard to book practical lesson slots. You have to camp on your computer or phone daily to book practical lesson slots the very day and time new slots are released every month. It's just like grabbing concert tickets, but much worse lol. Otherwise, if you have a more flexible schedule due to school holidays or whatever, then frequently just refresh the website to see if anyone will drop their lesson slots.
A lot of people cancel their lessons a few days beforehand, so there will ALWAYS be dropped lessons. Just hurry snatch them up if they fit within your schedule - don't think! Anyway, we have a... either 18 or 20 cancellation count (if I didn't recall wrongly), so we get to cancel up to THAT many amount of lessons ourselves.
My friend who learned driving at BBDC was able to get practical lessons much easier than me and another friend who was learning at CDC. In fact, not only was it easy for her to book practical lessons at BBDC, she was also able to book TP tests for NEXT WEEK. Which means she only needs to wait a week to do her TP, wtf! Very efficient, right? If you're not the type to camp for slots, and you're way too busy to do these sort of "camping", I recommend you to join other driving schools or go for private instead. I'm not kidding when I say that it's very competitive for practical slots! It really stressed me out, haha.The real reason I signed up with CDC at Ubi is most importantly because I live very near CDC, and I have a direct bus that only takes me a few stops to get there. If I'm going to be travelling there back and forth several days a week for driving lessons, I might as well go to a driving school close to my home.
One Team VS. Common Pool
When you sign up at CDC at Ubi, they will also ask you if you want to sign up with their One Team, or join the Common Pool. You pay a bit more for One Team.
One Team: This just means that they will allocate not more than 5 instructors to you, and you will drive the exact same car with every practical lesson. The upside is that these instructors will remember you and know your crucial mistakes better. Usually you'll only get not more than 2 instructors, even though they said "5". This can be a good or bad thing-- you may end up hating the instructors allocated to you, since you can't choose. Of course, you can always request to change instructors if you find their teaching styles really do not suit you, but that'd be much more of a hassle.
My friend got allocated One Team (she took a Class 3A licence at CDC's Kovan branch) and she only got 2 instructors for the entirety of her 24 lessons. She only really liked the first instructor, not the second one (much more fierce). She didn't request for any change of instructor, though.
Common Pool: You can't choose which instructor is allocated to you every lesson - they are allocated to you at RANDOM. also, you drive a different car every lesson. This was what I ended up choosing. Of course, sometimes I still get allocated same cars and same instructors more than 5 times (especially when you're going for 20-30 odd lessons), so it doesn't mean you really see a new face every time. I actually felt like a certain instructor DID teach me for basically half of my lessons, from the basics right up to me practicing for my driving test. It felt nice because I didn't even have to pay extra for the devoted attention, haha!
But anyways, it really is quite fun meeting and interacting with new instructors each time you get into their car. Some are quiet, some are talkative, some are encouraging, and some are downright fierce and make you feel like shit... lol. I'm glad the ones that I get allocated more to are very nice, patient, encouraging and understanding. :)
It's up to you to decide what kind of learning style suits you. Personally I enjoyed having different instructors more also, because different instructors notice different things, and have different tips to share with you. It's up to you to decide which style of driving to adopt that best suits you.
My time frame:
Right after graduating from poly, I took advantage of my break before university started to learn driving. (As did my 2-3 other friends!) Here's a rough gauge of my timeline so you know roughly how long it'll take to get your licence :)
Late Feb: Signed up with CDC Ubi, booked BTT date
Mid Mar: Took my BTT - Passed
Apr: Booked 12 lessons for May
May: Booked 12 lessons for June, as well as booked FTT date
June: Booked about 6 more lessons for July. Passed FTT
Late June: Booked my first TP test on 15 July
15 July: failed TP test, immediately booked second TP test for 22nd Aug (earliest date available)
Aug: Took about 3 more lessons on 15, 16, 17 in Aug before my 22nd Aug TP test
22nd Aug: Passed my TP!!!
I took about 30 odd lessons before taking my first TP test because I wasn't confident enough and wanted to be extra sure in my abilities before taking it. Alas, nerves got to me so I still failed it. I took another 3 more before my second TP test. By this point in time I was certain I knew how to drive around the circuit and outside on the roads already, it just depends on the traffic and my luck on that day!
Tip: Don't give up on manual driving if you're thinking of doing so!
One more thing, taking manual driving was definitely much more challenging than auto car driving. Even by the 10th lesson or so, I was still very shaky in terms of coordinating my gear-shifting and awareness on the roads, because you really have to be well-coordinated enough for manual cars. But don't be disheartened, even at this stage! All manual car learners will have thought about "changing to auto car driving" at least ONCE in their learning stage, because to be honest, why are we making our lives so hard, right? HAHAHA. Will we REALLY ever need to drive in Europe? Most likely not.
But because I had various reasons for not wanting to go back (making my dad happy, getting my licence before my bro, really makes sense to just chiong for a Class 3 licence if I'm spending so much $ anyway, plus you never know if you ever need to drive a manual car in an emergency situation) so I didn't want to change to auto car driving and be looked upon as a sore loser. As long as you believe in yourself, you can one! It'll take time, but just go at your own pace. You're not competing with anyone-- only to ensure you learn driving in the best way you can.
Anyway, the more lessons I took, the more gear-shifting and holding the clutch became second nature to me, and the only mistakes that I was making was not being "aggressive" enough in my driving. Which is also crucial to improve upon la, but I believe auto car drivers also make these same "not aggressive enough" mistakes... All (or most of us) new drivers will be ball-less in the first few stages of driving one, so...
There you go! My little pep talk on choosing Class 3 over Class 3A (if you're interested. I'm not forcing you la, if you really prefer driving auto cars then go ahead!). After getting my licence, I'm driving my dad's auto cars anyway.
My TP tests
First TP test: 15 July, Friday, 8.30am. My dad told me long ago not to book tests during peak hours, but 我就是不听 lol. I had no choice though, because it was the only available timing before I was going to fly off to Japan in 2 days' time for a 2 week vacation. I was very calm on this morning... I had lessons on Mon, Tue, Wed, Thur, before this, so I thought I was prepared enough.
Nope. I wasn't focused at all. The first thing I did was strike kerb at parallel parking, which SUCKED, because I never really do strike kerb at parallel parking, even during practice. Even my past instructors told me my parallel parking was perfect! But on TP test, ANYTHING can go wrong. It really depends on your luck. Positioning might be off when you first position it by the side etc.
I thought having the circuit empty of cars would be beneficial for me, but nooope. It gives the TP tester even more reason to test you emergency brake, which I hastily did (because I am most worried about emergency brake-- my reflexes always seem to work too slow :(). I did the E-brake in time, but because I was already so nervous and focused on my mistake of previously hitting the kerb, I forgot to signal right and check my blind spots before moving off after doing the E-brake. So I got those marks deducted. In my nervousness, I even went to the wrong lane to turn right......... Making mistakes really will throw you off and make you wreck the rest of your test T_T
Once I was on the road, I was in a filter lane trying to filter in right... And I thought I checked my blind spots enough to ensure there was no car coming/or it was quite a distance away, so I could hurry and rush in, but the moment I tried to, my instructor E-braked and told me there was a car coming and I couldn't. And I ended up getting honked... wtf. By this point in time I knew I failed the test already la, and I kept apologising to the TP tester :( He looked pretty disappointed, like "what went wrong? You were very steady in all your circuit courses etc."
We drove a short distance, then went back to CDC. I was pretty nervous/upset at this point so I ended up mishearing a lot of his instructions, and everything was a flurry. Aaaah. It was a wreck. Anyway, he sat me down later in the room upstairs and went through all my mistakes with me. He told me not to give up etc. Of course I won't give up la, I spent $2k+ on lessons already!!! TMD, if I don't get this licence, 我真的对不起自己。
My parents were very nice about me failing the test. My mum told me she failed the test like 5-7 times before she finally passed, lol. So I'm still not the "worst". HAHA. Thanks for trying to make me feel better lololol.
Second TP test: 22 Aug, Monday, 11.45am. This test was actually booked wrongly... I meant to book an 11am test but saw the timing wrongly... It was actually the warm-up timing. -_- So my booking ended up becoming 11.45am. I was kinda worried because this overlaps with the office timings' lunch period and that means more cars would be on the road for their lunch break... But I guess fate has a way of making things come together 'cause I passed in this time slot!
Other than having luck that everything will go smoothly during your test, you should also get a tester that is very nice and not so anal! I think I got lucky with both my timing and tester. :) I got an old Chinese tester, which I was kinda worried about. Old Chinese men tend to be kinda strict (or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, very nice), so I wasn't sure which one I would be getting. I don't wanna bring in race as a factor lah, but people tend to say that Malay testers are nicer. (Ironically, I got an old Malay tester my first TP test and he was really strict the whole time he was with me T_T but maybe it's also 'cause I struck kerb very early on in my test already... Which gave him a bad impression T_T) Anyway, my Chinese tester this time was nice! :) He's not overly nice la, he's the quiet and firm type. But I think also 'cause I didn't make much mistakes, so I didn't really get yelled at also!
So we started off the test in the circuit, right? I was most worried for my parallel parking because in my warm-up earlier, I struck kerb... again. T_T I was thinking to myself, wah if I strike kerb again for actual test... GG to my test today. 'Cause I know first-hand just how making a mistake so early on in the test can affect your mood to do well. I spent most of the time in my first test worrying about whether I was still going to pass or not, and I ended up failing. So this time, I was EXTRA careful not to strike kerb. I lowered the mirrors down till the max and made sure I moved very slowly out.
And I did not strike kerb. :)!!!!!!!
Once I knew I passed that hurdle, the rest of my courses went smoothly. Because the circuit was quite congested still, the tester didn't test me on E-brake, even when I went onto empty lanes in the circuit. Soon we were out of the circuit and onto the roads, and my first thought was, "WAH, I survived the circuit!!!! I DID IT!!!!!" I was almost bouncing in my seat, hahaha. I was certain I didn't accumulate any points in the circuit, and that gave me confidence. I've heard a lot of times from my instructors that as long as you do well in the circuit, the tester more or less pass you already! They just need to see you make a few turns here and there on the outside roads, and will quickly bring you back to the school to give you your final result.
And it's true! I just did a rather short road. Did a few lane changes, did a U-turn, more lane-changing, and soon we were back to the school. The traffic was fantastic as the roads he made me drive either didn't have traffic at all, or not so heavy traffic. There was once I almost didn't manage to lane-change in time to turn right because of the many cars, but I still made it in time, THANKFULLY. My weakness is lane-changing! If there was heavy traffic, I'll probs make even bigger mistakes. That's why my dad told me timing of your test is very important. If your weakness is heavy traffic, try to avoid peak timings!
I really like this tester because he was quite anxious in making me cut into lanes. Since I feel that I don't have good enough judgment, I tend to hold back and wait for the traffic to be COMPLETELY clear before I cut into lanes, especially when it comes to filter lanes (esp since I failed in this part during my first TP test), because I don't want to get into any unnecessary accidents. But during this TP test, he gave me clear instructions and hurried me to "go now!" each time I needed to cut into lanes... so I'm thankful for his anxious instructions.
I ended up only making a few mistakes here and there, and right before we entered the school I misheard his instruction to turn right as turn left, so I got 4 points for that (Veering off-course T_T)
I was legit shaking from excitement as he asked me to drive back to the front lobby of the school and park the car there, 'cause I was mentally totalling up the points in my head and I didn't think I would fail the test! I got so excited that when he got out of the car and quickly made his way off, I got out of the car myself and.... FORGOT TO TURN OFF THE CAR ENGINE!!! wtf!!!!! HAHAHA wah really, I think I'm damn heng, because he was walking so fast that he didn't even bother turning his head back to check whether I'm following him or not, so by the time I grabbed my bag from the back seat and REALISED that I did not turn off the car engine yet, I quickly rushed back into the front seat and turned it off.
I'm pretty certain if he turned his head back and caught me out of the car with the engine not even turned off... I'd get penalised! I don't know if it will be an immediate failure or more points deducted la, but. Granted, I also haven't walked away from the car yet la, I only got out to grab my bag from the back seat only. But wtf!!!! Really damn heng he didn't turn his head back, hahaha!
I think a driving instructor nearby saw me panicking as I turned the car engine off, and quickly rushed over to tell me "it's OK, we'll take over, you just follow the tester go up the stairs!" T_T Really very thankful for such a nice instructor. Must be sympathising with all people going through their tests. 'Cause I've learnt that testers can fail you for even the smallest things during your test. :(
So I rushed up to catch up with the tester on the stairs, and he didn't notice anything. He turned his head back once to see if I was following him (in which I was just one step behind him) and then that was it. He led me into the waiting room, then printed my results out. I was soooo nervous. I kneww there was a slight possibility I could still fail -- maybe there were some major mistakes that I overlooked.
But in the end, after what felt like FOREVER, he came over and handed me the slip of paper. I PASSED! And apparently got deducted 4 points in the circuit already. 2 points each for Vertical Parking and Parallel parking. Just because I "turn steering wheel while vehicle is stationary". My face was like............... .........OK, OK, I'm not going to say anything 'cause you passed me anyways. But really, other than being certain I didn't turn my wheel while my vehicle was stationary, but also I never understood why that was counted as a mistake......... OK OK, but I won't argue la, I passed already!!!
I got some other minor mistakes like "Lane-changing is abrupt", but I didn't get any points for ANY safety checks, which I was very happy about! I'm always told that my blind spot checking for the left side is bad (I don't know why also... T_T I do try my best to check my blind spots but maybe it's just my subconscious nature to miss out on it sometimes?), so I was really happy that I wayang-ed enough during the TP test that I didn't get any points for safety checks! :) :) :)
Really very happy I passed. I didn't wanna spend any more $$$ on tests ($200+ for one test is no joke!) and also, to be real la, I'd feel very paiseh if I took too long to get my driving licence! It really boils down to your tester and your luck!
Just got my driving licence in the mail today! Took about a week to reach me (applied on Mon, received next Tue.) Haaapppyyy!
Excuse my alien face... I always look horrible in official, serious-looking photos.
Can I make up for it by sharing a nice recent #OOTD of myself?
Anyways, I've been practising driving to NUS a lot in the past week... Still quite shaky but dad is convinced that if I drive regularly, I will be a pro in time soon to come. Hopefully! I wanna be more confident on the roads.
I've been having a fever the past few days though, which really sucks. Anyway, I don't wanna talk too much anymore -- this post has gotten quite long. Hope this post is beneficial to any driver-to-be that stumbles upon it, and ask me if you're curious about anything! :)