Which is Best — Intensive Courses or Hourly Lessons?

Stopwatch counting down time

Before starting to learn to drive, there are a number of decisions that you will need to make. One of these is whether to learn in a manual or an automatic transmission. Another, more logistical dilemma, is the type of lessons that you feel would suit you best: the more conventional style of weekly, hourly lessons, or through an intensive (or semi-intensive) course. We’re going to take a look at how the different types of lessons can affect not just the time it takes you to learn, but the amount of lessons you may require, and the impact this can have on your bank balance.

Hourly Lessons

Traditionally, driving pupils have learnt on an hour-by-hour basis. Sometimes these might be extended to 2 hours, particularly if you lived in a more remote area, away from test routes, but generally, you would be limited to a lesson or 2 a week.

After a considerable length of time—usually several months—your instructor would deem you ready to sit your practical test, and, assuming you had already passed your theory, you would go on the DVSA website. There you would discover that there was a waiting list for tests, and, resigned to the delay, you’d book yours for 2 or 3 months into the future. However, in order to keep up with your driving skills and prevent you getting rusty before the test, you’d probably still have a lesson with your instructor each week—increasing your expenditure, and prolonging the process.

While slow, there are, of course, advantages to weekly lessons. Learning to drive is an expensive business, and this format often enables you to pay on a per-lesson basis—meaning that you can spread the cost of learning over a long period of time. Equally, should an instructor’s style on teaching not suit you, you are under no obligation to continue with them for any future lessons (although switching instructors multiple times is not recommended: getting used to different teaching styles and cars can drag the process out even further.) It is also easy to work hourly lessons around your other commitments. We all have busy lives, and an hour here and there might seem like the only way to get you on the roads.

Car dashboard with clock and speedometer
Hourly lessons often mean it take months to learn to drive

On the other hand, this does mean that it often takes a long time to learn, because you are bound to have forgotten some of the pearls of wisdom imparted by your instructor in between lessons. There’s a lot to take in as a beginner, and therefore lots to be forgotten. You may spend valuable time getting used to the feel of the car again: the biting point, controls and handling. This is something that will likely decrease with experience, but can be hindered if you’re managing to practice driving in your own, different car, in between lessons. Even accomplished drivers need a bit of time to adjust to a car they’re not entirely used to.

And, likewise, much of each lesson is probably going to be spent with with your instructor reminding you of all the things that you covered previously, rather than gaining new ground. In short, the lack of continuity afforded by this type of arrangement means that people who do individual lessons often end up needing more lessons overall than those who go for the alternative: an intensive or semi-intensive course.

Intensive Courses

The road to driving doesn’t have to be long. If you’re keen to learn and get passed as soon as possible, there’s always the option of a crash course. You can spend up to around 5 hours a day in the car—which speeds up the process considerably. In fact, one of our learners, Daniel, came to us as a beginner and passed in just seven days!

Because of the nature of an intensive course, it’s important that your test is as soon as possible after you’ve completed your course—otherwise you’re likely to be left needing extra, refresher lessons nearer the time. That’s why at PassMeFast, we book your practical test first. That way, you have an end goal to work towards, and can plan your course hours around your test, to ensure that you are fully prepared to pass at the right time. You can see the whole process in more detail in our mini guide to crash courses.

Pins in a date on a calendar
By booking your practical test first, we can make sure there’s no gap between your lessons and your test

When taking an intensive course, you are continuously able to improve your practical driving. With the time to repeatedly practice skills and manoeuvres, most pupils find that they pick up and consolidate the correct techniques a lot quicker than if they’d learnt through weekly lessons. A happy byproduct of this is that it can help save you money in the long run.

Speaking of finances, booking a course often works out cheaper than individual lessons anyway, and is often recommended as a way of keeping costs down. This is because we’re able to offer rates that reflect increased productivity; instructors are not having to spend so long travelling between each hour to get to you. The longer the course is, the comparatively cheaper it is able to be. Bulk-buying at its best. Maybe that’s why intensive courses are more popular than ever!

Semi-Intensive Courses

However, learning for 5 hours a day on consecutive days isn’t for everyone. If you’re trying to work or study alongside your lessons, and are unable or unkeen to use your holiday for the course, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to spare the time. If that’s the case, you can still book onto a course, and simply choose to complete it semi-intensively. Instructors are fully flexible, so whatever suits you—whether that be a couple of hours each evening after work, 3 hours every other morning, or lessons on a weekend—they are happy to accommodate your needs. Semi-intensive courses have all the benefits of a crash course—block booking lessons can save you money; you’ll be on the road quickly—but also the freedom and versatility of hourly lessons: you can fit the lessons around your schedule, and you learn at your own pace.

Which is right for you?

If you’re struggling to afford an intensive course, you might be best off considering hourly lessons. However, the penalty for spreading out your payments is that it will often cost more in the long run. If you fail your first practical, then you will have to re-book your test—and, as you are subject to a 10 day restriction on this, you are looking at another long wait before being able to do your re-take. That’s both money and time down the drain.

If you’re wanting to get on the road quickly, and have the time—perhaps you’re a student, with endless summer holidays stretched out before you—then an intensive crash course will get you passed in the minimum amount of time. Even if, and it’s a sizeable ‘if’ (we’re above average when compared to both national and regional pass rates) you end up failing your first test, we can fast-track your next test to be in soon after your 10 day exclusion period, so that everything you’ve learnt is still at the forefront of your mind.

Or, if like a lot of people, you don’t have a block of time available for a crash course, but still want to get passed in weeks, rather than months, then the semi-intensive course option is probably the one for you. You’ll still have the test-booking as a date to aim for, and you and your highly graded instructor will be able to decide on a schedule of lessons that suit your needs and other commitments.

Woman driving in the sun
When you’re through your test, you’ll be able to enjoy the freedom of independent driving

But, of course, you might not be a complete beginner. What then? Well, there is no restriction on who can learn through this process: we have a 48 hour driving course for novices, right down to a 5 hour refresher. As such, you can be sure that you will find an appropriate length for your experience and confidence. Not sure how many hours you need? Just ask PassMeFast’s course recommender!

One concern some pupils have with driving courses is that of booking either too many or too few lessons—and either way wasting money. If you’re really unsure about which course to go for, then we do offer a course assessment. You would spend 1 hour with an instructor, who would use their professional judgement to advise you on the most suitable course for you. And they’re right, more often than not: pupils that take their advice tend to pass first time.

It’s also good to know that you’re not necessarily tied to a set number of hours. If you get part-way into the course, and feel that you might benefit from a little extra tuition time, you can always upgrade—providing there is time to complete the extra lessons before your practical, or change the test date. If you choose to do this, you’ll simply pay the balance. A more palatable option than failing your test, and paying for a whole new course at the end of the process anyway.

Want to learn more about whether you’d be best opting for hourly lessons or some form of intensive course? You can see a clear list of the pros and cons of each type here. If you’re planning on practising outside of your lessons, we’d advise you sort out your learner driver insurance—driving without correct insurance is illegal!

Remember, when you’ve booked your course with PassMeFast, the hours are there for you to allocate as you wish. Whether that is an intensive or semi-intensive course, you’ll soon be on the road and safely through your practical test. To find a course that’s perfect for you, take a look at all of our options.

PassMeFast is growing: we’ve recently launched in both West Yorkshire and South YorkshireKeep up-to-date with all of our goings-on in the news section.

By Katie Scott

Katie grew up in the middle of nowhere, so knows the true value of getting behind the wheel. From the rules of the road to handy hints and tips, she'll give you the lowdown on all things driving. Always on the move, when she's not in the car, you'll probably find Katie darting around the squash courts or out running in the rainy British countryside.

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