What's wrong with the theory test, and what can instructors do about it?

Published on 24 May 2023 at 16:20

Terry: We're now joined by the man behind Theory Test Explained, Chris Benstead. How are we doing, Chris?


Chris: Really good. Lovely to see you as always.


Terry: Always a pleasure to have you on because some of my listeners may know you from the Green Room episodes we do, but we're in a slightly different guise today and we are talking about the Theory Test and also your combatants against the Theory Test, which is Theory Test Explained. But before we dive into that, I'm going to ask you the question I ask everyone when they come on the show. Leaders, experts, innovators and game Changers is the tagline and you are not allowed to make your joke about experts that you always make? Which one or ones are you?


Chris: I don't know how long that we've done these things and I've still never really figured it out. But I read an awesome book called Tribe, which is about leading, being a leader, but not necessarily having to sit on a throne or whatever it is and just have good people around you who have the same values as you and that you can then influence that way. So I suppose leader, but probably not from the traditional view of it. And I prefer heretic. So if you want to add that to the list, I'll go with that one.


Terry: It’s now experts, innovators. game changers, heretics and Demigods possibly. I am going to put in a potential game changer. I think what you're doing around the theory test, both with learners, tentatively with ADI’s, I think, and also with what you're doing in your campaign almost to the DVSA, has the potential to be quite a game changer for the industry. But time will tell, so no pressure! But I do want to speak to you a bit about what you're doing, obviously with Theory Test Explained and so forth, but the first question I want to ask you is, and this is definitely a loaded question, but what's wrong with a theory test?


Chris: If we were short in time, we could do what's right with the theory test.


Terry: I want to know what's wrong.


Chris: It isn't fit for purpose, in my opinion. I don't see the point of it. I think there's a lot of issues for a lot of individual people trying to access it and take it. And if we go back to the initial point of why is there a theory test, it is to make people safer on the road because that's got to be the goal. The whole point of everything is to identify a minimum standard to make people safe, safe enough. And it doesn't. The majority of people pass their theory test and if we're generous two weeks later probably wouldn't pass it again. I say generous two weeks later because it's probably the next day or once they've walked out the theory test centre.

Yeah, a lot of the questions are pointless too, just three off the top of my head, etching your Vin number or number plate onto the window of your car, which everybody did in the early nineties. You can still buy the kit in Halfords. It is still possible. Maybe it'll make a comeback, but no one does. Vehicle watch schemes. I am not aware of any that are active in the UK. There's still a question about vehicle watch schemes and then topping your battery fluid up. Batteries are now sealed. I don't know of anyone that does. Maybe it still happens occasionally, but it's pointless. And if you're asking pointless questions, no one's going to give it the respect that it needs. We should make it worthwhile. I'm a big fan of a split system of if mechanical stuff is important enough, then let's make sure that they go and do a two hour course that I bet Halfords would happily provide. Sponsored cost basis because it gets people in the door and maybe they can give them a loyalty card. And I have had the conversation with Halfords, but they will want it to come from the DVSA before they're interested or even with eyesight when you look at the practical test. Well, let's get them to bring an eyesight certificate. The same thing with the theory. If first aid is that important, then let's have a little okay, you go and do your 1 hour first aid, your 1 hour mechanics, and then you do your theory. So, if it's that important, let's do it. If not, but the risk of putting myself out of a job, let's scrap it.


Terry: Should it be scrapped. Or do you think it should be completely revitalized?


Chris: No, I think there's really important information that people should know. But if you're not going to even do it slightly properly, then probably I don't think there's anything on the theory that people will not have learnt in the car with their instructor that will affect safety. They might end up getting an extra parking ticket from doing something that they shouldn't have, or going into a yellow box, which is more an inconvenience than a danger.

But, yeah, I think that it needs to have a point. And if there isn't a point, or, having had a conversation with Graham Hooper yesterday, a learning goal, which is a phrase I'm trying to use more, it doesn't come naturally. Point is more my thing. If there's not a point to it, then I just don't see why we're doing it. Let's change it, let's make it better.

Because you wanted the long version, you wanted what's wrong with it? The majority of my pupils, and this is slowly the proportions are changing, have some kind of additional need. They're coming to me because they're failing, not because they want to pass and starting at the beginning. So the accessibility for people, it's a very written test, it's very wordy, it's not well written. The accessibility of it is not good. Even with additional accommodations. The very fact they're called additional accommodations, and it sounds like they're going to put you up in a hotel for the night is extra help, let's call it that. Extra support. If you don't want to make it help. But yeah, let's make it accessible and improve the way that we can do that.


Terry: Just to clarify, when you talk about your pupils, you're not referring to your learners, are you talking about the people that come to you for the theory test?


Chris: There's a mixed bag question. They are my learners. From my point of view, I don't have a car. This is partly a sore point because I'm still a driving instructor without a car. The theory is still a driving instructor's domain, although not regulated by the DVSA. So if they don't like it and take my badge, I get to still work. So you don't have to be a driving instructor to teach theory. I think you should have to be. I think that would be brilliant. And if we made it so that it was just driving instructors, maybe we would then take it more seriously. From my perspective, they are my learners because I see it as one whole thing. But no, it is the people that I am doing theory training, theory support, and theory advice with, because I work on a number of different levels.


Terry: Want to get on to kind of the impact on instructors and pupils in a moment. But you spoke about the language there like the word etching and gradients and the fact that some questions have two correct answers, but one of them is the one that DVSA wants you to use and that kind of stuff. So in your experience, how off-putting is that for students? So maybe the ones that are struggling and it's just dispiriting because they've got these stupid questions as well as the stuff they actually need to know.


Chris: It's twofold. On one side you've got the “it makes me feel thick” approach, which anyone who's got any additional need has experienced the “I'm not good enough”. It's not because of something we see a negative instead of a difference. And the written test doesn't accommodate difference at all well. And once you start having the conversation with the person, they get it. Absolutely. What they can't do is engage with that very limited structure of these are the words on the screen and these are the answers. How do I know which one is their answer?

As you said, and it can be subtle, and some of it is lazy on behalf of the writing of the questions. And gradient is a lovely example because one of the questions says downhill gradient. Well, surely it's just a downhill we're putting gradient in there purely to make it sound more technical. But I think that the other side of that is that it makes it elitist. And it's not just about the fact that they can't do it because it's them that can't do it. Something wrong with them. All their mates passed and they're not it's that actually it puts an obstruction in there. It puts a problem in at that point, and it's a problem that shouldn't be there. It should be easy. Driving is not complicated.


Terry: No, I think once you've mastered the basics, the rest of it then well, I shouldn't say the rest of it. A lot of it is common sense and attitude and mindset. But we spoke about the language. How much of a problem is the language as you was on the test?


Chris: So when you start to analyze the test I've learned so much since specializing, and I thought I was pretty good at theory. I'd go down to McDonald's and we'd sit with the free WiFi and a coffee, which occasionally I'd even buy it if I was feeling flush. And we'd sit and do the theory and we'd go through the questions, and I thought it was a knowledge issue, so we'd be working on knowledge. I'd go as far as saying none of the people that I speak to have a knowledge issue. There's stuff that they don't know yet because they've never experienced it. It's new to them, but the issue is their understanding. I'm assuming you don't speak French.


Terry: Jai parle petit Francais.


Chris: Ok… If I got you to go and sit the theory test in German, that wouldn't be fair. So, if we purely look at the subsection of people that are speaking in British sign language, which is its own language, it's not English with wavy hands, it is its own language that the hands are representative of the words that are being used. The two do not match, they're not in line with each other, but we make them do it in English with a bit of BSL support. There's no word for catalytic converter, but we still expect them to answer a question about it and to be able to comprehend what it is when there's not a word for it that doesn't make sense.

So if you're trying to engage with something that is reading written, even if it's read to you, it's still in words. That test doesn't necessarily work. And this is probably 30-40 % of people that are taking the test are finding it difficult because of the way that it's written and the language that's being used.


Terry: I mean, that kind of brings me on to the student and instructor aspect of it because I will see a lot online about when we see instructors talk about it, it's often really negative. Students don't try, they just use the apps. They don't care. I appreciate those people are talking generally and I'm going to talk generally when I say this now because that's not my experience. My experience isn't that they don't care, it's that they either don't see the relevance of the theory test, which could be, as we've just touched on there, the fact that they see 20% of their questions are nonsense and 20% they don't understand, so why bother? They don't see the relevance of it. And they'll also have peer pressure. I know you're not a fan of that phrase, but the peer pressure of their friends that also don't see the point of it. And they're the ones saying I didn't practice and just did this, or whatever. And then you've got the people that genuinely struggle. Maybe it's because they've got additional needs or maybe it's just because that's something they struggle with, but I don't find it's because they just don't care or because they're lazy or that kind of stuff. But I think that is the perception most instructors have. Would you agree with that?


Chris: Yeah, absolutely. And why do something if it's pointless? If you don't see the point of it, you're not going to continue to do it. So, when they look at it and it's one or the other, either they think it's pointless and therefore they don't engage with it or they find it difficult. And a lot of people won't admit to that and it's that they find it more difficult than their friends.

So it is a challenge for everybody for their own reasons. But it's massive and it starts really early. It starts with us, and it starts when we qualify to become a driving instructor, because we do the part one in the same way and the part one is arguably even worse in its structure because we work to four bands, we don't even tell people where they're struggling. The feedback is, well, you're struggling somewhere in 25% of the whole thing, but we won't tell you exactly where. This is why I get PDIS to start with an L test because at least that's 14 categories. It tells them something. I do PDI support as well. And a lot of it's the same. It's understanding, it's having a conversation about stuff is what is a dual carriageway? That's my starting question a lot of the time, because the definition is really important, because if you're going to do a question about dual carriageways, but you haven't got the picture of what a dual carriageway is, then you're not going to get the question right. And we tend to have the motorway style road, the bypass, the big two lanes on either side, and barrier down the middle type dual carriageway in our head.

Local to me, I've got a lovely village town, high street, shops down either side, pedestrians all over the place, street lights, so it's 30 miles an hour with a barrier down the middle. There's only one lane on either side, it's a dual-carriageway. At the end of it, it's got the dual carriageway sign saying, this is a dual carriageway. And you show people that and it doesn't match what their perception is and therefore they're not going to get the answer right. So, if we can improve our understanding, and I say that because a lot of the time when I talk to instructors, the definition isn't quite right of dual carriageways as the example.

If we can get our understanding right and we can pass that on to the pupils, they're going to be better off as well. Use the right words. And by right words, I mean the words that are in the theory test. They might not be the right words, they might be the wrong ones. We use junctions all the time. But on the theory test, you only emerge from a junction, you turn left or right into a side road, so junction is coming out of which that can really help them get that visual picture in their head. And then my three favourite things, which are the things that I don't believe are being taught by instructors across the board, which is we drive on the left, we overtake on the right and we drive clockwise. And that those three things are being demonstrated, absolutely. But they are rules in the same way that if you're reading, you know, we read from left to right, whereas Chinese people read from top to bottom. And sorry, people that are reading Chinese, you don't have to be Chinese to read Chinese, but people who are reading Chinese read from top to bottom and people who are reading Arabic read from right to left. We have that default approach. So, if we teach that again, that when they go into it. It's how the road works, it's how we stay safe, it's how we are predictable. If you suddenly get someone driving down the right-hand side of the road, you know there's a problem there that keeps us safe. So why are we not teaching a foundation rule as a rule? I'm not saying it's not being taught; it's not being taught as a rule. So, it's just making sure that we have the building blocks in our teaching for the theory as well as the practical. And we are all guilty. Absolutely. Me as well. But now I've given up the car a lot less so and I'm like the reformed smoker, I'm not going to stop going on about it.


Terry: The dual carriage is one I think is the go to for me. And you use example there and I think it's also a really good example of how English language makes it harder. Because whenever I get anyone, ask me what it is, what does the word jewel mean? And every now and again you get someone that says fencing. I'm like, no, the other meaning of the word jewel. Learners are coming in and they've got all these different reasons why they're not engaged with a theory, whether it's peer pressure or whether it's additional needs or whether it's just not seeing the point because some of the questions are nonsensical. So as instructors, you've kind of gave some pointers there about certain things we can be teaching, but what can we be doing? Because I know that you're not an advocate for your job instructor, you have to be teaching theory to your learners. What can we be doing as instructors?


Chris: I think there's a lot of instructors in the same way that we teach one to one, but instructors often don't like standing in front of a room full of people. Public speaking is the biggest fear in the world. It's the number one fear. It goes above spiders and sharks and I'm yet to hear of someone dying from public speaking unless they were shouting help and didn't get any. But there's a fear factor there. I totally accept that same fear or dislike of teaching theory. It's not for everybody. I absolutely love it and I don't want to put myself out of a job, so I'm happy. If people don't want to do it, that's fine, but find a way of supporting so we don't have to teach it, but we do 100% as a driving instructor, have to support it. So have a system in place, understand what the apps are and guide people away from bad ones. Just because it says DVSA on it doesn't make it a good one. More and more so with artificial intelligence coming in that can help guide people, there's going to be apps coming through that are supported by that. So do your homework, make sure you know what the things are so you can say, this is the one that I recommend and this is why? Not just because it says DVSA, use the language that is appropriate even if you then define it and then say, but I'm going to call it this, we do it with the gas pedal. And I know electric instructors, instructors that are in electric vehicles that are still saying gas pedal because it's easier, but it's kind of then justifying it and just saying this is what the word means. But I'm not that posh. I'm not going to use that word, I'm going to use this. But as long as they know what that word means, because otherwise they come across it. And I get flashbacks to being in an English class, being pointed out and saying, do you know what this word means? Yes. Now define it and tell me what it means. I can't do that. I know I'm happy with that word, but actually I haven't got a definition. As the teachers, we should have the definition and then we don't have to necessarily use that language. We can use everyday speech. I'm not saying we should all be walking around talking in a particular way, but we need to make sure that if that is what they need to engage, then in the same way that we teach them to drive lots of different cars, not just our one, because otherwise they're getting theirs and they can't. It's that same thing with the language. Let's make sure that they're prepared for whatever the words are. Don't let the words get in the way because that's not the point.


Terry: I have some form in mind. I'll often say you can ask me free theory questions and if I don't know the answer to one, you can have 30 minutes free on your lesson. Cost me an absolute fortune. But I think that do you think at the heart of it, as instructors, we just need to be more engaged one way or another, whether that's even just getting in and saying, and I'm sure you'll approve of this, but getting in and saying, would you like me to recommend someone like various S Explained to help? Because that's not a service I provide, just that level of engagement is very basic.


Chris: Yeah, a couple of things. One, the reason that it's called Theory Test Explained is because I didn't want to just do it as my driving school, because why should other instructors recommend my driving school? Yeah, that doesn't make sense. I work alongside and I support other instructors, so most of my work comes through referrals. In fact, I give £5 off of each hour for referred work so that the instructor can be seen to be giving something as well. And as a thank you for the fact that people actually trust me enough with their pupils, I think, yeah, it is doing that. It's being open to it. And it's the same as when you get someone with a need, whatever that is. It doesn't have to be a diagnosis, just something. I had a pupil who was Russian. I talk too fast and too much and wasn't easy for. I'd always try to change it, but actually, there's this lovely, quiet instructor I used to work with. He was far more suited. I was the first person she phoned when she passed and she really appreciated it. She went there. It was brilliant. She said it wasn't that you couldn't do your job, it was that I needed something different. So, yeah, the same thing goes with the theory, let's be open to it and kind of go, all right, there's a set of skills I've tried. I just need something else. I need a bit of advice, and if that advice is me having a chat with you as an instructor, give me a call. I'm happy to give stuff away. I like to think I'm kind of known for it. I'm not precious about this stuff. If there's something that I've got that will help, I'll let you know and then you can go and use it in the car.


Terry: Just as my own personal suggestion there. And feel free to shoot me down on this if you want, but often pretty much every time someone gets in the car, one of the first things is there anything you want to speak about on your theory? And I'll expand on that. So, have you got any questions for me or would you like me to fire some questions at you? That one always seems to be more popular, me asking them questions, because that often then leads to a discussion about that thing and I'll tie it into the driving lesson we're doing and that seems to work quite well. And often it'll be a five-to-ten-minute conversation at the start, but now and again that'll go on for like 30 minutes plus a lesson and I start feeling guilty we're not driving. And I have to remind myself, no, because they're still gaining benefits and end a lesson. They love it and it's just a little introduction. And do you think that's really all we need to do at the start of the lesson is that introduction?


Chris: Yeah, it's about having the open-door policy, having the ability for the individual who's with you to raise a problem, if there is one. And we don't always feel able to. So, we've all done this, we've all sat and chewed the wasp over whatever the problem is. And actually, you kind of just get to the point where you just go, well, why didn't you ask me? That's easy, it's not a problem or it's having the opportunity there because then when there is a problem, they'll ask you. And it's the same thing that I cover when I'm doing standards check work with instructors, the risk is all important, we know that. But you decide how you're going to work, who's doing what, what's the job share. But then you move it to and how are you going to change that? How are you going to say if you want more or less help? That's the same for the theory as it is for the practical because it's one thing, it's teaching, it's working with the person towards their goal. So, giving them the dial to turn it up and turn it down, to be able to the open door to ask the question. If you don't invite it, especially at the beginning of the lesson, this is a great time to kind of go, well, let's do that. Because you get in the habit of doing so. You'll get it as a door handle question right at the end. And it'll be when you're rushing off to another lesson or there's something there. So, if you build it into your structure, inside of your world of control, you're not going to get the problems that are caused from it.


Terry: I want to ask you about the apps and just those two words, I think, just I don't know whether they strike fear or it's comedy value or whatever, but you say the apps to a driving instructor and everyone knows what you're talking about. And if you look online again, we'll use the Facebook as the premise of this question. Apps are the root of all evil. They should all be burnt down and never looked at again. Are the apps bad? Chris? Are the apps bad?


Chris: They do their job, which is revision. The problem is the industry is bad when it comes to teaching theory. So, we work on a system of revise what you haven't learnt yet. That's stupid. My twelve-year-old is off doing I'm really jealous. He's off seeing Professor Robert Winston, who's the biologist who looks like Super Mario but with glasses, and he's off doing that today. But it's like him turning up to his science GCSE without ever having gone to any of the lessons in between. And we'd be going, well, it's obvious why you haven't passed, but we just go, just revise it, it'll be fine. It can be a useful diagnostic tool if someone's done the work and they're not doing well. Like a mock test. I hate to say it, but, you know, that's what they do. They, they either assess what you don't know, they don't teach sometimes from having been told what we're not good at, we can think about why we're not good at it and we can work it out. But that doesn't make the app good at teaching.

So if you assess a monkey, not a monkey, a fish, by its ability to climb a tree, all that stuff, if you look at the apps for what they are, they're a really good revision tool. They're a really good way of going. Have I missed anything? Don't start there. I have a habit. If, if someone comes to me who's already done tests, I'll use the app at the beginning and I'll say, do a mock test. But it's the only time we're going to do a mock test because the mock test on Apps, apps and website. The mock test takes random questions. 50 random questions for the L test from all of the questions available. There are 746 of them at the moment because they've just added a load about trailers because that's how you make people safe driving trailers, if you ask them theory test questions they're not going to remember two days later. So it's okay that we got rid of the B plus E because the theory says you should get professional training for towing a trailer.

So, in the mock, it will specifically ask from all of those questions. If you use a good app that has some form of very basic AI built in, which is just monitoring of which ones they get right and wrong, when you do either all topics or you do individual topics, it will ask you the ones you've got wrong. It will focus on those. So, you've got tailored learning happening to some level, but it's not tailored learning, it's tailored revision. It's hitting you every time you get it right. Do it again, just do it again. Would you do that with a manoeuvre? Just say, just keep doing it wrong and you'll get there eventually. No, you'd look at it and go, well, which bit is wrong and what can we change? We need some reflection. But people don't even look at their results from a test. They'll go on there, then they might do 20 questions, they won't then go, which ones did I get wrong and what do I need to know to get them right next time? And one of my pupils yesterday actually pointed out that there's an error with all of the apps because I'm not aware of any that do this differently, where the answers are in the same place each time. So, she's using locational memory, this is the answer. Not because of the words or what it is, but because she knows that A is the answer to this question, because she's revised so hard but not learnt, so she can't answer the question, she just knows which one it is.


Terry: Tell me about learners that fail by one point…


Chris: It’s a real issue because the problem is when they come to me after potentially one lady failed 23 times, frustratingly, she doesn't want help, she's just going to take it again. But they come along after multiple fails. Those revision questions are useless to me because they know the answer, I'll get them to do it, they still don't get 50 out of 50, which I find really frustrating because surely if you're doing that well, the aim is to get 50 out of 50. People go and take the theory test. When they're not getting 50 out of 50, very few people do. They still get things wrong on the questions that they've done 100 times shows a problem. So good apps are still good, we just need more stuff around it.


Terry: Why do so many people just use the apps?


Chris: Until recently, what else was there? Driving instructors don't teach theory. We use going back and talking very generally and I appreciate it, people out there that do things, and all power to you, please get in touch because I'll shout about it. I'd love a list of instructors that are theory friendly. The DITC is probably going to be putting one together that kind of does that in some way. But historically, traditionally we don't teach theory, we support revision, so we will cover things in the car. If there's a question, brilliant, ask me the question and most instructors suddenly go, yeah, I can answer that, I'll explain it. But we don't do it as a matter of course for the theory itself. So that's the thing that needs to change to be able to get something out of it.


Terry: My notes here, and yes, I do have notes in big block, capital letters, screwed quite aggressively. My pen is written down, the words read the highway code and that's something that, whereas the apps will strike fear into most people's, most instructors’ hearts, is to read the highway code, that strikes fear into mine. And I appreciate that a lot of instructors that listen to me say this will probably shout at me for saying this, but I tell them not to bother. As in read it cover to cover, because it's the most boring book in the world for 90% of the population, and if you read the Highway Code from cover to cover, you would not remember 95% of it. So, I do suggest they read it, just not all in one go.

But we see that many instructors use that phrase, read the Highway Code or you'll see learners in Facebook groups talking about failing the theory test and the comments from instructors, well, have you read the Highway Code laws? Where do you stand on that?


Chris: What they really mean is know the answers. And the answers are largely in the Highway Code, so they're not a million miles away. That is, be aware that there's this thing called the Highway Code that's got the answers in it. But actually knowing isn't the issue, understanding is the key. So, I'll use About A Boy because it's my favourite reference, but I know you've heard it before. The first time I watched About A Boy, Hugh Grant film, I thought it was the biggest pile of rubbish ever. Didn't get on with it. I did not understand it. I watched it, didn't understand it. I turned 30 and I watched it again and oh my God, my world changed. I still don't think it's an amazing film, but there's some brilliant moments in it and the message behind it. I have since read the book and actually that's where the message really is. No offense to the lovely Hugh, but I think I understood it. It fell into place for me because I was ready to hear it. It matched with my way of seeing the world and what I'd experienced and knew and I realized that some of those things were important that I didn't know before.

So same when you go through a Highway Code, it's loads of words. Those words don't need to mean anything, so we shouldn't expect them to. They mean something to us. That's the other thing we've got to remember. We're all old, we're all driving instructors, so road safety is important to us. We would like to think, I hope there aren't exceptions. So, when we're talking, it's that thing of, yeah, I can talk really well to teenagers. There are things I joke about, the fact one of the theory questions says that the road is well lit. That means something totally different to a teenager. So why would they have a clue? The chest compression question, what is the rate of chest compressions that you should give when giving CPR? Used to be Nelly the Elephant. That's the rate at which if you sing Nelly the Elephant to yourself that's your chest compressions 120 /minute nobody knows Nelly the Elephant anymore also, someone pointed out to me the other day the other day that Nellie the Elephant it sounds like they're packing their case and going off to die. It's probably not what you want to be singing when someone's heart stopped. But then Vinny Jones brought along I'm sure it wasn't his idea, but staying alive being the right rhythm for it the 120 /minute so the BG. I'm not singing it you can if you like, but the BG is staying alive, so they don't know that song, which is horrific. Their music education is probably more worrying than their driving education. And Rhubarb and Custard is the other one, which was an 18 year old pupil who told me about Rhubarb and Custard so he went right to the top of the class on that one. So it is finding ways that we can engage. There's no point in me saying to them it's you've just got to sing nearly the Elephant to yourself if that means nothing to them. What I love is if you mirror 120 and overlap it the two twos make a heart which for me helps people remember it hugely.


Terry: Two quick points on that. So first of all, if anyone listening hasn't seen it, go and check out the episode of The Office where practicing CPR it's the greatest, one of the greatest TV comedy moments of all time and if that doesn't help you remember staying alive, I don't know what will. Second point with the language barrier that we do get sometimes with the 17 year olds now, somewhat ironically, lady I'm talking about wasn't 17, she was 32, I think, but we did a lesson the other day and I said she was being a bit nippy and I was meaning making the car go fast. She thought I meant something else and we had to have a discussion. So, yes, there's sometimes these language barriers that we have to be careful with, we are going to dive into Theory Test Explained. I want to hear more about that in a second but just before we do theory Test Explained is obviously the second best resource available around the theory test, what other resources are available that instructors can recommend to their students or instructors could potentially use themselves.


Chris: This is where I have to mind-read you and assume that my first thought to that is five Minute Theory Podcast.


Terry: Excellent podcast.


Chris: Was that potentially what you were hinting at? Because I never know, because sometimes you're so generous that you don't list yourself at the top of the most important things. So, yeah, no, there are a number of different resources and Five Minute Theory the bloke behind it is not the easiest to listen to, but definitely worth a listen. My mate Annie on TikTok has done an amazing job of speaking to the TikTok audience and I recommend it to everyone I work with. She's theory test practice on TikTok and goes on there. She lives on there, she's on there all the time, so she's got a theory test course. She doesn't do one-to-ones, so they get pointed in my direction. And Annie's doing some great work on there. And when we get a new question kind of filters through because we don't get to see the questions not allowed, DVSA just will not I've had that conversation. It filters through from pupils. We'll often share the bits that are coming through to try and piece it together and figure out what's going on when people are struggling. And I have to say, because I was not a fan, to begin with, safe Driving for Life, the DVSA website, there's a bit of teaching involved on there, it's not just revision and it'd be interesting to see where it goes next. Not the cheapest approach at the moment for what it is, but they have promised that instructors are going to be able to access a free module, to be able to have a look at it and assess it and show it to their pupils, which would be really good. And then James May's app because Dyslexic people particularly seem to find it really engaging. It just works in a really nice way and as instructors, you can get a free version of it. So if you go to the James May Theory Test website, you have to give an ADI number. PDIS can do it as well. As long as you've got a PRN, you're fine. So you could even do it if you were studying for your own part one. You can go there, you can get a free copy of it for yourself to use. And it's very James May. And the videos on there, I had the pleasure of being the what he called me, the tame driving instructor. So I'm practically the stig. It's like Stig's next door neighbor, isn't it? Being tame driving instructor. I'm sticking to it. I got to spend the day watching James. That the the best explanation of yellow box junctions that I've come across. Genuinely, it's worth it's worth the £1.99 for the practical videos based around why people failed the driving test that are on there. That's an additional purchase. You don't get that bit free. But I do keep asking, can we have copies for driving instructors to use on lessons? Because it is really good. And then the only other thing that I haven't said in that list is get in touch with me because if you've got specific needs, then I can point you in the right direction. If your pupils have got specific needs, I can point them in the right direction. And John Rogers at Disability Driving Instructors, who's got a little book for teaching theory pupils that one of his guys wrote and they do amazing stuff there. So if someone has more specific needs, disabilities as well, john's amazing and unfortunately will be retiring soon, so tap into him now.


Terry: Lots of awesome resources there. In particular the Five Minute Theory Podcast. And for anyone wondering that, we're back with season five soon. But for anyone listening, if you go to the blog for this episode on the websit, at the bottom of that, we'll be putting all the links over there to all the variety of stuff and other bits as well. Recommended episodes, follow ups, that kind of stuff. But we didn't speak about what is actually very probably the best theory test resource of all, which is
Theory Test Explained, because that's one to one training. It's someone that I consider the expert in the industry on the Theory Test yourself, Chris, so just take a moment to tell us a bit more about what you actually offer, both for learners and instructors.


Chris: Just because, you know, I hate the word expert, I do one to one theory training people then kind of go, what is that? It's whatever the individual needs, to be honest. Because I use Theory Test Pro because as an instructor, it's really good to be able to see what they're answering question by question. So, yes, the apps are useful for them, but Theory Test Pro for me is the one that I can see exactly what my pupils are doing and I can manage it and I can juggle them around and give them access, so I make use of that. So there is revision in there as well.

But then I do an introductory session, which works for absolutely everyone. It's not for people who have needs or are failing. I teach people who've not touched any theory yet and that's when I knew I was getting it right, because that's what we want, we want it to come in, not just clearing up the people that are struggling. So, yeah, I do an introductory session which breaks down the questions, the process, how it works, where people make mistakes. And then I start with and this is something I recommend you do in the car, start with the visual language stuff, so signs and lines because especially if someone's struggling with the written words, that helps make it make sense. But there's so much inside of one road sign that you can break down and talk about that then informs other stuff. And that's really my approach as the sessions go on. Some people just do one session, other people do a session at the beginning and end and they do lots of work in between that. I support via WhatsApp, mainly because I can do audio messaging, video messaging and answer their questions. Other people do regular, weekly or bi weekly sessions. So in doing that, I try to give them the smallest thing I can that will have the biggest result and that's the best way forwards because one bit of understanding, they can then use that in lots of different ways. It's a little bit teach them how to fish. So if you can give them that level of understanding, they'll then see similarity flashing amber lights mean proceed. If it's safe, they're all over the place for lots of different things, but the similarity is key. And then I also work to teach the rule, not the exception. And the theory test largely asks questions about exceptions. Instructors are a ****** nightmare for exceptions because different is dangerous. But let's start with the rule and then look at the exception, because actually the rule makes more sense even with roundabouts, where there's more exceptions than rules. If only there was an amazing training opportunity about roundabouts out there. But, yeah, I think that's what I do. I try to make it as simple as possible. I say it's because I am as simple as they come, but I do like to think that I've discovered in the theory something that I can really get my teeth into. That works for me. It seems to speak the same language as I do, except when the Dvsa write the question.


Terry: But as soon as you have done training opportunity for roundabouts, you say, or we may as well mention this now, on April the 12th, you are hosting the first ever instructor podcast, expert Session. I'll say that again, expert Session. You'll have heard these elsewhere master classes, but we're calling them Expert Sessions especially for Chris. And you're going to be doing that presentation on how to teach roundabouts because it's something that, as instructors, we will never talk. Go back to the old PST, it was just do it. There was no teaching there. That's on April the 12th. Are you looking forward to that, Chris?

Chris: Yeah, it's been really cool. I genuinely have enjoyed myself geeking out about roundabouts. And it's something that I've looked at before because, as you say, there wasn't a PST. So a lot of instructors from the PST days, anyone who's in air quotes new to the industry, who didn't do PSTs preset tests, you were told what to teach and that's what you taught. So therefore roundabouts weren't in there. So we didn't get taught roundabouts because we're all about teach to test and as an industry, so there's a real mix of things out there and then they suffer from this whole there's more exceptions than rules. That really makes it a challenge to kind of find, do I teach 12:00? All these other things? So I have delved in to roundabouts to the point at which other people have told me to shut up, which is common, but specifically with roundabouts. And, yeah, I genuinely think that I have discovered all of the questions, not necessarily all of the answers, because I think sometimes there's interpretation and we all need to be able to do it our way. But I've definitely got everything that I need to have an opinion on them and people can then decide what they do with that opinion, whether they disagree or agree, at least they're thinking about them. So I'm really excited about it. I'm looking forward to seeing what other people's views are. And yeah, it's a brilliant subject.


Terry: Well, I'm not going to plug it too much now, but just for anyone that's interested wants to join, that the Instructor Podcast Premium, the interactive tier. You can sign up and get the expert session with Chris. And then there's more coming up in May and June and then there'll be at least a quarter after that. And if you only want to sign off for one month, sign off one month and then cancel. So if you're only interested in the roundabouts, sign up for that one and that's all you need to do. But you also get the entire back catalog of Instructor Instructor Podcast Premium goodness. And trust me, there's a lot and there's a lot of quality. But back to you and the theory test explained. You work with students, as you say, but I know that you've worked with PDIS and before to help them with their theories. So anyone that wants help, any instructors that want to delve back into it or any PDIS can come to you. But also, you've done presentations around this in the past. I know you did one for Intelligent Instructor and a couple of other places. So can people come to you for additional help and can they come to you for these expert sessions? Masterclasses?


Chris: Yes. Have knowledge, will teach it. Absolutely, whatever. The thing is, ask me if I don't think I'm qualified or don't have the knowledge that I need. Either I'll go and find out or I'll tell you who to go to. Because that's with my Di TC hat on. That's what we do, we point people in the right direction. But yeah, with the theory, absolutely. I've done training for instructors who want to basically take my job from me and I have no problem with that. I want more theory trainers out there and I'm working on putting some things together. It's figuring that out the best way forwards, but I can definitely give some guidance and training on how to and learn from where I've gone wrong and the things that I've learned along the way. And also, as you say, with PDIs, a lot of it again is clearing up the mess to get them to a pass because they've done the hard work and just can't quite get there. But I'm getting people now getting in touch who are I need to do my part. One, can you point me in the right direction at the start of that journey? Which is brilliant. So I'm always open to the question, and I always say that I will say no if it's not. I'm very honest about my lack of ability sometimes.


Terry: Awesome. Well, a new feature on Spotify platform is that on every episode there is the option to add a question. So if you were to open this on Spotify, you can see a question or a poll. I might open those that normally know that I love a good poll. So, Chris, what question would you like to see on Spotify.


Chris: The image of you dancing with the poll? The question that I would like to ask is if you went and sat the theory test and get James May app, and you could do so for no money, but if you went and sat the theory test, would you still pass it?


Terry: Well, for those wondering, I would get 47. I think I'm confident to get 47. But you do not have to listen on Spotify. You can just go over there, look at the episode and answer the question, and I will publish the best answer. So you don't have to put yes or no. You can put an actual sentence there, and I will put them so everyone that listens to Spotify can see your answers. And Chris ultimate driving song, I can add to the instructor podcast, Spotify playlist.


Chris: I struggle with this because I hate the same song over and over again, and it's got to be something you can sing to, because that's a rule. In my car. When I lost my voice, it was horrific. I missed it so much at the moment. My two kids, twelve and six, would not forgive me if I went anywhere away from Dr. Hook, who I grew up listening to, and they are now loving. And it would probably be Millionaire by Dr. Hook, possibly cover up the Rolling Stones, but I'm going to go Millionaire.


Terry: I mean, there was, what, eight big Learner relay choir songs you could have chosen from, but no, we'll go for that one.


Chris: It's fine for me to listen to for other people, check them all out, they're awesome. And they will destroy perfectly decent songs for you for the rest of your life, that you will only hear the COVID version. But for me to drive around listening to that myself, not no, you know me better.


Terry: Where's the best place for people to find you for all theory test. Goodness.


Chris: Chris, for the theory test stuff, the moment, Facebook is my go to. So Theory Test Explained on Facebook, I'm working on the Theory Test Explained website, and you can get hold of me through there, but to be honest, any of the channels that you can get me on, so the Ditc or Theory Test Explained shout, they all come to the same place. But if you want to put pupils in the direction of me through Theory Test Explained is the number one or message me directly. And I've got a nice little explanation of what I do, which is customized to you as an instructor so you can send it out and it can be your recommendation to them and that will save them on the hourly rate for the one to one.


Terry: Well, as I mentioned earlier, you'll find some links in the show notes. If you head over to the blog, you'll find the full transcript and some more comprehensive links and details over there. But, yeah, big thank you for joining the Stickers. It's been delightful getting stuck into the Theory test.


Chris: Yeah, thank you very much.

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