The Practical Driving Assessment (PDA) is a practical on-road test. However, the theory resources available can still help with your preparation. In the lead up to the assessment you should revise the How To Pass Your Driving Assessment document produced by the Department of Transport and the summary of this content provided by Driving Test WA. This guide outlines what you should do to pass and what you should do to avoid failing. The criteria for the PDA are not a closely guarded secret – they are publicly available and should be used to your benefit. Not reading through How To Pass Your Driving Assessment and revising with the summary would be a detriment to an appropriate preparation for the PDA.
Practical experience in a vehicle will obviously form the majority of the preparation for your PDA. You can gain this practical experience (and accumulate log book hours) in two ways. You should use both methods to ensure success in the PDA.
Supervised driving with full licence holders who are not qualified driving instructors will likely form the bulk of your practical experience. Learning while being supervised by family or friends is how most learner drivers start learning to drive.
To get the best out of this experience, you should drive with a variety of supervisors. Each supervisor’s advice, driving technique and teaching style will be different. You should test a few people out, learn what you can from each and then do the majority of your hours with the supervisor you feel is adding the most value to your learning.
However, it is important to realise that your supervisors are not qualified instructors. They do not know the criteria of the PDA, what assessment officers are looking for or what routes they will use during the PDA. For this reason it is strongly recommended / necessary to seek lessons with a qualified, local driving instructor.
Professional driving lessons
Driving lessons with qualified instructors are invaluable in preparing you for the Practical Driving Assessment. These instructors know the PDA criteria, how to prepare you for the assessment and the local routes used. They have experience teaching driving and are likely better able to identify and communicate where you need to improve. Because they spend a lot of time preparing people for the PDA, they will be able to tell if you will pass the assessment based on your skills. If your driving instructor thinks you’re ready, you should be filled with confidence going into the PDA.
It is recommended that you take some lessons when you first start driving. This will give you a greater understanding of how you should be preparing and will instil positive driving behaviours before bad behaviours (perhaps learned from supervisors who don’t know about the PDA requirements) creep in and become difficult to remove. You can then continue with your supervised hours knowing you’re heading in the right direction.
As you approach your PDA you should begin the lessons again so the instructor can focus on assessment preparation and assess whether or not you’re ready to take the PDA.
Check out the other resources available to help you pass the Practical Driving Assessment and get your provisional licence (Red Ps):