How to get a driver’s licence in Hong Kong Part 2: what to expect during driving lessons

How to get a driver’s licence in Hong Kong Part 2: what to expect during driving lessons

The quality of driving instructors may vary widely, and the focus is on passing the test rather then teaching the basics

Last week, we spoke about the process of getting a driver’s licence in Hong Kong, and why it is so stressful. For example, if you fail your test, you have to wait a long time (six to nine months) to take it again. So it’s important to make the most of your driving lessons and be as prepared as possible for your test.

However, as Young Post deputy editor Karly Cox will tell you, that is often easier said than done.

“I am absolutely terrified of driving,” said Cox, who has had three 90-minute lessons so far, but before she signed up for the course had never driven. She assumed there would be some introductory steps before she had to get into the driver’s seat, but her instructor took her straight onto the road and made her drive. He then started teaching her how to pass the exam - but not the basics.

How to get a driver’s licence in Hong Kong Part 1: application and requirements

“There was no ‘you’ve never been in a car before’ sort of thing, or basic introduction. It was immediately, ‘OK, today we’re going to teach you how to park,’” she said. “He basically just talked me through it, explaining to me that if I park this way, and don’t hit the curbs, then I’ll pass the test.

“I remember thinking, ‘I don’t feel that I know how to do this at all’. My instructor talked me through it, but there’s no way to practise for two weeks until the next lesson,” which hasn’t helped with her confidence, she said.

“I am expecting to fail the exam, and I have accepted that.”

Cox was also frustrated with the fact that she had a different instructor for each of her lessons.

“My first instructor couldn’t speak English, even though I paid for English lessons,” she said. “He couldn’t explain things or describe things, which seems incredibly dangerous when you’re driving a machine that could kill someone.

“He kept pointing at things and saying ‘the ... um, the ... the ...’, and I just kept saying ‘this could be anything! I can’t drive; this is why I’m paying you to teach me!’”

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Cox said her second instructor was great, but was only sitting in for her third instructor, who placed much more emphasis on teaching how to pass the test than actually teaching her how to drive.

Overall, Cox described her lessons as being: “Very Hong Kong.”

“It is all about efficiency and the final result, which is passing the exam. Obviously passing the exam is important, but Hong Kong has always had a very exam-driven culture, and with driving it’s no different.”

Her advice to anyone thinking of getting their licence in Hong Kong is to “start young”.

“I am way too old to be doing this! Even though I don’t expect to pass my test [first time], I want to be able to drive, and I really wish I had started sooner.”

One person who started young is YP Junior Reporters’ Club manager Rhea Mogul, who took her first lessons when she was 19 and passed her test on her first go.

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“For me, the lessons were fine. My instructor went over everything I needed to do to pass the exam so I didn’t feel too nervous about my test,” said Mogul who, unlike Cox, had one instructor the whole way through. Both Cox and Mogul took lessons at the Hong Kong School of Motoring Ap Lei Chau centre.

Mogul’s tip for passing the test on the first go is to practise on the day of the exam.

“I met my instructor two hours before my test and we just practised going over the test route and everything I needed to do beforehand, so I was all warmed up,” she said.

Not being nervous, she said, is crucial to passing any test, especially a driving exam. So let’s hope Cox can go into her test with confidence when her time comes!

In part 3, we will look at effective ways to stay calm, the exam itself, as well as how to get a driver’s licence outside Hong Kong

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Taking the wheel


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