Can’t Decide between school or private instructors? Here’s some help

October 30, 2016 at 5:24 pm / by

There are two methods to learn driving in Singapore. Whether you are intending to take manual transmission(Class 3) or automatic transmission(Class 3A). You have the option of going by private driving instructors or by going to one of the three schools available in Singapore. Bukit Batok Driving Centre(BBDC), Singapore Safety Driving Centre (SSDC) or Comfort Driving Centre (CDC). However, not all schools and instructors are created equal or have the same standards and it is important to know what you want before signing up. In this article, we will explain more about private driving instructors in Singapore and what you can expect from them. 

Private Driving Instructors

Private instructors have existed way before driving schools came to past in Singapore and they are mostly taught by really experienced individuals with their own personal cars. They are issued with licenses from the Traffic Police (TP) which have since stopped issuing these licenses. This means that after this generation of private instructors retire, you will only be left with the choice of learning from one of these 3 learning schools. The key points of learning from instructors are beneficial but there are also flaws in these systems. As such, the points below will help you to decide if learning private driving lessons are suited for you.

Cheaper in pricing

driving lesson cost

Private instructors are definitely the way to go if you want to save money. To learn from an instructor, you will have to pay a compulsory, no-refund registration fee of about $80-$130 without GST. Most instructors charge about $80 dollars though This is to ensure that you don’t hop instructors from lesson to lessons. Comparing this to the Driving schools They charge the following with GST: BBDC $96.30, CDC $165.85 and CDC $112.35-$165.85 depending on course. It is also stated in a table below for better reference.

MethodRegistration FeeDifference in Price from private

From the table it is obvious that learning privately is much more affordable. To add, all courses and lessons from driving schools are subjected to GST charges, something which private driving instructors do not charge.

Theory Lessons

In order to pass your Class 3/3A license you have to take a Basic theory test, a Final Theory Test and finally the TP test. If you were to take the private route, theory lessons are not compulsory for you and you can self study through an application like one we created with over 600 test bank questions or through one of the traffic police manuals. These lessons are not cheap by any means and as usual we have provided a table below for you

Theoretical lesson$17.12included in registrationincluded in registrationNil 
Theory Practice Session$3.21$3.21$5.35Nil 
Theory Evaluation Session$5.35included in registrationincluded in registration Nil 
Test $6.50$6.50 $6.50 $6.50 

Lesson Fees

The ambiguity of prices is even more apparent here. Manual Lessons from the private sector costs $32-$36 per hour depending on peak periods and locations which Automatic transmission Lessons cost $34-38(automatic transmission cars are costly) per hour. In Comparison, the costs of lessons from the schools are s follows: BBDC $41.10-$46.20 per hour, CDC $41.10-$46.20 per hour and SSDC $38.52-$42.80. We divided the time to per hour as driving schools normally have only 100 min or 120 min slots per lesson while private instructors are more flexible with timings. As usual, we have summed up the prices in a table below.

MethodPrice per lessonDifference in Price from Private

You can really see that the difference of price is quite large of up to 20%-30% per lesson.

For private driving instructors you normally make payment to the instructor directly via cash while for schools you always have to remember to top up your account for the lesson via cash or credit/debit cards. 

Booking of Lessons

booking driving lessons

For Private Instructors, you can only book through their personal mobile phone or usually after your lesson. However, do note that usually once you book your lesson you need to give your instructor a 48h notice if you want to cancel the lesson. Reason because the instructor’s time is precious and every last minute cancelled lesson means a gap of income for the instructor. If you do not cancel within the 48 hour window you will still have to pay the instructor for the lesson despite you not attending it.

Lesson plan

Lesson plans are very dynamic with private instructors. If the instructor feels that you are progressing quicker than usual he can then move you on to the next lesson. In addition, there is no fixed lesson plan which means the instructor can change the lesson plan at any time depending on traffic conditions. You do not have to pass any requirements as the instructor will assess you and coach you as you go along. Compared to driving schools where you have to pass a certain requirement before going onto the next lesson. This can really hinder your progress because if you do not pass the requirements you will have to redo the lesson until you are able to pass. If you are a learn who requires a rigid learning structure then this will be the way to go for you.

Conduct of Lessons


For private instructors the lesson normally starts at the pick up point. After which the instructor will direct you on the place to go to conduct you lessons. The lessons are usually conducted along the various test route for the traffic police test to familiarize you before your TP test. 

Schools are very different because majority of your lessons at the start will be done in the circuit. Only after you clear most of the lessons will you then be able to go out into the public roads to start your lessons.

Private instructors tend to have more experience in this domain as they know what the traffic police is looking for during their tests. That said, some private instructors tend to be more impatient because after all you are using their car and they would definitely like to avoid getting into an accident as repairs could affect their income inevitably. Instructors might also use their phones while teaching you but it is important to be understanding. The instructor is probably looking at his schedule or answering another student enquiries and booking a session.

Traffic police Test

If you have gotten this far into the course, congratulations. You only have another hurdle to clear before getting your license. For private learners, you need to rent the vehicle from your instructor which can cost from $150-$200 dollars. This might be expensive but it is worth it compared to school learners because you will use the same vehicle which you have been learning on during this whole process.

School learners won’t get to use the same exact vehicles because the vehicles you use will be rotated with all existing students. The cost are as follows for the different schools: BBDC $171.20, CDC $205.44(weekday)-$209.72(weekends) and SSDC $149.80. 


To conclude, There are many positive aspects to learn from a private driving instructor but the most apparent is the flexible learning as well as the cost. Many students learning from private instructors average about $800-$1200 for the entire course with registration while driving school learners reports about an average of $1500-$2500. If you would like to start learning driving, we also have a sign up page where you can get a private instructor allocated to you within 48h. The registration rate is also cheaper here at $65(usual $70-$130)


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