Hello! Wanted to write up on my journey in Bukit Batok Driving Centre ever since a few weeks ago when I finally got my license. I thought of how I've always been searching online for tips on driving tests and what to expect in the next stages or so. Hence, I've decided to create a simple guide for those out there who might be interested in learning more about driving at BBDC or in general. =)

(CONTENT UPDATED AS OF FEB 2014)

Disclaimer: This post is based on my own personal experience and opinions I hear from my circle of friends and my driving instructors. Still, I hope you find this guide helpful! (OR you can just skip to the Day of my Driving Practical Test below, because I got the funniest tester ever!!)

1. Enrolment to Bukit Batok Driving Centre
It's been a while since I first enrolled into BBDC after I turned 18. At that time, I was still unsure whether to sign up for School or Private classes because I didn't get to know the pros and cons of both sides. All I got was pros on why signing up for classes in School was better because I was attended to by the BBDC staff.

Q: Which category did you sign up for? 
A: I signed up for Class 3 Manual License, and took up School classes.

Q: Should I take up School or Private classes for driving?
A: Here are some of the Pros and Cons from my personal take on this.


School:

1. Step-by-step & detailed lessons
They have different Stages (Stage 1) with sub-classes (1.1, 1.2, 1.3...) that teach you different techniques before you move on to the next stage.

2. Assistance from Friendly Staff
I really like how BBDC staff attend to my needs almost all the time without hesitance. Every time I can't find my way to my Basic Theory Lesson class or unsure of where to print my training slips, I'd just approach any staff at the lobby or the service counter.

3. Tips from different instructors
Unless you pay extra charges for a fixed instructor, we usually get different instructors every time and they always have different tips and advice you can learn from.

4. Better knowledge of Circuit
Ever since my first practical class, we've had our lessons inside the Circuit so we will be more familiarized with the numbering in the Circuit course and the rules to obey.

5. Better handling of Test Car
Also, different cars have different engines and controls, and it's unlikely that the Private Instructors' cars are the same as the test cars you will have on the day of your Practical Test. However, the cars in School are all the same, in which you'll practice from during each lesson.

6. Expensive
Well, but I have to admit that they charge more costly at about $70 per lesson as compared to about $40 per lesson for Private classes (as what I heard from my friends who take Private classes). However, there are, of course, different ranges in which Private instructors charge, depending on which you go for.

7. Time-consuming
Despite the convenience that the BBDC Shuttle Bus provides from Bukit Gombak MRT Station, we have many Stages and sub-stages to complete as compared to Private lessons that usually squeeze a few techniques into one class itself, without a proper system.

8. Extra Evaluation Test for BTT and FTT
I also heard that Private Students can book Basic and Final Theory Tests without having to pass their Evaluation test first.

Private: 

It's more or less explained under the previous section! I guess it really depends on which is towards your own preference. :-)

2. Basic Theory Lessons
Handbooks on the Basic Theory and Final Theory of Driving
After applying for my BBDC membership for Class 3 Manual Driving License, they provided these handbooks in the package, along with a complimentary BBDC bottle and some pamphlets.

Within the next few days, I started booking for my two Basic Theory Lessons. Basically, during these lessons, they played videos to aid our learning process and occasionally used a few toy cars for demonstration on the fundamentals.

3. Basic Theory Practice & Evaluation

Next, we had to book our Evaluation class before we could book our actual Basic Theory Test. Optional Practice classes (about $3+) were also advisable to go for.

4. Basic Theory Test (BTT) 

Before entering the Test Room, my hands were cold and I was rather nervous because it was my first official driving test, although it was just testing on theory. Managed to get a full 50 mark and I felt so proud of myself also, to be the first to leave the class and print out my Pass Slip /teehee/ *show off moment*.

*Tip: Go for more Practice lessons because all the questions come from there, and usually, the easier ones will come out. :-)

5. Final Theory Lessons

Went for the next two Final Theory Lessons after I passed my BTT.

6. Practical Training Stage 1
My Provisional Driving Licenses (PDL) for Practical Driving classes
Super excited when I got my first PDL because this certified that I could start learning how to drive under the guide of an instructor! Even though I haven't passed my FTT, I started going for Stage 1 of Practical Training classes and got to know the basics of driving - how to operate the car, turn around bends, sharp turns..

7. Final Theory Practice & Evaluation

Unfortunately, I didn't study enough for my Final Theory Evaluation to have passed it the first time. I failed twice before I passed the Evaluation because of lack of Practice sessions.

In BBDC, when you log in your account in the Practice Room on the touch-screen interface, you get to choose from a list of booklets in which you can practice at your own pace and liking within about 50 minutes of the whole session. For BTT, there were only 4-5 booklets (as of 2012/2013), but FTT had 10-11 booklets, which equate to a higher probability of questions likely to be tested.

*Tip: Besides going for more Practice lessons, download search "BTT" or "FTT" on the AppStore for Driving Phone Applications that provide some Q&A that might help you!

8. Practical Training Stage 2
Letter sent to my home on the renewal of membership and PDL (this is why I have two PDLs)
Being too occupied with my social life and studies in Polytechnic, there was a period of time whereby I had not gone back to practice my skills for 3 months.

It was also partially due to an incident with one of the instructors when he was upset with me for not listening to him but I was even more furious because I thought that they were supposed to practice patience to the learning customers. We are there to LEARN and MAKE MISTAKES, else why the fuck would we be there in the first place. 

I was not looking forward to going back there because of the chance to be under his coaching again, which I hated. Thankfully, my luck for the next few months was good and I met lots of funny and patient instructors which I'm thankful for even until today. =)

9. Final Theory Test (FTT)

FINALLY, I was able to clear my FTT Stage and move on with booking for my test date! To book for a test date, we have to wait about 2-3 months before the actual day of the event.

*Tip: It's good to book your Driving Practical Test in advance and make use of this time to complete the final Stages and not lose touch with driving over these months.

**Tip: Book your Practical Test at a timing before/after lunch, preferably around 10-11am and 1-2pm because this is the period of time whereby traffic outside isn't as heavy. 

10. Driving Simulator

We also had to complete a Driving Simulator course, which was just "virtual driving" and showing scenarios of dangerous real-life scenarios that you'll have to try to avoid in the virtual world.

11. Practical Training Stage 3 (Circuit)

Stage 3 was specifically just for driving within the Circuit course without going to the main road. There were about 8-9 components of this, such as E-Brake, S-Course, Crank-Course, Vertical Parking, Parallel Parking, Three-Point Turn, Directional Changing, and Slope.

*Tip: For the Crank-Course, e.g. if you're turning left, drive your car closer to the right side so you have more space on your left when turning.

**Tip: For the Vertical Parking, the turn is sharper, so make sure your car moves out straight, until your shoulder is aligned with the road, before turning left/right.

12. AutoCar Lesson 

Went for a Auto Car Lesson and tried out all the Circuit components, plus an extra component that required the Auto Car to go up a small hump. Can't recall what the Stage is called, but it was okay.

Although driving an Auto Car is much easier than a Manual one because it doesn't require the use of the clutch and doesn't stall or jerk often, it was surprisingly harder to control because there wasn't enough engine brake or not at all. For example, when moving downslope or turning, I had to use a lot of my braking technique.

13. Practical Training Stage 4

For Stage 1-3, there are about 10-11 lessons to go for, but Stage 4 only had 4-5 and Stage 5 had 1, which is the Final Revision.

Because I was involved in school activities, exams, and was away from Singapore for a week, I was lacking time to finish by 5 Stages before the required date for completion. If I hadn't been able to do so, my Practical Test would be cancelled (costs above $200) and I had to wait another 2-3 months to book for the next one.

Hence, I tried a few ways to speed up my process with the help from the kind staff and instructors. =)

*Tip: Let your driving instructors know (at the start of the lesson) that your test is coming. Ask nicely if they could help you clear 2 sub-stages within 1 lesson if you are able to show that you know your techniques well enough.

**Tip: Approach the service counter and tell them that you'd like to book practice sessions before your upcoming test, but many training slots are taken. They might open up some slots for you. 

14. Practical Training Stage 5


Lastly, the final stage before my revision and Practical Test. I got to try out different Test Routes in Stage 4 and 5, with 10-11 Test Routes in total.

The harder ones are Test Routes 6 and 8, which involved slopes and necessary lane changes at certain points of time.

15. Revision

It's good to book lots of Revision Lessons before your actual Test to just familiarize yourself with most of the test routes, circuit, and functions of the car. I actually had more Revision Lessons (booked at the last minute) because I was shitting bricks and dead nervous.

*Tip: Don't book Revision Lessons on the previous night of your test because you need ample rest for the next morning. Remember to sleep and eat well!

16. Day of Driving Practical Test
Checklist which the Tester will be marking against during my Practical Test
The big day arrived and despite a night full of worry about how embarrassing it would be to fail and how much time I would be wasting on waiting for my next Practical Test, I tried looking at the brighter side (with the encouragement from my friends and family) that I've had enough revision and I will be fine as long as I don't panic the next day.

Warm-Up Session: 

I met one of the funniest instructors and I liked how he kept trying to calm my nerves down by cracking jokes and saying encouraging words. I asked him whether the testers will be too strict on us and he said they probably behave coldly because many students might have complained about them being a distraction when they try to engage in a conversation. :-(

He also mentioned that there might be a chance that one of the Malay testers talk to me, and I went, "Yes yes, then I hope I'll get him!!" 

I was excited yet a little nervous to meet my tester and take my final test.

*Tip: Remember to take deep breaths and DO NOT PANIC for your test! Take it nice and slow, and be confident. 

Practical Driving Test:

I adjusted my test car's mirrors and seats comfortably before I went up to the Waiting Room for my name to be called. One by one, the guys were being called out by different testers - some were friendly and some were rather rude. I was praying that I'd get a good tester.

Tester: "Ms Teng?"
Me: "Ah.. ya ya!" *stupidly waddles out to the main office*

*Tip: Greet your tester. (in which I missed my chance to do)

To my surprise, it was that Malay tester (I'm sorry I have to address him this way, no intention of sounding like a racist) that he was referring to!! ^^ He gave me my car key and I proceeded downstairs to start the car engine. He first explained to me about the basic rules of the test.

Tester: "Ok, so I will give you instructions on turning right or turning left. If I tell you to turn right, you signal right. If I tell you to turn left, you signal left. If I don't say anything, continue going straight. And remember to stop before white lines or Stop lines. Understood?"
Me: "Ya!"
Tester: "Do you know what to do if I tap on the dashboard?"
Me: "E-brake?"
Tester: "E-brake e-brake.. What is E-brake??"
Me: "Emergency brake?" *omg*
Tester: "Ya... So now, we start around the circuit before going out to the test route. Ok, you can begin when you're ready!"

Started driving around the Circuit and a little anxious because he didn't really talk and when he tapped the dashboard he SLAMMED and shouted "STOP!" LOL. I kia tio xD I forgot how we started talking but it started to get funnier and I felt rather relaxed because I always talk to my driving instructors, too. =)

Tester: "So you working now?"
Me: "No lah, I go to Singapore Polytechnic! Actually going later to help out for the Open House."
Tester: "Wa, still school ah? Never cawin? (means married in dialect)"
Me: "No HAHA."
Tester: "HAHA I joking lah. Oh you going school later ah, no wonder you wear more.. special." (I was wearing my slightly baggy jeans and my tie-dye long-sleeved top)
Me: "Actually they tell me to wear nice nice impress the tester, then still put perfume and makeup so that I can pass the test. HAHA. But I didn't put makeup and perfume lah, don't know how to put."

So we continued chatting away from time to time until he got me to do another round of vertical parking.

Me: "Parking? I thought done already?"
Tester: "Oh ya! Aiyo, forget ah, sorry! We go out test route now!" /laughs/

Haha! Went out and he said about going to Test Route 3.

Me: "Wa, heng ah! I thought will kena Test Routes 6 or 8, then got slope I usually not good de."
Tester: "Slope ok what, just now your circuit slope not bad leh!"
Me: "No lah, because the slope outside has a zebra crossing and usually a lot of people will be there, and a lot of pressure from the cars behind also! But heng ah, I never kena!"

And I found out why he stayed in silence because afterwards, when he told me to turn right, I found out that TEST ROUTE 3 HAD THE SLOPE TOO AND I WAS LIKE WTF YOU DIDN'T TELL ME LOL. But I managed to get through it HAHA. /phew/

Me: "You know they always say that the testers are very scary, very fierce, don't talk..."
Tester: "Why ah, I also hear that you know. You tell me, I fierce or not?"
Me: "Ah...... xD"
Tester: "I where got fierce, I talk to you what!"
Tester: "When we talk to the people taking test, they say we distract them, then they complain. So we don't talk, but people say we fierce. Haiya, how?"

*after a while, I got distracted and stepped the accelerator and clutch at the same time and got a bit jerky*

Me: "Alamak why like that. You lah, talk to me!!"
Tester: "I talk to you that's why like that?! Ok don't talk already, I don't talk, I don't talk."


HAHA. But we were kidding lah. And although our journey was full of laughter and stupid conversations, I still managed to concentrate on the road almost all the time, and he did pay attention to the road too and did his job! I just want to make a point that not all testers are as cold-hearted as we think, it's just whether you want to engage in a conversation or not with them. =)

Back to the Circuit:

As soon as I was about to stop the car by the side and before the entrance, I saw my previous instructor and started waving to him. I then forgot to put to neutral gear before pulling up the handbrake and releasing the clutch, and the engine stalled just as I stopped. LOL. My tester pointed at the gear and said, "Ah, ah, ah!" before he closed the door and left. So thankful he closed an eye on that. :')

Went up to take a seat before waiting for him to come. He first told me about how I did, one by one on the mistakes that I made, and I got more and more nervous because this meant there were more and more demerit points which I did not expect!!

Tester: /flips paper and signs/
Tester: "So... You come back again ok?"
Me: "HUH?"

My heart completely dropped and I could feel my tears forming a little.

Tester: "I mean you come back to watch the graduation video lah..." /shows me my paper/ 

17. Graduation
Got Class 3 Manual License and Class 2B Motor License within a few days difference :*
P A S S E D


Me: /laughing with tears still welling up/ "OMG. You scared me, waaaaa.... Really scared me sia really.."
Tester: "True what! Must go see Graduation Video first right!"
Tester: "You have money?"
Me: "Huh???"


I thought he changed his mind and wanted me to attend more driving lessons or something!!!

Tester: "Money to buy your license lah! You ah, I say a bit you look like you're going to cry already, haha."

He even helped me to get a chop from the counter and asked the staff to help me out because it was already closed at that time, and he wanted to save me another trip down to make my license. So nice!

Just super thankful to have met him and all the other nice instructors who have been patiently guiding me through my journey in BBDC. Also, Danston, Wei Min and Sze Ki, because they were my best encouragement in helping me keep my calm during the test. Thank you :')

18. Post-grad
Drey taught me how to operate his car and I was just overly excited about everything.
Got my first shot at driving outdoors with a Qualified Driver's License (QDL). Thank you Andrey for risking your car's life for a new driver (although we only drove around Singapore Polytechnic) and Andrey/Wei Min for being my first passengers. And, Andrey, cheer up. =)

That sums up my journey in BBDC and it really had been a more meaningful experience learning how to operate a Manual car! Hope this came useful for some of you, and all the best for your test! :-D