My BBDC Experience (School)

Hahaha I know it’s incredibly odd to be blogging about this, but while I was going through the process, I knew I googled a lot of things (especially before my actual TP Test) so I decided I should write a post on this. 

To help other fellow Google-rs who want to find out more about this!! And once again, to entertain my friends who actually read this space… who are at various stages now, from unregistered to test-takers-to-be. :-) 

Actually I don’t really have much things to say, and that everything is pretty straightforward. I can’t be sure the information I write here is 100% accurate, but yes this is what an ignorant member of the public knows about what she has gone through! 

Learning to drive has been a huge part of my break so far, so yes, I find the need to jot all the little details down. I hope it’s either helpful for you, or entertaining la okay. Nice big headers to help you navigate to relevant sections.

General Summary:

- Learnt 3A (Auto) and passed my TP Test on first attempt *v* (I was really lucky)
– Spent ~$2.6k altogether from compulsory theory things (lessons, practices, evaluation) to practicals to TP test
– Cleared everything theory-related by Jan (only exception is FTT actual test in late Feb)
– Practical lessons took place from Mid-Feb to End-Apr (2 months plus)

1) The First Step 

Of course, the first thing you need to do if you wish to register as a school candidate will be to head down to the centre – people can argue all day about the pros and cons about learning in the school or as a private learner, and the reason why I opted to go as a school candidate is mainly because my sister strongly encouraged it (from her past experience) since I am completely diving into this without knowing what’s really going on.

I guess as a private candidate, the benefits are evident: flexible timings with your instructors (some friends of mine have instructors who impose rules of arranging maximum one lesson a week), not needing to take PRACTICES and EVALUATIONS before basic/final theory tests, not needing to attend FOUR  COMPULSORY THEORY LESSONS, and most importantly, the debatable “BECAUSE IT’S CHEAPER!!!!!!!” reason.

I wouldn’t know for sure if it’s cheaper – stats point out that private students have a higher chance of failing (but I don’t know where these stats are from…) and as such, the hefty test fees ($235.72) will have to be paid again and again and again, depending on how many times you fail. This number has apparently gone up to 10 before. But then again, I wouldn’t know…

ANYWAY I will stop spouting nonsense and I will urge you to consider going to the school to learn, unless you know of amazing private instructors who are lovely to hang out with, for 90-100 minutes a week.

This post is really about the school, so yes. I will stop blabbering.

I think the total fees paid for my driving license (WHICH CAME A FEW DAYS AGO!) came up to $2.6k, but I know this is pretty pricey and that some people have paid ~$1.8k or less. I think the crazy amount of revision lessons I booked may have contributed greatly to this amount. I didn’t want to fail my TP test at my first attempt, because failing it meant needing to pay another 400 bucks (test fees and 2 compulsory revision lessons – apparently you need not attend, but you need to pay, so… yeah) and I don’t want to waste anymore money la!!

2) Theory 

Okay, so the deal in BBDC is that you have to attend 4 theory lessons (they will scan your NRIC before and after the lesson, to ensure you’re REALLY there) and before you’re allowed to book for your actual Basic Theory Test (BTT) and Final Theory Test (FTT), you have to pass the evaluation of the test first. I don’t think practices are compulsory, but it’ll be good for you to attend at least one to attempt a few questions (the ones I found online werent nearly as good, because the questions from the practices ARE reused in both the evaluation and the actual test). Full marks for these tests are very attainable, but FTT was really tricky for me. I had a hard time understanding how the clutch worked okay because I was just guessing here and there.

I am actually pretty competitive and I made sure I scored full marks for both tests to boast to my sister and my mother. Who didn’t really care anyways. (I am kidding)

Theory is really a breeze, and I strongly recommend you to attend practice sessions for FTT (maybe BTT is too B) before going for evaluation. It’s really not easy peasy lemon squeeeeeeezy. But maybe its just me.

3) Practical 

This is probably the most exciting part!!!

When you pass your BTT, you can book for all your practical lessons. I took my BTT in End Jan, and the earliest CLUMP of slots I could book began in late March la okay. The thing about booking is that you can only book 3 lessons PER WEEK in advance. I didn’t know then, but I quickly found out. Anyway, I started picking up the try-sell slots from mid-Feb, which I strongly encourage everybody to do, to get things moving quickly. My friend then told me I could actually attend 3 + scramble to buy try-sell slots within the week – but I had no clue!!! 

I was very confused all the way from the beginning la I was really just knocking my way around.

When you book at one shot, you will usually get a FIXED group, without the surcharge. If you decide that you want to decide on that particular group in the future, and you book insufficient lessons, you will need to pay $3+ more for the group, or ~$6 for the SAME instructor. Therefore, I strongly urge you to book up to 30 lessons at one go, if possible. Or book THE MAXIMUM you can.

This sounds crazy right. But better safe than sorry, and the cancellation limit at BBDC’s portal is up to 1000 times, i.e. at the end of the day, you can just cancel the remaining slots you didn’t use, and get back whatever money those lessons are worth!!! Don’t worry about cancelling your slots 2 days before they’re due – they’ll be wiped out before you can blink. Because when you’re at the end of your journey, others are just beginning theirs. And they’re intense. HAHAHAHAHA.

My instructor group was G8035, and the instructors are really all incredibly lovely (at least those I met!) I would describe them all, but it’s a little creepy. If you ever decide to choose your own instructor group (they’re randomly allocated), then you can bet on them.

The thing about picking up try-sell slots (i.e. slots that other people cancelled less than 2 days before their lesson) is that you get their instructor group, so for the first five lessons or so, I was jumping about randomly. And I had this really scary man for my Stage 1 Review.

Ahh I have so many things to say!!!!!!

Anyway there will be five stages altogether, where you learn the basic stuff (Stage 1), the more advanced stuff like lane-changing/u-turn (Stage 2), the circuit stuff like parking/ramp/slope/crank courses (Stage 3), the test routes (Stage 4) and the final revision (Stage 5). There’s always a review lesson at the end of each stage for the instructor to evaluate your progress.

Evidently I was very, very terrible (hopefully better now) on the road at the beginning (it was my sixth lesson), and the aforementioned scary instructor had zero tolerance for my crap. I think he was having a bad day and meeting me shot his anger scale from a 10/10 to a 100/10, because I did silly things like stopping behind a yellow box to wait for the bus to leave. Emergency jamming because I was so bad at controlling the brakes. Not observing street signs properly and the speed limits. AIYA I really was a terrible driver that day (he made me so nervous too!) but he was really frightening and I prayed I would never ever get him again. And I didn’t. HAHAHAHAHA. He told me to run if I ever saw him again. It was really that bad. But I didn’t see him because he wasnt in my group to begin with!!

The first time I went for lesson I had no idea how anything worked and I was so surprised that the instructor knew exactly what lesson I was on (Lesson 1) and then I realised they update their iPads in real time la so obviously he knew. But I really was so clueless hahahaha. Okay not funny.

I cleared the curriculum in 22 lessons (including the one I forgot to bring my NRIC = cannot leave the circuit and it was Stage 2 wahh heart pain) but I booked another 8 revision lessons afterwards HAHAHA because I wanted to book my traffic police test a few weeks later (I knew I wasnt ready to take on the tester!!!) and yes.. I decided on 20 May. Because the 20th of each month is very special to me!

I wish I can give more credit to all the instructors who ever taught me – Mr Wee (the team leader WE DEVELOPED A BOND… hopefully not one-sided), Mr Toh (honestly my favourite because he was so bubbly and patient),Mr Yeo, Mr Yeow, Mr Ng, Mr Wee (another instructor!), Mr Tang… and more!! But these instructors are the ones I’ve gotten a few times over my 30 lessons hahahaha.

4) Actual TP Test

I cannot describe to you how nervous I was for my TP Test. I think most of it stems from the additional pressure I placed on myself – I must pass on my first attempt because I’ve wasted enough $!!

It was quite reassuring to hear from Mr Wee (the team leader) that I was “expected to pass” two lessons before my test (I thought that’d be the last time I saw him!!! But he was my warm-up instructor hahahah more on that later)… I think that is a great progress from that time the other Mr Wee told me “you should pass on your second or third attempt”, because he said I was too safe on the road and its easy to get penalised! My Stage 5 review didn’t go all that well……. and I really am not an amazing driver. How I perform is really dependent on how relaxed I feel with the instructor, and that really shouldn’t be the case.

My actual test day came on 20 May 2016 as mentioned, and I was so incredibly lucky. For many reasons.

#1 It didn’t rain, despite the fact that the weather forecasted predicted heavy thunderstorms, and that it has been raining like mad for the past few days.

#2 My instructor for warm-up was Mr Wee (I warmed up to him – he wasnt the most loving in the beginning hahaha!) and he was reassuring and reminded me patiently what I should do/look out for… and the route he brought me in the circuit during my warm-up was very similar to my actual test. Which makes me wonder if he actually knew…………….. (I don’t think so but I can’t be sure)

#3 The test route I took was Test Route 6, towards the CCK area, which has no U-turns (something I struggle with). It’s not about steering the wheel/making the turn itself, but more of lane-changing smoothly all the way to the left (and sometimes back to the right for a right-turn) in heavy fast traffic. And I think all the other routes have U-turns in them REALLY INSANE I don’t know how I managed to get such incredible luck.

#4 My tester didn’t test me on the emergency brake – previously, my instructors told me that my E-brake was a little too soft, but I perfected it during my warm-up session la because I asked Mr Wee to keep slamming the dashboard HAHAHAH but still I wasnt 100% confident – which is odd, because E-brake is very straightforward. It just involves slamming the brakes as hard as you can IMMEDIATELY after the instructor beats the poop out of the dashboard. But oh well!

Basically you have a warm-up session before your actual test, which lasts up to 30+ minutes. The test can start as soon as this session ends, or it can drag out to around half an hour later. For me, I booked Session 6 (I think?) – my warm up started at 12.55pm and my test began at 1.45pm or so. The test car was in terrific condition, so the brakes were amazing and it felt newer la.

During my warm-up, nothing went wrong except that I accidentally rolled slowly off the stop-line without completely stopping and made a right turn – which can give me an immediate failure in the actual test la. The day before, I mounted the kerb at the S-course which never happened before and I was terrified it would happen again. I really was a ball of nerves, and my sister asked if I was more nervous before my Uni admissions interview or driving test. My answer was the latter.

I think cars are very dangerous if a reckless driver happens to be in charge of the wheel, and we all know how they are capable of causing unfavourable scenarios, and I really wanted to be safe while competent at the same time.

But okay deep thoughts aside, while I was waiting in the room for my tester to call my name, I was surprisingly calm and all I can say is… being calm is really the way to ace the test!!

I didn’t exactly ace the test though, because I got 18 points (to pass, you have to get below 20 points)… and 12 came from the last five minutes when I was lane-changing to get back to the centre. I was too eager because I was close to the junction already and there was a taxi behind me la but okay in the end I got 12 points from lane-changing abruptly and causing another vehicle to take evasive action (not really… but okay).

I really have no good tips to offer, but I think its essential to score 0 points in the circuit – try to make sure everything is perfect inside, because road conditions are always unpredictable! And it’s really not difficult la to do well in the circuit as long as all the turning points are noted properly + don’t mount kerbs at all costs!! And really just take it easy and breathe – the worst that can happen is that all does not go well but that can be fixed!! I really know how nerve-wrecking it can be.

I wasnt expecting to pass, even though I really, really wanted to, but I am so thankful I ultimately did at my first attempt! They say a lot of it is based on luck – your tester’s mood, your test route, the weather, the time slot’s traffic conditions and roadworks, etc. but I think a large portion is how calm you are. The fact that you made it to booking a test already means you got the basics down la so just need to make sure you’re calm and steady, then the testers will be happy and will be willing to overlook tiny mistakes. And be polite!! And smile!!

Oh ya. About the time slot for tests, a lot of people have different sayings – an instructor told me a good time will be 9+, and another said 11-2 will be nice, and another just said dont book peak periods (first and last slot). I think session 5/6 are optimum time slots but I think just avoiding peak periods will be a good time!!

Anyway I was immensely happy I managed to pass my test that day (mum and sis came down at 2.20pm and was shocked to see my test car #146 back at the school and thought I failed, since my test supposedly started at 2pm HAHA) but yes! I still need loads and loads and loads of practice, especially when roads in the real world aren’t nearly as safe as those around BBDC.

If you’re still on the fence whether to join the school/be a private candidate, I really don’t know what advice to give because both have their perks, but I just want to say that I had a great experience with the school, and that I would go with the school if I had to – however, it also depends on how much time you have in your hands and if your schedule is flexible. I effectively cleared my practical lessons/test in 3 months! It could have been faster but being the noob I am, I had to book more practical lessons and a later test date HAHAHAHA.

Okay, that’s about all I want to say about BBDC!! I can’t say with conviction that learning driving in schools > learning in private, but BBDC was great for me from the start till the end!!

I know how confusing it can get before you embark on this journey, but yes I hope this gave you a clearer idea (at whichever stage you are at). 

Seey’all :-) 

P.S. Shoutout to mama and jiejie for sending me to BBDC and waiting there even, on good days. I love you 2 many many, even when you scream at me while I drive your cars around town.