Getting a Driving Licence in Singapore – 5 Easy Tips

Want to Ace Your Driving Tests and Get a Driver's Licence in Singapore? Then this article is for you.

If you’re reading this article, you are probably thinking of becoming a driver in Singapore. This article will explore the key considerations you need to know if you wish to successfully complete your lessons and get a driving licence in Singapore.

Knowing these key tips are essential. Not only will you be able to get the most out of your driving lessons, your chances of passing your driving test on your first try would also be much higher!

1. Driving Theory Tests for Getting a Driving Licence in Singapore

How to Ace the Basic Theory Test (BTT)

The BTT is used to test your knowledge of traffic signals and rules. You have to pass your BTT before you can start taking driving lessons in Singapore. This is the first step for getting a driving licence in Singapore.

Passing the BTT is not as easy as you think

You need to obtain at least a score of 90% and above in order to pass. In other words, you have to get 45 out of 50 multiple-choice questions correct in order to pass. 

Sounds tough right? It seems like there is little room for error.

However, no need to be overly alarmed.

As long as you put in the effort and do your practice, there is quite a low chance of failure. The people who fail are usually those who are complacent and don’t put in much effort in studying. They haven’t read the BTT handbook thoroughly nor practised any possible test questions.

Preparing for the BTT is key

To start studying for your BTT, you can start by reading the BTT handbook and question book. The handbook provides all the information you will need for the test and the question book contains hundreds of sample test questions. 

In addition, you can find plenty of online quizzes that allow you to test your knowledge and simulate the BTT. Many of these online resources make use of questions submitted by actual users after they have taken their BTT. Thus, this serves as a useful supplement to expand your knowledge and improve your chances of passing.

To make sure you pass your BTT on your first try, you can do the practice tests by the driving schools.

The schools usually provide practice test training sessions where you get to attempt as many practice exam questions within a certain period of time. Remember to note down the answers to these practice questions. This is because a lot of the practice questions are usually repeated in the actual BTT itself and it helps if you have memorised the answers to some of the questions.

Passing your BTT is key. Thus, you should be sure to study hard and pass your BTT as soon as you can.

How to Pass the FTT with Flying Colours

You also have to complete the Final Theory Test (FTT) before taking the practical driving test. Similar to the BTT, you need to answer 45 out of 50 questions correct.

So how is FTT different from BTT?

Unlike the BTT, FTT focuses more on the safety aspects of driving, the proper techniques of driving and vehicle controls. In addition, a pass in BTT doesn’t have an expiry date whereas an FTT pass is only valid for two years. Beyond that, you would have to retake and pass your FTT again.

The FTT study techniques

The way to prepare for the FTT would be somewhat similar to BTT. You should make use of the FTT handbook, online resources and hands-on practice tests offered by the driving schools.

2. Manual vs Automatic Driving Licence

You have to decide to learn manual or automatic transmission before getting a driving licence in Singapore. Before you embark on your driving journey, you have to consider what type of car driving licence you wish to obtain. There are two main types, the manual driving licence (Class 3) or automatic driving licence (Class 3A).

To help you better make your decision, you should consider some differences between the two types of driving licences.

Manual Cars are Generally Harder to Operate

Many people find manual cars more difficult to operate than automatic cars. When you use a manual car, you would have to manually shift the gears of the car using the clutch and gas pedal. This is unlike the automatic transmission, where the car will shift gears automatically to regulate the speed.

This means that you would have constantly monitor the speed of your vehicle and shift gears as needed. This may affect your concentration or awareness of other road conditions.

You would also find that when learning to drive a manual car, your car would stall quite frequently. Stalling at busy areas or at the wrong time may be highly dangerous. If you stall your car in the middle of busy traffic, this may cause a safety hazard to other road users. It can be a pretty stressful experience.

That’s also one reason why some people prefer learning automatic car driving as compared to that of manual transmission.

Passing Rate for Manual Car Driving Tests is Lower

It is no wonder that the passing rate for the manual car driving test is lower than that of the automatic car:

Type (Including both driving centres and private candidates) Total Tested Total Passed Pass Percentage
Manual Transmission 31,324 14,776 47.2%
Automatic Transmission 18,537 10,290 55.5%

Source: Singapore Police Force (Aug 2017 to July 2018)

Not Much Benefit to Learning Manual Transmission

Another consideration is that automatic cars are much more common in Singapore.

This reduces the usefulness of picking up manual car driving skills. An exception to this is if you foresee yourself driving overseas quite a bit when you travel. In this respect, manual cars are more popular in countries such as Europe. Other than that, there are not many advantages to obtaining a manual car driving licence as opposed to an auto car licence.

3. Choosing Between Private or Public Driving School Instructors

There are a total of three driving centres in Singapore. They are the Singapore Safety Driving Centre, Bukit Batok Driving Centre and ComfortDelGro Driving Centre. On the other hand, there are hundreds to thousands of private instructors in Singapore.

This leads to a common question that people have before getting a driving licence in Singapore. Do you take lessons from a driving school or from a private instructor?

This decision is not a simple one and shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, your choice would affect the quality of your driving lessons and education. It may also determine how good your foundation in driving will be.

For driving schools, your driving instructor is not fixed

For one, your driving instructor is not fixed if you enrol in a driving school.

This may make it tougher for you to develop your driving skills. You don’t have a fixed teacher who can customise the lesson plan according to your unique learning ability and style. The driving instructor may also teach you things that you’ve already learnt previously, thus wasting some of your time.

This may prevent you from getting your driving licence in Singapore in the most effective manner.

The Passing Rate for Driving Schools are significantly higher

If you are looking to pass your driving test on your first try, taking lessons from a driving school (rather than privately) would seem like the better option. Simply looking at the statistics, the passing rate for first-timers taking their practical driving test is much higher for driving centres.

Just take a look for yourself:

Manual Transmission – Class 3 (1st Timer)

Type  Total Tested Total Passed Pass Percentage
Driving Centres 17,291 9,642 55.7%
Private Candidates 14,033 5,134 36.6%

Source: Singapore Police Force (Aug 2017 to July 2018)

Automatic Transmission – Class 3A (1st Timer)

Type  Total Tested Total Passed Pass Percentage
Driving Centres 10,180 6,557 64.4%
Private Candidates 8,357 3,733 44.7%

Source: Singapore Police Force (Aug 2017 to July 2018)

As you can see from the figures above, it is clear that candidates who take lessons from the driving schools perform overwhelmingly better than their private candidate counterparts.

4. Costs of Getting a Driving Licence in Singapore

There are various costs in order to obtain a driving licence in Singapore. This is another significant factor to think about before obtaining a driving licence in Singapore. The main costs include enrolment fees, costs of taking the various driving tests (BTT, FTT and Practical Driving Test) and driving lessons.

Additionally, there are other miscellaneous costs. For instance, you need to pay a fee for your driving licence application and the cost of renting a car for the practical driving test.

Cost differences when you take school vs private driving lessons

Those taking lessons from private instructors would incur some further costs. In this regard, if you wish to practice the circuit on a given day, you would have to pay a fee to book a circuit at a driving school. This would be charged on top of your fees to your private instructor.

Nonetheless, the overall costs for going with a private instructor would probably still be cheaper.

This is because the school rates for driving lessons are higher. Not only that, you would likely have to take more lessons with a driving school compared to a private instructor before you attempt your practical test.

The reason is that schools usually have a fixed curriculum that requires you to complete certain stages before you can proceed to the next phase of driving. This prolongs the number of lessons you need before getting your driving licence in Singapore and adds to costs.

5. How Long It Takes to Obtain a Driver’s Licence in Singapore

Another key consideration before getting a driving licence in Singapore is the length of time you need to obtain your licence. On average, you would likely need at least four to six months to procure your driving licence.

But why does it take so long?

Well, there are limited booking slots for the various tests, including the BTT, FTT and practical test. This creates a waiting time of a couple of weeks or even months before you can take the tests at your desired slot. Now, there is even a new requirement for learner drivers (who enrol from 16 December 2019 onwards) to complete three simulator training modules before they are allowed to book their practical driving tests.

The time to get your licence may be further delayed if you fail your first driving test and have to sit for a re-test.

Furthermore, if you are the ‘kiasu type’ or are a slower learner, you may have to take more driving classes to ready yourself for the test. This adds on to the amount of time needed to secure your car licence.

Attempt Your Practical Driving Test as Soon as You Can

Before going for driving lessons in Singapore, you should be mindful not to take too long to attempt and pass your driving test. This may turn out to be an obstacle for getting your driver’s license in Singapore.

This is because your Provisional Driving Licence (PDL) only has a validity of six months. After that period is up, you no longer have a valid licence to learn and practice driving.

Thus, you should ideally try to pass your driving test six months from the issuance of your PDL. If not, you would have to renew your PDL at an additional cost at one of the traffic police test centres.

Also, only taking your practical test after a long time since you got your PDL is not a good sign. It suggests that there may be a significant time gap between each of your driving classes. If that’s the case, you may have forgotten key driving skills and rules in the space between each lesson. You might thus decrease your chances of passing your practical driving test on your next try.


Having gone through all the key pointers for learning driving in Singapore as listed above, you should be well equipped to pass your tests for getting a driving licence in Singapore. 

When you eventually pass your driving, you may be looking to buy your first car in Singapore. As you start driving, be sure not to forget the key driving lessons and traffic rules!

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