The Diploma in Driving Instruction


The Diploma in Driving Instruction is awarded jointly by MiddlesexUniversity and the DIA. It is completely separate from the National Diploma in Advanced Driving Instruction awarded by RoSPA.

The Diploma is awarded on passing all five separate Modules, described below. A separate certificate is available on passing each Module. Each Module may be sat in the April/May exams each year, but this is the only sitting available each year. So if you don't take a Module this coming April/May, you'll have to wait until next April/May to take it.

Modules can be taken in any order, and any combination (so you can take just one, or any two, or three, or four, or all five). You do not need to pass all Modules at the same sitting, and there is no time limit between passing your first Module (not necessarily Module 1) and your last (not necessarily Module 5). The Diploma is awarded when you pass your fifth Module.

Holders of the Diploma may use "DipDI" after their names. However, the Diploma confers no other rights. In particular, it does not qualify the holder as a driving instructor, nor as a DSA ADI(Car). Indeed, it is not necessary to be able to drive (or even to be above any minimum age) in order to take the exams and gain the Diploma. Nevertheless, DipDI is a useful stepping stone, as described below.

Where does the Diploma lead?

The Diploma in Driving Instruction is a useful qualification in its own right, distinguishing one ADI from another.

The Diploma is one of the qualifications required before you can become a DIAmond Advanced Instructor. This is someone who:
  1. Is a DSA ADI(Car).

  2. Has passed the Diploma in Driving Instruction.

  3. Has passed the "Cardington" test (the Special driving test, conducted by DSA, and available only to DSA ADIs(Car)) at what used to be described as grade A, with the pass being before 1 August 2002. If the Cardington test pass is on or after 1 August 2002, then it must be with no more than two driving faults; alternatively a pass in the DIAmond Special Test will suffice. (The reason for this is that on 1 August 2002 DSA made it easier to pass the Cardington test, by lowering the pass mark; and DIA do not consider the new, lower, level as adequate to become a DIAmond Advanced Instructor; their DIAmond Special Test is at about the same standard as the pre-August 2002 Cardington test.) Note that, like the police advanced driving qualification, a Cardington test pass (even at the post-July 2002 lower standard) normally confers automatic admission to IAM without the need to take the IAM test.

  4. Has signed, and adheres to, the DIA's Professional Code of Conduct.
Suitable DIAmond Advanced Instructors may go on to qualify as examiners for the DIAmond Advanced Driving Test.

The Diploma also secures 60 points towards a Degree in Driver Education with Middlesex University, for which 360 points lead to the award of BA(Hons).

Exam content

There is one exam paper per Module. Each paper consists of several (typically 4-6) separate questions (not multiple choice) requiring written answers (and possibly sketches or diagrams). The paper lasts for two hours (usually starting at either 9.30am or 2pm) and has a maximum of 100 marks. Each question shows how many marks are available for that question. Where the question is in parts, the number of marks available for each part is shown.

The Modules are:
Setting up and running a self-help study group

If you can't find, or afford, a suitable college course, then next best may be to join a self-help study group. Given that there probably won't be one near you that you know about, you may end up setting it up yourself. That's how two of us solved the problem back in December 1993 (for the 1994 exam sitting). Here's some that may help you to do this:
  1. Start around September/October. Even if you're bright, the others you recruit to your group may need that extra month or two to get up to the standard required by April/May.

  2. Ask DIA for a list of exam centres.

  3. Join DIA, and buy (at the discounted DIA member price) the recommended reading material and all available past papers, especially those with model solutions.

  4. An ideal number for a self-help study group in this subject is probably around 3-6. Contact several friends, fellow ADIs, members of local IAM/RoSPA groups. It may be worth emailing some of the driving groups (IAM, RoSPA, Roadcraft, ABD) or (if early enough) asking DIA or MSA to mention your Group in their Newsletter. Try to include those with a range of knowledge (eg someone who has good business experience; another interested in vehicle maintenance; perhaps an experienced teacher). Convene a first meeting where you'll discuss all the admin, and set future meeting dates.

  5. Is there someone you know who's taken the Diploma (or has specialist knowledge in one of the Modules, or is good at exam technique)? Would they be willing to attend some of the meetings to give any help they can?

  6. At your first meeting (perhaps at your home) have an agenda. Eg:
    • Introduce yourselves.
    • Explain what the Diploma is about (handouts are available from DIA; or print some of this web page).
    • Give the exam dates, and the final date for entering the exams.
    • Discuss the reading materials, and where best to buy them. Does anyone have access to a photocopier?
    • Explain the costs involved (exam entry, reading materials, lost time).
    • Agree further meetings (at least 5, perhaps 10) spread out over the time left before the exams.
    • Set a schedule, so that at these meetings you know which papers and which Modules (year and subject) you'll be preparing solutions for.
    • Ensure all leave with contact details for DIA and each other.

  7. At each meeting (except the first) work through the past papers you have agreed beforehand. You can probably manage two papers (eg 2001 and 2002) in a particular Module if you work well together. Take turns to start off saying what your answer is, and seeing if anyone else has anything different.

  8. You may like to appoint a different person to run each evening. Perhaps have it at their home (their turn to provide the tea and coffee). This may make you feel more of a team. The idea is for all of you to pass all the papers you take. Mutual support is key.

  9. If you take your exam entry papers to the college admissions office in person, you'll find out where the college is, what traffic and parking are like, and make sure you don't make a mistake on the entry form, and that you pay the correct fee. You'll also avoid wondering "Did my exam entry get lost in the post?". You may like to arrange to go to the exam together, in one (reliable) car.

  10. Contact us for help.

Exam tips

David Wilkinson was, by a long margin, top UK candidate in the 1994 Diploma exams, and has since guided many others to completion of the Diploma course. David has a long track record of passing exams, from the 11 plus to professional actuarial qualifications, and to being one of the highest civilian-qualified driving instructors in the UK. David is well aware that, whilst knowing the subject is essential, it may not be sufficient. At a talk given to Birmingham ADIs on 5 December 2001, he explained (in more detail than is possible here, and with examples) ten tips for the Diploma exams. These are summarised below:
  1. You have two hours for the exam, which has 100 marks available. That's 72 seconds per mark. So, during the exam, as a rough guide, work to 1 minute per park (to allow you some time at the end to check answers, and to go back to difficult questions). So, if a question has 25 marks, don't spend much more than 25 minutes on it. A mark is a mark, and they are all worth the same. So if you can get easy marks elsewhere, don't run out of time trying to mop up the last few marks on a difficult "essay"-type question.

  2. Some marks are quicker or easier to get than others, so get them first. 1 mark is worth 1 mark. So, you might want to flick quickly through the paper to start with, looking for the question that says "List ...", and gives 15 or so marks for 15 words or phrases.

  3. Leave space between questions. It's your exam, and you've paid for it. When you finish the question, start on the next page (or even skip a page) as you may think of something else later, and it'll be easier to add it on a a blank sheet than on a closely-written dense page. If you have missed a part of a question to come back to it later, leave even more space. Remember, it's your exam that you've worked for, and you're damned well going to pass it. And some pettifogging need to save a few sheets of paper isn't going to stop you!

  4. "Read the whole question. Look for clues." Questions are often broken into several parts. If you don't read the whole question, you may end up answering the second part of the question in the first part, which wastes time (and could make it harder for the person marking your paper to give you full marks). Sometimes there are clues in the wording of the question (eg if you are asked how you would advise a driver how to prepare for driving abroad with his family next year, the word "family" is there for a reason: "Something to keep the children occupied" could be the one mark that turns your "just failed" into "just passed".

  5. Highlight the instructions. Use a highlighter pen to mark the imperative parts of speech (the words telling you to do something) in the exam question. Eg if the question says "Three have been many improvements in car safety over recent years. List the main changes which have ...", highlight the word "List". Make sure you do what you are asked to do (here, produce a list, not discuss, not explain how" etc).

  6. Learn the lists. A 15 mark question will often ask "List the ...". That's 15 marks for 15 words or phrases. Get these 15 items down in one or two minutes, and you have spare time at the end on the harder questions. Look through past exam papers, and spot these lists (eg "List the major components the MOT test", or "List the key points needed for an efficient telephone booking system." or "List the attributes needed of a good driver"). Find these past questions, get the model solutions, and learn the lists.

  7. One mark is one mark. Don't spend too long over hard questions - there are some easy ones on the paper, so do them first.

  8. Brainstorm the essay questions. Some questions require very short essays (a few paragraphs of logical sentences). Before you start to write your answer, use some spare paper and the couple off extra minutes you gained on the at "List" question to sketch words that come into your head, with lines between connected words. Then compose your answer, linking connected words/topics as in your sketch, As this is the hardest tip to explain without example, if it doesn't make sense we suggest you just get in touch with us.

  9. State the obvious. If a question asks "What is necessary to have your name placed on the ADI Register, then "paying the registration fee" is an obvious requirement (and one mark).

  10. Ignore distractions. You've set up a Group, bought lots of reading material, done 100 hours of study, and the exam has started. You have 120 minutes to gain as many of the 100 available marks as possible. But the woman behind you is sneezing, the man in front you stinks, the students outside in the lovely sunshine are arguing loudly, and you've had an argument with the husband and have toothache to boot. Well? Stuff 'em all, I say! You've paid for the exam, and you're damned well going to pass! For 120 minutes, you don't feel your teeth, it's silent in your head, you have no husband, can't smell anything, and the world consists of an exam paper and as many answer books as you ask for.


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