Friday, February 7, 2014

My driving journey with Singapore Safety Driving Centre (SSDC)

Almost a year ago, just like everyone whom had intention to learn driving, I had a major headache trying to decide which should I go for. Should I go to school? Or should I go private?

After much considerations over my friends' experiences and opinions... I decided to go with school. Definitely, it burnt my bank account with the school but I'm glad I've made it through. 

***

The nearest driving school to me was the one located at Woodlands, SSDC. Though it's not exactly near because from my place to the school takes at least 45 minutes travelling time (on a bad day with bad traffic, it can take me almost an hour). I decided to apply online and booked my Basic Theory Test (BTT) online too. Paid $155.15 for online enrolment and another $6.80 for my BTT. I enrolled myself online on 27 April 2013 and I only managed to book a earliest date on Saturday for BTT on 22 June 2013 (approximately 8 weeks wait)

Because I made an online enrolment, I didn't know (or rather no prominent notification to me) that I would be given my driving booklet and driving study guides. Lucky for me, Hazel just took her BTT for conversion of her Malaysian license and so she passed me the books to study for my test. When I passed my BTT on 22 June 2013, I paid $25 to apply for my first Provision Driving License (PDL). (Man, I was so excited!)

Unfortunately... When I tried to book my classes online.. I realize the weekends were very full all the way till August! So I took some night classes and at the same time booked my Final Theory Test (FTT). I managed to book my FTT on 16 August 2013 and my first lesson on 22 August 2013 which was a Thursday night. (First lesson night time... Great...) I had no choice as I didn't wanted to waste time. Enrolment to the course is valid for a year, and plus PDL is only valid for 6 months (I wanted to plan my time well so I wouldn't have to pay another $25 for the stupid PDL) So I waited for another 8 weeks for my FTT and 9 weeks for my first driving lesson. Unfortunately, I got dengue in August and hence... I failed my FTT (I did not study at all) and had to rebook again. It was another approximately 8 weeks on 4 October 2013. Thankfully, I managed to pass my FTT on the second try. 

On my first day reporting for lesson, I was at a lost of what to do. I went to the information counter and asked where should I report for lesson. So the kind instructors crowding around the information counter at level 1 told me take the lift up to level 3 and look for a TV screen that would show my name. So I went up with just my PDL on hand and looked around. I found this yellow screen TV right beside the toilet and stood there waiting for my name to appear. 

So I saw my name, and my car number. I walked out from the sliding doors feeling butterflies in my tummy fluttering. I was excited but scared at the same time. After all I really wanted to learn driving for the longest time and finally I made my way here. 

I went to look for car 49 at the lanes specified on the information board and sat at the passenger seat and waited for my instructor. 

Soon my instructor appeared at the car and asked for my PDL and driving booklet. It was then I realize, I was supposed to be given a driving booklet to record all my lessons and progress but I didn't have it. So my first instructor, Fami explained everything that I needed to know, what I need to do and etc to me. (I panicked like mad but he told me it is alright and he assured me that so long I have my PDL, he can do the recording on a piece of paper first and I can ask the next instructor who took me to write it in the booklet once I get it.) The first lesson was getting to move the car back and forth, learning about what is the brake, what is the clutch, the changing of gears and etc. It may sound stupid to you if you're a driver and you're reading this but man, changing gears is harder then I thought. I couldn't figure out how to differentiate which gear was which position. At that point of them, getting the car to move back and forth already make me super thrilled. Not to mention thereafter I get to drive rounds and rounds (yes nothing but round and round) on the top level of the circuit. That, made me feel so proud of myself. (idiotic, I know but I'm not denying how thrilled I was.) 2 hours of lesson quickly ended from 8:20pm to 10:20pm. I still remember Fami telling me to take the shuttle bus from SSDC to opposite Admiratly interchange because by the time my class end, it's late and surrounding SSDC were tons of industries and their workers' dormitories. I took his advise and took the shuttle bus to opposite Admiralty and then switched to 925 from that particular bus stop. Usually by the time I'm home, it's almost 11:20pm (which is about an hours' journey though I stay at Yishun.)

My next lesson was on a Sunday, so I went earlier to collect what I should have collect months ago. (like 4 months ago, pfffft) So I got my BTT and FTT guide book, after I've passed my BTT, I also got my blue booklet that records all my training progress. (Now I'm completely 'armed' with the necessities.)

For my second lesson, I got someone new. Someone I didn't know again. I was kinda upset because I don't know if the next instructor would be as nice as how Fami was. But thankfully, my second instructor, Hidayat was a nice instructor too. I was still in the circuit doing all the moving in rounds and rounds. (it may sound boring to you but back then for me was just amazing) 

It makes me wonder if the instructors get bored of just going round and round. For them, I'm probably the 27348th student, but for me it was completely fresh. (I think it's a really tough job. Hahahhaha)

Through Fami, I also learnt the trick to booking slots on the internet. In the beginning, I don't know about what's trysell and I didn't know how to keep refreshing until a slot appears. When I told Fami that I passed my BTT in June but wasn't able to book any lessons in July, he told me that I should treat the website like a stock market. Just camp there, and refresh everyday and I'd definitely get slots. Of course I should prebook my lessons if I have the cash in advance when the windows are open. If I haven't remember wrongly, they open 3 months in advance. True enough, I did as told and I managed to book all the slots I wanted. (Thanks alot Fami, though you'd never read this, but really thank you for being my first instructor and gave me so much advices and tips. I may had been just another student to you, but you'd be one instructor I'd remember)

FINALLY, my first 'road trip' on the Singapore road was on 29 August 2013, 8:20pm. I've gotten yet another instructor again and.... Okay, I call him 'the grumpy old man' but of course he was harmless but very naggy. He brought me on the road and kept nagging at me for 2 hours. Can you imagine it? It was my first time on the road... I was scare.. It was night time, I couldn't see too well, there were so many cars, there were slopes, there were stationery vehicles, there were traffic lights, pedestrians and so much more. 

I honestly, was overwhelmed. I thought I was going to die.

Oh, and I stalled my car beside Republic Polytechnic that traffic light. (Whoever you may be behind me, sorry ah. Lol!)

That day... I kept silent throughout my drive. I was upset because it was my first time but this instructor kept scolding me. I couldn't say anything because it's true, I was a newbie and I sucked. So I shut my mouth and quietly drive. I was very unhappy when my lesson ended and I told myself I don't even want to see him again. I even thought of fixing my instructor to Fami so that I won't have to 'risk' getting another nasty instructor. Fixing an instructor for per lesson would cost me at least another $5 more. So imagine 24 lessons would have cost me at least another $100. Of course, fixing an instructor has it's pros. 

The instructor will know your weakness and strength inside out. You are comfortable with your instructor and chances are you'd always us the fixed instructor's car. But... I gave up the idea eventually. I thought I should just.. adjust myself to any conditions. 

Oh ya, I'm not revealing whose that grumpy old man (hahhahahah) he is nice in his ways, you just have to understand his intentions. And no, it wasn't my last time seeing him. I saw him another 2 times, making total 3 lessons with him.

After my first road trip, every lesson was learning new things. And every time when I have lesson, I never dragged myself to driving before, in fact I was always looking forward to it. Day by day... I went for lessons and more lessons and eventually, I managed to pass all my assessments and subjects. The day for me to book Traffic Police Test (TP) arrived. I-was-fucking-thrilled. 

The only disappointment I had was... I didn't managed to book my TP before I flew Korea last year. It also meant I had to renew my PDL. (sigh) 

So on 28 November 2013, I booked my TP and it was a good 8 weeks wait or so again on 6 February 2014. 

I met another instructor name Letchu, he was a super hilarious instructor. He told me about how I should go about planning my revision classes before my TP. He said, I should at least book 6 lessons more before my TP so that I'd be confident enough. I didn't book 6, but I booked 4 instead. 

My TP was on 6 February, so I booked 1 lesson, 2 weeks before, then another 1 week before and 2 lessons 2 days before. I must say, the 2 days before my TP was super crucial. Lucky star must have shined on me because I got another fantastic instructor. 

2 days before my TP, I was nervous like shit. I wasn't confident and I had problems with looking out for the points for my vertical and parallel parking. I-just-couldn't-see. Don't ask me why. I was at the same time frustrated because every different instructor told me different things. Some told me that I cannot tilt mirror, some tell me can. You know how frustrating it is as a student? We have no one to believe and trust except the instructors and yet every instructors have their own set of ways to do certain things. 

My last, and final instructor was Hilman. The first thing he came in was to ask me, "when is your TP?" I told him, 2 days from now. And he started to drill me on my parkings for 2 hours. I really, park until I got so fed up. Lol. He helped me looked for points that I could see and still able to park. He ditched all the other markings that is according to the book and he took his initiative and creativity to 'create' my own markings that only I know, I can see and still able to aid me to park perfectly. Since it was only a day left to my TP, I decided to fix Hilman for my last lesson. I didn't want to risk having another instructor who have to figure out what my problem was and start to correct me. It'd be too late by then. I'm glad I paid for the extra $9.60 just to fix him. I wouldn't have been able to park well during my test if I haven't met him. (Thank you, even though you'd not likely to read this too but you've no idea how great of a help you've been for me. If it wasn't for you creating those 'markings' for me to understand, I could have failed.) I did told him I don't want to see him again, but of course not because I hate his face or him but because seeing him again means I'd fail, so of course I wouldn't want to see him again! Hahahha. 

***

And so the day came. I was on my way to school for the last time to take my test. My slot was 10:15am so I was to report to school at 9:15am for my warm up. When I went in the room, I was the only one and it turned out that I was the only one taking class 3 test that day for that slot. My warm-up instructor brought me to the car and took me for 1 last trial before my actual. He indicated that he will correct me immediately when I'm wrong. 45 minutes flew by and I was back at the school in this 'prison' looking room nervously waiting for my turn. I was all alone. I was going mad. Thankfully for all my mates on my apps, I felt better. 

Soon some guys joined me in the room, but they were taking class 4. At 10:15am sharp, my TP test appeared at the door and called for me. I took a deep breathe and... off I went. 

I had to adjust all my mirrors... seat... etc and there it was. In my mind, I was repeating Hilman's voice in my mind. Every point and every mistake I ever made. All the things to look out for, it was going on repeat in my mind. Remembering what each and every instructor once told me. From Hilman, Fami and Hidayat. Each of them whom taught me different parts of the circuit. Soon, I completed my circuit and out I went. I was relief it was over. On the road, it wasn't as clear as it always was. I had never driven on a weekday morning, so I was worried but thankfully.. I was lucky that it wasn't too hard. 

That was it. I passed. I fucking passed! 


I had to surpress my excitement and keep my expression cool. Of course deep inside me I was popping champagne and screaming like a mad ass. I took my result slip and dash out to level 4 to watch the gross video. After it was over, I went to take a photo ID for myself and I was waiting for my turn, to make my license. My driving license. After a good 8/9 months, I made it. I really made it. All the time, money and efforts spent on this driving license was all so worth it. 

My journey with SSDC had been pleasantly fun. I met at least 9 different instructors throughout my 24 lessons there. Each and everyone were patient (almost all hahahaha), nice and made my 2 hours enjoyable all the time. Most of them would chat with me and made lessons interesting. (it's very awkward when 2 people in a silent car... and no one speaks so I'm glad my instructors all had been easy-going and friendly.) 

I will miss the times when I was a trainee and all the stupid mistakes I made. Having someone beside me telling me what to do and where to do. But of course, I look forward to my driving journey on the road on my own from now onwards.

Instructors, thank you once again, and see you when I see you again. :)

***

Here's my journey in a nutshell. Maybe it would be helpful in planning your driving journey.



DRIVING LICENSE, CHECKED!

64 comments:

  1. Glad to know you had successfully completed your course~
    I'm currently learning there too~

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  2. Thank you! I wish you all the best too and have an enjoyable driving journey :)

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  3. I am truly pleased to read this website posts which carries lots of helpful data, thanks for providing these kinds of statistics.

    Driving Lessons Windsor

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    1. Thank you for the kind words and I'm glad this was of help.

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    2. I just passed with 6 points on 18 Nov 2014, rainy day somemore. Class 3 also. Tester is v good actually. Name is Tan chee kiong. Kena him, means pass for sure.

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  4. Hi! I'm really glad for your detailed post about your driving experience at SSDC. I'm currently learning how to drive there too!

    Btw I'm just curious to know. I noticed you didn't have any lessons in December. The thing is I'll be going overseas next year and I'll only be back in 1-1.5 months during my break. If I don't pass my TP test by my first or second try I'm afraid that the lack of practice (unless I drive in Australia :P) would affect my driving. Did it feel that way for you? I guess not cause you managed to pass with less than 10 demerit points! Haha. Do you have any tips? Thank you and really sorry for the lengthy comment!

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    1. Hi Julie!

      I'm very happy to know this was useful for you. I didn't have any lesson in December because I went overseas too! Hahaha. Don't worry, you won't forget driving no matter what. Just book your revisions 2 weeks before your test, once per week and then 2 days before your TP you book two days consecutively. Meaning, if you have your TP on 24 Sep, you book your lessons on 10,17,22,23, total 4 lessons and you will be fine. If you are not confident, make it 6 lessons.

      Trust me I was very worried to take such a long break but at the same time I didn't wanted to waste too much money with too many revisions. The method I used was taught to me by my revision instructor which was really helpful for me. The points doesn't matter. Don't worry or feel sad if you got 10,15, or even 18. At the end of the day once you pass, no one will ask you about it! :) just remember it's pass or fail, don't stress yourself. Anyway I'm not a very good driver, I'm lucky to get a good tester. :)

      All the best to you! You will pass at one try. Don't worry.

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    2. Hey Ranielle!

      YES your post is really useful! On my first day I didn't know where to go or what to do, but I remembered your blog and thankfully I managed to navigate my way to my car haha. In fact I was thinking of getting some of your instructors (Fami, Hidayat etc.) cause I also came across a really nasty instructor during one of my lessons :(

      Anyway thanks so much for the tip! It's a huge relief to me. I guess driving is a lot like riding a bike or swimming, not something you can forget easily :D And I'm sure you're a good driver, cause you didn't take many lessons compared to others yet you still rocked for your TP test! I hope I'll do as well as you too :) Thanks again!

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  5. Time isn't important without life so Drive Safely.
    We are a leading Ventura County Driving School
    Offering Behind The WheelDriving Lessons..

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  6. congrats for passing your TP test. I have recently passed mine too. i was learning from private driving instructor Mr Lim for auto at SSDC.

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  7. Hi, was the nasty instructor Chua T.G? I find it very discouraging to learn from him because he is so impatient and rude.

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    1. Nope it wasn't him. :) Maybe you can feedback to the school? Then other students won't be like you to experience his bad teaching.

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  8. Your style is so exclusive compared to other individuals. Thank you for posting when you have the chance, guess I would just make this bookmarked. driving school Calgary

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  9. Hey Ranielle,
    Thanks for such useful and informative post!
    Thanks to your post+ a little of my hard work,
    I passed my driving test, i was wondering how long it would take to receive the photocard license?
    Keith

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    1. Thank you and congratulations! It took me about 3-4 weeks :)

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  10. Hey Ranielle, can we like book 4 practical lesson at a go? And when or at which lesson should we book our tp?

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    1. Hi there, yes you can book as long as there is available slots! :) You can only book your TP once you finish the entire course and when your instructor passes you.

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  11. hi I am Andy so how many time u took for your tp test?

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    1. Hi Andy, I passed on my first time.

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  12. hello I am Andy u take class 3 or class 3a?

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  13. That Mr Lim at SSDC for private auto said i have brain damage when i asked him about the traffic signals when i was making right turn. He said it is common sense. Do i have to give up on driving? I have spent alot of time and money and so dont wish to stop. I really enjoy driving.

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    1. Hey there, I'm sorry to hear that he made such a nasty comment. I think you should report him or let the centre know. You shouldn't give up trying. Like you said, you've spent alot of time and money, so don't because of one people's words you give up. The more you should do better and prove to him that he is wrong about you. Don't give up, keep pushing and practising and you'd be just fine!

      Hang in there! :)

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  14. Hi, Do you advice taking class back to back? like two classes in a row? in the same day.

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    1. Your leg might get too tired.. but still if you are rushing to get all your lessons done in a shorter time then perhaps you can do it.

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  15. Hi, appreciate your sharing of your driving experience.

    If you recall (and if the format of the training was not changed), at Stage 4, there will be a "mock test" that requires you to not go over 30 points and without immediate failure. Was wondering how did you do? I barely made it past and only because the instructor was being lenient.

    I'm likely to book my TP on 11 Nov... Do you also think it is safe to regard the rest of Stage 4 after the "Mock test" as revision (in addition to maybe 1 or 2 optional revision lessons) before TP?

    Thanks in advance!

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    1. Hi there! You're very welcome!

      I am sure my instructor was lenient to me too, and mostly I got a easy route I guess. You should take 2 lessons just right before your TP (that's what I did anyway) to be really fresh in the mind for your TP. Just don't be nervous and you'd be fine. All the best!

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  16. Hi, may test is on dec, and I was wondering do you turn your headlights like high or low beam when rains? I never encounter night driving and rainy days :(

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    1. So sorry I missed your message, I hope you have passed by now!

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  17. Thanks for your informative sharing! I have bookmarked your website for some time and am finally going to start learning. My PDL expired before I could book for a Practical lesson. Did u have to go back to the info counter at Woodlands after u renewed ur PDL (to register it)? I just renewed my PDL and tried to book a lesson thru the SSDC website but couldn't do so.

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    1. Hi Goodies, you're most welcome! Nope, I renewed my PDL but thereafter I already booked my lessons, so I am not sure about it. Sorry bout it, guess you have to call the centre to clarify!

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  18. hi Ranielle, can I check where did u go to collect the driving booklet? thanks for e detailed review of SSDc!

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    1. You're most welcome!

      You can collect it at the information counter after you register online. When I first went for my practical lesson that's where I got it.

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  19. Hi there! I just want to knw from you. When you do your TP, what did the tested test you? Like did he asked you do Lots of things? Thanks :)

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    1. Hi Zuraihan, basically he tested me everything. Everything in the circuit including E brake, and then when I was on the road I had to do all the right turns, left turns, u turn, and change lanes etc. Basically is everything you learn. Some of my friends didn't had to do U-turn though.

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    2. Yea true cos some of friends said they didn't had to do U Turn. Reason why i asked is bcos i'm having my TP next 3 weeks so yeah must prepare my self! Thanks for the reply :D

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  20. Hi there! Would you mind sharing the breakdown of your lesson-to-lesson records in the blue book? Just really wanna check if im going at a pace too slow!! (: would really appreciate that, thank you (:

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    1. Hi there, sorry I've not been checking on my blog. Unfortunately I've misplaced my book :( I'm sure by now you should be progressing well!

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  21. Hi Ranielle, thanks for sharing your experience with the SSDC. I'm currently enrolled as their school student too and would like to ask whether is it compulsory to attend the theory trial test (x2) and theory test mode (x1) before being able to take the BTT?

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    1. Hi! Sorry for the late response. I can't really recall if I had to attend trial test but I don't think so. However, I think syllabus might have changed cause my friend taking in BBDC right now needs to pass trial before taking BTT.

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  22. Hi Ranielle, would like to check whether is it compulsory to take the TTT(Theory Trial Test) first then BTT for SSDC enrolled student?

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    1. Hi there, I'm sorry but I am not sure about it as for me I didn't had to.

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  23. Hi! Just to check that if your progress pace will be different from different instructor? As I always happened to got the same instructor and my progress seems to be very slow. But whenever I got other instructors I can clear many subjects... Hence I'm not sure is it really I'm a slow learner or because I happened to got this stricter instructor most of my time... :(

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    1. Hi Lynn! I had quite a few instructors and yeah, there was 1 particular one that I didnt like but thankfully I only got him once. If you don't want the same instructor and don't want to waste money to pay for fix instructor fee, you can try changing your driving slots. Try not to go the same slot, same day you'd end up with same instructors cause you might just fit into his work schedule too. Try booking other days if you can and see if instructor changes. Every instructor have their own 'ways' to pass and teach so... to know if you're slow or just the instructor, try booking other slots and see how things goes! :)

      All the best ya!

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    2. Hello Ranielle thank you for your reply :) haha! Because i have about 16 lessons and 9 lessons is this instructor :( i did change timing but i still got him... So I went to the counter to clarify and they told me just happened that the timing I have booked always got this instructor as he taught me before and he is in the shift... even though i book the different time slot😭... So eventually they suggest me to block him 😂 so he wont be able to teach me again 😂 as they see my progress booklet im really slow if i got this particular instructor but when the other instructors, i can clear quite fast HAHA! So ya if other people happened to have the same fate with as me,you can actually block the instructor so he wont be able to teach 😂

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    3. Hi Lynn! Thanks for sharing, I didn't know we could block though. Hehe, all the best and have fun driving!

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  24. Hello!

    May I trouble you to share what is the process to book TP after completing subject 33 at SSDC? the website put latest date available is 20 June but when I log in they showed me no available slots till 18 June.

    The customer service people tell me I need to cancel all my remaining lessons in order to see the test date slots (eg if I want 20 June I must cancel my 21 June onwards lessons). But my instructor told me I can book as far as possible for my driving test. I am a bit confused because both side telling me different things and it's hard to find booking of TP steps online.

    Thanks in advance!

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    1. Hi there!

      I have gotten my license 2 years ago so I am not sure if they have changed how things works. But I never had to cancel any slots to book or such though. I would reckon you should listen to the customer service since they are the ones whom would be handling the system. If it doesn't work like they say then ring up the same customer service again and get the fellow to rectify it for you! Apologies for the late response as I was down with a fever for the past few days.

      Good luck for your TP!

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  25. Hi there,

    Chanced upon ur blog post,and it's good that u have gotten ur licence with SSDC.I am now currently learning with SSDC and I feel that a couple of instructors are just trying to make life difficult for me.A particular instructor wasn't very competent and while I was driving, he was either dozing off or looking at his phone.Communication between me and him were minimum,and it's very awkward to have silence in the car for the whole 2 hours. Not only so,but the instruxtor even took a video of me driving without my permission. I had wanted to confront him because he was like making me not learning anything but just wasting my time and money only,but I guess, best to keep things down.For a consecutive 3 days as my instructor,he keep complaining on how bad my driving is,and would not even tell me how should I improve. Sigh...

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    1. Hi there, if you think that you're being treated unfairly, you should raise this up to the customer service and feedback. After all we're paying money to learn and shouldn't be treated as such. If not, I suggest you just be frank with him and talk it out with him and ask him queries you have. Better not to waste your time and money. Hope your lessons get better!

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    2. I was clueless before i somehow found this. Enrolled at SSDC but almost went the private route because the practical lessons available was 3 months away. One day after reading this i sat infront of my pc and refresh like crazy. Managed to book 2 lessons each day for 2 weeks straight. Now on lesson 24. 9 lesson more to go. Hopefully all goes well. Thank you so much for your write up. Helped me alot.

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  26. Hithere Ranielle, I am currently in the midst of obtaining my driving license with ssdc. Thanks so much for your detailed sharing.. Everything that happened to me so far is exactly the same as you mentioned above.. Just that I passed my FTT before my first ever driving lesson at amk branch.. I would like to ask why was I allowed to drive on the road straight on my first ever lesson and it was at night too.. And for one session complete 5 lessons is that normal pace or is it quite decent pace? I hope to get to TP by 21 lessons!

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    1. So sorry to have replied you so late!

      Why you were on the road.. I'm not too sure but I had to drive in the circuit at night too. I had about 25 lessons, so the usual is about 23-25 because some lessons they can only do that much. Don't worry about it, SSDC instructors would know what they are doing. If you're not comfortable just feedback to the management and they probably would do something about it. Have fun driving!

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  27. Hey pretty ! I wanna ask which route did you take for your tp test ? Any specific thing to look out for ? :)

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    1. Sorry for the late response, I'm sure you would have passed your TP by now. Congratulations :)

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  28. Hi, I do have some questions to ask you personally. How can I contact you?

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    1. Not sure if you still need any help, pepperminter@gmail.com
      Here you go!

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  29. Hi Ranielle, I noticed that for the Final theory Test, there are questions telling us about which offences would have how many demerit points. Is there a place for us to learn those points?
    Thank you.
    Jacob

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    1. Hi Jacob, I'm sure you would have passed your test already. However, if you haven't taken it, I think in the FT book would have notes on it, else ask your driving instructor :)

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  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Congratulations! :) And I'm glad whatever I wrote helped :)

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    2. Thanks for the reply I have accidentally deleted my post lol was trying to delete the double post. Wish you a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

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  32. hi thanks for writing this post. I was also very confuse over school and private and really nervous. Been contemplating over comfortdelgro and SSDC and found SSDC course fee slightly cheaper and more economic.
    Your review on the instructors won me over so likely i will take SSDC. many thanks!

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