English Language Tests for Private Hire Drivers

Working as a PCO driver, you will definitely need to know communication skills, especially being fluent in English as the main language in the UK. This is the reason that the PCO license requires you to prove your English fluency by providing a certificate or taking a test. Your English level must be at least B1 to be accepted for getting a PCO license. Sometimes it might be really hard to get ready for an English test particularly when you are not very good in English. A few pre-test studyies and methods to improve your English fluency will help you in this case but first of all, you need to recognize your current English level, know what B1 level means in English and then take a test or start getting ready for the test.

English language test for pco drivers

Read this article carefully because we are going to answer all the questions you have about the English language test of PCO. From knowing your level to improving and getting familiar with accepted certificates. You will also read about the requirements of the test (what you need to bring and what you are not allowed to bring to the test).

Article Overview:

  • What is the B1 level in English?
  • How to identify my current English level?
  • How can I improve my English skills?
  • What is the accepted English certification to get a PCO license?
  • Where to take the PCO English test and how much does it cost?
  • What should I bring to the test? What is forbidden?
  • Does renewing a PCO license need an English fluency certificate?
  • Conclusion

What is the B1 level in English?

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As you know, English has 6 levels of fluency in the European countries and that’s A1 to C2. A1 is for beginners and C2 is essentially for native speakers of English. B1 is the middle level of English means the person at this position is completely familiar with English language, yet not qualified for academic or work exclusively. In other words, B1 is the level of knowing English enough to communicate with other people easily and fulfill your needs. You may wonder why the B1 is enough for a PCO license while it is not a working level of English. That’s because you are not going to have uncommon conversations with your riders.

You can also check the Trinity college website to take sample tests and make sure your language level is acceptable then take the real exam.

In fact, the process of becoming a PCO driver and having daily rides need a minimum knowledge of English to have an effective communication with clients, rideshare supervisors, traffic officers, etc. So, it is not necessary to talk like a native speaker.

How to identify my current English level?

Regarding the internet, it is not much hard and time taking to find your English level. All you need is to have a smart device (laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc.) and internet connection. Then search for “online English level tests” and choose a link to take the test. These tests usually take less than 30 minutes and are accurate enough to tell you where to start practicing for higher a level. Just make sure you are passing the placement tests with no cheating!

How can I improve my English?

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Again technology had an essential role in this issue and made good changes for people seeking for learning. There are many websites where you can improve your English skills in all the 4 (reading, writing, speaking and listening) subcategories. Just search “leaning English” and see how many websites are ready to serve you the references. Another way is to use YouTube and find the YouTubers who try to teach English. Last but not least, use language mobile apps such as Duolingo which will help you to improve any language in all the 4 skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening) as soon as possible. Generally, self studying can prepare you for the test and you don’t really have to pay for classes to improve your English.

What are the accepted English certifications to get a PCO license?

  1. get a PCO licenseUK GCSE/O level (or equivalent) certificate at grades A* to G
  2. UK AS-Level/A level certificate
  3. UK NVQ*/B-Tech/City & Guilds qualification, along with confirmation from the awarding body that the qualification provided is equivalent to GCSE or above (for example, a Blue Badge Guide qualification)
  4. UK BA Hons, BSc Hons degree or higher i.e. master’s, PhD
  5. UK HNC/HND qualification
  6. SELT certificate at B1 level or higher, issued by Trinity College London
  7. IELTS showing proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening (not an specific point is mentioned)

Check TfL official website to make sure about the licenses. Sometimes new updates of the company include changes in required certifications.

Where to take the PCO English test and how much does it cost?

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If you are planning to take the English test rather than uploading a certificate of English, you need to choose one of the tests below, as these two are currently valid for PCO license. 

  1. Trinity college (the ISE 1 test)
  2. IELTS test (taken in valid institutions)

Based on your situation and interests you can choose one of them and apply for a PCO license. The TfL English test cost is between £180 to £250 (maybe even more based on what test you pick) and should be held in one of the accepted TfL (Transport for London) centers in the UK. The point is that all the appliances need to provide an English proficiency and fluency, regardless of their nationality. It means even if you are a native English speaker, you need to prove that your English level is B1 or above!

What if I fail one part of the exam?

Based on what Trinity requires, if you fail either or all parts of the exam, a letter will be issued stating that you have not accepted the required level in 4 skills and a report is rewarded to you to find how you performed in the test. You can retake the exam if you want to. 

What should I bring to the test? What is forbidden?

You need to bring your ID card, a pen or pencil, water and snacks if needed. 

Having electronic devices such as smartphones, smartwatches, etc. and any paper even if there is nothing written in it, is completely forbidden. The only paper you can bring is the Topic form downloaded from Trinity website to discuss with the examiner.

When will the test result be released?

Within 21 days, you can receive the results of your tests. The results will list like this:

  1. Announcing if you pass or fail
  2. Understanding your diagnostic report (to show how you performed in the test)
  3. ISE scoring information
  4. How to improve your skills if you have failed

English fluency certificate

Does renewing a PCO license need an English fluency certificate?

The rule of providing an English fluency certificate was set in October 2016. So, any holder of the PCO license who is planning to renew their license taken before and after October 2016 needs to prove their English proficiency to get a new license.


English, as the first international language and the main language of many countries including the UK, is always important for international studying, working, etc. this means as long as you can’t communicate correctly, you can’t be considered as a successful worker or student in many countries. Becoming a PCO driver is the same. As a PCO driver you will need to understand what you do and communicate with your customers. That is the reason for TfL asking its clients to bring an English language proficiency certificate. 

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