Topographical Skills Test – Beginner’s Guide!
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Topographical Skills Test

Topographical Skills Test

In order to become a licensed PCO driver, you need to pass various tests that challenge your driving skills and routing knowledge. One of these tests is the topographical skills test. Like the name itself explains, the topographical skills test is conducted to test your map-reading skills and prove to the government that you have all the expertise required and are a responsible and reliable driver. Here is everything you need to know about the topographical skills test.

What Is a PCO Driver License?

Also known as a Private Hire Driver License, a PCO car license is an essential document that allows you to work as a chauffeur or minicab driver for rideshare platforms such as Uber. A standard PCO car license is valid for 3 years and is issued by the Public Carriage Office (PCO) office itself. In order to get a PCO car license, you will need to go through the process mentioned below:

  • Complete Criminal DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) Check.
  • Pass Medical Test.
  • Pass a topographical skills test.
  • Pass a topographical skills test with Uber.
  • Pass the English language test.
  • Complete and submit the application form on the Transport for London website.

What Is a Topographical Skills Test?

Topographical Skills

As stated earlier, the topographical skills test is a sub-field of the PCO driver’s license requirements. The purpose of the test is to examine your map reading and routing skills. Although most people consider the topographical skills test as challenging, if you are well prepared, you have nothing to worry about. An easy way to do this is by understanding and solving sample topographical skills practice tests.

Topographical Skills Test – What to Expect?

The topographical skills test comprise four sections, each designed to test all aspects of your routing and map reading skills. The test can be conducted on both paper and computer. To pass the test, a PCO driver must score at least 60 points out of 100.

●      Section 01: Index-Based Questions

In this section, a PCO driver will be challenged to use their Atlas knowledge to identify/find different locations in London. You will be given an Atlas and will be asked to find the page number and grid reference of specific locations. When solving the index-based questions, just remember that places in an Atlas are usually arranged in alphabetical order.

Pro Tip: Any place beginning with “the” will have the name listed in the index afterwards. For example, “The Shard” will be written as “Shard, The.”

●      Section 02: General Topography

In this section of the topographical skills test, a PCO driver will be asked to identify directions from Point A to Point B. For example: What direction is Central London from London Heathrow Airport?

Pro Tip: Use a pen/pencil to mark Central London and then use the compass directions to see where the London Heathrow Airport lies.

●      Section 03: Planning a Route

In this section, two points will be marked on the map, and you will be asked to find the best route between the two locations. To have a better idea, watch TLF’s video.

●      Section 04: Compass Point Questions

In this section, you will be required to use the compass directions- North, South, East, and West- to answer different pictorial/graphical scenario-based questions. For example, A PCO driver starts driving from junction 01 and crosses two streets west. The PCO driver then travels south; which junction is the driver at now?

How to Prepare for a Topographical Skills Test?

One of the simplest ways to prepare for a topographical skills test is by practising on cost-free mock tests online. You can find many different types of topographical skills tests on different websites. To help you prepare, we have compiled a list of the best topographical skills test websites:

Topographical Skills Test

Where to Take the Topographical Skills Test in London?

Currently, according to the TLF website, there are six approved topographical skills test centres in London. The names of the centres are as follows:

  1. Bridge Topographical Training Ltd
  2. Data Cars Ltd
  3. Capstar Chauffeur Ltd
  4. E-Laws Training Ltd
  5. Driver Periodic Training Ltd
  6. The Vehicle Site Ltd

How to Register for a Topographical Skills Test?

The steps to sign yourself up for a topographical skills test are as follows:

  • Step 01: As soon as you have submitted the TFL application, the invitation to register yourself for a topographical skills test will pop up.
  • Step 02: In order to confirm and accept the topographical skills test invitation, you will have to pay around £50.
  • Step 03: There is no need to pay the fee online as you can pay for the topographical skills test on the test day.
  • Step 04: In case you missed the invitation, check the TFL website or contact 0343 222 444 to register yourself for the topographical skills test.

Pro Tip: When signing up for the topographical skills test, opt for the closest date available.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PCO Driver’s License?

Depending on your PCO car driving ability, it will take at least one hour to complete the topographical skills test. Typically, the result of the test will be announced in a couple of days. After which, you will be required to complete the remaining procedures. Once the entire PCO driver’s license process is complete, it will take a few weeks to publish your license. Overall, the whole process of filling forms and giving exams will take up to 16 to 12 weeks and will cost you around £420 in total.

Topographical Skills Test Exemption

There is no need to take the topographical skills test if you are already familiar with the alleys and streets of London. However, it is the TLF who decides whether a PCO driver should be exempted from the topographical skills test or not. For example, if you are an experienced taxi driver and now want to join Uber, you will be excluded from giving the topographical skills test as you already have enough experience and knowledge of the streets of London.

Wrapping It Up!

Whether you are an experienced PCO driver or not, no test is difficult if you are prepared. Compared to other tests, a topographical skills test is easier to pass with the right strategy and plenty of practice.

Planning to rent a PCO car in London? Visit our website or give us a call right away!