Becoming an Uber driver in London isn’t as simple as it looks. If you want to join Uber, the first step is to register yourself as an official PCO driver. You will have to submit an application to Transport for London (TFL) which is the local governing body in charge of almost the entire transport network in London.
Once the application is submitted to TFL, they will ask you to complete the topographical skills test. Read on to find out more about this test.
What Is The Topographical Skills Test?
The word topography refers to understanding how different features are present in a given landscape. In this test, the PCO driver candidate undergoes a rigorous examination of map reading capabilities. Failure to achieve the required score in this test will prevent you from acquiring a PCO license. A PCO license is mandatory to become a PCO driver, yet it is merely one of the steps in the process.
The topographical skills test comprises four sections designed to test how well a PCO driver candidate can read a map. The test can be taken electronically or on paper, depending on your choice.
Section 1 tests your ability to use the indexing section of an atlas. This is primarily used to check your knowledge of where different places are located in London.
For this test, you will be given an atlas, and you will be asked to locate different areas or places. An important step is to note the grid reference and page number of your answer.
All the locations and places will be arranged in alphabetical order, so you just have to find your answer somewhere in the atlas.
Section 2 questions test your understanding of directions from one place to another. Similar to section 1, you will be provided with an atlas where you will locate a given place as your starting point. Following this, you will be asked to locate another place and give its general direction.
This section is comparatively easy as you simply have to find out if the destination is to the North, South, East or West of the starting point.
Section 3 throws some challenging questions at you as this is where your skills as a PCO driver will be tested. In this section, you will be tested on planning a route between two different locations given on the atlas after being given a starting point and a destination.
While there can be any number of routes between two locations, the best answer should be to have the most direct route possible while making sure all traffic rules are being followed throughout, for example, no ‘going the wrong way’ or taking one-way roads.
Another difficulty in Section 3 is that you can not show the route to any nearby location. You have to arrive at the exact pinpoint location of your destination. Passengers may consent to be dropped at a nearby place when actually driving them in a PCO vehicle, but in this test, you have to answer the questions with razor-sharp accuracy.
Points will be deducted if you do not provide a direct route or if you have violated any traffic signals and ignored the map symbols. If you don’t arrive at the exact address, this will also be counted negatively.
If you have a good understanding of a compass, you will be able to breeze through this section. If not, this can prove to be quite difficult.
In the last section of the topographical skills test, you will be given scenario-based questions that you have to answer using compass points. For example, if you start at Point A and go three streets east and two streets north, where will you be now? Not only will you have to identify the direction with respect to the starting point, but you will also have to pinpoint your destination on the atlas.
The topographical skills test has a total of 100 marks. As a PCO driver candidate, you will need to score a minimum of 60 marks to clear the test. If you do not clear the test on the first attempt, you are allowed to appear in the test again. If you fail your second attempt, too, you will start from scratch. Consequently, you will need to fill out the application for the PCO license again to Transport for London and continue with the whole process.
Topographical Skills Test Centres
All topographical skills tests are taken at the TFL assessment centres on Baker Street and West Kensington.
Cost of Topographical Skills Tests
PCO driver candidates will have to pay £36 for the first attempt of the topographical skills test. If any candidate has to appear for the retest, they have to pay £16. These tests are also held at TFL approved centres, where the cost is £50.
Preparing for Topographical Skills Test
There are several resources available on the internet to help you prepare for the topographical skills test. You may want to visit Uber’s Online Topographical Preparation Page. They have a wide variety of videos and practice questions that will prove quite helpful for the PCO driver candidates. You can also use this page if you want to take your test at a TFL approved centre like the Uber Ignition Centre.
What Happens Next?
The duration of the topographical skills test is approximately one hour, depending on how quickly you are able to solve their questions. Once the test is completed, you will be notified of the results after some days.
When a PCO driver candidate passes their test, they will be taken to complete the remaining procedures. Following this, they will receive the PCO license after a few weeks.
The entire process, from start to finish, can take up to 16 weeks.
The topographical skills test is a key requirement to becoming an official PCO driver. The test itself isn’t difficult, but PCO driver candidates, nonetheless, have to prepare well in order to clear it. This guide provides a comprehensive summary of the test, and by now, you should have a clear idea of what to expect.