29 Mar London Cabbie ‘Knowledge’ test and how do you pass it?
Taxi drivers in the capital city can be hailed and asked to travel anywhere, this is why taxi drivers must have a comprehensive knowledge of London. For cab drivers to operate, they must have passed the world-famous ‘Knowledge’ test. It’s also important that you have the right public hire insurance policy in place once you’ve passed each stage.
Taxi services throughout London are considered to be amongst some of the best in the world. This is partly due to cab drivers knowing the quickest routes through the capital city’s complex road network. Within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross, there are thousands of landmarks and streets. Any taxi driver who wishes to drive a London cab, must memorise all of these.
‘The Knowledge’ was introduced in 1865 as a requirement for taxi drivers. To completely understand the Knowledge, it will take around three to four years for most students. The test is a big challenge, fortunately, guidance and support is available if you have what it takes.
Learning the Knowledge
It is important to know that there are two different types of London taxi drivers:
- All London (Green badge) – Drivers can work anywhere in the Greater London Authority area.
- Suburban (Yellow badge) – Drivers can work in ONE of the nine sectors in the suburbs of the Greater London Authority area.
- A copy of the guide to learning the Knowledge of London (the Blue Book).
- A booklet of advice on how to learn the Knowledge and how you will be assessed.
No matter which license you decide to apply for, you must acquire an extensive knowledge of the streets and places of interest in that area. This will demonstrate that you are able to correctly navigate your way around the UK’s capital city.
To become a London taxi driver, you need to apply through the Transport for London website. Once you have provided them with satisfactory character and medical checks, they will send you a Knowledge of London introductory pack. This will include:
The Blue Book lists 320 routes (known as “runs”) within the six-mile radius of Charing Cross. You will need to learn these routes, in addition to all the roads and landmarks within a quarter mile radius of the start and end points of each route.
Knowledge of London introductory talk
You will be invited to attend an introductory talk along with other successful candidates. You will be given advice and guidance from a Knowledge of London examiner about the different stages of the Knowledge and the best steps to take when studying.
The Knowledge is carried out in seven stages, these are outlined below.
Stage 1 – Self-assessment
To ensure you’re progressing correctly, you can undertake the self-assessment within six months of starting. This will be based on the first 80 runs in the ‘Blue book’. The self-assessment test is optional and your results will not be recorded. This provides a good opportunity to understand the requirements before progressing.
Stage 2 – Written examination
Once you feel you’re ready for the next step, you will be able to undertake the written examination. This will test your knowledge of the Blue book runs (5 questions) and the major landmarks (“points”) along the way (25 questions). This exam is a multiple-choice test and you need 60% to pass. It’s important to remember that this test must be undertaken within two years of being sent your introductory pack. Make sure to keep the dates handy in your calendar.
Stages 3 to 5 – Appearances
You will then attend a number of one-to-one oral appearances with your examiner. Each appearance will usually consist of 4 questions about the shortest route between any two points in London. Each appearance can take around 20 minutes, and you’ll receive a score ranging from A to D.
Your score will help you accumulate points, allowing you to progress to the next stage once you have enough.
Appearances are generally about 56 days apart at Stage 3. At Stage 4, this is reduced to around 28 days apart. At Stage 5, they are around 21 days apart. You will need to score on four appearances to accumulate the required number of points to progress to Stage 6.
Stage 6 – Suburban examination
You will need to learn a further 25 routes to demonstrate you have a good understanding of London’s suburbs.
Stage 7 – Licence application and final talk
Congratulations! You can now make the final application for the issue of your licence. You will receive further advice about your responsibilities from a Knowledge of London examiner. You will also be given your badge and licence at this talk.