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Since legislation changed in April 2017, it now takes more than a clean record and a driver’s license to become a cab driver in London. That’s because, even if you’ve always spoken the language, Transport For London (TfL) has implemented a mandatory written English test for PCO drivers.

Although the ability to speak English is a given for PCO drivers, the written element of the test caused some controversy at the time the changes were announced. Uber. in particular, attempted to stonewall the move, citing it as unfair on migrant workers. However, with the rules still in place, the test is still a critical step for anyone looking to drive a PCO vehicle for a living. 

Read on to learn more about how best to prepare for TfL’s PCO license English test, how to apply, and why it’s such an important qualification to have.

Do I need to take the PCO licence English language test?

According to the most recent TfL guidelines, anyone whose licence is due to expire on or before 30th September 2020 will need to take the test when renewing their licence. Anybody who wishes to apply for their PCO licence for the first time must also take the test.

However, the test will not be necessary for any drivers renewing or applying for their licence if they have the following qualifications issued in the United Kingdom:

  • Any GCSE (or O-level), from grade A* to G
  • Any A-level (or AS-level), at any passing grade
  • Any GCSE-equivalent NVQ/City & Guilds/B-tech, with accompanying confirmation to confirm its GCSE-equivalency
  • Any university bachelor’s (or higher) degree
  • Any Higher National Certificate or Diploma

How do I apply for the PCO licence English test?

You will need to approach one of two approved test providers, then submit your certification to TfL along with your licence renewal application. The two test providers are Trinity College and IELTS, who have sites across London. Either test will cost drivers between £180 and £200 to complete.

What does the PCO licence English test involve?

According to the Trinity College outline, the test will be split into two sections. One is a reading & writing module, which lasts two hours and includes two reading tasks, a writing task, and a reading into writing task. The other is a speaking & listening module, which lasts 18 minutes, and requires speaking on one prepared topic, a conversation task, and two separate listening tasks.

Both providers offer training sessions in advance, with online learning centres available to help applicants prepare.