A-1 Driving School review
I think it would be hard for any one person to make a comparative analysis of driving schools unless he’s such a failure at driving that he’s had an experience with them all. However, if you’ve had a great experience with one, I think it would be easy to tout is as one of, if not the best.
Ok first of all, why did I choose A-1? Top of mind. It’s been around so long it’s basically an institution. Based on the reviews that I found online, there are cheaper alternatives like Socialites, Smart driving, and other fly-by-night operators. Now, I must admit, Socialites also had good reviews, and I would have gone with them because my sister-in-law says they’re good, but they didn’t have an office near Fairview, so I had to scrap it. A-1 had one right at SM, all the more convenient for me.
Since I am surrounded by the drivers at home (including H), I thought that a 10-hour course would be enough. First off, the receptionist was very kind and attentive, and answered carefully all the queries I had (hello, Emilie). I ended up paying 5,800 for the special course (manual car), plus 800 for the student’s license assitance. Now I know it might sound steep but read on.
A-1 LTO LICENSING ASSISTANCE
P700.00 for student license
P1,800.00 for non-professional
I was also given (well, sold) this textbook on driving (P400), I was told this was a reviewer for the non-pro license exam (which will come in handy if you’d rather skip the lessons after your practical driving). Okay so anyway, I was told to proceed to SM North Edsa on any weekday at 7:00 in the morning.
I was given a form to fill out bearing the LTO seal. A shuttle service then took us (there were about five of us) to the LTO office in East Avenue, and I guess since we filled in the necessary paperwork back at the A1 office, we bypassed the long line up front and proceeded straight to the area where the pictures are taken.
It was quick and effiient, since all the stuff were taken care of by the staff from A1. We literally only had to have our picture taken, then we were off. I had the option to wait for it, or to just claim it from my A-1 office of choice. I chose to leave it since I had work. The day after, I was able to retrieve it at SM Fairview.
This was way back December, I could have gotten my non-pro license end of January but kept on putting it off since I have work and I could only apply at around noontime at LTO. I’ll be doing it next week though, and will make a separate entry about how that goes.
I won’t go into details because it’s gonna be looong. Anyway I enrolled under the ten-hour manual program which cost me P5,800 (I will be driving an automatic but H said “take the manual lessons because if youc could drive a manual, you could drive an automatic, but it’s not true the other way around”). In total, I paid 6,900, including the book and licensing.
For my first lesson my instructor took me to a quiet, near deserted road in Neopolitan and oriented me about the basics — what to remember before starting a car, what to check, the car parts etc. After a quick review, he then let me go behind the wheel. It was a quick turnover, I was expecting much more talkies before I actually go to drive, but it just took about 30 mins max. We just went round and round the same stretch of road, an excercise in confidence. He then told me that I would have to drive back to SM, past a busy intersection. I nearly died from fright, but it’s a comfort that he had his own set of brakes on the passenger side. I was able to bring us back in one piece.
For the succeeding lessons I was already behind the wheel. I was instructed to go all the way to Sauyo, which was a lesson in patience because it was like playing in a video game getting there, with kids darting from every corner and unpaved roads once you reach the not-too-urban area of Sauyo. Their driving compound was very helpful and I guess this is their advantage over other driving schools. You could practice parking, turns, etcetera without being disturbed by other cars and drivers. The next lesson, we went all the way to Diliman, went the long way to Sauyo through Don Antonio.
The confidence of the instructors was a really big help, and kudos to them for teaching the students about the RIGHT way of driving and not the Filipino way. They were professional, neat, polite and disciplined, as evident on the way that they themselves drove. I wouldn’t mind paying for these lessons for my nephews and nieces even if the tuition was a bit high, because of the discipline. This is what I would like to see on the road, I hope they produce more educated drivers.