You can’t become an Uber driver in London without taking a couple of tests – an English language test, as well as the dreaded topographical (map-reading) test. In fairness, it sounds more terrifying than it is, and it’s actually very useful, whether you’re born and raised in London or just getting to know your way around the city.
Once you’ve submitted your PCO licence application, you’ll be invited to take a topographical test with TfL.
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If you’re concerned about the TfL topographical test, this guide should clear up some of the basic notions and hopefully give you the courage to kickstart your career as an on-demand driver.
Simply put, it’s a test to ensure drivers have the necessary understanding of how maps work, and can use a map to navigate between fares.
Passing the topographical test is required by TfL before you can become a PCO driver.
Everyone who wants to become a PCO driver must take and pass the TfL topographical test.
However, there are threee small exceptions:
Starting November 1st 2021, if you take the test at the TfL driver assessment centres, it costs £36 and a re-take costs £16.
You need to score at least 60 out of 100 to pass the TfL topographical test.
Yes, you can re-take the topographical test if you don’t succeed the first time.
Starting November 1st 2021, you can take the TfL topographical test at the following centres:
Once you have submitted your PCO licence application to the TfL, you will receive a letter or email with a specific date to take the test at one of the two TfL centres.
IMPORTANT: You must have a confirmed booking to take the test.
For booking queries, you can contact the TfL Topographical Team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0343 222 4444.
There are a number of training resources available online to help you pass the TfL topographical test. Check out the structure of the test, as well as some free resources below:
There are four sections to the test. Click the sections below to read more and find the right topographical training material for each:
Section 1 – Index based questions
These questions test your knowledge of using indexes within an atlas – you’ll get an atlas and you’ll need to find certain locations in the index. You’ll have to note the grid reference and page number of a given location in your answer.
Places are usually arranged in alphabetical order in any index, so it’s just a matter of scrolling through the index until you find the location you need.
Question example: Identify the grid reference and page number of Fleet Street, London.
These questions will test your ability on how to use maps within an atlas, and require you to give the general direction fro one point to another. You’ll get a map, a starting point, and a destination. All you need to figure out is whether the destination is to the North, East, South, or West of the starting point.
Question example: What direction is Gatwick Airport from Tower Bridge?
These questions will test your ability to plan a route between two locations. It’s similar to the previous section in that you’ll get a map with a starting and ending point, but the task is a bit more complex: you’ll have to plan a detailed route, not just give the general direction.
This section weighs the most in your final score, so give yourself enough time to find the most direct routes, and double-check that your solutions don’t violate any traffic rules such as one-way roads. It’s also essential that you arrive precisely to the destination – a nearby drop-off works with most passengers in real life, but in the test, you have to arrive at the exact address.
Question example: What is the most direct route from Shoreditch Square to The London Eye?
Watch TfL’s tutorial to get a better grasp on how they require you to plan a route:
These will be scenario-based questions using compass points. Similarly to Section 2, you’ll need to be comfortable with the basic directions (North, South, East, and West) and translate instructions to find your way around maps.
Question example: You start at junction 4 and travel one street North. Then you travel two streets East. What junction number are you at now?
Uber offers preparation sessions and a free online Uber topographical training course to make sure you pass with no difficulty.
There are a number of providers who offer training for the topographical test. For example, you can get training and take a practice test at PCO-Licence London for £70, and Driver View offers one-on-one training for £80 as well as online Uber topographical training for £29.99.
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