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Teaching a CBT Course

CBT Course Teaching Aid

The following outlines the CBT syllabus – what the student should know and what they should be able to do, as well as some common faults and their likely causes. This is outlined best in the DVSA’s CBT Syllabus and Guidance notes:


How the syllabus works, what trainers should be able to show, the learning outcomes and assessment of skills.

This compulsory basic training (CBT) syllabus builds on the existing 5 elements of approved training by adding guidance notes for each element. These notes will make it easier for trainers and learners to understand what is required of them.

The sections of the syllabus

The syllabus is in 3 sections:

  • what must happen
  • what the learner must know and understand
  • what the learner should be able to do (to show they have reached the required standard)

What trainers should be able to show

A trainer should be able to show that:

  • each element of ‘what must happen’ has been covered
  • the learner has shown that they have the right knowledge and understanding
  • the learner has performed suitable tasks to demonstrate competence

It is important to remember, however, that forcing a learner to go through subjects they already know, simply so the trainer can tick all the boxes, can be demotivating.

The aim of the syllabus

The syllabus is about making sure learners have the skills, knowledge and understanding to go out on
the road, on their own, to prepare for their riding tests.

It is not intended to set out exactly what trainers should do.

Learning outcomes

The syllabus sets out the learning outcomes that must be achieved. In making sure these learning outcomes are achieved, the trainer should be able to:

  • identify areas where the learner is failing to demonstrate competence
  • help the learner to understand the barriers that are stopping them demonstrate competence
  • help the learner to find ways to overcome those barriers

These need to be signed before anything else happens.

Use Registration Forms in the diary app – include checking details.

Need to know:

It is the student’s responsibility to regularly check their eyesight.

Need to do:

The student must be able to read a car number plate at 20.5m. They must have a Provisional or Full UK driving licence (or Northern Ireland licence).

Common Faults:

Can’t read the number plate – either get glasses dropped off before Element C or the course ends.

No driving licence – if the student has photo ID and knows their Driver Number and National Insurance number then a check can be made online –

Risk Management:

Have more than one number plate that can be used to check eyesight. Have a pre-measured distance. Ensure that the student can’t “memorize” the number plate in advance.

Need to know:

The elements and content of a CBT, what happens if students struggle (2 hour road ride).

Motorcycle protective equipment, alternatives, the law, care, straps, fit, safety stickers, visor safety marks, comfort, visibility, CE approved.

Need to do:

The student needs to answer some recap questions to ensure learning has taken place.

Use diary app to confirm the student has understood how a CBT takes place.

Common Faults:

The student is unable to understand or answer any questions – if it is a language issue the course ends here.

Training Aids:

Examples of motorcycle jacket, gloves, trousers, and boots. Different types of helmets, and/or helmet straps (use your own equipment)

Need to know:

Where is a good place to park the bike. Benefits of side-stand and centre stand. Positioning on road. Safety position.

Need to do:

Take the machine on and off the stand (both stands)

Common Faults:

Not being able to put the machine on the centre stand – the student is not placing all their weight on the stand and lifting up with their right arm. Instead they are trying to pull the machine backwards

Not being able to take the machine off the stand – the student is placing too much weight on the stand preventing the machine from tipping forward

The machine drops off the centre stand too quickly or the student over balances – the student has not applied their weight to the stand to allow the machine to descend in a controlled manner

Risk Management:

The instructor MUST stand in a position where they can catch or hold up the machine if the student over balances.

Training Aids:

Consider a demonstration and ensure the students can all see.

Need to know:

Where to hold and stand with the machine (position of feet). To use the brake gently. Not to brake while turning.

Need to do:

Push in a figure of 8. Stop two or three times using a brake.

Common Faults:

Harsh stopping – encourage the student to squeeze the brake

Over-balancing – uncommon, but can be caused by not allowing the fuel tank to rest against the hip

Hitting the footrest – standing too far back, get the student to rest the fuel tank against the right hip

Getting lost – encourage the student to “look forward” and not down

Risk Management:

Ensure the student has co-ordination and balance, and be stood in a position where it is possible to hold the student’s machine up if they overbalance.

The student and instructor should not be asked or try to stop the machine while turning

Need to know:

Know what all the controls do and when to use and how to use.

Need to do:

Ideally use the controls sat on the machine and correctly identify during recap.

Common Faults:

Looking down to use a control – encourage and practice use of the controls while the student looks forward.

Incorrect technique – check the student uses four fingers on the controls, and their thumb for the switch gear (and fore-finger for dip/flash if fitted)

Risk Management:

Oversee getting on the machine independently for the first time.

Catching the student’s foot on the seat while mounting or dismounting the machine.

To maintain balance have both feet on the ground when initially sat on the machine.

Need to know:

Explain ignition key, engine kill switch, fuel tap and choke if fitted. Throttle position. How to leave the machine.

Need to do:

Start and stop the engine sat on the machine.

Common faults:

Leaving the machine switched on – encourage a systematic approach.

Being unable to start the machine – check key position, clutch pull in, side stand up, engine kill switch, and machine in neutral. Automatic machines need a brake lever pull on (often quite hard). 

Risk management:

Inadvertently putting the machine into gear or over revving (poor throttle position).

Need to know:

The practical and legal benefits of checking the machine every time before riding it.

Need to do:

Practice and perform daily checks while sat on the machine. Demonstrate a systematic approach. 

Common faults:

Not checking correct positioning of mirrors – consider arms out looking for thumbs up.

Poor ergonomics – the student needs to know what they can adjust (e.g. levers).

Risk management:

Some checks need the ignition switched on and the engine running (e.g. lights on an automatic moped) – extra care needs to be taken not to touch the throttle.

Some checks, such as looking at tyres, need care to avoid losing balance.

Need to know:

What is the safety and legal benefits of riding a properly prepared machine. What are the consequences of not doing so.

Need to do:

Discuss weekly checks while the machine is on the centre stand. Q&A with recap to demonstrate knowledge and understanding.

Use an acronym (BOLTS).

Common faults:

Where does the student find the correct technical information (e.g. tyre pressures)? – Encourage the student to read the owners handbook.

Incorrectly identifying parts – re-explain or reteach.

Risk management:

Making sure that the machine is stable on the centre stand.

Some machine checks need to be done with care, for example if the rear wheel is turned it is easy to catch fingers in the chain.

Not making the correct adjustments or spotting a fault can lead to an unsafe machine.

If in doubt take the machine to a professional.

Need to know:

This is a core skill. The students needs to know when to pick up their feet, which brake to use (rear), and where to look. Re-explain safety position. How to use clutch & put in gear. Explain neutral. Explain steering. Explain stalling (and how to recover).

Need to do:

Ride the machine around the diamond and bring to a stop next to the instructor, showing control and balance.

Common faults:

Stalling – often caused by releasing the clutch too quickly while simultaneously shutting the throttle.

Poor steering – holding on too tight to the handlebars.

Sudden movements – excessive force on the controls. for example grabbing the front brake.

Risk Management:

High risk manoeuvre – does the student have balance? Might be worth pushing the student sat on the machine so they can get used to the weight and balance and how to use the rear brake.

Where is student going – are they facing any obstacles, are the turns too sharp?

The risk is shared and the student needs to confirm carefully where they are going and how to stop safely.

Does the student want a demonstration? Did they answer the questions accurately during recap. Were they able to use the controls properly during the “dry-run”?

How to use slow control (brake, clutch, throttle). When and why to use. How to self diagnose.

Ride slowly around the diamond in slow control and stop next to the instructor.

Why and when to use gears. How much revs to use. How to find neutral. Use of brakes in down shifting. Power of each gear.

Go up and down as many gears as space allows (diamond). Select neutral.

Need to know:

Effectiveness of brakes (front/rear). Weight transfer and the ideal order of braking (front then rear). When to and when not to use either brake (bends, poor road surface, slow riding). Use of throttle/gears to slow (engine braking). Smoothness and precision, including four fingers on the levers and lifting the wrist to shut the throttle. Effect of weather. Effect of engine braking (lack of brake light).

Need to do:

Stop using both brakes in a small box or line (part of diamond). This may be broken down into using just the front and then just the rear to allow the student to feel the differing levels of effectiveness.

Common faults:

Poor timing – stopping too short or too late, often caused by poor forward planning (looking down).

Harsh braking – the machine stops suddenly. Encourage a more progressive squeeze, perhaps while stationary. More emphasis on smoothness over precision until the braking is done progressively.

Incorrect order – starting with the rear and then grabbing the front (sudden suspension dive at the end of the stop). Re-explain order and then need to maintain a well balanced machine.

Only using one brake – the exercise requires the use of both brakes in a co-ordinated way.

Risk management:

Slightly higher speed than some of the previous exercises – needs looking further ahead. Harsh use of the brakes or at the wrong time (in a bend) will case a loss of balance. Smoothness and timing initially are more important than precision. With practice and correction precision can be achieved.


Need to know:

Explain when they are needed (pulling away/speeding up, slowing down, changing direction, potential for slowing down, converging lanes, updates). Explain about being able to change your mind/plan. Effect on balance. Importance for safety/consequences. Explain the benefits of using the mirror, and importance of the blind spot check.

Need to do:

Demonstrate where the mirror blind spot is located. Show use or mirror & blind spot check before pulling away & stopping (using diamond).

Common faults:

Done too quickly – re-explain the importance of making an informed choice and not simply turning the head.

Done too late – re-explain the need to be able to choose between differing courses of action (I.e. waiting or pulling away).

The machine wobbles – poor posture (holding on too tight), looking around too far (re-explain the use of the mirror).

Risk management:

Observations are safety critical and a rider can not be considered safe if they can’t demonstrate good all round awareness. Wobbles can be difficult to correct at high and very low speed, so posture and procedure are important.

What to do if it skids. Why the front & rear offer differing performance. What difference wet weather makes (easier on the front). Importance for safety. Why no observation. How wrist is lifted to prevent revving.

Stop promptly without locking the wheels using both brakes. Approx 20mph (diamond).

Need to know:

What technique to use (slow control). Purpose is to improve the core skills of vision, balance, and control. Essential for junctions, filtering, and parking.

Need to do:

Ride in a figure of 8 (two cones 7 paces apart) under control. Set up two figures of 8 – one for coaching and one for practice.

Common faults:

Getting “lost” – student is looking down, and not through where they need to go.

Poor balance – student is riding too slow, has poor posture (holding on too tight), is looking down, or excessive use of the rear brake.

Machine responds to the throttle – the clutch is not at the “biting” point.

Risk management:

If two figure of 8’s are being used they must be placed a significant distance apart. 

There is a risk of dropping the machine by turning too tight. Start by using a lot of space.

The machine will fall if it is ridden too slowly – start wide using lots of room and a speed to 5 – 7mph, before slowing to 3 – 5mph and tightening the turns.

Need to know:

Why, when and where this should be used. Importance of effective observations. Why there is no need to signal. Understand the different types of turn, e.g.  “Deliveroo” turn.

Need to do:

Turn inside Mod 1 sized U-turn space (7.5m) under control, showing adequate observations.

Common faults:

Putting foot down – pulling in the clutch (no drive), excessive rear brake, no throttle. Encourage riding out of the turn.

Running wide – poor posture (making it hard to turn the handlebars), looking at the “white” line and not looking where they need to go.

Missing lifesaver – emphasize importance, try alternative style of turn (Deliveroo).

General loss of balance – Poor control, try wider with no observations before trying to tighten the turn.

Risk management:

Dropping the machine by a loss of balance or control, or by turning too tight. Start with wide turns.

Dropping the machine by applying the front brake. Essential proper use of the controls is used.

How to recognise a junction. What the lines and signs mean. Open and closed junctions – why you might or might not stop. Giving way. Importance of positioning and lifesavers. Cancelling indicators and getting up to speed.

Turn left/right major to minor/minor to major, using observations, throttle, gears, brakes, slow control and indicators.

Brief Q&A session (two or three questions per topic):

  • Anticipate actions road users – Use of horn/positioning. Explain having an escape route.
  • Need to be visible – Lights, clothing, positioning, horn.
  • Legal requirements – Age, L-plates, CBT, licence, eyesight, roadworthy machine, tax, MoT, helmet, insurance.
  • Riding in an emotional state – Implies poor forward planning. Effects on others and the law. Distracting.
  • Drink and drugs – Don’t drink, check with doctor about use of prescription drugs. Dangers and consequences.
  • Weather conditions – Clothing, braking, time of year, wind, riding style, is it safe (snow/ice)?
  • Road surfaces – Changing use of throttle, brakes and steering if surface changes (gravel, ice, wet, leaves, over-banding).
  • Vulnerability – Size, road surface, wind, difficulty in braking, balance, lack of protection.
  • Rear observations – Re-explain six occasions when they are needed. Explain about being able to change your mind/plan. Effect on balance. Importance for safety
  • Hazard perception – How all of the above combines to make a safe rider. Examples of spotting problems before they happen.

Longer in depth Q&A session on the following topics:

  • Positioning – 3 positions, why and when. Body language (and ease of misunderstanding).
  • Use of speed – How to know the speed limit, explain road signs positioned for speed limit, danger of excess speed, mitigating speed for the circumstances.
  • Following distance – Explain 2/4 second gap, how to do it and change it. Explain importance for safety.
  • Highway Code – Signs (shape/colour), importance of knowing what other road users can and will do. Must answer more than 50% of the questions correctly.

Need to know:

When and why to use positions 1,2,3, and 3+. Good forward planning is essential to help decide which position is best.

Need to do:

Demonstrate that the appropriate position is being used.

Common Faults:

Too far to the right – common fault for a car driver.

Too far to the left – common fault for a cyclist.

Inflexible positioning – often associated with poor forward planning.

Swerving late (typically for drain covers) – encourage the student to make these judgements earlier by looking further ahead.

Swan-necking (typically at junctions) – often caused by excess speed. Encourage the student to slow down.

Risk Management:

Incorrect positioning is misleading for other road users and may make them reach the wrong conclusion.

Potentially, it puts the student too close to dangers such as oncoming vehicles.

Prevents students from being able to take adequate rear observations.

It is a legal requirement to do two hours of road tuition.

This starts when the student rides onto the road (and not the road briefing).

It does not include any comfort breaks, or stops for petrol. It does include roadside tuition that is relevant to the student.

The road ride ends when the student comes off the road (and not at the end of any debrief).

Other issues such as mechanical break downs or malfunctioning radios are also discounted.

A failure to do two hours is a breach of the law and can lead to losing a the authority to hold a CBT1 (motorcycle instructor’s) card.

The Assessment is defined by the DVSA as:

Trainers should be reasonably confident, when they issue a CBT certificate, that the learner has the required level of skills, knowledge and understanding. This fits with delivery in a client-centred way.

If a learner is quickly able to show they are competent at a particular element (such as if they have been riding off-road for a number of years and they are clearly able to carry out simple manoeuvres) the trainer may decide to move on in the programme.

It is also important to remember that each learner must be assessed as an individual. It is not enough, for example, to assume that everybody in a group understands because nobody asked any questions.

This means the trainer has the responsibility to decide which approach works for them.

If they are working with one or two learners they might be able to use a question and answer approach to allow them to come to a decision about each learner’s competence.

If they are working with a group, or decide that it makes more business sense to carry out some part of assessment separately, they are free to use some form of written or electronic test.

Assessment of skills is about trainers applying their professional judgement. The syllabus sets out some minimum performance standards but, for each learner, trainers should remember that the question they are trying to answer is ‘are you reasonably confident that this person is ready to ride on the road on their own?’

This needs to be done with care as it is a legal document. Certificates cost £8 each and need to be accounted for.

  • Ask for the student’s driving licence
  • Ask the student if it has their current name and address – if the licence is different use the name and address the student supplies
  • Fill in the Driver Number. If it is a Northern Ireland Licence write the numbers in then line through the remaining boxes
  • Add today’s date
  • Add the time the CBT finished – this is the time the student came off the road and not the time that the certificate is being written
  • Add the student’s date of birth and age
  • Category restrictions typically apply to what the student can ride and are uncommon. An example would be if the student had a disability and used a trike or sidecar, in which case they may be restricted to those vehicles
  • Tick if the student used a geared or automatic machine for the CBT
  • Fill out the current name and address
  • Add your (the instructor’s) name and signature
  • Add your (the instructor’s) CBT1 card number and training school reference
  • Apply the training school stamp in the bottom left box and either stamp or write the address of the training site in the botom right hand box
  • Write in the site code for the CBT pad
  • Tick the box that applies to the student’s licence and the machine that they used for the CBT
  • Make sure that all the information is legible on both copies of the CBT certificate
  • If you make a mistake line through the error, write the correction above, and then put your full signature next to the correction (not initials)
  • Ask the student to check that all the details are correct, then to sign in the box where it says candidate signature
  • Carefully tear off the top copy (the CBT certificate) and give to the student
  • If the CBT certificate is spoiled beyond recovery write VOID through both copies and leave the certificate in the book
  • Explain that a CBT certifcate last for two years, what they are entitled to ride, any restrictions (such as L-plates, no passengers, etc.), that they cost £20 to replace, and that if they wish to continue riding after two years they will need to renew the CBT. Finally, tell the student to read the back of the CBT certificate for a fuller explanation of the their entitlements and the law


CBT certificates need to be recorded on the diary app and have exactly the same details that are on the certificate (see Recording student feedback)