My Driving Experience at A1 Driving School [★]

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I decided to take driving lessons because I realized that this is a necessary and practical skill to learn. I have a friend who recently had driving lessons too and she recommended A1 Driving School to me.



I took the seven-hour course on manual car driving. That package includes:

- 7 hours of hands-on driving
- 2 hours orientation
- 8 hours of lecture

The following are my experiences throughout my lessons from them. This post was continually updated as I studied driving.


Getting Student Permit
Before getting your first lessons on driving, you have to get a student permit at the Land Transportation Office (LTO). A1 offers assistance on this with a fee of Php700, inclusive of the LTO registration fee. You will be given a schedule for the student permit. A service car will be provided and one of the A1 staff will drive you to the nearest LTO branch. Just a word of caution: arrive on time based on your schedule. Mine was at 9AM at their SM Mall of Asia branch and I was left by the service car because I arrived at 9:20AM. By then you'll have no choice but to reschedule your student permit appointment. Actually there were two of us that was left by the service car. Good thing there was still a schedule for student permit at SM Southmall at noon that day. I went to their branch there and through their asstistance, I got my student permit at LTO Las Pinas.


Before the Actual Lessons
Daisy, the receptionist at the BF Homes branch was very friendly and attentive. Before you take your actual driving lessons, you first schedule your slots with them. Though my preferred times were rescheduled several times because it was in conflict with their Christmas and End-of-Year party, my driving lesson schedule was flattened out eventually. They would also text you a day before your schedule to remind you of your appointment with them.



Hands-On Driving: 1st-2nd Hour
My first-day session was at the BF Branch. I met with my instructor at the branch itself. Since I haven't attended the orientation, the first 15 minutes was spent giving a briefing on what to check on the car before driving. And then, we were off. When we arrived along Sucat road and to my utmost horror, I was asked to already go behind the steering wheel. Well what was I expecting anyways. It was my first time to drive a car ever, and this experience just drove me nuts. It was like practicing surgery on an actual ill patient!! ><

As expected, I was really tensed throughout the session. My instruction's nagging didn't help really.

my nervousness 
effort to learn an entirely new skill 
stress from my instructor's babbling 
MENTAL BREAKDOWN!

Just kidding! It was a rattling experience but I had to push my fear aside and focus driving. After two hours, I was able to drive from Fourth Estate up to Lopez then made a U-turn and went back to the BF branch in one piece. :D


Hands-On Driving: 3rd-4th Hour
This time, the meeting place was at the A1 branch at SM Sucat. I was with the same instructor. From the parking lot, he was the one who drove until along Sucat road, and that's where we switched seats. I drove the car until we arrived to their training center in Las Pinas. There I practiced back parking, facing the wall, and parallel parking. I was also taught three-point turns (and some other turns that I can't remember the names now lol). I was not able to smoothly do driving uphill-hanging, and that's the part where I got mostly frustrated (adding up to my instructor's nagging ugh). After doing all those stuff at the training center, I drove all the way back to SM Sucat.


Two-Hour Orientation
I don't know what got into me that I went straight to driving without attending the orientation! Maybe I was too eager to try driving? But upon attending their orientation at SM MOA, I realized how stupid that decision was. In the orientation, all the basics are tackled like  the parts of the car and the things to do upon riding the car (locks, side mirrors, adjustment of chair, etc.). The correct footwork was also discussed. Muscle memory is the key!

My knowledge was further furnished listening to the lecture because I was able to re-learn them. I am so happy that I was one of the two attendees there (out of the 20+ people) that correctly answered that the clutch is the one the makes the car move and not the gas. All thanks to my instructor (even though his nagging irritated me a lot xD). That is  one of the lessons that I have learned the hard way during the uphill-hanging driving.


Hands-On Driving: 5th-7th Hour
I decided to replace my instructor because of the mishaps I had during the first two sessions, and I am oh so glad I did. If you are going to take an A1 course, I recommend you to get Junie as your instructor! He is my dream instructor personified! He was so good in giving instructors that I gained confidence in my own flavor of driving. I really enjoyed my last hands-on driving session. I was less nervous while driving. We were even chatting while on the road. :D


Lecture One and Two: All About Defensive Driving and Other Useful Driving Topics
That's not the official title of the lecture series, but basically it's all about that. Lectures #1 and #2 are both 4-hour lecture sessions. Fear not, because you won't get bored because this will not be like your boring lectures during school. This is something that I've realized when I attended the A1 lectures. My thoughts never wandered to some dreamy land when I was at the lecture session because I know for sure that the concepts and the skills that I will acquire in the class will be used in the matter of life and death on the road. Knowing that the concepts would be extremely helpful for me in real-life situations on the road, the lecture had my 100% attention. It helped that they included video footages of actual road accidents in the lecture. It was kinda traumatizing seeing people get killed by rushing cars. But we must realize this as beginner drivers because that's reality. The vehicle that we are learning to operate can kill people if not used in the proper way. x(

It's crazy how a mere one-second mistake can cause an accident and hurt not just yourself but innocent pedestrians on the road. I am satisfied how A1 instilled this in my mind. (Though I have to manage this fear rationally, because I tend to drive reaaaaally slooooowly because I don't want to hit any vehicle or people on the road xD).

A1 classroom at SM MOA

I bought their manual books. All the topics covered in the two lectures are here (plus lots of more essential stuff)





Assistance for Non-Pro License
A1 also provides assistance for those who want to apply for a driving license at LTO. I applied for the non-pro. There's a fee of Php1,800 + Php150 to be paid at the LTO. There's a written exam and a practical exam. For our case, the latter one was waived because they said we learned from a driving school anyway (though I wished I've done it, just to test my skills).

After a few hours of waiting, I finally got my license! Yaaay! Thank you to Marlon (the A1 staff that was with us) for your patience with us! And also thanks to all fellow A1 classmates that I have made friends with while waiting at the LTO!

This is how my actual license looks like. :)) (confidential information blocked by a fat totoro)


I can now officially drive! I am new on the road and I am still continually learning. I am very happy that I was able to achieve this goal because this is a lifetime skill that I will surely benefit from.

For those planning to take A1 driving classes also, here are some tips I can give based on my experience:

- STAY CALM. Driving is all about having a presence of mind.
- Attend the orientation first before going on hands-on driving. Hehe I think this is common sense. xD
- HAVE COURAGE! Driving for the first time can really rack your nerves, but once you get the hang of it, you would actually find it really easy!


See you guys on the road! Beep beep!

DISCLAIMER: Through this post, I am not implying that I am now the best driver in the world. I am just narrating how I was able to learn the foundations of driving through this school. Honestly I haven't had much experience in driving since I finished my lessons. I only drove during the weekends and I haven't tried driving in an expressway. So I still have lots to learn myself. :)

~o~

image credits: athenna.com | smsupermalls.com

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59 (mga) komento

  1. Hi Kath! I was browsing the net to look for any existing review about A1 Driving School as this is my first choice to go to for my driving lesson as well (though I'm considering others as they are cheaper...) and google led me to your blog. Your review is quite interesting but I just have a few questions...first, you mentioned you've taken 7 hours course, which I believe cost Php 4,700 on manual transmission, how many weeks (days or months) you spent in total to complete the training? second, I know that a students permit need to be at least 1 month old before you can acquire a non-pro license, were you able to obtain your non-pro on the same day of application? I'm asking these nitty questions because I am currently working abroad and will be having my vacation next year. Taking a driving lesson here in the country where I'm currently working in is ridiculously expensive! So I'm planning to have it back there during my vacation to save me thousands, not hundreds, of pesos. My only challenge is that I will only have 30-35 days of vacation in the Philippines. So I need to squeeze all that in a month or so and hopefully get a non-pro license before I head back here. Looking forward to your reply and nice blog by the way:).

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    1. Hi Anon! Thanks for dropping by on the blog! Let's go through your questions, shall we?

      ~ "how many weeks (days or months) you spent in total to complete the training?"

      It took me almost 1 1/2 month to complete all the training (hands-on + lectures). My schedule was spread out throughout the weekends only that's why it took some time. For the hands-on training, it will depend on you how you would plan to consume the number of hours allotted. For my case, I divided my 7-hour training into 3 sessions -- 2hours-2hours-3hours. The time is flexible. You can even consume all the hours in just one session if you want! Just discuss this with the A1 staff and they will plan the schedule with you.

      ~ "I know that a students permit need to be at least 1 month old before you can acquire a non-pro license, were you able to obtain your non-pro on the same day of application?"

      Yes, I was able to get my non-pro license on the same day that I applied for it. It's a whole day process actually, because hundreds of people apply for a license at the LTO so we had to wait for hours to get things done. I believe our batch was lucky because we had our licenses on the same day (we had to wait until 6PM at the LTO branch). But just to be prepared, I recommend allotting at least 2 days for the processing of your non-pro license.


      I believe the challenge for you is the condition on the student's license, because as you know, it has to be a month-old before you could apply for a non-pro license. Though I think if you apply for the student license first thing after you land here, you will have enough time to get your non-pro license a month later.

      Good luck on your driving lessons.:D

      Delete
  2. Hi Kathleen,

    Question lang about sa schedule. Siningil ka pa ba ng additional fee for the re-schedule?

    Kasi I'm planning to take 5 hours lang sana to boost my confidence sa driving (I already took 10hrs sa Smart Driving School pero medyo walang kwenta) pero gusto ko sana three days lang, 1hr tapos 2hrs, 2hrs. Eh upon checking their website, iba yung fee kapag rush. Kaso ayoko may additional fee. Hehehe.

    Since pinabago mo yung sched mo, siningil ka ba for that?

    Thaaaanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Anon (again)! Wala namang fee na hiningi saken nung nagpa-reschedule ako. Nung nagpalipat ako ng araw, ang naging options ko lang ay yung may instructor na free sa schedule na yon.

      Hope this helps. Good luck on your driving! :D

      Delete
  3. Time isn't important without life so Drive Safely.
    We are a leading Ventura County Driving School
    Offering Behind The WheelDriving Lessons..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. I would definitely risk being late on a meeting than being hurt on the road. :p

      Delete
  4. Kath! :D im about to enroll in A1 Driving School in SM City Cebu. And i have some concerns that some people been telling me that the written exam in LTO is hard (for them) but i dunno. if you're that interested and willing to study first then i can pass this exam i believe my friends told me get 90 out of 100 then you can pass. if perfect then that's excellent! but then my friends keep on telling me. GO GET FIXER! im like NOOOOOO! I don't wanna bypass and go illegal for driving because my reason to get A1 just to get educated and how to be discipline on the road. so my first goal is to get SP first then that's the time i can enroll myself. I could get non-prof by myself after i graduated from A1 but here's my question. HOW DID THE LTO EXAM GO? :O I know i'm not great with tagalog because i am half filipino so i've only learned Bisaya only (Hence i'm from cebu kasi) but whenever i research about LTO Exams on Google then mostly all of them are in tagalog. i can't make it if LTO Cebu branch will give me LTO Exam in Tagalog. Tell me how did you make it? I'm nervous to fail and of course i know A1 can be a great help to me to learn about the safety of driving in the Philippines. Since America and other countries can be different from the Philippines. Thanks :)

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    1. Hi Boyerz! Don't worry, it's perfectly normal to be nervous about the written exam (I was too!) because it would depend on the result if you will or will not get your license, right?

      But let me lay out some facts about the process (based on my experience).

      I think your friends are a little bit exaggerating. :p The written exam is straightforward. It's a mutliple-choice exam up to 50 items (if my memory is correct). At the beginning of the written exam process, you are given an hour (at least) to "review". Basically you are given a sample 100-item questionnaire but with the correct answers already.

      After that you will be transferred to another room for the real thing. It's almost the same set of questions, but this time it's only up to 50 items. So that means you really have to study the reviewer because the items would just come from there.

      With your language issue, I am not actually sure if there's an available exam written in English. I took mine in Filipino. I suggest you call LTO and ask them if the written exam is available in English.

      Also since you said you would be applying for a non-pro on your own, I think you have to take the practical exam. I did not take that one anymore (as I have mentioned in the post) so I can't give tips on that anymore.

      Kudos to you! I'm sure with that dignified attitude, you'll make a good driver on the road.

      Good luck on your exam! :D

      Delete
    2. It's been a month the last time i posted on the comments :) I'm enrolled na at A1 Driving School at SM City Cebu! :D the treasurer told me to be there on the orientation which is wednesday and there's lecture on sundays but have no idea when's the actual driving but yea in the reminders which is strict says no shorts,slippers etc so i'll just wear long pants and shoes for this matter. I got the remedial class where i have different instructors each time which i don't mind and driving at daylight instead. Since i driven a car before Auto and Manual so remedial is the choice for me. But yea as long i secured my SP before i enrolled yay :) Though LTO is sometimes a scary place coz some ppl approach me and said this in bisaya "i have a friend who is citom and can help you get license in 1 month without taking exam" i told him "nah, sorry tho but i want the challenging one coz i want to learn from the lectures" so that's the story. I got the SP myself so that was why when i'm alone. things can happen badly and i'm like why you guys are not so scared by finding license applicants and you wanted to help them to get license in a illegal way in front of the LTO office and CITOM (Cebu City Traffic Operations Management) and there's a warning sign for fixers in LTO office. if you let a person get his/her license without the examination the penalty is 200k or imprisonment or both xD

      About the language issue. All LTO personnel see me as a foreigner despite i understand cebuano but my nationality on my SP registered as american not filipino citizen even i'm half and dual citizenship. It's best if i speak English to them and i doubt they will give me English test paper during the examination and yea i feel fine if i'm gonna take the exam at LTO coz there's lecture there and once lecture is finished then examination room right away :)) so there's nothing to worry about :3

      From your braveness from handling A1 class and actual driving and taking the exam at LTO without feeling nervous that you'll fail the exam. Even my cousin passed the exam and got her license so i can do this too!

      Delete
    3. Hi Boyerz! It's so nice to hear from you again!

      So you have finally started your driving lessons here. Yay! And you've met those fixers. Haha. Oh well. That's how things run here. I don't know if those people just don't have the concept of fear that they do it in front of the LTO, or they just don't care. Good thing you did not give in to their offers. :))

      Good luck again on your driving! It seems like you already have some experience in driving. You'll do fine for sure.

      Enjoy and be safe!

      Delete
  5. Hi! I messaged you under the 'contact me' box.. I hope you can read my message and give me pieces of advice. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Kindly notify me here if you already have read my message. My name is K David. Thank you!

      Delete
  6. Did you learn how to drive in 7 hours?... Do you have any knowledge in driving before you take the lessons?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I learned the foundations. It took practice beyond the 7 hours to get the hang of it. No, I did not have any driving knowledge prior to that (if playing Mario Kart does not count! xD)

      Delete
  7. I learned to drive in school in California. We spent one day on the parking lot at school learning the basics of starting and stopping and steering then we hit the roads the next day and by the second week we were driving on the freeway. My daughter on the other had spent several months driving just in a parking lot not learning to interact with other vehicles and real world obstacles and only did one day on the real road before they said she was ready to take her test. The first day of driving with her license she was in an accident right by our home because she did not know what to do when there was another car coming towards her. Scary! http://bicksdrive.com/AdultRemedial.html

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That's really scary. The best way to learn how to drive is to be on a "real road" with the obstacles themselves. You can practice hours and hours in the training center but it will never prepare you for the real thing. Actual driving on the road is the only way to learn.

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  8. Thanks for this! How much did you spend all in all for enrolling at A1?
    And do yo use your own car or will they have a standard car used for all the students to practice on.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. At the very least, you should allot 10k (course fee + id registration, etc). A1 has cars for use of their students so no need to bring your own car.

      Delete
  9. Hi kath thanks for the info! Did u take actual test drive exam when you apply for a non pro license in lto?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi! No, I did not take the practical exam anymore, just the written exam.

      Delete
  10. Hi kath! Which LTO office did you go to for your non-pro license?

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  11. Hi kath! Why you did'nt take the practical exam driving? Is the written exam is the way for having a license? Not both paractical and written?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Anon! As I have mentioned in the post, we did not take the practical exam anymore because the LTO staff there said that we learned through a driving school anyway so there's no need for it. We still took the written exam.

      Delete
  12. Great blog! I am taking driving lessons now at Alpha and Omega Driving School. Hope I will make it too.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great blog! I am taking driving lessons now at Alpha and Omega Driving School. Hope I will make it too.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Did you know that the number one cause of death for teens ages 15-19, according to the National Center of Health Statistics, is automobile accidents (they account for nearly 40% of all teen deaths)? It's no secret that teen drivers have a higher rate of serious and deadly accidents than other drivers. Many of these accidents are caused by common mistakes, or an incomplete knowledge of traffic laws. With these poignant statistics, it's a wonder parents don't take choosing a driving school more seriously.

    ReplyDelete


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  16. Its really a good blog on driving instructors. I appreciate your article. Its important to get quality driving lesson to learn driving properly and for that one need a good driving instructor. This blog is really helpful to give a light in this issue. So thanks for sharing all that important information.

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  17. Hello po, l Ecell Halina 22 years old, pwede nba akong mg.aral ng driving ? At wala po akong experience for driving, how much po ba ang enrollfee ? Thank you

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    1. Hi Ecel! Oo naman! Kahit below 18 pwede nga, basta may consent ng parents. For the fee, depende kasi sa package na pipiliin mo eh. For my case, around 10K umabot. I suggest you call A1 para ma-check mo magkano aabot yung gusto mong package. Good luck!

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  18. hello po gusto kung mag aral ng driving ask hingi sana ako ng advice kC 20 days lang ako sa pinas im living abroad kC. gusto ko mag aral at makakuha narin ng licence it spossible pls help me an idea tnx a lot

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    1. Hi Anon! I think kulang ang 20 days para makakuha ng non-pro license sa 'Pinas. May requirement kasi sa student license na dapat at least a month old na bago pwede mag-apply ng non-pro license.

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  19. From the manuals ba yung exam sa lto?

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    1. Hi Anon! No, LTO has its own set of questions.

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  20. How much po yung Primera at Segunda manuals? Required po ba bumili nun? Or hindi naman? Thank you :)

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    1. Hi RAM! I cannot remember anymore the exact price though, but I'm sure both manuals are less than 1K. Nope, hindi required bumili. :D

      Delete
  21. When I first learnt to drive ten years ago, to be honest it was stressful and scary because I felt I was getting rushed by my parents to learn driving. It took me a few years to finnaly be able to drive okay in my early twenties.

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  22. thank you for this blog *halos himatayin sa takot* punta na ko bukas sa A1 sta. rosa

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    1. Nice! Good luck Mark! Nakakatakot talaga sa umpisa, but you'll soon get the hang of it!

      Delete
  23. Hi Kath! Mag eenroll na sana ako kanina kaya lang bukas na lang. Tatanong ko lang kasi ikaw di ba nag student's permit ka then non-prof. Para saan yung student's permit? Ibig sabihin 700+1800 binayaran mo? Iba pa yung students permit sa non-prof na license?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. student permit, para makahawak ka na ng manibela. di ka nila tuturuan hanggat wala ka non. non-prof and prof yun na mismo ang driver's license.

      Delete
  24. kath, ang layo ng A1 samin. kaya red 1 at gear 1 pinagpipilian ko. nag inquire na ko. kaso nakalimutan ko itanong magkano bayad sa downpayment. natawag ako sa landline nila laging busy. magkano binayad mo sa down? gusto ko sana this week na para kasali ako sa batch na kasama sa orientaion this friday.

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    1. Hi Mark! Honestly, di ko na maalala yung magkano nga dinown payment ko, pero I'm assuming at least 50% of the total amount. :D

      Delete
  25. Thanks for sharing your experience. That was an enjoyable read. I not only have teenagers that will need to be driving soon but my parents recently got in an accident (my fathers fault) and he needs to be evaluated before he is allowed to drive again. He respects authority so maybe a school like 911 driving school may help him. found a little excerpt here: http://www.pamf.org/teen/life/school/driving.html is says"911 Driving School hires only police officers to instruct classes. The officers knowledge and expertise will prepare the student for the great responsibility that comes with obtaining a driver's license." crazy decisions and all.

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  26. hi mam kath, yung automatic car ang gagamitin ko. diba yun yung restriction code #4 ?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Anon! Hmm hindi ko sure. Though nakalagay sa Wikipedia:

      Restriction 4 - Automatic Clutch up to 4500 kg Gross Vehicle Weight.

      Tanong mo na lang sa LTO para sure. :)

      Delete
  27. With just 7-hour course you were able to apply and get your license. tanong ko lng if meron kang previous exprience in driving before ka mag driving school or totally newbie ka. Natanong ko kasi mag enroll din ako and i just wonder if a 10-hour course for a newbie like me will be enought to get my license or i need practice outside my driving school. TIA for replying

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  28. Hi Kath... how was the written exam? was it hard? ano mga tanong.... I'm bad with exam really... hahhaha

    ReplyDelete
  29. hello, please visit alphaandomegadrivingschool.net, we are currently offering a great summer promo!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have paid 21k to A1 driving school since last 3 month..for my driver license…… I don't know what's the problem ... They have being post me everyday... They did not even call me for capturing.... Hmmmm……I want to knw if A1 driving school . have scam me..... Because the next time I'm going to 1A office.... I'm going there with police.. U guys must vomit my money..... It's my sweart... If u guys can not help me get my driving license pls return my money to me

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  31. i was thinking of taking their course knowing that i won't take practical exam if apply for non pro-. :) such an interesting blog though.

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  32. HI, super useful po ba ng a1 manual books?

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    1. Hi Anon! I would say yes - maraming information sa loob ng books, lalo kung OC ka sa mga traffic rules and signs. Meron ding tips and tricks for parallel parking etc.

      Very worth the price din. :)

      Delete
  33. Hi, I know this post was last 2014 pa but nagwawaive pa rin ba yung LTO ng practical exam ngayon? Pano nawaive yung syao? I called A1 kasi and assistance nila is para lang daw di na pumila but i have to pay 2250php daw.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anon! I guess it's best to inquire LTO with that one, as I don't have an idea if they've changed their regulations since then. Para naman dun sa A1, alam ko di naman ganun kamahal yung license assistance nila. I think mas mura kung student ka na nila vs magpapa-assist ka lang sa LTO. I am not 100% sure of all these, best is to call them directly.

      Good luck!

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  34. Hi, Kath! I'm planning to enroll in A1 in Paranaque next week. Tanong ko lang ngenroll ka sa isang branch pero bat parang sa iba-ibang branches yata yung mga lessons? Pakiclear naman po. Salamat.

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    1. Hi Anon! The different branches were just the meetup places. We had to go to Las Pinas because that's where their training center is located (to practice parking, etc.).

      Delete

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