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Topographical Test

Topographical Testing & Training.

One of the major requirements for your PCO Licence application is that you can demonstrate a good standard of route finding & map-reading skills also known as the Topographical Skills Test. You will need to successfully demonstrate sufficient Topographical Skills to TfL via an assessment invigilated by TfL.  All Private Hire journeys are pre-booked so all your journeys can be pre-planned. You won’t need the same level of “knowledge” as a (black cab, hackney carriage) taxi driver.

Our site in Barking has been approved as a TfL Topographical Assessment Centre. Not only can you take your test at our site with TfL but we independently provide topographical training packages to cater for all learning abilities.  Don’t worry about how long it takes you to Pass, we’ll give you the best possible training to get you passed asap. Don’t have sleepless nights about the “Test”

Book with us and we’ll make sure everything goes smoothly. Click here to read more about our Topographical Package.

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During the assessment you will need to demonstrate the following topographical skills.

The list below gives general idea of what is required:

General Topographical Skills

  • You need to be able to read and understand basic written English.
  • You need to be able to look-up and locate streets, stations, and hospitals within the Greater London A-Z Map Book.
  • You need to be able to identify major stations, post towns, districts, hospitals, stations, and postal districts using maps.
  • You need to know the 4 primary compass points – North,South,East, & West.
  • You need to know the names of the counties bordering London – e.g. Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Surrey etc.
  • You need to know the motorways that radiate from the M25 – e.g. M20, M1, M11, M4 etc.
  • You need to be able to specify the direction from London of a major town – for example you may be asked which direction from London is Birmingham? (The answer in this example is North West).
  • You need to know which motorway you would use to reach a major town – for example you may be asked which motorway to reach Leicester? You would need to answer M1 in this example.

Route Planning Tasks

Example, The Topographical Test usually consists of 5 modules:

Module 1

You will need to look up and note down the page number and grid references for 3 random places using the index of a London A-Z book

Module 2

You need to be able to plan a local route between two points using the Greater London Map. Name the closest stations to each of the start and finish points.

Module 3

You need to be able to plan a route between 5 and 30 miles between two points in the Greater London Map. Name the closest stations to each of the start and finish points.

Module 4

You’ll need to plan a route which is over 30 miles from Central London, using the Greater London Map. Name the closest stations to each of the start and finish points

Module 5

You will be given 4 random questions which are aimed to test your general knowledge. Don’t panic they are easy questions!

As you can see you’ll have to be able to use a map competently, have knowledge of the compass points, be able to use these to plan and execute any given route. Don’t worry if you feel unsure or apprehensive as we provide full training to cater for people with varied levels of learning & understanding. Just give us a call! Our dedicated trainer will put your mind at ease and get you through it. At the end of your training we discuss if you feel ready to take the test.

Where can I take the assessment?

You can only take the assessment at a TfL approved venue. You’ll be pleased to know we have been approved to host the TfL Topographical Tests at our Barking site in East London (IG11 8BB)

The Vehicle Site
Bridge House (rear entrance)
1st Floor
150 London Road
IG11 8BB

You may be exempt from taking the Topographical Test.

You will not need to take the topographical skills assessment if you have evidence of any of the following:

  • You were previously licensed as a London private hire vehicle driver and had passed a Topographical Skills Assessment
  • Are a licensed “All London and Suburban” London taxi driver
  • Are a professional London Tourist Guide (e.g. Blue Badge Driver Guide)
  • Can provide evidence of a recognised & relevant vocational qualification in passenger transport (eg NVQ or equivalent)

If this is the case then include a photocopy of your evidence in your PCO licence application.

Topographical Skills Specification List & Training

We’ve uploaded the specification list for your topographical skills assessment which should give you a better idea of what’s expected. It’s a long list but don’t let this put you off as most of this will come naturally once you book your training with us.