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What is the SERU assessment – and how to pass the test 2024

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Many PCO drivers are nervous about the TfL English tests and, in particular, the SERU assessment. This post will explain this process and help give you the skills to succeed. 

TfL has announced that one important aspect of the SERU test might be changing – and this will be covered below. First, let’s explain why PCO drivers must take this exam at all.

In 2016, Transport for London (TfL) introduced the English Language Requirement (ELR) as part of its rules for getting the PHV driver licence needed to work as an Uber driver. Many private hire drivers in London also refer to this licence as a PCO badge but it’s the same thing. 

Our full guide on how to get a PCO licence in 2024 is here. Right now, let’s talk about SERU.

How does the SERU assessment work? 

The ELR was originally designed to check that every private hire driver in London can speak, listen, read and write English to an intermediate standard. This means an Uber driver will have the language skills to cope with most ‘common situations’ while on a trip to the UK.

At first, Uber drivers could simply provide documentary ELR evidence, such as a certificate from one of TfL’s appointed Secure English Language Test (SELT) providers. 

From 2021, TfL said PCO drivers must pass actual tests for the ELR – and it also expanded the idea to check that they also understood the safety and rights of passengers, plus basic TfL regulations. 

This new element was the Safety, Equality and Regulatory Understanding (SERU) assessment. Rather than make London PHV drivers take an extra test – i.e. in addition to the spoken and written tests – the SERU exam checks your reading and writing too. It’s one test with two purposes. 

From April 2023 onwards, every London Uber driver must now pass the SERU assessment, whether they are new to the game or an experienced driver renewing their PCO licence.

There are transition arrangements for drivers who were licensed before that date. We will cover who needs to do what shortly. Let’s focus on how these ELR tests work. 

What does the TfL English test include?

The TfL English test – which is how many PCO drivers describe the ELR –  is split into two halves. 

  1. Speaking and listening assessment 

The first test checks your verbal English language skills and is a 15-20 minute conversation with an interlocutor (i.e. an examiner you speak to). This happens at the TfL offices but it takes place over a video or telephone link with a TfL service provider called PeopleCert.

  1. Reading and writing assessment (SERU) 

The second exam ensures you understand the big issues relevant to passenger safety, equality and TfL regulations, while also checking your written English skills. This 45-minute test involves multiple-choice questions and completing sentences by filling in missing words.  

These tests are run separately but most drivers take both on the same day. You can do this at the TfL office in Baker Street or West Kensington and each one costs £36 if taken for the first time – or £16 for a re-sit.

The third TfL exam for a PCO licence checks if an Uber driver knows London geography and is able to plan routes. This is called the Topographical Test. 

For more practical details about exactly how to book the two ELR tests see our full guide.

Did you know: 

TfL is currently running a trial with Group 1 drivers (see below)  to convert the SERU assessment into an open-book format where you can bring a copy of the PHV Drivers Handbook into the testing room. 

When do PCO drivers take the ELR exam? 

From April 2023, all new private-hire drivers must pass both ELR tests before they get a PCO licence. There is wiggle room for Uber drivers who applied before then, especially those who provided ELR evidence to TfL. Here’s how it works:  

Drivers licensed before 1 Oct 2021 who gave no evidence by 30 Sep 2022 (Group 1) 

Action: Must pass SERU and speaking/listening tests by 30 Sep 2023  

Drivers licensed before 1 Oct 2021 who gave unaccepted evidence by 30 Sep 2022 (Group 2) 

Action: Must pass SERU and speaking/listening tests by 30 Sep 2024  

Drivers licensed before 1 Oct 2021 who gave satisfactory evidence by 30 Sep 2022 (Group 3) 

Action: Must pass only SERU assessment by 31 Mar 2025  

Drivers licensed between 1 Oct 2021 and 1 April 2023 (Group 4)  

Action: Must pass SERU and speaking/listening tests  by 30 Sept 2024

Did you know: 

In Jan 2024, TfL said it would pause enforcement action against Group 1 drivers who are yet to pass the SERU or ELR tests while it trials the new ‘open-book’ format of the SERU exam with them.  

Note that even drivers who already have a PCO licence must pass the SERU exam – and they might need to take it again in the future if the regulations change. This feels fairly unlikely but it is possible.

What does the SERU assessment mean? 

The SERU exam is based on the PHV Driver Handbook and covers four main subjects:

  • Passenger and driver safety – how to protect children or adults at risk from harm
  • Road and vehicle safety – regulations on licence tests and public safety
  • Equality – the needs of passengers with protected status (e.g. race or disability)
  • TfL policy for PHV drivers – rules about private hire driver’s behaviour at work

The SERU assessment is taken entirely on a computer. Drivers will use a mouse and not a keyboard to input all of the answers and you must score at least 60% to pass.

This TfL video explainer video explains the structure but there are 36 questions which are split into three styles:

  1. Standard multiple choice

These are fairly simple questions where you must choose one correct option from a list. 

Tip: Be careful to note important words such as ‘only’ or ‘new’ that subtly affects the answer.

  1. Short-passage multiple choice 

This type of multiple-choice question involves reading a short passage of information text before you select a correct option. There are usually only two questions like this in the test.

Tip: Slowly read the whole passage of text more than once before you choose. Remember that the test is checking your understanding of English as much as it is specific knowledge.

  1.  Sentence-completion questions

Here you must drag-and-drop the correct words from a shortlist into the right position within an incomplete sentence to form the correct answers. The idea is simpler than it sounds.

Tip: Remember to drag any unused words into the pink box provided for incorrect words before you finish. Otherwise, you will not get full marks, even if you select the right answers.

How to pass the SERU assessment test? 

The SERU assessment is tricky, even for native English speakers. However, as with any test, you can easily improve with practice. This is partly a matter of learning the relevant knowledge but it’s also about building your confidence on each style of question. Remember SERU tests your written language and comprehension skills as much as the actual topics. 

These learning resources will help every Uber driver to prepare for the SERU assessment. 

Where is good training for the SERU assessment? 

Uber provides regular training sessions at its Green Light Hubs as well as online webinars and also discount codes for two specialist partners for SERU courses. You can check if these discount codes are still active here before you book.

Russbridge Academy

  • Full day of in-person training that covers SERU and speaking/listening test
  • Runs from 10am to 5pm every day of the week
  • Includes online access to practice resources until the ELR tests
  • Fees: £150 
  • 20% discount with code RUSSBER2325

Seru.co.uk 

  • Online course (Choose from 2-week, 4-week or 8-week access)
  • Includes training materials and SERU mock test resources
  • Fees: 2 weeks = £45 | 4 weeks = £60 | 8 weeks = £80 
  • 40% discount with code UBER2023

If you are nervous about the SERU assessment, this is understandable. If you don’t pass the first time, you will not lose your licence, as you can retake the test. However, a second failure means you must reapply for your PCO licence, so ensure that you prepare well. 

The ultimate goal of the SERU exam is about safeguarding children plus other vulnerable passengers and to create a safer driving experience for everyone. It is well worth the effort. 

Otto Car believes that safety is what brings our loved ones home to us every day – and we are happy to be part of your personal journey. You’ve got the power to make this happen. 

The Otto Car PCO Blog is filled with excellent guides for new PCO drivers:

  • How to pass the TfL English test for PCO drivers in 2024 here
  • How to get a PCO licence in 2024 here
  • How to pass the TfL Topographical Skills Test in 2024 here

Want to learn more?

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