To become a licensed black taxi driver in London you have to pass a test which is often referred to as “the knowledge”. In terms of commitment and dedication this test is one of the hardest tasks you can undertake, requiring immense amounts of study and dedication.
There are two types of tests you can take and depend on what type of licence you want; the green badge is for Central London or the yellow badge is for the Suburbs. The difference between the two is pretty big, the green badge examinees test is based on learning 320 routes, ultimately decided out of 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks and places of interest in the six mile radius of Charing Cross. The Yellow badge is a little less complicated and involves between 30 and 51 runs in detail. They also need to know all the streets, landmarks and places of interest in their sector.
As with any exams, people will always have their own individual ways of learning although there are a few tips that you should consider if you want to pass the knowledge.
Improve your Memory
Trying to remember 320 routes requires immense memory capability. The key to maintaining what you have learnt is repetition, repetition, repetition. What most London Cab drivers found useful was to breakdown the large amount of information into small manageable chunks which allows the brain to process it more effectively and quicker. Visualising potential routes in your head over and over again can help this process.
Research has also shown that another key factor is improving your memory is that sleep is necessary for memory consolidation, with “key memory-enhancing activity occurring during the deepest stages of sleep.” If you want to naturally boost your memory, make sure you feed your brain with the fuel it needs. You may have heard that fish is good for the brain and thought it was a myth, however, it is correct. Evidence indicates that omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial for brain health, so eat a lot of fish or walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans.
Get Familiar with your Surroundings
A typical process for completing the knowledge will be between 2-3 years and during this time a lot of people familiarise themselves with their surroundings by taking up employment within the city. Some swear by working part time as a courier as they get paid whilst they drive the streets around London, others apply to be milkmen in the City for the same reasons. For those with existing part time jobs they buy mopeds because driving the routes allow you to visually remember them, which is proven to be the best way to learn.
Have a Map on you at all Times
That is right. At work, at home, out with friends, having a small foldable map tucked away in your pocket can help you really nail down the routes. You never know when you mind might drift off into thinking about the routes, which is completely natural, but in the early stages where you are still unsure of the routes you should always carry a map with you so you can answer your own queries on the spot. This will help prevent you visualising and building incorrect routes in your head which will only confuse you at a later time.
These tips are aimed to help boost the number of iconic black taxi’s around London and to help fight against the illegal cab trade.
About the Author: Sam works for Taxi Advertising who specialise in vehicle wrapping and taxi advertising.