Be Part of a Huge Family
With over 3.9 million active commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders in the United States, passing your CDL tests means you’ll be joining one of the largest labor pools in the country. Commercial drivers are in high demand and represent a critical part of the nation’s infrastructure with 70 percent of all freight being delivered by truck.
Trucking Career Outlook
The U.S. Department of Labor has reported that job opportunities for truck drivers, especially long haul drivers have a favorable outlook for years to come. Job vacancies will increase over the next 10 years as older more experienced drivers retire. One out of every 14 American jobs, more than 9 million, belong to the trucking industry.
How to Pass the CDL Test and Get Your Commercial Drivers License
Getting a CDL is the first step toward a rewarding career which is why it’s so important to prepare before you begin down this career path. While each state has different rules for commercial driver’s licenses, there are federal guidelines in place as well. Some states may also offer specific preparatory programs to help you get ready to take your driving test. If you can find one of these programs, it will make it much easier for you to get your license.
A commercial driver’s license is required for any vehicle that transports more than 15 people. The United States also requires a CDL if you plan on driving a vehicle heavier than 26,001 pounds. It is also a requirement for anyone who drives hazardous cargo.
Understand the CDL Requirements
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), you have to meet certain requirements to get a CDL. While your state may have additional rules, every driver must meet the federal guidelines. As a rule, you must be at least 18 years old. You must be 21 years old if you need to drive across state lines or operate a vehicle carrying hazardous cargo. In addition, you cannot have any criminal felonies or offenses that may disqualify you from getting a CDL.
As a rule, you will be required to take a test and get your learners permit. You must have the CLP for at least 14 days before taking the road skills test. If you plan on getting specialized endorsements, you will have to take additional road skills and knowledge tests. To get your permit, you will have to show a medical examination, a 10-year driving history, and your current driver’s license.
If you have successfully done all of these things, you will still need to pass the skills and knowledge tests. The written knowledge test will encompass at least 30 questions, and you have to answer 80 percent of them correctly to pass. If you pass, you will have to pay a fee to get your permit.
According to federal regulations, you will have to hold your permit for 14 days before you take the next test. It will consist of a road test, vehicle inspection, and a basic controls exam. Some steps have additional requirements, but every state must at least meet these federal regulations.
Choose Your CDL Class and Endorsements
The first step is to figure out the type of CDL that you need. Do you want a class A, B or C? Do you need specific endorsements? There are three vehicle classes for the CDL. Tractor trailers, school buses and tanker trucks all require a different test. To get your endorsement, you will have to pass a skills test to get your permit. You may also be required to pass a written test, so make sure to study the CDL manual carefully.
CDL Class A
A class A CDL is required if you are driving a vehicle that weighs 26,001 pounds or more. It is also necessary for towing vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds. As long as you have the proper endorsements, a class A license can let you drive flatbeds, tractor-trailers, tanker vehicles, double trailers, livestock carriers, triple trailers and tractor-trailer buses. A class A license may also let you drive some class B and C vehicles if you have the right endorsements.
CDL Class B
Like the previous license, a class B can be used to operate a vehicle that weighs more than 26,001 pounds. It can also be used to tow vehicles that weight up to 10,000 pounds. Depending on the endorsements that you may need, a class B license will let you drive segmented buses, straight trucks, tourist buses, school buses and city buses. You may also be able to drive box trucks like furniture delivery, couriers, delivery drivers and dump trucks. Depending on your endorsements, a class B license may allow you to drive some class C vehicles.
CDL Class C
With a class C license, you can drive a vehicle that does not meet the criteria listed in class B or class A licenses. It is intended for people transporting hazardous materials or more than 16 passengers. With a class C license, you may be able to drive passenger vans and small HAZMAT vehicles. You may also be able to drive combination vehicles not listed in the previous classes.
There are many endorsements available for commercial drivers. Once you have a class A, B or C license, you can take additional tests to get an endorsement. If you want specific endorsements, you need to have a vehicle that is equipped with the right type of equipment. Some of the endorsements include:
– P Endorsement: This lets you drive a vehicle with a set number of passengers.
– H Endorsement: This allows you to drive hazardous materials.
– X Endorsement: The X endorsement is for tank vehicles and HAZMAT vehicles.
– S Endorsement: With an S endorsement, you can drive a school bus.
– N Endorsement: This endorsement is for driving tank vehicles.
– T Endorsement: This endorsement is intended for towing double or triple trailers.
Get Your Permit
Once you decide which class of license you need, you must begin studying for the written knowledge test. You have to pass the knowledge test before you can get a driving permit. With a CDL permit, you can begin practicing on public roadways with an experienced, qualified driver. When you are ready, you can take the skills test which includes basic controls, road tests and vehicle inspections.
Prepare for the Written Test With CDL Practice Tests
In most states, you will have to pass skill requirements, residency rules and a medical exam to get a CDL. You may also have to take a written knowledge test. The knowledge test includes at least 30 multiple-choice questions on highway safety and the different parts of the truck. To pass the test, you are required to score 80 percent or higher. It’s important that you prepare for this test as it has a high failure rate.
Your first step is to get a copy of the CDL manual for your state. You can get a free copy of your state’s CDL manual on this site or at your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or online. The second step involves testing your knowledge of the manual with practice tests. We offer free CDL practice tests that cover all areas of the CDL exam and the relevant endorsements.
After you have studied and passed the written knowledge test, you are ready to get a commercial learners permit (CLP). This permit lets you practice driving on public roads with an experienced driver. Before the DMV gives you this permit, they will check your driving record for the last 10 years in every state. Depending on your state, you may have to bring in proof that you are physically able to get a CDL. You may have to take a Department of Transportation medical exam before you are given a medical card. You may also be required by your state to prove that you are a resident before you are given a learners permit.
Get Your CDL License
You are legally required to have a learners permit for 14 days before you can take the skills test and earn your CDL license. Depending on your state, you may also be required to have specific CDL training before you take the skills test. During the 14 days, you should practice maneuvers and inspection tests to prepare. Each test includes a road test, a vehicle inspection test, and a basic controls test. For you to pass, you must excel in all of these areas.
After you have successfully passed the skills test, you will bring your documentation to your local CDL testing office. Depending on your state, you may be able to get your CDL the same day. You may also have to wait for it to arrive in the mail. Make sure that all of your information is correct when you are at the testing office so that you do not have to fix any mistakes later or leave empty-handed.
Frequently Asked Questions
The CDL test contains a general knowledge test, an endorsements test, and an air brakes test. The questions on the exam are designed to test your knowledge of:
- Vehicle pre-trip inspections.
- Communicating with other drivers.
- Gear shifting and vehicle control.
- Managing space while sharing the road
- Controlling and maintaining speed.
- Identifying potential hazards.
- The dangers associated with distracted driving.
- The dangers of alcohol consumption and driving.
- Railroad crossings.
- Night driving.
- Driving in various weather conditions.
- Dealing with driving emergencies.
- Correct braking methods.
- Controlling and recovering from skids.
- Procedures after an accident.
- Medical requirements.
- And more
There are 50 questions on the CDL general knowledge test. You can expect additional questions if you plan on pursuing endorsements.
|Endorsement||# of Questions|
All questions on the written CDL test are based on the information found in your state’s CDL manual.
You need to answer 80% of the questions correctly to pass the CDL test.
Yes, the CDL written tests are multiple choice.