7 things to know about the CDL test

If you’re preparing to take the CDL test, there are a few things you should know. The CDL test is a big deal because driving a CMV and being a CDL-holder means you’re being held to a high standard. (And therefore the CDL test also holds applicants to high standards.) Serious violations can jeopardize the driver’s maintaining of their CDL. Here’s some helpful information to keep in mind if you’re preparing for the CDL test.

7 things to know about the CDL test.

1. The State is the entity that issues CDLs.

To get a CDL, you have to go through your home state. The FMCSA actually isn’t the entity that issues CDLs (which is somewhat surprising given the role they play in the trucking world.) Keep in mind that it’s illegal to have a license in more than one state, so yeah – you’ve gotta go with your home state. The point is that the state’s the place to go for CDL matters.

2. You might need to have endorsement.

You also need to make sure that you’re getting the appropriate endorsements if you need them. For example, if you want to drive one of the following vehicles, you’ll need a CDL.

  • A truck with a double or triple trailer
  • A truck with a tank
  • A truck that transports hazardous materials
  • A passenger vehicle

You’ve got to be prepared to get the endorsements you need to drive the vehicle you’re intending to operate.

3. The State creates knowledge and skills test.

Since the state issues CDLs, they create their own knowledge and skills tests. However, they do have to meet the federal standards in subpart G and H of 49 CFR Part 383. Model examiner and driver tests have been prepared for the states to use. The State’s DMV is the place to go to get more information. (We know we’ve mentioned that, but still.)

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4. The knowledge test covers a lot of different areas.

If you are planning on taking the knowledge test, you need to be prepared for all of the areas you’ll be tested on. The knowledge test covers 20 areas in 49 CFR 383.111(a), but if you’re wanting to drive a truck with air brakes you also have to look at the areas in 49 CFR 383.111(b). So there will be a lot of study! The actual test will have 30 items or more.

5. The “pass” score is 80%.

It’s also important to remember that there’s a percent you need to achieve to pass. (And that goes for both the general test and the endorsement.) That percentage is 80%. So yes, that means you need to answer 80% of the questions correctly.

6. The skills test means performing all the skills.

When you take the skills test, you have to take it in a vehicle that represents the type of truck you want to drive. To pass the skills test, you need to perform all of the skills outlined in 49 CFR 383.113 – 49 CFR 383.123. So, it’s important to know and be prepared for the skills you’ll have to successfully complete during the test. You don’t want to be caught off-guard.

7. You can use your state’s CDL manual to prepare.

Each state has its CDL has its CDL manual, and you can use that to get ready to take the test. You can probably find your state’s CDL manual online. That makes it easy to get a copy and view the manual. Anyway – that’s what to use to prepare for the CDL skills and knowledge test.

So, those are a few things that it’s important to know about the CDL test. It’s a big undertaking to prepare for the knowledge and skills test. Go to your state to get more information.

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