If you’re looking for new and exciting career opportunities, it’s time to consider taking the commercial driver’s license exam (otherwise known as the CDL test) and becoming a licensed truck driver in the new year.
There has never been a better time to begin this process, as carriers across the U.S are currently in need of drivers. As of 2015, ATA American Trucking Trends estimated there was a shortage of almost 48,000 truck drivers. This number was up from a shortage of 20,000 drivers in 2005. With this shortage, your job opportunity is unlimited after passing the test and acquiring the proper training.
The first step to becoming a commercial truck driver is passing your CDL test. Class A CDL training involves several steps. There is a written portion of the exam as well as a road test. There is also a required physical examination. An excellent way to ensure you’re properly prepared to pass the CDL test is by enrolling in a reputable trucking driving program, offered by a company such as TDI.
To help you get started, we’ve outlined several beneficial tips and answered any commonly asked questions about passing the CDL test. Explore the helpful information below to expertly navigate your CDL exam and take the first step to becoming a licensed class A driver this year.
What is the CDL Test?
The CDL test is an examination that is required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for all commercial drivers within the United States. Individual states have different application processes for the CDL exam, however, every state must abide by the federal requirements mandated by the FMCSA.
There are several components to the CDL test, including a written exam, road test and physical examination. Additionally, in order to obtain your CDL, you must be at least 21 years of age to cross state lines or operate a truck carrying hazardous materials.
While there may be some criminal offenses that prevent you from obtaining a Class A CDL license, each state is different in regards to which offenses are disqualifying. It is recommended that you check your state regulations before assuming you are qualified or disqualified with regards to any criminal offenses.
By enrolling in a professional trucking driving school, such as TDI, students will have access to a team of advisors who can further explain all the requirements needed for the CDL test.
Tips for Passing the CDL Written Exam
The best way to pass the written portion of the CDL test is to be as prepared as possible. Set yourself up for success by enrolling in a driving program taught by experienced and knowledgeable truck drivers. The program should walk you through each part of the written test, so you know what to expect. Another benefit of enrolling in a high-quality truck driving institute is the ability to ask questions when you need to and get additional one-on-one support as you learn. TDI has specialized in this area, and offered students an unparalleled level of support, for more than 46 years.
The CDL test consists of 30-50 total questions. Some of the question topics include how to properly maintain log books, basic mechanical knowledge, weight scales, cargo claims and more. Students are also questioned on proper logging routes, trip planning, and map reading. The test also covers hazardous materials regulation and accident prevention. TDI’s program covers all of these topics in their truck driving school.
Ultimately, the best way to prepare for a CDL test is by enrolling in a reputable truck drivers’ Institute so you know the information you’re learning is accurate and up to date.
Tips for Passing the CDL Road Test
Once you’ve successfully passed the written portion of the CDL test, you’ll move on to the road test. It’s important to learn the basics of getting your CDL in a classroom setting, before getting behind the wheel. This is especially true if you’ve never operated a large truck before.
The CDL road test will involve properly completing a pre-trip inspection of your truck, as well as successfully backing up, driving in a straight line and offset backing. It’s also important you’re able to drive in a variety of traffic types, from light traffic situations to more congested areas such as populated cities.
In addition to driving technique, certain programs included additional valuable information for their students. For example, TDI’s program offers training in compliance with Truckers Against Trafficking to help their graduates know how to assist in the human trafficking epidemic while they are driving across the country.
To pass the CDL road test, you’ll want to spend time learning from experienced driving instructors on a driving range. You will also want to be sure you have sufficient time learning highway driving tips from professionals. At TDI’s driving ranges, you’ll be able to practice advanced driving skills, night driving and more.
The Best Way to Study for Your CDL Exams
The best way to study for your CDL exams is by ensuring you understand what is required. There are many components to the test, so it’s important you’re aware of each segment.
- First, review all of the federal requirements for obtaining a CDL. Then, review the requirements set forth by your specific state.
- Next, make sure you have a thorough understanding of each part of the written exam, which generally involves questions about general driving knowledge, air brakes and combination vehicles.
- Then, you’ll need to be prepared to pass the road skills test which will involve 3 parts: a pre-trip inspection portion, a basic control test, and an actual driving test that includes maneuvers like properly backing up.
While you may be able to find helpful information online in order to help you pass your written CDL test, you can save yourself a significant amount of time by enrolling in a high-quality, reputable truck driving institute such as TDI and ensure you get the up to date training you need to pass your CDL exam.
Where Can I Take the CDL Test? Can I Take It Online?
As we’ve mentioned, there are several components to the CDL test, which include a written portion of the test as well as a driving portion. Both the written portion and driving portion of the test must be completed at your state’s DMV, or at the site of a Third Party CDL Examiner. Third Party Examiners are organizations that are certified in CDL testing procedures. These testers provide their own testing for a fee. TDI is proud to be an approved Third Party Examiner, which is an added convenience for their students.
Neither the written or driving skills tests can be taken online. However, you may be able to find mock test questions online which may help you study for the written test. If you’re going to use these types of ‘test questions’ to study for your CDL test, be sure you’re reviewing only up-to-date and accurate information.
You will also need to complete a physical examination in order to get your CDL, which needs to be administered by a certified medical professional. Additionally, students will be required to bring a few, specific items with them in order to take the CDL test. These items include an original birth certificate or social security card, as well as two documents to prove domicile in the state they will be testing in.
How Much Does the CDL Cost?
The cost of a CDL test will vary by state. Typically, the cost of the test will be between $30-60, depending on the fees required by the DMV in your state. Once you have obtained your initial CDL, there are fees for renewing your license, modifying it, upgrading it or duplicating it in the event you lose your copy.
If you opt to enroll in a truck driving institute, the cost per program will also vary. Out of pocket costs for certain expert programs, such as TDI’s program, may cost anywhere between $200-$500. This minimal out of pocket cost will depend on a variety of factors, such as taking advantage of tuition assistance programs or employer assistance programs which can significantly minimize the program’s total cost.
Prior to signing up for a program, be sure to inquire about their tuition assistance programs that may include career education funding as well as possible employer tuition assistance. These initiatives may help you offset some of the cost and get the total tuition cost down closer to the $200 range, when possible.
How Does Employer Tuition Assistance Work for a CDL Training Program?
If you choose to enroll in a truck driving institute program, sometimes carriers will offer tuition reimbursement for the price of the CDL program. This means that the trucking company may potentially cover part or all of the cost of your CDL training. They offer this as an incentive for drivers to join their company once they’ve graduated from the program and officially become licensed. This is a fantastic way to potentially save yourself some money while you receive high-quality training.
The program recruiters at Truck Driver Institute (TDI) keep up to date with which trucking carriers offer our students tuition reimbursement and how much of the program cost they cover. Our team walks students through the details of any applicable employer tuition reimbursement scenarios. Please note, we do not guarantee career placement or employer assistance tuition.
It’s also important to note that certain scholarships for a driving institute such as TDI may also be available to students. Recruiters in the TDI Admissions Office will provide students with all the details they need about various scholarship opportunities to our program.
How Long Does the CDL Test Take?
The length of time it takes to complete the written portion and road skills tests may depend on several factors. For example, how quickly an individual is able to answer the questions in the written test. As we mentioned earlier, each state’s DMV dictates the number of questions required on the written test.
As a general guideline, the written test often takes approximately 60 minutes. Additionally, most DMVs advise people to allow roughly two hours to complete the road skills test.
If you’re concerned about not having enough time to take the CDL test, we suggest speaking to the advisors at TDI. TDI’s advisors can offer additional information and help you through the process so you feel confident when it comes time to take the CDL exam.
Common Reasons People Fail the CDL Exam
There are several reasons why someone may fail their CDL test. Among the most popular reason is not being fully prepared to pass either the written portion of the exam or the road test. Without instruction and guidance from a qualified, experienced instructor, it can be challenging to know which topics to study for the written test, and how to properly operate the vehicle during the skills test.
Specifically, someone may fail the CDL test due to a lack of knowledge around a particular topic on the written exam, such as hazardous materials, tank vehicles or air brakes. Other reasons for failing the exam may include test day jitters, or the lack of attention to detail during the driving skills exam. For example, if you forget to buckle your seatbelt during the driving exam, or by accidentally hitting a curb.
With proper preparation and the help of a skilled instructor, many of these factors can be avoided. If you have any questions on specific areas of the test you’re concerned about, please contact our team and we would be happy to speak with you further about your concerns.
How Can I Get Started?
If you’re ready to get started and begin preparing to take your CDL test, start by researching a leader in the truck driving industry.
Truck Driver Institute offers a comprehensive 3-week program that helps prepare students to pass their CDL test and acquire their Class A CDL at the end of training. The TDI team has trained tens of thousands of students over the years. TDI has been in business for 46 years and has locations located in 8 states, for the students’ convenience. They also work with 20+ carriers to help their students get hired after graduating.
If you’re looking for a high-quality program with hands-on training and a great reputation, TDI is the answer. Get started today.