How Many Times Can You Fail Your CDL Test?
Even if you feel prepared to get your commercial driver’s license, you probably still want to know the answer to the question, “How many times can you fail your CDL test?” Regulations vary state to state, and while there’s not a maximum for the number of times you can take the written and driving tests, in most states you have to wait before taking the test again.
There are three parts to most commercial drivers’ license exams: a pre-trip inspection, a basic skills test, and a road test. All three are crucial to getting your commercial driver’s license. You’ll generally take the written portion before you’re allowed to test your skills on the road. While each state develops its own exams, each basic knowledge test covers 20 general areas, and you need to get 80 percent of the questions correct to pass.
The standard skills test includes 50 questions, and it’s a closed-book exam. All of the questions are multiple-choice, and it covers a variety of safe-driving topics. These include:
- Driving safety
- Alcohol and drug laws and the dangers of driving intoxicated
- Cargo transportation
- Pre-trip inspection protocol
- Driver communications
- Accident procedures, and other general trucking knowledge.
You must register to take the test at a state CDL testing center, but you can use online materials to prepare for the test beforehand. The general knowledge test is 60 minutes long, and immediately after you’ll move on to the next portion of the test: the skills test.
The skills test requires you to perform a list of necessary skills under the supervision of a representative. The CDL skills test is made up of three parts:
- Pre-Trip Inspection
- Backing Exercises / Basic Vehicle Control
- Road Test
While every company’s testing regimen varies slightly, the pre-trip inspection phase normally includes a coupling system, light check, and in-cab inspection. Then, you will likely have to check the engine compartment, driver’s door fuel area, or the trailer. When checking the engine compartment, be sure to check for leaks! And when performing the other inspections, the main thing is to make sure the truck is safe and road-ready.
The backing exercises test your maneuvering skills and commercial motor vehicle operation ability. During this stage, one of the main things examiners are looking for is your ability to successfully back a semi-truck into a parking spot. This is notoriously one of the most difficult parts of truck driving, for rookies and experienced drivers alike. However, with the skills you gain during Truck Driver Institute’s CDL training program, there’s no need to worry! While each state handles the backing test slightly differently, most tests will include some combination of straight-line backing, parallel parking, offset backing (left or right), and alley docking. Examiners will likely dock you points depending on the number of times you get out and look, also known as GOALing.
During the road test, examiners are testing your ability to handle your commercial motor vehicle on the open road and in all traffic situations. This portion of the test will occur on the road, and you will have to navigate a variety of streets and traffic scenarios. Here’s a list of things that you will need to know how to do before your test:
- Use turn signals and communicate with other drivers
- Change lanes
- Handle intersections
- Stop and start smoothly
- Drive on the highway
- Navigate urban roadways
- Halt at railroad crossings
- Handle curves
- Navigate bridges and overpasses
- Identify and properly respond to hazards
In order to pass the CDL road test, remember that it’s not a race! The examiner is looking for measured and safe maneuvers, not fast ones. Remember to use your mirrors throughout the test, and never cut anyone off. Additionally, make ample use of your blinkers and turn signals, don’t hit the curb, and, ultimately, remain calm! Retaining your composure in the driver’s seat is crucial, helping you project a calm and confidence that extends onto the road.
The skills test requires you to perform a list of necessary skills under the supervision of a representative.