How to Pass the CDL Skills Test on Your First Try

Commercial truck driving can make for a great career. All you have to do is get the necessary training for the job and pass the CDL exam. Easy, right? No. Not quite. Our Truck Driving School’s goal is to make sure you are prepared to succeed. We have some study tips and tricks to help you feel prepared.

Understand the «Knowledge Test» Types

To complete your CDL exam, you will have to first take your «knowledge test». There are several versions of the «knowledge test» and you will need to understand which test fits your criteria. The subject matter will depend on the type of CDL you are going for.

  • General knowledge test: required for everyone seeking their CDL.
  • Passenger Endorsement: Required for drivers of passenger vehicles designed to carry 16 or more passengers including the driver and school buses.
  • Tank Vehicle Endorsement: For those who haul heavy loads of gaseous materials or liquids.
  • School Bus Endorsement: Required for drivers who drive any size of school bus. A school bus is a vehicle regularly used to transport children to and from school or in conjunction with school activities, which meets the school bus specifications established by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • Double and triple trailers endorsement: Required for drivers pulling sets of double or triple trailers.
  • Air brakes test: Drivers of CDL vehicles with air brakes must pass the required tests for air brakes.
  • Hazardous materials endorsement: For those who aim to haul hazardous materials. Therefore, if you choose to be licensed for this, you must undergo further testing from the TSA.

Practice for the Road Skills Test

You will also have to complete a «skills test» which tests your skills and knowledge around the vehicle. You can familiarize yourself with the subject matter of the test to help you prepare for the CDL exam. The “skills test” will include:

  • Vehicle Inspection Test: You have to know whether your vehicle is safe to drive before you get on the road.
  • Basic Controls Test: This test assures that you know how to operate the vehicle’s basic controls within a defined area.
  • Road Test: You will drive in a variety of traffic situations to show your understanding of local traffic laws and road safety.

At the end of your training at the Pacific NWDS, you’ll need to pass three skills tests. You must take the tests in the type of vehicle you want to be licensed to drive, and you must take them in the order we list below. The tests are done in English only, and you can’t have an interpreter. Don’t label anything in the vehicle. Schedule the tests at least 3 days in advance. Once you’ve passed all three tests, you must wait 1 day to get the CDL. The test scores are valid for 180 days. You will be tested either by a state examiner or a third-party examiner.

Remember What Can Get You Disqualified

A lot of people attempting a CDL exam tend to get disqualified due to some common mistakes. These include:

  • Forgetting to wear their seatbelt.
  • Taking dangerous actions such as stopping on a railroad track.
  • Driving on a curb.
  • Exceeding the speed limit.
  • Braking hard at stop signs and red lights.

These actions can result in an automatic disqualification. They are easy to avoid, of course, but most students may still end up making these mistakes because they are too nervous during the test.

Take the Time to Practice for your CDL Exam

There are plenty of practice tests available online for free. You can use these to your advantage by taking a few quick tests in the days leading up to your actual CDL exam. The quizzes can be repeated as many times as you like. Write down questions you struggle with and make flashcards. You can bring them with you and study them anywhere.

Schedule your CDL Exam Early

You’re responsible for scheduling the date and time of your appointment by calling the local DMV. Additionally, do not wait until the last minute because you want to give yourself enough time to study. You must bring the class of vehicle you intend to get a license for and you have to have passed your inspection.

Studying to pass your CDL Exam may seem daunting, but it is doable. Most importantly, you don’t have to do it alone. United Truck Driving School is ready to help. Our instructor and Job Placement Team can help you pass your exam. If you’re interested in joining one of our programs or have any questions, please contact us.

Our Course

The NSTS Truck Driving course takes four weeks to complete. Each week requires forty hours in attendance—you will probably not have time to work at a major job for the month. The course is designed to allow you to take and pass both the Knowledge and Skills tests in a very short period of time.

Week 1: The first week is 40 hours of classroom. Through lectures, video, book assignments, and demonstrations; you’ll learn all about the theory of managing a tractor trailer, and will be able to pass your Knowledge test to obtain your CLP. This week builds the framework for the rest of the course.

Week 2: During the second week, you’ll focus on vehicle inspections, maintenance, and reporting. In addition, you’ll focus on backing up the trucks, as well as making corners. Many of these skills are on the Skills test.

Week 3: The training during the third week focuses on road skills, building on to the skills learned during the second week. You’ll be able to get onto the road for light traffic work, as well as work through the required inspections.

Week 4: During the fourth week, you’ll finally be out on the highways around Tacoma, as well as in medium and heavy traffic. Review of material will continue throughout the week. By the end of the fourth week, you should be ready to pass all three skills tests required by Washington State.

To Sum It Up

Passing the CDL exam has a lot to do with how confident you feel on the road and the amount of effort you put in to prepare for the exam. If you are interested in commercial truck driving, then we suggest you join Truck Driving School. It is one of the best CDL training schools out there and can help you ace your CDL exam!