Earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL) is the first step to a rewarding career in the trucking industry. In order to do this, you need to pass two exams: a written test and a skills test. Some drivers fail these the first time and although this can be discouraging, the good news is that it isn’t the end of your trucking career.
After a failed CDL test, it’s important to take an honest look at why you didn’t pass and take the necessary steps to improve. Many great truckers did not pass these tests on the first try and taking the test again shows that you are willing to keep going even when faced with challenges.
If you failed your CDL test, here are some steps to take:
1. Know State Rules for Retesting
Each state has different rules for how soon you can retake one of the CDL tests after failing it. In New Mexico, you can take the written exam up to twice in a seven-day period. There is no limit on the number of times you can attempt to pass. For the skills test, you will need to wait one week to retest, and you can take the exam up to 3 times within the year. After this, you will need to wait one year from the date of your first attempt before you can try again.
2. Study/Practice the Material You Struggled With
If you failed the written portion of the test, re-read the relevant sections of the CDL manual. For the general knowledge portion, these are Introduction (1), Driving Safely (2), Cargo (3), and Combination Vehicles (6). The material for the endorsement tests is covered in Doubles and Triples (7), Tank Vehicles (8), and Hazardous Materials (9).
There are “Test Your Knowledge” sections throughout the manual with practice questions. Make sure you know the answers to these and ask your instructors for help if you are having trouble with the material.
If you failed the skills test, start with the section of the exam that you struggled with. If this was the pre-trip inspection, try making flashcards and running through the steps as many times as possible before you take the test again.
For driving skills, ask your instructors to give you some pointers and to supervise practice focused on the areas you had the most trouble with.
3. Take a Deep Breath
Many students who fail the CDL test know the material and are good drivers, but they get nervous when testing. Before you go in to retake the test, take a moment to calm down and focus on the task at hand. Being able to handle pressure is an important skill for a truck driver to have, so learning how to do this before you go out on your first solo trip is essential.
If you do make a mistake during the exam, simply correct it and move on. If it wasn’t a safety-related error, don’t panic. The instructors use a point system that calculates how many non-safety errors you can make without failing.
We Give Our Students the Tools They Need to Succeed
At Phoenix Truck Driving School, our highly skilled instructors are here to help you pass the CDL test. We help students earn their commercial license and enter the rewarding trucking industry. You could be on the road and earning in as little as four weeks and many of our students have offers before they even graduate.