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Knowledge Tests

A Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) means a permit issued to an individual, which, when carried with a valid driver’s license issued by the same State or jurisdiction, authorizes the individual to operate a class of a commercial motor vehicle when accompanied by a holder of a valid CDL for purposes of behind-the-wheel training. When issued to a CDL holder, a CLP serves as authorization for accompanied behind-the-wheel training in a commercial motor for which the holder’s current CDL is not valid.

A CLP is considered a valid CDL for purposes of behind-the-wheel training on public roads or highways, if all of the following minimum conditions are met:

  • The CLP holder is at all times accompanied by the holder of a valid CDL who has the proper CDL group and endorsement(s) necessary to operate the CMV.
  • The CDL holder must at all times be physically present in the front seat of the vehicle next to the CLP holder or, in the case of a passenger vehicle, directly behind or in the first row behind the driver and must have the CLP holder under observation and direct supervision.

The issuance of a CLP is a precondition to the initial issuance of a CDL. The issuance of a CLP is also a precondition to the upgrade of a CDL if the upgrade requires a skills test. The CLP holder is not eligible to take the CDL skills test in the first 14 days after initial issuance of the CLP.

Each person applying for a commercial or noncommercial instructional (learner’s) permit for Class A, B, C, or M driver’s license shall pay the applicable license fee prior to attempting the knowledge test for the instructional (learner’s) permit sought. If said person fails to achieve a passing score on the knowledge test, the license fee paid shall be considered a testing fee and retained by the department. Any person failing to achieve a passing score on the knowledge test for an instructional (learner’s) permit shall pay the applicable license fee on each subsequent attempt until successful, at which time the fee shall be his or her license fee.

You will have to take one or more knowledge tests, depending on what class of license and what endorsements you need. To qualify for a license permit, a person must obtain a passing score on all knowledge tests required for that class. The CDL knowledge tests are all multiple-choice and include:

  • The general knowledge test, taken by all applicants.
  • The passenger transport test, taken by all bus driver applicants. The passenger transport skills test must be taken and passed by all applicants in order to obtain this endorsement.
  • The air brakes test, which you must take if your vehicle has air brakes, including air over hydraulic brakes.
  • The combination vehicles test, which is required if you want to drive combination vehicles. (NOTE: This endorsement is not eligible to be on the CLP.)
  • The hazardous materials test, required if you want to haul hazardous materials as defined in 49 CFR 383.5. In order to obtain this endorsement you are also required to pass a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) background check (go to for additional information). (NOTE: This endorsement is not eligible to be on the CLP.)
  • The tanker test required if you want to haul a liquid or gaseous materials in a tank or tanks having an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or chassis. (NOTE: This endorsement is not eligible to be on the CLP.)
  • The doubles/triples test, required if you want to pull double or triple trailers. (NOTE: This endorsement is not eligible to be on the CLP.)
  • The School Bus test required if you want to drive a school bus. The school bus skills test must be taken and passed by all applicants in order to obtain this endorsement.

The passing score for all knowledge tests is 80%. CDL Permits will be issued for 180 days and may be renewed for an additional 180 days. If a CDL is not obtained during this time frame, the applicant must retake all applicable knowledge tests.

With the exception of adding the Passenger (P) endorsement or the School Bus (S) endorsement, a driver who already has the required license class may add the endorsement(s) after passing written tests requisite to the endorsement(s) being applied for. To obtain a Passenger (P) or School Bus (S) endorsement, the driver must pass both CDL knowledge and skills tests.

If you do not have the license class required for an endorsement but are seeking that class while also seeking the endorsement, the endorsement is only granted if the knowledge test for the endorsement is passed and all other requirements for the license class also are met.

If you fail an endorsement test, but have otherwise passed the knowledge tests for the license class, you can still take the applicable skills tests. If you pass the skills tests, you should be given the appropriate license, but without the endorsement. You can then retake the endorsement test later without further skills testing except for obtaining a P or S endorsement (P and S endorsements require a skills test be performed in a bus).

Upon request the examiner will provide you with your score for each knowledge test taken. All test material is derived from the CDL Drivers Manual.

After you have passed the knowledge test(s) for a license class, you then must pass the skill tests. No class of CDL or CDL upgrade is granted solely on the basis of passing the knowledge tests. If a driver fails one or more of the knowledge tests required for a license class, you must retake and pass the failed test(s) before taking the skills tests. The retest waiting period is:

  • 1st failure and subsequent failures – two days

Knowledge test failures also affect the retest waiting period for skills test.

Current active Duty Military, Guard and Reserve members or military personnel that have not been out of the military more than one (1) year can apply for a Military Skills Test Waiver. Please visit the DDS website at to download the Military Skills Test Waiver application.

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