Skills test: CDL

Things to know

You must take a skills test anytime you:

  • Get or upgrade your CDL
  • Add a passenger or school bus endorsement
  • Remove the air brake
  • Haven’t had a CDL for at least 1 year for any reason

A skills test isn’t required for the following endorsements:

  • Tanker
  • Hazmat
  • Double/Triple

The cost of the skills test can vary depending on the type of vehicle and who you take your test with:

  • A truck or passenger (excluding school bus) skills test taken with an Independent third‑party examiner (TPE) or DOL examiner: $250
  • Any type of vehicle for Head Start employee: $225
  • A school bus test taken with Educational School District, DOL examiner or TPE: $100

If you change testers on your 2nd test attempt a $250 to $100 test fee will apply.

There are 3 components of a skills test:

  • Pre‑trip Inspection
  • Basic Controls (backing exercise)
  • Road Test

You have to wait 14 days after we’ve issued your original or upgraded CLP before you can take the skills test.

Overview

  1. Schedule your test
  2. Take the test
  3. Get your CDL

1. Schedule your test

  • Go to a driver licensing office location and get the skills test results form (STRF). They’ll decide who will conduct your test based on examiner availability. If you’re testing with a:
    • DOL examiner:
      • You’ll pay for the STRF when you get it
      • We’ll schedule your test and assign you to a tester
    • TPE:
      • Contact them to schedule your test
      • Pay the test fee to them
      • You must schedule your test at least 3 days before you want to take it
  • Let us know if you’re enrolled at a DOL partnering school or an employee of partnering employer. We’ll assign you to a DOL examiner.

2. Take the test

Bring all the following to a CDL skills test location or you won’t be able to take the test:

  • An unloaded commercial vehicle in the type of vehicle for which you wish to be licensed.
    • It must be in safe operating condition and free of all hazardous material
    • If needed, proof that the vehicle is clean after transporting hazardous materials
    • For passenger endorsement, bring a bus designed to carry 16 or more passengers with a GVWR of:
      • 26,001 or more for a Class B CDL
      • 26,000 or less for a Class C CDL
    • For a school bus endorsement, bring any school bus with a GVWR of:
      • 26,001 or more for a Class B CDL
      • 26,000 or less for a Class C CDL
    • If you pass the passenger and school bus knowledge tests:
      • You can take a skills test in a school bus and receive both passenger and school bus endorsement.
    • If you have a Class C CDL with a passenger endorsement and you test for a school bus endorsement with a GVWR of 26,001 or more:
      • We’ll upgrade you to a Class B CDL
  • A signed STRF
  • Your valid WA driver license with CLP
  • A valid Medical Examiners Certificate if applicable:
    • State Waiver
    • Skills Performance Evaluation Certificate
    • Federal Medical Waiver
  • Proof of insurance or letter from the vehicle’s owner that authorizes its use for your test.

What to expect when you take the test

  • It takes about 2 hours and includes the following (in order):​
    1. Pre‑trip inspection. If you fail this part, the test is over
    2. Basic controls test (backing exercises)
    3. Road test
  • You can’t:
    • Use help aids or an interpreter
    • Mark or label components
  • The test is in English
  • Be sure you have studied sections 11, 12, and 13 of the CDL guide
  • You’ll need to:
    1. Describe and provide criteria for inspections items
    2. Describe and show the air supply system check
    3. Back the vehicle through a pre‑designated course
    4. Safely operate the vehicle per criteria in the guide
  • Be sure when test is over, whether you pass or fail, the examiner fills in required fields of the skills test results form and gives you a copy.

If you don’t pass all 3 components of the test, schedule a retest

  • Make sure your CLP is valid. If it will expire before an open test time, you’ll need to get a new permit.
  • Your skills test form covers 2 tests. Use the same tester to avoid paying for a new skills test form.
  • If you decide to change to a new tester:
    • None of your previous scores will transfer*
    • You’ll have to retake and pass all 3 parts of the test*
    • Testing fee will apply
    *This doesn’t apply if you tested with DOL and change to a TPE
  • You need to wait to retake the test:
    If you don’t pass the: You can retake the test:
    Pre‑trip inspection In 3 days
    Basic controls test In 3 days
    Road test In 7 days
    Equipment failure

    No wait time and it does not count as a test.

    If you passed the pre‑trip inspection in a previous test, the vehicle must also pass a safety inspection when you retake it.

  • If you fail the 1st test attempt, schedule your retest:
    • If you tested with a DOL examiner, call the CDL Skills Testing Program at 360.902.3619 option 2 (this number is only for scheduling). When you call, have the following ready:
      1. Your WA driver license number
      2. The site you tested at before
      3. The date you last tested
      4. The red test form number (we can’t schedule without it)
    • If you tested with a TPE, contact them.
  • If you fail the 2nd test attempt go to a driver licensing office:
    1. Get a new test form
    2. Pay any fees, if applicable
    3. Start the testing process over

If you don’t pass all 3 components of the skills test and have to renew your CLP, you’ll have to retake the tests again.

3. Get your CDL

You must wait 24 hours after passing all 3 components of the skills test before we’ll issue your CDL.

Skills test scores are valid for 180 days. We calculate the 180 days starting when you pass the first component of the skills test.

Take all the following to a driver licensing office to get your CDL:

  1. A completed STRF
  2. Your valid driver license
  3. Your Medical Examiners Certificate and if applicable any other medical documents
  4. Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residency. See list of approved documents.
  5. A completed original, typed training certificate from an approved school, registered employer, or agribusiness exemption to verify you’ve completed the training requirements. This form isn’t required for:
    • CDL upgrades
    • If you had your CDL removed for not self‑certifying by January 30, 2014

If you lost your form:

You will need to:

  • Go back to the licensing office and get a new form. We’ll mark it “Duplicate.”
  • Return to the tester so they can complete the form.
  • Take the form and do one of the following:
    • If you passed all the tests, wait 24 hours after passing and return to the licensing office to have your CDL issued.
    • If you failed any parts, schedule a retest. If you failed your 2nd test attempt, you'll need a new STRF before you schedule a retest. Fees for new test form will apply.

Related information

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