All drivers applying for their first commercial driver license must take CDL knowledge tests and skills tests. Drivers with a CDL from another state must take the appropriate knowledge tests if upgrading their group designator or adding endorsements. They may need to take the CDL skills tests if upgrading their group designator, removing restrictions or adding the passenger (P) or school bus (S) endorsement to their CDL (page xv of the Michigan Commercial Driver License Manual).
CDL Knowledge Tests
You will take one or more knowledge tests. It is recommended that you study the Michigan Commercial Driver License manual very carefully as it contains the information you need to pass the CDL tests including sample test questions.
All CDL knowledge tests are administered in written form. If you have limited reading skills, you may request to take the oral tests which are available on audio cassettes for all the tests except the hazardous materials endorsement test. The school bus endorsement test is not yet available on cassette. Anyone applying for the hazardous materials endorsement must pass a written hazardous materials knowledge test, present proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident, and present a Federal Security Threat Assessment. Follow this link for more information about the Federal Security Threat.
|CDL Group||Knowledge Tests||Skills Tests|
|*This includes a 20-question combination vehicle test|
|Endorsements||Knowledge Tests||Skills Test|
|S - School
T- Double Trailer
P - Passenger
N - Tank Vehicles
H - Hazardous Materials
|Air Brakes Test|
|If you want to be licensed to drive vehicles with air brakes, you must pass a 25-question air brake knowledge test. The vehicle you use for the skills test must be equipped with air brakes. If either of these conditions have not been met, you will be restricted from operating vehicles with air brakes.|
CDL Skills Tests
You will also need to pass a CDL skills test which includes three parts:
- A vehicle inspection test to measure your ability to perform a vehicle safety check. (A Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection Memory Aid is available on the last page of the CDL Manual [Appendix C] and may be used during the test.
- A basic control skills test.
- A driving test.
All three tests are conducted during the same testing session, in the order listed above. Each test must be passed before continuing on to the next test. A failure of any one of the skills tests terminates testing. On subsequent attempts, you must start over from the beginning of the test (vehicle inspection test) regardless of which test you previously failed. You are allowed one attempt per day.
You must supply an empty vehicle with a GVWR representative of the type you plan to drive (including a trailer if required), with at least two permanently mounted seats. Safety belts are required for both the driver and examiner (except for the examiner on buses).
Applicants applying for the P-Passenger endorsement must pass skills tests in a bus-type vehicle with a seating capacity of 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
Applicants applying for the S-School bus endorsement must pass skills tests in a school bus-type vehicle with a seating capacity of 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
Sections 10-12 of the Commercial Driver License Manual contains additional information on the CDL skills tests.
Michigan Commercial Driver License Manual