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What Is the Air Brakes CDL Test?

The Air Brakes CDL test is a CDL knowledge test for those who wish to drive vehicles with air brakes. Since trucks, buses, trailers, semi-trucks, and railroad trains all contain this type of brake, passing this exam is crucial. Here we outline everything you need to know about the Air Brake CDL exam to pass with flying colors and get you on the road in no time.

Who Needs to Take the Air Brakes CDL Test?

In the majority of the states, if one is planning on driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with air brakes, you are required to pass this exam. You could have your CDL license already or be planning to take this endorsement along with finalizing your CDL. 

This exam is designed for those who fit into these groups:

  • First-time CDL and CLP applicants
  • Existing CDL holders adding endorsements
  • CDL renewal applicants

However, in some states, a CDL is not required when driving a truck with air brakes. This is only applicable if the truck does not have a 26,001-pound gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR. 

Additionally, this may be applicable if it is not built to transport 16 or more passengers. The same is true if it is not made to transport hazardous materials. 

However, if the state requires an air brake endorsement exam for those who have a CDL or for those wish to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with air brakes, passing this exam is essential. 

What Is the Structure of the Air Brakes CDL Test?

The Air Brakes CDL exam has 25 multiple-choice questions. In order to pass this exam, one has to receive at least an 80% or 20 correct answers. 

The structure of the exam is passed on a combination of both standard DMV questions and state specific questions. Within each question, it is structured to have a hint and explanation. Most of the questions will be pretty straightforward and they will refer to the material in the state’s Commercial Driver’s Manual.

What Are the Common Themes of the Test?

The Air Brake CDL exam covers a wide variety of topics related to the system of the air brakes. They can be asked questions about pressure issues, the foundation of the brakes, how to test the air leak rate, and much more. 

The four most common themes touched upon in this test are as follows:

Where Can You Take the Air Brake CDL Test and How Can I Sign Up?

You can take the Air Brake CDL Test at your local DMV. After inquiring about taking the exam, depending on the DMV, they can provide you a schedule on when they are administering the test at the local office. However, some states utilize an authorized testing center as well. 

However, one will have to provide their DMV with the following:

  • Driver’s license
  • CDL if already obtained
  • Proof of residency in the state
  • Certification that you meet the Federal Medical Examination’s requirements

Is This Exam the Same Nationally?

This exam’s questions do slightly change depending on where you are taking the exam. For example, in New York the Air Brakes CDL test will be referring to the material it has in the New York’s Commercial Driver’s Manual. 

Evidently, the information isn’t drastically different from state to state. However, it is important to use practice tests that are made specifically for the state you are taking the exam in.   

How Much Does It Cost?

There is no set price for the Air Brake CDL exam fee. Some state’s exam fees are around $5 and others fluctuate around $56.

Due to this, check with your local DMV to see how much it should cost to add this endorsement. Moreover, if your state requires taking the exam in an administered test facility, there may be an additional fee. 

How to Prepare For You Air Brakes CDL Test

There are various online and free resources to utilize when studying for this exam. Let’s outline some of the key steps one should take in order to be successful in preparing for this exam.

Overview the Subjects

Each state has different subjects on the exam so it is important to know what components are included. You can find these subjects on the local DMV website as well as looking online for practice exams specifically designed for your state. 

Moreover, there are various online resources that overview the key topics mentioned in the majority of these exams. 

Practice Tests

Practice exams are a great way to study because they can help you prepare for the actual exam. Moreover, they can help you understand which materials you know by heart as well as the subjects that you need to focus on more in preparation of the official exam. 

Additionally, by taking practice tests, you’ll be able to reduce your anxiety of when you will be faced with the real exam. It is recommended to take practice tests as much as you can prior to taking the exam to feel more confident and comfortable on the exam day.

Look for External Resources

There are many external resources one can turn to when trying to find materials for the purpose of reviewing the exam. Depending on if you are a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner, there are study resources that are designed to help all students. 

YouTube, the local DMV websites, Quizlet, and additional study websites have a plethora of resources for you to choose from. Lastly, forming a study group or someone to quiz you on the material is a great way to get comfortable with the exam’s subject.

What Happens If I Don’t Pass the Air Brakes CDL Test?

If you do not pass the Air Brakes CDL test, your CDL will have a restriction on it. Essentially, this restriction prevents you from driving or operating on vehicles that have air brakes. However, this is not the end of the world, one can always reapply to take the exam again in the future. 

How Is the Air Brakes Test Different from the Endorsement Test?

The Air Brakes Test is different from other endorsement tests since it works as more of a restriction. In CDL endorsement tests these exams grant you the right to operate with passenger vehicles, hazardous materials, tanker vehicles, and so on. However, the Air Brakes Test restricts your ability to operate on CMV equipped with air brakes.

Why the Air Brake CDL Test Might Be a Great Fit For You

Once completing and passing this exam, one will be presented with more opportunities. Since the majority of vehicles do operate with air brakes, without this exam, it could be difficult to find a position right for you. With the plethora of resources available, one can start studying for the Air Brakes CDL Test now and begin their journey now.

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