How To Do the Basic Control Skills Test for a CDL

Commercial driver’s license (CDL) is a requirement if you are applying for a job that requires driving a commercial vehicle such as trailers and tow trucks. To get a CDL, you need to take and pass the Basic Control Skills Test. This test aims to measure your ability to operate and control a commercial vehicle. It makes use of boundary lines and cones, which you need to avoid as you control the vehicle. To give you an idea, here’s how to do the Basic Control Skills Test.

  • Do the straight line backing. To do this, you need to drive the vehicle forward along the alley of cones. Then, pull the vehicle back in a straight line. You need to avoid touching the cones or going over the boundary line. Only once will you be allowed to get out of the vehicle and check. As soon as you are done, set your parking brake.
  • Do the offset backing-right. Pull the vehicle forward until you reach the boundary line. Then, back the vehicle toward the right side, making sure not to knock the cones of the lanes. This time, you can check the vehicle twice. Again, set your parking brake when done.
  • Do the offset backing-left. This is the same as the offset backing-right, only this time you are on the right side backing toward the left. Just the same, you need to avoid knocking the cones as you pull backward.
  • Do the parallel parking. In this exercise, you will have to park the vehicle in a designated space that is parallel to your vehicle. This space is marked by cones. First, you have to drive your vehicle forward, going past the space. Then, you have to back toward the parking space without touching any cones. Again, you are given two chances to get off the car and check. Set your parking brake when you are done with this exercise.
  • Do the alley dock. Without stepping over the boundary line, start by going past the cone-marked parking space, also called alley. There must be a three-foot distance between the rears of the vehicle and the alley. The vehicle must then be pulled back into the alley, avoiding the cones. You have two chances to get out of the vehicle and check. Set your parking brake when finished with the exercise.

There are several things you need to remember when doing the Basic Control Skills Test. One, you will be given a point whenever you touch the cones or drive over the boundary line, so make sure to avoid them in all instances. Two, always put the parking brake on whenever going out of the car. Also, don’t forget to set the vehicle in neutral. Failure to do so may mean automatic failure. Three, you have to carefully listen to the examiner and follow his instructions. If you don’t understand an instruction, respectfully ask for a clarification. This will avoid any misunderstanding and any error on your part. This test will run for 40 minutes, so you have eight minutes to complete each exercise.


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