Getting A Permit At The Elk Grove Village, Illinois CDL Facility

Topic 18252 | Page 1

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MB007's Comment
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As Brett and the others have been so generous with their expertise and wisdom, I thought I would give back a little. Although I'm barely a beginner in the industry, I thought I'd share some tips if you should need to get your CDL Permit. I got mine after a conditional hire for CDL training and job. Specifically, this was based on my experience at the Elk Grove Village state CDL testing facility February, 2017. Specifically my permit covered General Knowledge, Combination Vehicles and Airbrakes.

1. Get there when they open (8 am as of this writing). No appointment. Just walk in. If you get there later, keep in mind they shut off the computers at 5pm sharp. I was told this. So if you are in the middle of a test, you'll need to come back the next day to finish. Also, you will need 10-15 minutes minimum to do a test section.

2. Plan to be there ALL day until 5 pm closing. Not that you'll be in line all that time. But if you struggle getting 80% or higher on any of the tests and you believe you can fill in the gaps of questions you missed, you have a total of 3 tries for each test. However, you also have the freedom to leave, go home, study more and come back in a few days to week (or more?). But I learned that you are given time to retry. You don't have to retry the same day. During my stay, I would walk outside, think, get to the car, check my phone and go back. Be sure to leave your phone off and hidden if you enter. Those are the rules.

3. The test is on touchscreens. All have earphones which allow you to hear the computer read the question and text on screen. I unplugged mine. It was very distracting for me. Plug it back in when you're done if you take it out (I kept forgetting to plug mine back in). There is no timer. Go slow. Stand up. Sit down. Stretch your arms. Try to be calm. But if you're early and you don't plan to come back like me, don't be too slow. You'll have 2 more chances to cram if you blow the first.

4. The questions include photos. Be careful looking at them. They don't always seem completely relevant and if you unfamiliar with tractor trailer dashboards, it can be distracting. Focus on the question. Look out for trick questions such as "Which one is NOT an example of..."

5. As many on this forum suggest, use the "Skip" button at ANY hint of doubt. You won't lose points for skipping; only for getting questions wrong. There is also a "status" button which supposedly tells you how you are scoring. I never used it as I was too nervous to press anything else. You only get 3 consecutive skips before you must answer the question. If you correctly answer then it seems to give you more skip chances (seemed a bit unpredictable to me).

6. Make sure you have the latest state rulebook and keep it with you in the facility. Just shove it in a closed backpack or briefcase when you sit at the test machine. As of this writing the latest one has August 2016 printed inside. Use it to study while waiting in various queues. You'll go through 3 stations—and repeat the process if you retest the same day.

7. Make sure you have ALL proper ID. Drivers' license is not enough. I brought my DL and Passport. Also bring a check, cash or credit card to pay. Check this:

8. The staff is overworked and underpaid. The State of Illinois is in a multi-year budget crisis and the place is rundown. Just speak clearly, respectfully and with a smile. Yes ma'am. No sir. Etc. They are not perfect and I don't think they are out to make your life hard. They just must follow the laws and put on a tough face. If one is very helpful, consider asking to talk to a manager and offer that employee's name with a positive remark. For me, one of them actually encouraged me to take more time to study in the waiting area. I would've just kept going like a robot, hitting my head on the wall. I think he really saved the day for me. So I made sure I found the manager and offered a compliment after I passed.

9. Bring a small container of water, tea, coffee and/or snack. The water fountain there is broken. Vending machines seemed to work.

10. Pay close attention to questions you get wrong. The screen pauses and shows you the correct answer! It will likely come up again if you take it. I tried to remember them and re-studied them in the rulebook. When I got them again, it was no problem. 1975, no handbrakes, bobtail , air pressure rates, etc. These seemed to be my weak points.

11. Final advice: Review the entire rulebook review questions sections (in a box at the end of each section). Be confident in answering them. Also, complete the entire Highroad program here. Focus all of your study time there. You must put in many hours each day for at least a week to get through it! Don't mess around with practice tests. You'll get pumped up with 100% scores, but you'll mess up (I know!).

This was the hardest test of my life. I never cared about test like this one. When I first failed, I cried. But I knew I couldn't quit. I had to keep trying, even if it meant I had to forgo food and work to cram the info. Even though I was sick, with stuffy head, dizziness and sore nose. I kept going. I had to try my best. My journey toward a CDL is serious business and definitely a modern rite-of-passage.


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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