Smartphone app will help Iowa CDL applicants study for exams

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 8/29/2017

Iowa is faced with a CDL problem: Too many applicants are failing the exams. To address the issue, the Iowa Department of Transportation is teaming up with a technology company to develop a study app for future CDL holders.

According to Mindi Nguyen, IDOT project manager, the state that ranks fourth in commerce transport drivers recently noticed an unusually high rate of failed exams.

“What we have noticed was that a majority of folks, when they came in as CDL applicants to take our commercial license knowledge test, a lot of them were unsuccessful with that knowledge testing part,” Nguyen told Land Line.

After some research and review tracking pass rates, IDOT discovered many applicants did not just fail their first attempt but also their second or third.

IDOT searched for a technology firm to develop a web-based and interactive mobile app to better prepare applicants for the exam. Iowa-based company Higher Learning Technologies was tasked with the job and is developing the technology.

According to its website, HLT was founded by Alec Whitters when he was studying for the dental boards. Using flash cards, Whitters thought it would be easier to use his smartphone to study. With no such app in existence at the time, Higher Learning Technologies was born. Today, the company offers study guides for nursing, medical, dental, military/civic, real estate and CPA licenses and exams.
Nguyen acknowledged that a lot of CDL applicants are working adults who have been out of school for a while. She said people process information in different ways and the standardized testing method may not always be best. This is especially true after being out of the classroom for so long.

Higher Learning Technologies will take the contents of the CDL knowledge manual and break it down in digestible bites of information, Nguyen said. Interactive quizzes will ensure users are understanding concepts before moving on. The app will also monitor a user’s strengths and weaknesses.
Nguyen said she hopes the app will be available free to Iowa residents in late November. IDOT will be coordinating with the Iowa Motor Truck Association and driving schools to get the information to those interested.

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