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What to Expect on Your CDL Test?

What should I expect to get tested on during my CDL tests?

Even under the best of circumstances, licensing tests can be nerve-wracking. It can cause even more anxiety when you know that your income and your future career depend on your test performance.

To become a commercial driver, you must complete two types of exams: a written exam and a skills exam. Knowing exactly what to expect on the CDL tests can help alleviate your anxiety, improve your knowledge, and help you get higher scores on your tests.

What to expect on your written CDL test

Before you can take your skills test and demonstrate your ability to drive a commercial vehicle, you must pass a comprehensive written test. While covered topics tend to be similar between states, it is important to note that each state has slightly different laws. You must become very familiar with your state’s CDL handbook to adequately prepare for your written exam.

The written exam covers driving theories, laws, and skills. A lot of this involves memorization, since you must have a comprehensive understanding of state laws to safely navigate a commercial vehicle. Some of the topics that you cover in your written exam include:

  • Gear shifting and basic truck controls
  • Inspecting your vehicle
  • Braking safely
  • Maintaining a safe and regular speed
  • Crossing railroads
  • Avoiding skids and recovering from a skid
  • Anticipating hazards and dangers on the road
  • How to communicate with dispatchers, other drivers, and loaders
  • Dangers of distracted driving
  • Dangers of driving under the influence
  • How to drive in various weather scenarios and times of day
  • Emergencies in truck driving
  • Accident procedures for your state

What to expect on your CDL skills test

The other part of the testing process involves passing a skills test. In some states, you can take this exam immediately after passing the written test. In others, you must get some driving experience after taking a written test but before taking your skills test.

The skills test for a CDL includes three main portions: a vehicle inspection, a course-based techniques exam, and an on-the-road test.

During the vehicle inspection, you must go through every step of inspecting the vehicle you are using for your test. Any problems or discrepancies must be noted and told to your examiner. Failing to properly inspect any part of the truck may lead to failure on the exam.

From there, you go to a skills course to test a range of skills. Some of the techniques that you will be tested on include parking, backing up, accelerating properly, navigating tight areas, and switching gears.

The on-the-road part of your test may span any number of areas and skills. During this part of your exam, your instructor will be watching to ensure that you are comfortable behind the wheel, that you follow all driving laws and posted signs, that you use the proper techniques during each driving procedure, and that you do not put yourself or any other drivers in danger.

Upon passing your written exam and all three parts of the skills test, you can complete the CDL application process and get your license.