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7 Tips to Pass Your CDL Test

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As with any type of exam, passing your commercial driver’s license (CDL) test will take effort and preparation. Knowing how to study for a CDL test can help you succeed and get you driving sooner.

Before taking the CDL driving test, you’ll have to obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). A CLP allows you to practice driving at a professional driving school. You must have it for at least 14 days before taking the CDL road test.

In order to get your CDL permit, you will be tested on various aspects of commercial driving. Simply memorizing the details in the manual will not work and is an inefficient way to prepare.

Testing for your CDL will vary a little from state to state but truck driving will always require following the guidelines in a safe and efficient manner.

Tips to pass the CDL permit test


1. Review your state requirements for getting a commercial driver’s license.

Your first task should be to review the requirements for obtaining a CDL in your state. Some states will have physical requirements and a minimum age requirement. It is important to understand whether you meet these basic requirements before applying to ensure everything goes smoothly during the process.

Additionally, for a Class B CDL, you will need to pass specific tests and meet educational qualifications, such as having a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering.

2. Obtain the CDL Manual for your state

Each state has a different manual to study before you take your CDL exam. Be sure you obtain the correct one to review. You can download the manual from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website, or you may be able to pick up a hard copy by visiting your local DMV. 

Start by reading through the entire manual at least once so you get a quick overview of the information you need to learn. It can be tough to memorize everything in the manual, so find a way to learn through memorization and by using CDL practice tests to study.

3. Memorize and understand the pre-trip inspection

It’s impossible for most people to memorize all the information in the testing materials. While memorization is a good tool to use for definitions and certain information, it is more important to understand the material you’re learning. Understanding all the materials needed to earn your CDL license is the key to being prepared for the test—and for the road. It is also crucial for passing the skills test portion of the CDL exam.

The better you understand the material, the easier it will be to answer the exam questions. If you’ve only memorized it, you’re more likely to get tripped up on tricky question wordings.

4. Practice, practice, practice

Studying for your CDL exam cannot be done at the last minute. If you try to rush the learning process, nothing is going to stick. Once you have all of your study materials, learn a little bit at a time and test yourself on the knowledge you’re retaining.

Additionally, practicing the pre-trip inspection is crucial, as it is a significant part of the CDL test. You’ll want to practice identifying and understanding how truck parts operate and how to ensure the truck meets safety standards.

5. Find easy study strategies that work for you

Once you’ve reviewed the CDL manual, it is time to start testing what you know. This can be done using practice questions, songs, unique phrasing, rhymes, flashcards, or practice tests. You might look for apps to help you study and learn as you go. Many people find it helpful to ask friends and family to quiz them on the materials as well.

6. Be focused and alert when you take the exam

When your exam day arrives, it’s important to be fresh and alert for testing. It is never a good idea to take a test when you haven’t eaten or are too tired. The night before your exam, go to bed at a decent hour so that you get plenty of rest to be alert the next day. The morning before your exam, eat a filling and nutritious breakfast so you will have energy while testing. Being focused and alert will help ensure you perform your best.

During the road test portion, it’s important to avoid distracted driving and stay calm and focused. You’ll want to demonstrate that you are able to respond well to unexpected changes on the road.

7. Take different CDL practice tests for effective exam preparation

Trucker Country offers individuals studying for their CDL exam a variety of practice tests and three different test modes to complete to help you better prepare for exam day. Their testing system is designed to help you pass the official exam without having to study in a traditional manner.

  • Classic Mode: Classic Mode has tests to take with multiple choice questions on a single page. This is a quick and easy way for you to learn how much preparation you still need before moving on to the Practice Mode section.
  • Practice Mode: Once you’re ready to move on, it’s time to try Practice Mode. The test in this section offers more intense preparation for the written test. Each time the test taker answers incorrectly, the correct answer will be given with a CDL reference to review. Being able to note exactly where the information came from in the manual will help you find and review it easier later. For best results, study one section of the manual at a time and take the correlating practice test right afterward.
  • Exam Mode: Exam Mode offers takers 600 practice questions. Practice tests in this mode are timed the same way they are in the actual exam. After you finish each practice test, you’ll receive a grade, just like you will on the official state exams. Once you complete all the practice tests, you’ll recognize what you need to study further.

These are just some of the tips to take into consideration for passing your CDL road test. Keep in mind that there is no substitute for putting in the effort and hard work to make your dreams of obtaining a CDL license come true.

What comes next?

Once you obtain your license, you will be able to apply for one of the many fulfilling careers only available to CDL drivers, including company driver jobs and starting your own trucking business as an owner-operator. Truck driving skills are crucial for these career opportunities.

Many owner-operators get their start as company drivers before leaping into independence, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start your trucking career as an owner-operator. The driving knowledge and skills you need for each job are essentially the same.

When your CDL exam is in the rearview mirror, it’s time to get your business moving. The Truckstop Load Board helps you negotiate rates, find the best routes, manage paperwork and IFTA reporting, and offers instant load-booking. Get started today!

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