How to Pass Your CDL Exam

If you’re looking for a stable and well-paying job as a driver for commercial vehicles (like trailers, semi-trucks and passenger buses) it’s time to hit the books. Proving you have the knowledge and skills necessary to operate them requires passing the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) test. But there’s no need to be intimidated because it’s multiple choice and passing is all a matter of being prepared.

1. Gather your Study Materials 

The General Knowledge portion of the test is 50 questions and you will have one hour to answer them. You’ll be quizzed on topics like correct protocols for accidents, braking techniques, keeping your cargo safe, how to cross a railroad, how to back safely, what to do in dangerous weather conditions, vehicle inspection and responding to distracted drivers. Begin your preparation by gathering all your study materials, starting with your state’s CDL manual, which are created by the DMV and can be downloaded for free. This will become your study bible but you might also benefit from a study guide or prep book, which are available at a wide range of budgets, or even for free at various sites or with videos on Youtube.

2. Let Practice Tests Guide You 

If you just try to memorize your state’s commercial driving manual (which can be up to 180 pages) you’re going to end up wasting a lot of time so work smarter instead of harder by using practice questions to guide you. Sample questions that appeared in past tests are widely available online, both for free and from paid programs, and will be your very best resource to identify weak spots for review. Studying from these practice questions helps you grasp the material more efficiently and it also helps with mental preparation. You want to get used to the rhythm and structure of answering these types of questions so that you feel more confident when taking the real thing.

3. Strategize during the test 

On test day, set yourself up for success by being as well-rested and relaxed as possible. One helpful trick is that you do have the option of skipping a question and this will move it towards the end of the test. Why is this helpful? In order to pass the General Knowledge test you will need to correctly answer 40 questions and each one is graded immediately. Once you’ve given 40 correct answers, the test will actually end because you’ve already passed. By skipping the harder questions you can potentially not have to tackle them at all once you’ve reached that magic number of correct answers.

Study hard and you’ll be well on your way to a new career. But what happens if you fail? This depends on your state, you may have to wait a week and possibly repay the testing fee. But there will always be another chance to try again.