How to Prepare for the CDL Road Test
The CDL road test is one of three parts of the skills test that you must pass to get your CDL. There is also the vehicle inspection exam and also the basic control test (sometimes called basic driving test). These will be covered in other blogs. Today we’re focused on the class a CDL driving test. The sections below include general information about the exam, how you will be measured and finally some steps to help you be prepared for the class a road test. With a better understanding of what will be covered and what your examiner is looking for, you can be better prepared for the day of your road test.
What to Expect During the CDL Driving Test
Remember we are only talking about the driving portion of the exam and not vehicle inspection or basic driving test (control test). We are now in the truck, on the road with an examiner in the cabin with us. Your examiner will take you out on the road looking for your ability to maneuver the truck in normal and not so normal situations on the road. During the exam, you will be observed for your ability in the following situations:
- Urban Business
- Lane Changes
- Railroad Crossing
- Student Discharge
- General Driving Behaviors
- Regular Traffic Checks
- Use of Turn Signals
This may seem like a lot on paper but as you have been practicing you know some basic principles apply across the board. The DMV has a great page covering the road test with more specifics for each section that you can read and become more comfortable with. Think of this list as your CDL road test checklist to make sure you are ready for each section.
How the CDL Road Test is Measured
As you maneuver through the driving test, your examiner scores you on your ability to safely and properly execute in the situations described above. Be prepared for the examiner to provide directions on where and when to move the truck. One important note, the entire exam is in English. You will need to be able to understand and follow directions in English if you wish to pass. Up to two warnings will be issued for not using English and if a third offense happens, you will automatically fail.
Moving past the following directions in English, as you maneuver through the course, your examiner is looking to make sure you make no more than 30 errors and no critical errors. Critical errors include running a red light or failing to signal a turn. Making more than 30 errors or any critical errors will fail. Additionally, to pass, you must wear a safety belt, obey all traffics signs, signals, and laws while completing the exam without an accident. These are all explicitly stated on the DMV site but if you can finish the exam with less than 30 errors you should keep your focus there.
Tips for Passing the CDL Class A Road Test
Test-taking skills will serve you well not only for your written CDL exam but also for the road test. Here are some tips to get you prepared for the big day:
- Find the closest exam location – The state of California provides an excellent list of commercial driving test offices throughout the state. Find the one closest to you, and make sure you know how to get there without a map before the day of your exam.
- Schedule an appointment – Schedule your exam for a time and day that you know you will not have other worries on your mind. Plan in advance because the day before a big life event is not a good time to take the test.
- Get a Good Night Sleep – Getting enough sleep will help you stay focused and remember your training during the exam. Avoid going out or alcoholic beverages as well so you can be in top shape.
- Avoid Caffeine – You don’t want the jitters do you? When nervous, caffeine will only make you more nervous so avoid the extra cup of coffee.
- Get There Early – Enough is going on in your mind to worry about being late. Know your location, know what kind of traffic there is at that time of day and get there early. This cannot be overstated.
- Be Confident – You put in the time, you’ve watched a road test video, you’ve practiced, you’ve done what you can. Now is the time to showcase your skills vs worrying about what you shoulda, coulda, woulda. Your examiner is looking not only for your ability to handle a truck but the ability to handle the pressure.
- Take your time – This is no race! Slow your mind down, ask questions, be patient and breathe!
Preparing for Passing the CDL Road Test
Congrats! Think about how good it will feel when you finish and pass the CDL road test! You’re well on your way to your new trucking career. If you haven’t already, check out the commercial driving opportunities post to learn more about finding the right job. There are a lot of options out there and finding the right fit can make a difference in your quality of life. Now go study, talk to some truckers and whatever else you need to prepare. If you have questions or get stuck, send us a message and we’d be happy to talk.