Passing the CDL Exam can be a nerve-wracking experience for drivers. You’ve spent the last couple of months pouring yourself into a single task, only to find the whole experience has come down to this: a single day, a single, two-part exam that tests your knowledge of what you’ve learned.
Of course, the best tip for finding success on the CDL Exam would be “pay attention in trucking school,” but that rather vague bit of advice isn’t going to get you very far, will it? Of course you tried to pay attention as much as possible, but that doesn’t account for knowing everything. You need specific advice, tasks and tips on how to pass the exam.
Remember that the CDL Exam is broken into two parts: the written and the driving portions. You will have to score 85 percent on each portion in order to pass. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the written portion of the exam.
Here are 5 tips for passing the written part of your CDL exam:
1. Focus: From the time you begin truck driving school until the CDL is placed in your hand, you should remain focused on earning your CDL (with a few necessary scheduled breaks, of course).
Keep in mind that the CDL is to help you provide a living, so treat it with the appropriate reverence. Don’t make the mistake of only thinking about the CDL when you’re actually doing the work. Give yourself more time to absorb the knowledge you are compiling.
2. Study: Perhaps the best and most direct way to study for the exam is to study your state’s Commercial Driver’s License Manual. It is the direct document that contains all of the topics covered in the exam, and will cover all of the basic laws.
Everything from vehicle inspection to anticipating hazards to accident procedures are covered in the CDL manual. It is your truck driving bible, and you should be as familiar with it as a devout Christian is that OTHER bible.
3. Practice: Take some CDL Practice tests. You can find free practice exams all over the Web. Take advantage of that particular resource, because it can really help you get a good sense of how the questions are structured and written, which can be very important in selecting your answers.
4. Be alert: Once you are in there taking the exam, be on the lookout. Remember that high school teacher who would slide a few trick questions into tests to keep you on your toes? You’re probably not going to get any trick questions, but that doesn’t mean there won’t necessarily be tricky wording.
Also, be on the lookout for the dreaded “best possible answer,” where there are two or more answers that are technically correct, but one is more correct than the others.
5. Use test-taking skills: While you should know all of the answers already from studying the CDL Manual inside and out, you still may experience a little brain drain or test-taking anxiety that will keep you from focusing.
Use those old middle- and high-school test-taking skills when you draw a blank: eliminate multiple-choice answers you know are wrong—the process of elimination can improve your odds of guessing a right answer by up to half.
Those are our Top 5 Tips for helping you pass your written CDL exam. What tips do you have for other students that may be stressing out over taking the written part of the exam? What did you do to get through it? Share your ideas with us on our Facebook page!