CDL Pre-Exam Requirements: A Guide to Road Skills Test and Study

Aug 15, 2021
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Welcome to the ultimate guide to the CDL pre-exam requirements, road skills test, and study tips. If you aspire to become a commercial truck driver, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the necessary steps and information to achieve success in your CDL examination. At McHugh Kathleen R, CPA, we understand the importance of finance, accounting, and auditing in the trucking industry, and we are committed to providing you with comprehensive guidance.

Understanding CDL Pre-Exam Requirements

Before diving into the road skills test and study tips, let's first explore the CDL pre-exam requirements. These requirements vary depending on the type of commercial driver's license you're pursuing, so it's essential to identify the specific classification that aligns with your goals.

Types of CDLs

There are three main types of CDLs:

  1. Class A: This allows you to operate a combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided that the towed vehicle weighs over 10,000 pounds.
  2. Class B: With a Class B CDL, you can operate a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or a vehicle towing a trailer weighing up to 10,000 pounds.
  3. Class C: This classification allows you to drive a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or transport hazardous materials.

Age Requirements

The minimum age requirement for obtaining a CDL varies by state and classification. In most states, you must be at least 18 years old to apply for a CDL, but you may only operate commercial vehicles within your state until you turn 21. However, some states have raised the age requirement to 21 for all CDL classifications.

Driving Record

Your driving record plays a crucial role in obtaining a CDL. It's important to maintain a clean driving history and avoid committing serious traffic violations. DUI convictions, excessive speeding, and reckless driving can significantly impact your eligibility to obtain a CDL and will likely hinder your chances of passing the road skills test.

The Road Skills Test: What to Expect

Once you meet the pre-exam requirements, you can move on to the road skills test. This test evaluates your ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle in various situations. Here's what you can expect during the road skills test:

Pre-Trip Inspection

The exam typically begins with a pre-trip inspection, where you demonstrate your knowledge of the vehicle's components and safety features. You'll be assessed on your ability to identify potential defects or malfunctions, ensuring that your vehicle is in proper working condition before hitting the road.

Basic Vehicle Controls

Next, you'll be evaluated on your ability to perform basic vehicle maneuvers. This includes tasks such as backing up, turning, and parking. It's essential to showcase your proficiency in handling the vehicle and accurately following the examiner's instructions.

On-Road Skills

The final part of the road skills test involves driving on public roads while demonstrating your ability to navigate safely and efficiently. During this phase, you'll encounter various scenarios, such as lane changes, turns, intersections, and highway driving. The examiner will assess your observance of traffic laws, vehicle control, and awareness of potential hazards.

Study Tips for CDL Examination

Preparing for the CDL examination requires dedication and a comprehensive study plan. Here are some study tips to help you succeed:

1. Obtain an Updated CDL Manual

Start by obtaining an updated CDL manual provided by your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The manual contains valuable information about the licensing process, road rules, regulations, and traffic signs. Read it thoroughly to familiarize yourself with the content you'll be tested on.

2. Take Practice Tests

Practice tests are an excellent tool to assess your knowledge and identify areas that require improvement. Many online resources offer free CDL practice tests that simulate the actual examination, helping you become comfortable with the format and types of questions you'll encounter.

3. Enroll in a CDL Training Program

If you feel the need for additional guidance, consider enrolling in a CDL training program. These programs provide hands-on training, simulating real-life driving scenarios and providing expert-led instructions. The practical experience gained through such programs can significantly enhance your chances of passing the road skills test.

4. Practice Defensive Driving Techniques

Emphasize defensive driving techniques while studying for your CDL examination. This includes maintaining a safe following distance, anticipating potential hazards on the road, and adhering to all traffic laws. Remember, safety is of utmost importance in the trucking industry.

5. Seek Professional Advice

Don't hesitate to seek advice from experienced commercial truck drivers or consult resources provided by reputable trucking associations. Their insights and expertise can provide valuable tips and guidance specific to the industry and your CDL examination.


Obtaining a commercial driver's license requires careful preparation, knowledge of CDL pre-exam requirements, and dedication to mastering the road skills test. By understanding the necessary steps and following our study tips, you can increase your chances of passing the CDL examination with flying colors. At McHugh Kathleen R, CPA, we are dedicated to helping aspiring commercial truck drivers succeed in their journey, providing comprehensive guidance in the field of finance, accounting, and auditing.

Laura Kirlin
This guide really helped me understand the CDL pre-exam requirements. Thumbs up! 👍
Nov 11, 2023
Gail Outland
Very informative guide 👍
Oct 5, 2023