How To Pass The CDL Road Test (16 tips that will help)

Worried about passing the CDL road test?

I bet you are wondering what you need to know (and do) to pass the test?

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

In this article I’m going to share with you 16 practical tips and advice to guarantee you pass the road test your first time.

All these tips I’ve accumulated from many truck drivers and examiners from all over the country.

Follow them and you are sure to pass.

The one thing you won’t find on this page is how to pass the pre-trip inspection.

Tips for passing the pre-trip can be found in this fantastic article.

Enough talking, you need to know how to pass the cdl road test.

Everyone that has a CDL felt the same way you do right now. My goal is to make sure you too pass the road test and in order to help you I put together a list of 15 things to do and/or avoid doing while taking the road test.

The inspector sitting next to you during the test is going to mark you down (and possibly fail you) if you don’t do these 16 things.

One thing that I want to stress is that you have to unlearn some bad habits you have acquired while driving a passenger car.

It’s those little things like turning off your blinker before completely entering a new lane during a lane change and not checking your mirrors enough.

How do I know these are accurate? When I completed the road test (and passed it) I asked the examiner what it was that he was looking for the most.

I tried to remember as much as I could and wanted to share it with future drivers.

Some of these things they don’t tell you about it school but you will be graded on.

  1. Know The Inside Of The Truck
  2. Don’t Stall The Truck
  3. Keep Both Hands On The Steering Wheel
  4. Start Seeing Speed Limit Signs
  5. Don’t Talk To The Examiner Too Much
  6. Look For Posted Weight Limit Signs
  7. Wear A Cap
  8. Pretend
  9. It’s Okay To Be Nervous
  10. Use Proper Technique When Exiting Your Truck
  11. Keep Your Eyes Moving
  12. Don’t Roll Backwards
  13. Check Your Mirrors
  14. Changing Lanes: Don’t Turn Off Your Turn Signal Until You Are Completely In The New Lane
  15. Wide Turns
  16. NO Shifting While In An Intersection

1. Know The Inside Of The Truck

This is important because you never know what is going to happen during your test.

What if it starts to rain? You better know how to turn on the windshield wipers.

What if it gets too hot or cold in the cab during the test? You better know how to turn the air conditioning and heat on and off with no problem.

What if it starts to get dark outside? You better know how to turn on your low beams with ease and confidence.

You should be able to do these things by pressing one or two buttons and not fumbling around trying to figure things out.

Make it look like you know the inside of your truck 100%.

This will make you more comfortable with the actual driving maneuvers and the inspector will notice these little things.

Do whatever you can to minimize how much your eyes are off the road for.

Get comfortable with everything in your truck so that you are prepared for whatever happens.

2. Don’t Stall The Truck

This is a big no no.

If you stall the truck you are looking at an automatic fail.

Make sure you know how to drive and drive well because if you stall your truck you won’t pass the test.

3. Keep BOTH Hands On The Steering Wheel

The only times your hands should come off the steering wheel is when you are shifting, signaling, or pressing a button inside the cab related to driving.

BOTH hands need to be on the steering wheel at all times!

Turn off your cell phone before you start the test.

Also, if your phone does start ringing during the test you should ignore it.

Don’t answer the phone or even pick it up to silence the call!

4. Start Seeing Speed Limit Signs

Condition yourself to see every single speed limit sign and make sure you never go over the speed limit at any time.

A good goal is to stay 5 mph below the posted speed limit.

One of the worst things you can do during the road test is to go over the speed limit.

Actually, in some states, with some examiners, you want to make sure you aren’t going to slow.

Usually you are okay going 5mph under the speed limit, but anything
less than that and your examiner will probably let you know to pick up the pace a little.

Something that another driver told me he did was this: Starting about two weeks before the exam make it a habit to notice and read out loud every single speed limit sign you see while driving your personal car so that you are used to doing it for the test.

By doing this you are conditioning yourself to never miss another speed limit sign.

5. Don’t Talk To The Examiner Too Much

If you do get an examiner that starts to talk too much be polite and keep your answers short.

Don’t get into any conversation that is not about the test because
it will eventually distract you.

You are there to pass the test, not make friends.

Just be polite and zip it.

6. Look For Posted Weight Limit Signs

If you have to go across a bridge of any kind make sure you take notice of whether or not there is a posted weight limit.

A lot of examiners will ask you what the posted weight limit was after you cross the bridge.

You need to be prepared to tell them the correct weight.

Just like its a good idea to notice every speed limit sign the 2 weeks leading up to the exam you should be doing the same for bridge weight limits.

7. Wear A Cap

It sounds crazy but wearing something like a baseball cap makes the side to side checking of your mirrors much more obvious to the examiner.

8. Pretend

Pretend you are teaching the examiner how to properly drive.

Pretend like they have never been in a tractor before and you have to demonstrate to them how to pass the driving test.

It makes sure you cover everything you are supposed to and keeps you sharp.

9. It’s Okay To Be Nervous

Being nervous is completely normal but don’t let your nerves get the best of you.

Acknowledge (to yourself) that you are nervous and move on.

Don’t dwell on it or you will be more prone to making a mistake.

If you do make a small mistake (everyone does) the examiner wants to see how you are going to correct it and not let it impact your overall driving ability.

10. Use Proper Technique When Exiting Your Truck

This is one of the most overlooked parts of the test.

When you are exiting the truck make sure you use the proper technique.

You need to have 3 points of contact at all times. This means 2 legs and 1 hand or 2 hands and 1 leg are contacting the truck at all times. No jumping of any kind.

I’ve heard of people not passing the test because of this. Don’t let it happen to you.

11. Keep Your Eyes Moving

During the driving test make sure your eyes are always moving and seeing what is going on around you.

Make sure you are looking way ahead for traffic lights and signs so you
can adjust your speed.

Don’t allow yourself to get too comfortable and overly confident.

12. Don’t Roll Backwards

Rolling backwards from a stop is another big no no.

Regardless of the road you are on you should avoid rolling backwards at all costs.

Some examiners will tell you that this can be an auto fail for some drivers.

13. Check Your Mirrors

Make sure you are checking your mirrors at least every 5 seconds.

Keep an eye on where you are in relation to the lane you are in and where other vehicles are.

Do this way more than you would while driving a passenger car.

14. Changing Lanes: Don’t Turn Off Your Turn Signal Until You Are Completely In The New Lane

This is another thing you might not do when you are in your personal car but you can’t do it during the road test.

Make sure the entire truck and trailer are in the new lane before you turn off the signal.

15. Wide Turns

Don’t take tight turns because that is going to get you in trouble.

Make turns as wide and safe as possible.

16. NO Shifting While In An Intersection

This is a big no no too.

Don’t shift while in the middle of an intersection, a turn, or while crossing a railroad track.

Make sure you are in the correct gear when you take off so you wont have to shift until you have completed the turn.