Tips to Prepare for the CDL (Commercial Driver’s License)

Tips to Prepare for the CDL (Commercial Driver’s License)

Passing your CDL (commercial driver’s license) in the U.S. can be very challenging. There are some stringent requirements in order to be able to pass and there is a lot to know. You can’t just walk into your local DMV and take the test, it requires preparation and sometimes even special courses. Not to mention, you have to be able to pass a driving exam using a CDL vehicle as well.

Check out these tips to help prepare for taking the CDL.

Take Time to Prepare

You will need to pass a written and practical exam in order to obtain the CDL. You typically do not do these at the same time. In most cases, you will do the written exam first. We recommend that you take ample time to study for the exam. There is a lot to know.

Plan your exam date ahead of time and then take time to do practice quizzes and study and review the handbook up until exam time. You may want to consider taking a class if this is a new subject for you. There are both in-person and online classes to help prepare for the exam.

Some in person classes also help to teach and prepare you for the driving portion of the exam and they can be very helpful for passing.

Know the Requirements

Every state is different. Each state has their own handbooks and their own requirements in order to pass a CDL. Be familiar with the rules for your state. It’s a good idea to read the handbook and study it routinely before it’s time to test.

It’s a good idea to find out what your state requires you to know. Generally speaking, a handbook will cover the following details.

  • Application process
  • Cargo and passenger transport
  • Air brakes
  • Combination vehicles
  • Tank vehicles
  • Towing trailers
  • Hazardous material transport
  • Driving exam

Always make sure you are studying and reviewing the most up-to-date information available.


You will need to be prepared to provide necessary documentation for the CDL. There is an application process that you will have to complete if you have never had the CDL before. Much like obtaining other ID forms, you will need to prove your identity using an official birth certificate, passport, naturalizations documents, or similar approved documents.

In addition to proving your identity, you will also have to prove your legal residence. You can use mortgage documents, utility bills, tax records, lease agreement, weapon permits, and other approved documents for this.

Talk to Others

It can be very helpful to talk to other people who have been through the process. While things do change and not every test or experience is the same, they might be able to give you some pointers.

Those who have passed the CDL are experienced in the process. They can share things that helped them and things to watch out for as well if they struggled in a specific area. Use people you know to help you consider things you may never have thought of without them.

Practice Online

One of the best ways to prepare for your CDL exam is to go through practice tests on websites such as offers CDL practice tests for many states.Take a look at the California CDL practice tests here for example.   


The CDL can certainly be a challenge. If you take the time and the effort to prepare, you have a much higher likelihood of being successful.