When you were 16 years old, a driver’s license may have felt like a rite of passage. Above all, it likely symbolized freedom in your mind: the freedom to explore your town, give your friends a lift, and perhaps even wave goodbye to the school bus. Now, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) also grants you freedom: the freedom to pursue a new career. While exciting, it also carries a lot of pressure. Pre-test nerves are virtually inevitable. But if you’ve been practicing with your commercial learner’s permit (CLP) and felt confident enough to schedule skills testing, you likely have nothing to fear! Scroll down for some last-minute CDL road test tips that will help put your mind at ease.
CDL Road Test Tips
Get a good night’s sleep.
Don’t discount sleep! Even if your test is in the afternoon, it’s important that you get plenty of sleep so that you feel focused, refreshed, and ready to perform. High-quality sleep can improve your attention and focus, give your problem-solving skills a boost, and even enhance your memory. For these reasons and more, sleep is absolutely essential before any sort of exam, including a CDL road test.
Know what to expect.
One of the best ways to prepare for a CDL road test is to learn your state’s testing requirements. For example, if you live in Missouri, check out the Missouri Commercial Driver License Manual. In it, you can find details about what will be expected of you during the road test, which is divided into three skills tests: vehicle inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving. Don’t schedule your test until you feel confident in all three areas, and use your CDL manual as a resource when studying.
Incorporate practice into your test prep, focusing on the specific items you know will be on the test. For example, you may wish to do the following:
- Run through a pre-trip inspection, naming all the various vehicle components, describing their function, and explaining why you must check them before driving.
- Practice backing up in every way you may be required to, including straight-line backing, offset-right and offset-left backing, and alley dock backing.
- Drive on the street, incorporating turns, intersections, lane changes, stops, and starts.
Review your training.
In the days before the exam, spend some time reflecting on your training program. Review the skills you’ve learned, focusing on the skills that gave you the most trouble. Picture yourself performing the maneuvers competently and confidently on exam day.
Don’t ingest too much caffeine.
If you’ve gotten enough sleep, you shouldn’t need multiple cups of coffee. More importantly, too much caffeine can increase your stress and make you jittery and nervous. Only consume as much caffeine as you would on a typical day.
Plan to arrive early.
There’s nothing worse than arriving late to a test. If you were already a little nervous, your tardiness will likely only make the situation worse. In addition, it might give the examiner a bad impression of you. Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes before your appointment so that you have time to get comfortable in the environment and calmly visualize how you want the exam to go.
Watch out for simple mistakes.
Stress can cause even the most prepared drivers to make silly mistakes. So, during your exam, which is bound to be at least a little stressful, watch out for these common errors:
- When turning onto a road, check that the other vehicles are far enough away that you won’t slow or stop traffic.
- Watch for road signs so that you’re prepared for upcoming obstacles.
- Never risk running a red light. Err on the side of caution.
- Always remember to signal when turning or changing lanes.
- Give yourself lots of time to slow down to avoid skidding.
- Don’t forget to check your mirrors.
- Make sure you don’t roll backward when starting from a stop.
- Avoid turning too wide, a common occurrence if you’re being overly cautious.
Take your time.
A CDL road test is not a race. You want to exhibit professionalism and expertise, so focus on performing the maneuvers correctly, not quickly. Think back to your training if you have a moment of panic, and take deep breaths. You’ve got this!
Now that you’ve got these CDL road test tips under your belt, are you feeling more confident about the exam? With a little preparation, you can ensure that your nerves don’t get the best of you. Good luck!
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