All About the CDL General Knowledge Test Part II

by Joshua on November 08, 2013

Understanding the CDL general knowledge test and the parts you need to learn and know for your specific license class is vital. Making sure you have the proper test materials is a huge step in the right direction. This test is not only long it contains materials referring to all of the CDL licenses classes but the endorsements also. Taking the general knowledge test is perhaps the most important part of acquiring a CDL license and should be taken seriously.

About the Test

The CDL general knowledge test is generally the same nationwide. The CDL general knowledge test is only the first of many tests and endorsements you must attain to earn the CDL license class your trying to achieve. Each state has its own minimum grade percentage to pass (though in most states it is 80%) so looking up what the passing grade is in your state is a good place to begin when you start to gather your study materials in preparation for the test. The actual test on its own can be taken in one to two hours at minimum. The test is taken at your local DMV and in some states; it’s required that you schedule an appointment to take the written part of your CDL as well as your skills test.

Study Materials

The test contains questions the entirety of the CDL handbook’s 10 chapters. This is the biggest reason why it is crucial to know what you need to study for your specified license class and endorsements. Some licenses classes and endorsements have very little to do or everything to do with one another, so it’s important to read through each chapter thoroughly. It can never hurt to know the in’s and out’s of your future occupation. Taking practice tests are an easy way to test your knowledge and see if your studying has paid off. There are many other study resources you should take advantage of to maximize your potential knowledge of the CDL licenses classes, endorsements and attributes of each part. Each chapter covers a different aspect of trucking and the elements that relate to each aspect in detail.

  • Chapter one-“Introduction”- The introduction is not a place we usually search for pertinent information going to the depths of a subject but it is a good place to begin your studies and contains useful knowledge on.

i. Commercial Drivers License Tests
ii. Other CDL Rules

  • Chapter Two-“Driving Safety”- This chapter is for all commercial drivers and applies to all license types, it contains basic knowledge, terminology and safety information important to all CDL drivers and you must pass a test on this information to attain your CDL license in all states.

i. Vehicle Inspection
ii. Basic Control of Your Vehicle
iii. Shifting Gears
iv. Seeing
v. Communicating
vi. Controlling Speed
vii. Managing Space
viii. Driving at Night
ix. Driving in Fog
x. Driving in Winter
xi. Driving in Very Hot Weather
xii. Railroad Crossings
xiii. Mountain Driving
xiv. Seeing Hazards
xv. Emergencies
xvi. Skid Control and Recovery
xvii. Accident Procedures
xviii. Fires
xix. Staying Alert and Fit to Drive
xx. Hazardous Materials Rules for All Commercial Drivers.

  • Chapter Three-“Inspecting Cargo”- This section of the handbook applies to all CDL drivers and license types, it explains the basics of hauling any type of cargo and the safety measures applied as well. You must have working knowledge of this chapter to pass the CDL test.

i. Inspecting Cargo.
ii. Weight & Balance.
iii. Securing Cargo
iv. Other Cargo Needing Special Attention

  • Chapter Four-“Transporting Passengers Safely”- This information is useful to bus drivers especially but to all CDL drivers, if you are driving a bus with over 15 passengers you must have a CDL and pass this area of the test to acquire that CDL.

i. Transporting Passengers
ii. Pre-Trip Inspection
iii. Loading and Trip Start
iv. On the Road
v. After-Trip Vehicle Inspection
vi. Prohibited Practices
vii. Use of Brake-Door Interlocks

  • Chapter Five- “Air Brakes”- This section explores how the air brake system works, what vehicles use the air brake system and how to keep them well maintained. If you are planning on getting a CDL for a truck or bus with air brakes or to pull a trailer with air brakes you need to know the information in this section to get your CDL.

i. The Parts of an Air Brake System
ii. Dual Air Brake
iii. Inspecting Air Brake Systems
iv. Using Air Brakes

  • Chapter Six “Combination Vehicles” This chapter contains all of the important and useful information for attaining a CDL for combination vehicles such as tractor trailers, doubles or triplets, straight trucks and trailers. It contains the very basic elements of combination vehicle information but not everything you need to know if should be studied with chapters that include “doubles and triples” which you must know if you want a CDL in almost any occupation.

i. Driving Combination Vehicles Safely
ii. Combination Vehicle Air Brakes
iii. Coupling and Uncoupling
iv. Inspecting a Combination Vehicle

  • Chapter Seven- “Doubles and Triples”- Chapter seven contains the info needed to know how to safely pull, couple and uncouple and inspect double and triple trailer loads.

i. Pulling Double/Triple Trailers
ii. Coupling and Uncoupling
iii. Inspecting Doubles and Triples
iv. Double/Triples Air Brake Check

  • Chapter Eight “Tank Vehicles” Should be studied with chapters 2, 5 and 6.

i. Inspection Tank Vehicles
ii. Driving Tank Vehicles
iii. Safe Driving Rules

  • Chapter Nine- “Hazardous Materials”- Extremely important information that all CDL license types need to know to acquire a CDL in any class.

i. Intent of the Regulations
ii. Hazardous Materials Transportation – Who Does What
iii. Communication Rules
iv. Loading and Unloading
v. Bulk Packaging Marking Loading & Unloading
vi. Hazardous Materials – Driving & Parking Rules
vii. Hazardous Materials – Emergencies

  • Chapter Ten- “School Buses”- Bus drivers must know the information in this section to acquire a CDL that allows them to seat or transport over 16 passengers.

i. Danger Zones and Use of Mirrors
ii. Loading and Unloading
iii. Emergency Exit and Evacuation
iv. Railroad-highway Crossings
v. Student Management
vi. Antilock Braking Systems
vii. Special Safety Considerations.

In the perfect world every CDL license applicant would be able to instantly know all of this information and safely pass their written test but this is not the case, however utilizing the guides for the CDL general knowledge test, your study materials, practice tests and any other outside resources you are able to locate are the best bet for becoming a knowledgeable and safe licensed CDL driver.

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