What do I need to do to complete my CDL test?

Getting your commercial driver’s license (CDL) is the first step toward becoming a truck driver. Driving a semi-truck requires a Class A CDL, and knowing how the test operates is an important part of your preparation.

An applicant must pass three portions of the CDL exam: the pre-inspection test, the backing test, and the road skills test. Taking these three tests together ensures that you can successfully navigate a tractor-trailer on the open road. Each state’s tests include these three parts. 


A pre-trip inspection proves that the driver is familiar with the truck’s components and knows how they are supposed to work. In addition to ensuring that the truck is safe to drive, the CDL inspection test also ensures that it meets all current safety standards.

There are several things you’ll need to do when taking your pre-trip inspection test:

  • Your truck needs to be checked for leaks
  • Making sure the brakes are in good working order
  • The fluid level under the hood is examined
  • Maintaining the electrical system by checking the lights
  • Checking the tread depth and condition of tires


Proper backing technique will be covered in the next section of the test. Backing up can be one of the most challenging skills in a semi-truck. Even experienced truck drivers find it difficult to back up in certain situations. As part of this test, you’ll be required to perform several backups with cones placed around the zone where you are allowed to back up.

For your CDL exam, you should know the following backing up techniques:

  • Straight line backing. As the name suggests, straight line backing involves backing up straight. Driving forward may also be necessary during this maneuver.
  • Alley docking. The backing technique involves pulling forward, backing into a corner at a 90-degree angle to the truck, and then reversing.
  • Offset backing. An offset backing is another straightforward kind of backing, in which you back into a lane on the diagonal from you. It may be necessary for you to complete this on both sides.
  • Parallel parking. In parallel parking, you must back into a spot between two vehicles without hitting them or causing damage. It may also be necessary to do this on both left and right sides.


There are many similarities between the road skills test and the driving test you have taken for your regular car. There will be some similar tasks to complete, but this time you will be driving a semi-truck.

You must be able to do the following in order to pass your CDL driving test:

  • Properly signal
  • Enter an intersection
  • Pass properly
  • Observe all speed limits
  • Use the correct right of way
  • Make safe turns

By practicing while driving, you’ll become an even better driver than you already are. 

Would you like to learn more about earning a CDL? Our recruiters will help you prepare for life on the road when you contact us today.

CDL Academy Network