CDL General Knowledge Test: What to Expect

In order to earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL), you will need to pass an exam. This includes a skills test as well as a written portion. This written exam includes sections that are specific to different endorsements, as well as a set of more general multiple-choice questions that every applicant must complete. These questions make up what is known as the CDL general knowledge test. You must answer a minimum of 80% correctly to earn your license.

Here’s what you can expect from the general knowledge portion of the CDL exam:

Purpose of the Written Test

The written test focuses on your knowledge of safety and vehicle operation. When you pass, you earn your commercial learner’s permit (CLP). In order to obtain your CDL, you will then need to pass the skills portion of the exam. This evaluates your ability to actually drive a tractor-trailer. The combination of the written and skills tests ensures that you have a more complete understanding of trucking safety and are prepared to become a commercial driver.

What the CDL General Knowledge Test Includes

If you are working toward a Class A CDL, you should study the following sections of the CDL manual: Introduction (1), Driving Safely (2), Cargo (3), and Combination Vehicles (6). Note that combination vehicles are different from long combination vehicles, which are covered in Section 7. Questions about these types of tractor-trailers appear on the doubles/triples endorsement test.


This portion of the manual covers basic definitions related to commercial driving. It also outlines when a CDL is necessary, when a person may be unable to earn a license, and how the process of obtaining a CDL works. This is helpful for determining which tests you will need to take based on the type of trucking you plan to do.

Driving Safely

Section 2 has information about how to safely operate a semi-truck and it gives a detailed description of how to complete a pre-trip inspection. Understanding this is crucial not only for the written test but also for the skills test. During this exam, you will perform an actual inspection. This section also has tips for how to drive safely in specific situations, such as in fog, on mountain roads, or during the winter. You will also learn how to handle accidents and hazards.


The cargo section of the manual outlines how to transport freight. Understanding this is important to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road. It also helps you protect what you are hauling. You will need to know how to load and inspect cargo, what types of freight require special attention, and what regulations may apply.

Combination Vehicles

A tractor-trailer is a form of combination vehicle and it is crucial to understand the unique considerations for driving this type of truck. This portion of the general knowledge test will evaluate your knowledge of key factors related to combination vehicle safety.

Prepare for Your CDL General Knowledge Exam

While you can prepare for your written test by just reading the manual alone, this may not be your best option. Attending CDL school gives you the opportunity to learn from skilled instructors and get answers to any questions that you may have about commercial driving. At Phoenix Truck Driving School, we use a combination of classroom learning and hands-on practice to make it easier for you to learn the material that will appear on the CDL test. This also helps you be better prepared for a trucking career.

To learn more about how we can help you pass the CDL general knowledge test, contact us today.

What is Owner-Operator Trucking?

There are many different career paths that you can follow after earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL). Owner-operator trucking is one example of a long-term goal that you may have for yourself as a driver. This is when you own your own semi-truck and either contract with a trucking company or operate on your own authority. Although you will need to make an initial investment to get started, this can be one of the highest-paying jobs within the trucking industry.

More information about becoming an owner-operator:

What is Necessary to Be an Owner-Operator?

It is common for owner-operators to have worked as truck drivers for a motor carrier. This gives you valuable experience and the time to save up to purchase a truck. Additionally, some trucking companies offer paths to becoming an owner-operator. This may include a lease agreement that allows you to make payments toward the vehicle while hauling freight. However, you do not need to spend any time as a company driver to become an owner-operator if you have the funds to purchase a truck and follow other necessary steps to start your trucking business.

Beyond the truck itself, other requirements for being an owner-operator depend on whether you contract with a motor carrier or operate under your own authority as a common carrier. As a contract owner-operator, you will work with one specific company and transport their freight. This allows you to have the support of that carrier while still having more control over your hauls. If you choose to become a common carrier, you will need to register with the Department of Transportation (DOT). In either case, you will need to be fully insured and follow all federal regulations. If you have any subcontracted drivers, you may also need workers’ compensation insurance.

The Benefits of Owner-Operator Truckin

Higher Pay

Owner-operators are among the highest-paid drivers in the trucking industry. However, it’s important to understand that a major factor in how much you can earn is your own initiative. This is true in any career, but especially when you are running a business.

Large Demand

There is a huge demand for truck drivers in the United States. As an owner-operator, you can use this to your advantage. This is because many trucking companies need more drivers to transport their freight. As a result, it is more likely that you will be able to find work.


Owner-operators have more choice about which routes they drive, what sorts of freight they haul, and what companies they work with. You also have the ability to take time off when you need it without waiting for approval. Although you don’t want to be too picky about hauls and will still need to work often to make enough to offset costs, many owner-operators appreciate this increased flexibility.

The First Step to a Trucking Career

If you want to start working toward becoming an owner-operator, you will need to earn your CDL. At Phoenix Truck Driving School, you will learn from skilled instructors and will benefit from their real-life trucking experience. We will give you the tools you need to succeed and our job placement assistance team can even help you find companies that offer paths to owning your own vehicle.

To learn more about owner-operator trucking or other CDL jobs, contact us today.