Get to Know the CDL Knowledge and Skills Test

The test for a Commercial Driver’s License is more difficult than a standard driving test. It tests you on Commercial Motor Vehicle-specific information, more complex driving laws, and examines your ability to operate a large commercial vehicle. In the test, you will face three sections: General Knowledge, Specific Knowledge/Pre-Trip, and Driving/Road Test.

General Knowledge

This portion of the CDL test quizzes you on common driving information. You can likely expect to see questions on stop-lights, road signs, and common courtesy.

Below is an example of an actual question from previous tests

You may legally block an intersection:

  1. Never
  2. At Rush Hour
  3. In Heavy Traffic

However, some questions are more specific to commercial vehicles:

Commercial Vehicle swinging wide on turns is called:

  1. Fishtailing
  2. Offtracking
  3. Sidetracking

Specific Knowledge

The Specific Knowledge test determines any endorsements or restrictions on your CDL. The test varies because no bus or passenger van is exactly the same. However, specific knowledge can cover:

  • Air Brakes
  • Pre-Trip Inspection
  • Passenger Knowledge
  • Hazardous Materials Cargo
  • School Bus Driving and Training
  • School and Coach Pre-Trip Preparations

As you can see, some of these subjects are geared towards large passenger buses and school buses, and some are for unique situations. What matters most is how well you know the material related to the particular bus you wish to operate.  For example:

Multi-Function School and Activity Bus

You’ll need to past the initial skills and knowledge test, and – in addition to standard operation – you will also be tested on:

  • Brakes
  • Railway crossings protocols
  • All emergency exits
  • Emergency equipment
  • Loading and unloading

School Bus    

Because it’s a school bus, you will be tested on a number of subjects specific to student transportation and safety, as well as:

  • Lights
  • Stop signal devices
  • Railroad crossing safety
  • Loading and unloading
  • Warning and safety devices
  • Emergency exits and procedures
  • Mirror systems (internal and external)

Driving Test

The best advice we can give is to attend the driving test in the vehicle you plan on driving – or one very similar – because you’ll want the results to be as accurate as possible. There is a difference between operating a mini-bus, an MFSAB, a medium duty shuttle bus and a larger motorcoach or heavy duty transit bus and your CDL will reflect your test in your vehicle in the form of restrictions and endorsements.


From state to state, certain questions may change. A test in Florida might not ask questions about snow tires, while a test in Michigan might not ask about the interior overheating while parked. Either way, according to the Department of Transportation, you will be responsible for following the laws and regulations of every state, regardless of the one in which you obtained your license.

Alliance Bus Group wants to help you stay up-to-date and aware of the steps required in the CDL process. If you need help determining the best bus and license for your application, contact our experts to discuss your options: (866) 596-6612, and don’t forget to take a look at our other CDL related articles:

  • An Introduction to the CDL
  • Endorsements
  • Restrictions
  • And potential violations

CDL Knowledge and Skills Test

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