Pennsylvania CDL study guide

Pennsylvania CDL study guide 2024

Let’s make Pennsylvania CDL exams be much easier to obtain by our detailed Pennsylvania CDL study guide and our FREE PA CDL practice test.

January 1, 2022

In Pennsylvania, the class of legal driver’s licenses depends specifically upon the type of vehicle you want to run. In another word, most people applying for a Pennsylvania driver’s license will be drivers of regular passenger vehicles like trucks or vans.

The purpose of this Pennsylvania CDL study guide is to help you gain enough knowledge you need, and get you good preparation before taking the driver’s examination and obtaining a Pennsylvania driver’s license. For more detailed information, you can read or download the pdf version of the official PA CDL Manual on our website.

Let’s make Pennsylvania CDL much easier to obtain by our best Pennsylvania CDL study guide and our PA CDL practice test just for you!

Pennsylvania CDL study guide
Pennsylvania CDL study guide


Type of driver license in Pennsylvania

Non-commercial Driver’s Licenses (non-CDL)

A non-commercial driver’s license allows their holders to be able to drive private vehicles with a few exceptions.

Commercial Driver’s Licenses (also well known as CDL)

Commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders will have the ability to drive commercial vehicles meaning vehicles for work purposes.

What is the CDL license?

2.1 Definition of CDL

CDL stands for Commercial Driver’s License. As mentioned above, to drive a commercial vehicle in the United States, the driver must have a valid Commercial Driver’s License, or “CDL”.

It is required to run a large, heavy, or placarded hazardous material vehicle in commerce. If you are applying for a job where you will need to drive a specific type of vehicle, it’s vital to have a CDL depending on the vehicle you intend to run.

2.2 The differences between CDL classes?

To drive a specific type of vehicle, you should have the right license to do so. There are 3 types of license classes: CDL Class A, CDL Class B, and CDL Class C.

Type of LicenseDescription Vehicles you may drive
minimum age 18
Required to operate any combination of vehicles having a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) no more than 26,000 pounds, with the towed vehicle no heavier than 10,000 pounds.Tanker vehicles, Truck and trailer combinations, Tractor-trailers (also known as Semi, Big Rig or 18-wheeler), Flatbeds, Livestock carries
minimum age 18
Allows you to operate any single vehicle with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds or any towed vehicle is in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWRDump trucks with small trailers, Box trucks (delivery/furniture trucks), Dump trucks with small trailers, Large buses (city/tourist/school buses), Segmented buses, Straight truck
minimum age 18
Required to operate any vehicles that do not meet the definition of Class A or B, or capable of transporting 16 or more peopleDouble/Triple Trailers, Buses, HazMat Vehicles,
Tank Trucks.

The age of 21 or older is required to operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle on an interstate (traveling between two or more states). This applies to ALL classes.

2.3 Endorsements

CDL endorsements specify what types of commercial motor vehicles the license holder can run. This includes the type of material being transported the size of the vehicle.

H – Authorizes the driver to run a vehicle transporting hazardous materials requiring placarding (HAZMAT)

N – Authorizes driving tank vehicles

P – Authorizes the driver to operate a passenger vehicle

S – Authorizes driving school buses (school bus endorsement card is issued annually)

T – Authorizes a Class A driver to pull double or triple trailers

X – Represents a combination of hazardous materials and tank vehicle endorsements (H, N)

Read more about PA CDL Endorsements!

The Knowledge Tests differ among the CDL classification, endorsement, and restrictions. They are usually in the English Language and multiple-choice type. In some instances, applicants may request an oral exam or in a different language (e.g. Spanish). The applicant must score an equivalent of 80% (or above) to pass. An additional knowledge test is also required for each type of endorsement.

  • Class A CDL – 70 Items
  • Class B CDL – 50 Items
  • Class C CDL – 50 Items
  • P Endorsement – 20 items
  • S Endorsement – 20 items
  • T Endorsement – 20 items
  • N Endorsement – 20 items
  • H Endorsement – 30 items
  • Airbrake Restriction Removal – 25 Items

2.4  What are the steps required to get a CDL license in 2024?

Meeting all of the following requirements based on the Pennsylvania CDL study guide is the very first step to obtaining a CDL:

Take the PA CDL practice tests

Every test needs preparation and practice will always optimize that preparation. And the PA CDL practice tests definitely will give you perfect preparation before you actually take the CDL test and become a CDL holder.

Written Test

It is required to pass a written knowledge test. The test shows how much the candidates know about commercial driving laws based on the PennDOT CDL driver’s manual.

Get PA CDL Permit

Once you pass your written test, you will achieve a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). This allows you to practice your driving skills on public roads with one of the CDL instructors. The CDL permit is valid for up to 180 days.

Take the CDL endorsement test if applicable 

An endorsement is essential for you to operate a specific type of commercial motor vehicle. If you are waiting to earn CDL for a specific type of vehicle, you will need to pass the written CDL endorsement test with specific requirements for this type of vehicle. 

Skills Test

The final step in obtaining your CDL is to take a driving skills test. You are evaluated on your ability to handle a commercial truck in the following areas:

  • Vehicle Inspection
  • Basic Handling Skills
  • On-the-road Driving Test

If you pass the skills test, a CDL from PA will be issued to you.

Knowledge and skills test required to get a PA CDL license

Pennsylvania CDL study guide
Pennsylvania CDL study guide


In the next part, this Pennsylvania CDL study guide would provide you necessary knowledge about CDL tests.

Each basic knowledge test contains at least 30 questions. To pass the knowledge tests (both general and endorsement), candidates must be correct in answering at least 80% of the total questions.

To pass the PA CDL skills test, it is obvious that candidates must complete all the required skills. The skills test must be taken in the vehicle representing the type of vehicle that the applicant operates.

3.1 Military skill test waiver program

The program allows drivers having two years of experience safely operating heavy military vehicles to earn a CDL without taking the driving test (skills test). The program is available in every single state.

The Military CDL test waiver exempts service members who are or were employed in a military position within the last 1 year (12 months) from taking the driving portion of their CDL skills test. On the other hand, CDL written test(s) cannot be waived.

3.2 The medical requirement for achieving a Pennsylvania commercial driver’s license.

Self Certification

All PA CDL holders must proclaim to their State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) that they only operate commercially in 1 of 4 categories as below with their CDL

  • Interstate non-excepted: You must meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements.
  • Interstate excepted: You don’t have to meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements.
  • Intrastate non-excepted: You are required to meet the medical requirements for the state of Pennsylvania.
  • Intrastate excepted: You don’t have to meet the medical requirements for the state of Pennsylvania.

Hearing Test

  • Have the ability to perceive a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than 5 feet apart with or without the use of a hearing aid.
  • Tested by use of an audiometric device: must do not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500Hz, 1000HZ, and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid.

Vision Test

  • Vision in both eyes and each eye individually needs to be 20/40, with such allowed visual improvement devices as glasses or contacts.
  • Ability to distinguish colors is necessary.

Blood pressure Requirement

  • Needs to be under 140/90. 
  • Using prescription medication to achieve this threshold is allowable.

Urinalysis Testing 

  • Your urine sample might reveal hidden health problems after being tested in a lab for blood, sugar, and protein (insulin injection is not permitted)
  • Blood sugar may not be higher than 200

Physical disabilities (or known as physical impairments)

  • Definition and requirements

Drivers with physical impairments, which will affect their ability to safely operate vehicles, must earn a variance from the state of PA to be approved to drive commercially. Drivers must carry the variance document whenever they are running a commercial motor vehicle.

  • SPE program (stands for the Skill Performance Evaluation)

A Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) is a special type of variance required for drivers with impaired or missing limbs (hands or finger, an arm, foot, or leg). SPE certification allows drivers with missing or impaired limbs to drive legally. The SPE certification must be carried at all times.

Alcohol Testing

CDL holders are considered to have consented to requirement tests by the state of PA or jurisdiction enforcement of being under the influence of a controlled substance as well as using alcohol or being under the influence of alcohol, having any measured alcohol concentration while on duty, or operating vehicles.

Prescription medication

No use of a Schedule 1 drug, narcotic, amphetamine, or any habit-forming drug is permitted.

Who doesn’t obtain the CDL license in Pennsylvania?

Military vehicle operators

PA exempts individuals who run vehicles for military purposes from the requirement for CDL holders. This contains active military, reserves, and members of the National Guard.

Farm equipment operators

Including actual farm-to-market operations, not commercial grain haulers. Drivers must be at the age of 21 or more and vehicles must have farm plates.


Including those who operate fire trucks, foam or water transport trucks, police SWAT team vehicles, ambulances, and any other emergency vehicles.

Recreation Vehicle operators

Those who operate recreational vehicles for their own purposes that are non-commercial use can be exempted from CDL requirements.

PA Township or government workers

Many states will have their different CDL exemptions applying to workers in smaller towns or state and local government employees in general. You will have to check with your own state regulations.

How to get a class CDL license in Pennsylvania?

Our Pennsylvania CDL study guide would give you detailed requirements for each class of a PA CDL.

 CDL Knowledge TestCDL Road Skills Test
Class Aconsists of 70 questionsAfter passing the required knowledge test(s), you need to take a skills test with the type of vehicle you plan to drive. The skills test contains a pre-trip inspection, off-the-road maneuver and vehicle parking exercise.
Skill testing will be taken no more than 15 days after the knowledge testing is passed and a permit is issued.
Class B50 questions and 20 additional questions for passenger, double/triples and tank endorsements. Besides, candidates can expect 30 questions in addition to earn the HAZMAT endorsement.
Class C

It’s such a huge amount of knowledge that you cannot have good preparation without our Pennsylvania CDL study guide and PA CDL practice tests.

How much does the Pennsylvania CDL license cost?

An indispensable part of Pennsylvania CDL study guide fees needed for a CDL. Below is the fee ranked from top to bottom:

CDL with HAZMAT endorsement $110.50
CDL for drivers 65 years old and older with HAZMAT endorsement (valid 2 years)$68
CDL for drivers 65 years old and older (valid 2 years)$52
HAZMAT endorsement$30.50
Revised (for change of address, etc.) or replacement CDL $29.50
Upgrading commercial class or adding endorsement$14.50
Removing restrictions$14.50
Duplicate camera card$5

Things you don’t need!

Don’t need a truck driving school

You may be wondering whether you can skip the whole driving school deal. The answer is yes, you could study, revise and practice with the help of our Pennsylvania CDL study guide along with PA CDL practice tests and then perform for your CDL test without any single school.

Self-studying is obviously much more budget-saving. Moreover, many such useful tools definitely help you a lot to improve your both knowledge and skills as information websites or our driver’s license guide.

Don’t need to pay for your state’s CDL manual

PA’s CDL manual is totally free and you can get it easily online on our reliable websites.

And we have to say, our FREE PA CDL practice tests, whose questions are based on the official CDL manual that has been checked carefully by our brightest minds before publishing, would be very useful for you!

Take our CDL prep tests for other states here!

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