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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just recently turned 18 and have started the process of going for my Class 1 license with Air Brake endorsement. I am studying up for the written tests which I will likely do in the next week and after that I will be doing the 20hr "farmers" course at United Driver Training.

I drove tandem grain trucks all summer hauling silage and have driven our single axle grain trucks for several years, also driven a little bit of semi at my cousins farm. I am looking for some tips and tricks from you guys who have been through these programs recently or have lots of experience with trucking in general. What are the instructors looking for? How hard is the test? General advice on how to drive better? Etc.

Thanks
 

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For written tests I would advise going online and taking practice tests, it really helps to show the types of questions they will ask. I just took my Class A CDL license this year and taking practice tests online helped me a ton for the written part especially the air brake test.

For the skills/driving portion of the test the pre-trip inspection is probably the part that needs to be studied the most, for me that's what it was anyway, you need to be able to specifically tell the instructor what you are checking and why. They want to here KEY words as you explain what you are doing during the pre-trip inspection.

From what you said I assume you know how to drive safely and what not. It is basically like the driving test you take for your car license just with a bigger rig. Make sure to EXAGGERATE your safe driving skills, such as turning your head when checking your mirrors and covering the brake pedal with your foot when coming to an intersection while looking for traffic coming from both directions. Make sure to be verbal when driving, telling the instructor what your looking for as you drive and why you are doing certain things (like the covering of the brake before intersections). If you can prove you are a very safe driver the instructor may relax a little bit which may help your score and he may let some little things slide (possibly). They are testing to see if you will be a good driver on the road.

I assume you are able to back a trailer fairly well, but don't feel over confident with your backing ability make sure to practice at least a little bit. I didn't practice at all and I did fine but I had to use a pull ahead on the backing lane change test which costed me points (still embarrassed by that one :eek: one of the easier backing tests and I managed to screw it up haha.)

Now some of this may not apply since I do not know how these tests are like up there in Canada, but that is basically what I experienced here in Minnesota.

Here is a link to the practice tests I used: Free Minnesota CDL Practice Test Questions : 2014 CDLTest.co

Probably won't help since your not in Minnesota but it could possibly help and there are a lot more sites with practice tests just use google.

Good Luck with your testing!

Calen
 

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In general the examiners are good people who want you to pass. They realize that you cant get experience if dont get your licence and are more just making sure you know how to control the truck safely. They arent out to get you was some advice I got before I got my class one. Made me not so nervous.
 

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Google pre trip inspection. A driving school out of Ontario put one on u tube and memorize it. That is when most driven tests are screwed up and never leave the parking lot. Or in you drivers manual there is a list of things for the pretrip inspection listed out. Also you need to back up around a corner and stop at a pre determined spot as if you are backing up to a dock. That's where I screwed up the first time. Just remember that you are writing a commercial drivers license, not a grain truck license. And There will be some questions about dangerous goods or oversize loads on the tests possibility.
 

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I recently got my 1a in Saskatchewan, but I just challenged the test rather than going to school. I'll go through it all now.

Written tests: I had to write 7 tests which included signs, class 5,4,3,2,1, and the air brake test. It wasn't overly difficult, but I had a time limit of 1 hour, so you needed to know your stuff.

The road test: This consisted of 4 parts. When I arrived at the drivers examiners office, they had a brake system on a stand and I had to properly adjust the brake. They also asked some verbal questions about checking brakes, how much slack, etc. Duration: 5mins

Part 2 was the air brake test. Just follow the manual on this one and your fine. Look over your truck and know what each part does, the proper time durations, pressures, what cracking the supply/service line do, etc.

Part 3 is the circle check: You should start a routine and do it for a few weeks before the test. You cannot overkill this one.

Part 4 is the driving test: if you have been driving for a while and are comfortable with shifting, than this is the easy part. I went out of town and did a 3-point turn at a gravel intersection, than back into town into a quite district for your turning. 15 mins.

The thing to keep in mind is they just don't hand you a 1a. You have to show that your an intelligent and competent driver.
 

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Very recently have help some guys with class 1 tests in Manitoba. Most important thing is to know the pre-trip and air brake tests. If anything know the air test the best because if you pass it and fail the rest, the next time you go for the test the tester will tell you all the steps for the air brake portion. For the pre-trip be thorough, point at anything and everything as they do not dock you for checking something that is not on the list. The tester is mostly concerned with you stating what to check than you actually doing it, such as engine oil you only need to point at the dipstick and say check oil level. There are time limits on the pre-trip and air but the combine the limits together so if you missed something on pre-trip and think of it during the air test you can still say it. Also do not be worried about the time limits as they are long enough that if you know your stuff at all you will have lots of time to spare.

When you arrive for the test before going in the building to register unlatch the hood but do not open it (saves time during pre-trip), bleed off air pressure (saves time during test) and place chock blocks on ground beside truck (saves time and serves as a reminder when doing walk around to chock wheels which can be done anytime after checking that the parking brake is applied and before releasing it during the air test. Another helpful thing is to have the box the flares (orange triangles) are in sitting in the cab between the seats so they are easy to find and mention during the test.

When you arrive for the test make sure you have a tape measure and chalk with you to mark and measure the slack adjusters, test receipt, and both truck and trailer registrations. Can't tell you how many guys I've talked to that weren't able to do the test because they didn't have the trailer registration with them.

In Manitoba the backing up is about as simple as it can get. You start with the truck parked beside the pylons, pull up in front of the pylons and back up in-between them. Timer starts when the truck starts moving and the tester is outside watching.

The last big question that everyone always seems to have is double clutching. In Manitoba you are not required to double clutch on the test (confirmed this with multiple testers). The shifting requirements are that if you miss a shift you manage to find a gear and continue on without coming to a stop. When you come to a stop at a light or stop sign the transmission must be in a gear with your foot on the clutch. You must downshift your gears, no coasting and putting it in gear just before stopping. No shifting in intersections or while crossing railroad tracks.

If you can find a truck with an automatic transmission, Manitoba it one of the few places left that allows you take the test with an automatic and still have a full class one, most other provinces will put an auto only restriction on your license if you use an automatic for the test.
 

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Ask around for a good place to test drive. Yorkton is the worst. Between lights he wanted me to go up 13 gears and down 13 gears. A pro can't do that. He had me turning corners that is not a truck route and a pro would be challenged. Double clutch even when you split both up and down. Stop in gear. Drive the route ahead. If you get Gary in yorkton fake a sudden illness
 

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The driving is the easy part just follow all the rules. Watch out for stale green lights I got docked for driving thru a yellow light I thought it was fine and that lost me a point on my drivers exam. Make sure you listen to thier advice when they correct you it's part of thier exam if you can listen well. My examiner said farm kids always pass as long as they don't do anything stupid like run over a curb or blow a red light. I got mine first try about 15 years ago had two mistakes it you were allowed three minor ones. Ask around and find out which town has the bad examiners and avoid them.
 

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If you're comfortable shifting with tandems already that's a big step. After that just controlling a trailer and knowing how wide to take corners. The backing portion in Manitoba tests is extremely easy, they really should make you back around a 90 degree corner.

The pre trip stuff isn't that hard. The airbrake becomes like counting, you just know what comes next after doing it a few times.

Like others have said the important thing is the examiner... My first time I got a guy bringing me down single lane residential streets with blind corners and boulevards. No way to make some of those corners unless you know them ahead of time or have a 20ft trailer, and I didn't have either of those benefits. Second examiner just took me around big industrial parks, it was a piece of cake. Neither of them cared really how I shifted, or if I pulled into neutral a few hundred meters before stopping, etc. But ya, over exaggerate your safe practices. Signal everywhere, two hands on the wheel while turning it, slow down and break your neck at railroad crossings.

This was in Winkler.
 

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pre trip is huge and if you fail who gives a ****, just take it again next week.​
Also if you can find an automatic it would make it a lot less stressfull if your not very good at shifting......(if you cant find them, grind them)​
 

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In Saskatchewan if you don't shift across intersections they will dock you marks and you will fail. Could you imagine if every semi stayed in first gear crossing intersections or going around a corner from a red light, there would be traffic backed up everywhere.
 

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Remeber you dont get extra points for a long trailer. I know you can handle a 53ft but just saying if you take a shorter one then you can put your attention to the rest of your driving.

Its basically a hyped up class 5 test. In other words if a pedestrian is even walking towards a cross walk from a block away-stop.
 

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Its quite a few years ago now that I went for my class 1, had my class 3 for years before that which allowed me to grandfather the air brake endorsement when that came into effect so I've never exactly taken a Canadian course, a US course through an oilfield company though.

What I was going to add is that in all likely hood its easier to do the driving portion in a small town if they come there every so often as I prebooked the test since they only came once every two weeks or so. For all I know the written and driven tests could have changed in Alberta since I did them and sounds like its a province by province thing with what is expected, odd but yet there it is. That's why its good to go through even a basic course within the province you will take the test as they will give you a heads up on what to expect.

- At that time, I was told NOT to shift within the intersection and that was a tough one to keep from doing, again that may have changed since then.

- At an uncontrolled intersection with a stop sign, be sure to STOP at the recommended distance to the intersection first before proceeding by inching ahead with a blind type intersection where one just about has to stick the nose of the truck onto the road being crossed just to see down it if its clear. If one doesn't quite stop and inches ahead trying to gain a view of the crossed road in both directions before coming to a stop, that could be a fail right there.

- Don't squeeze over to the side of the lane or beyond the white line if making a RH turn and a relatively short turning lane is coming up so trying to compensate because of crawling along slower then other traffic that wants to get by, just follow the highway markings and too bad if other vehicles are stacking up behind a slowing down truck.

- Work on the cancelling of the turn signal if one isn't used to a highway tractor that doesn't self cancel the turn signal as I doubt the examiner would be impressed with a driver going along with the signal on because you forgot to cancel it to off once the turn was completed.

- Use that right side mirror !, its a habit some get into in using the left hand mirror way too much and not checking what is happening on the right side. Use that neck of yours and pretty much turn it back and forth in a 180 so they KNOW your looking out the side windows and both mirrors.

- Don't speed .... self explanatory there but easily done if in high speed traffic that regularly goes above the speed limit, speed on your own time, not theres !

- Be sure to do your practicing of driving, backing in both directions around a 90 degree corner hopefully in one fluid motion and so on in the very same truck and trailer you will take your test in. Be able to back and NOT look through the rear window if the truck is so equipped as you have to be able to drive as though it doesn't exist. Have all your windows and mirrors nice and clean for the test as well as all truck lights, trailer lights.

- Be sure the unit is mechanically sound and of all the crazy things, that the steering wheel horn works ( you would be surprised how many trucks have that fail on them, corrosion etc ) .

- Read the test books over and over and for all classes other then the motorcycle so you know taxi rules ... bus rules and remember all those measurements they lay out in the book.

- Above all, be a nice courteous person, not a know it all who starts telling the examiner the rules of the road or the mechanics of the truck and so forth. Another words be a nice humble Canadian and that will give you some some leeway if you do something not quite right and he explains what you should be doing differently. If you piss an examiner off by being a very annoying person, that isn't in your favor at all.

Perhaps somewhere in there might be a helpful hint you can tuck away.
 

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When I took the driving exam in Alberta a year or two ago, I asked the examiner about shifting across intersections. He said it's not a problem, go ahead and drive normally. If you stall in an intersection, that's just an embarrassment (and of course you fail the test), not life threatening usually. So I shifted normally as I crossed intersections.

Crossing a rail track, that's another story. If you stall there, you could get hit and die, so that one's important to follow strictly.

Also asked him about using the hi lo splitter and he said go ahead if I wanted to. With an empty truck I never bothered to, though.

So I guess the take-away is that you might ask the examiner questions about things you've heard online, rather than take them for granted as true.
 

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I agree Yorkton is a tough place to take test. I thought I was a decent driver but failed twice. I also failed the air test once which was kind of frustrating. I was pumping the brake to see when they would come on. The brake knob only came out halfway (which I have never had happen before) I wasn't sure what to make off that so I reached over and touched it to see if it had come out all the way. It came out all the way when I touched it and the instructor promptly failed me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
For you Manitobans who are experienced with this: MPI told me that I need my Class 5F before I can get my Class 1 drivers. Is this true? I have friends at feed mills and truck shops telling me that its bs and I know of several truckers who are 19 or 20 with a year of experience already... is this a new regulation??? If this is true I would have to wait another year and a half to get my license, which would kind of throw a wrench into my plans of going on a harvest run next summer and my winter employment.
 

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Out of curiosity I came up with this site which you referred to and am just assuming its up to date information. From how I interpret it, you would need the class 5 I license to take the driving course, get the required eye and medical tests and then once that is complete you would be legal to drive the truck "IF" a class 1 holder is riding along. Scrolling down that list of requirements to D. only after you have a full class 5F license will they allow you to take the driven portion of the test to finally get your Class 1.

So by the sounds of it you can start the procedure and get the first part out of the way and actually be legal to practice with someone and as to that class 5 F, you would have to find out how long from now it would be before you can obtain that.


Manitoba's Class Licence System
 
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