CDL A memory palace

I am taking my VA (USA) CDL A (first class trucking license) test in a little less than a month and I am looking for better ways to study. The license is for my job in public service.

I have already earned my learners passing four written tests, -General knowledge and endorsements for Hazardous materials, combination vehicles, tanker (volume holding such as milk or gas), and air brakes.

The test in a month is to take a very large dump truck with a big flatbed trailer sixty miles to the nearest testing facility where there will be three separate sections of testing,

    1. Pre-trip inspection where there will be 68 rooms (memory palace topics) and 232 loci (bullet items under said topics, as a driver these days you are expected to be able to point to every single part of the truck, inside the cab, under the hood, under the truck, etc… and identify it and make sure it is functioning and properly maintained.)
    1. A parking lot driving test with cones involving backing and maneuvering. Haven’t even looked at these loci since if you fail the pre-trip inspection you don’t progress further.
    1. A road skills test where you drive around the city, signalling and waiting the right amount of time to stop at railroad tracks etc…, again havent gotten started on this part either. I bought the Xbox one game “truck driver” thinking it would help with this part, which it still may, but so far it appears as if your can drive like it’s Grand Theft Auto Five and still advance your career, which will certainly fail me on the CDL test and be a serious danger to life and my RL personal career.

So far I’m keeping it simple, I bought a deck of cards and have written the topics or “rooms” on each card, this is only for the pre-trip inspection but I’ve got to start somewhere. The cards always go Ace to King starting with Spades, moving to Diamonds, Hearts, and Clubs. The standard pack of bicycle cards has them ascending with spades and diamonds and then descending with hearts and clubs, so I rearranged slightly.

I’ll update as I go but I think since the pre-trip inspection is off road and largely linear, a deck of cards seemed like a good place to start, and then once I can recall all topics in order I can build a palace. The skill test and road test is probably going to be better learned driving before the test. Luckily I have access to the truck I’ll take to the test site as well as the trailer, so it will be important to keep bugging my supervisors about making time to practice, as it’s part of the job but not exactly the task at hand if that makes sense.

I’ll let you know how it goes.



Good luck on the test. I got a CDL many years ago. The hardest part for me was remembering all the details under pressure. Two difficult things were starting the truck at a stop sign on an uphill incline (you can’t roll backwards, and a lot can be going on), and parallel parking with a trailer.

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This is how I would personally approach a test like this:

I would first start by making a list of the major parts of a car and ask myself:

Why does this part even exist?

This is because if you can answer that question then it means that you have gained a logical understanding of that part and so if a car didn’t have that part it would immediately stick out to you and feel “illogical.”

You would think to yourself: “Wait if a car didn’t have X part then the car couldn’t preform Y function which doesn’t make sense”

From here I would make a mind map of all of the parts and write out the interaction they have with each other like: X part supports Y part, X part serves as a backup to Y part ect.

After that I should have a strong logical understanding of how the car operates and I now just turn each part into an image that reflects it’s purpose and store it in a memory palace.

For the road rules that you need to follow I would just do the same thing.

First I would ask myself: “Why does this rule exist?” To build some background logical understanding of the rule.

Then I would make a mind map showing the relationship between all of the rules to see the effect that the rules have on each other (X rule supports Y rule, X rule exist to prevent Y etc.)

Then I would turn each rule into an image that reflects it’s purpose and store it in a memory palace.

Hope this helps.

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