What I would like to talk about today is not how to prepare for a specific exam, like the CSWP (Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional), but prepare you for any SOLIDWORKS exam that you may take.
It doesn’t matter which exam you are preparing to take, this post will hopefully help you get ready. If you are unfamiliar with the SOLIDWORKS Certifications, check out the link below. http://www.solidworks.com/sw/support/mcad-certification-programs.htm
Before embarking on an exam, ask yourself, “Have I attended a SOLIDWORKS certified training class in this specific exam area?” The specialty exams, like Surfacing (CSWPA-SU) and Mold Tools (CSWPA-MT), have classes that focus only on those tools. I believe these are an absolute must in order to prepare for the exam. For the CSWP, it is necessary to sit through the SOLIDWORKS Essentials class (at a minimum). If you attend the Advanced Part Modeling and the Advanced Assembly classes, and are comfortable with all the lessons, then you should be more than ready for the CSWP. If you have not attended any SOLIDWORKS classes, that would be a great starting point. The SOLIDWORKS website (link above) lists the recommended training courses for each exam in case you are unsure of what class to attend.
One thing about SOLIDWORKS training classes offered by CADimensions is that you will learn a lot more than what is on the syllabus. We have had many comments from students about how much they picked up, as well as how much they missed the first time through! We like to include many “tips and tricks” in our classes.
Back to the Certifications. You can find practice exams directly on the SOLIDWORKS website in the quick links portion of the exam description (see below). Consider looking at all the practice exams, even the ones you do not plan on taking. Seeing the differences between practice exams may spark some things that may not have been represented in the first practice exam. It also helps to see and work with different models, in order to build some experience with the techniques SOLIDWORKS is looking for you to know.
The exams focus not only on different tools, but your model’s efficiency and robustness. The best way to test your model’s efficiency is to have a co-worker or friend model the same part or assembly. You can compare which tools you used and see whose model can withstand the most change. This method of learning is one of my favorite. We frequently have little competitions here at CADimensions to see who can obtain the most robust model with the shortest feature tree. We also try to see who can create a feature using the most obscure tools! Many people fall into a “rut” of using the same handful of tools and features to create all their models. This is a bad habit to have when taking a SOLIDWORKS certification.
Last month, I grabbed a screwdriver and decided to model it up. I got out my trusty calipers and started to go to town. I learned quite a bit and it definitely took longer than I anticipated. I’m not sure if that had anything to do with my engineering OCD, or the fact that it just took longer to model. This is a good time to use the tools that you typically would not use on a daily basis so that you can be more prepared for the exam. This also gives you a good idea of how to use some of those obscure tools in conjunction with more common tools that you are familiar with using.
I even learn things from the students I teach, because they seem to go a different direction than I do, based on their industry experience. For example, a machinist may want to cut away the model, whereas, I may not think to do it that way.
Now, if you are interested in the Mold Tools certification, then modeling is not what you are after. Look around for something that was created using a mold (fairly simple) and see if you can create a mold for it. You can even download files from GrabCAD and try to create a mold for them.
If this is your first exam, you may want to take some time and focus on the layout of the exam. You will not want to be overwhelmed by the test before it even begins. Although dual monitors are not required I highly recommended using a dual monitor setup. You will want SOLIDWORKS on your main display and then the exam on the other so that you won’t have to flip back and forth.
Finally, how do you know when you are ready to take the exam? After you have taken all of my advice with the extra modeling, I would go back to the practice exams and try to finish them quicker than the time requirement. Usually, the practice exam says that you should be able to complete it in a specific amount of time. Make sure you can do that and you should be fine.
Also, I know this does not have anything to do with the exam itself, but set yourself up to attempt the exam at a certain time. Otherwise, you may just disregard it. I know if I do not set a time up for myself to take or be ready for the exam, I will keep blowing it off just due to being so busy.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact CADimensions, we will be happy to help you.