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How to prepare for SolidWorks CSWA certification?

If we refer to earlier times when the engineers used to develop engineering drawings manually by hand, we can agree that it was a very tedious task if not a headache. Although CAD tools have made it easier for us to develop our parts/designs/products there is also an increasing demand for highly skilled CAD tool operators in the engineering domain. Many CAD software companies are pushing for promoting user-friendliness for their technologies in the market. 

 

If you are a Solidworks user and have been using Solidworks for a couple of years to realize your designs you can give the CSWA examination as it shows your credibility on the software and also your design intent. Certified Solidworks Associate i.e. CSWA is one such exam that is intended but not limited to students who have been using Solidworks for their projects. This is the first exam in the Certified Solidworks exam series. So, if you are anyone who has been using Solidworks for long enough that he/ she has got used to the user interface and basic features you can take up the exam too. 

Solidworks certifications add much more value to your resume and communicate your design capabilities well. Although working on projects and gaining hands-on experience is the best credential to have, getting yourself certified will only do better. 

 

Solidworks conducts very interesting competitions for university and school students all across the world where they give student licenses of their software to the participants. The participants can then make their accounts on the my Solidworks website using their official school or university email address. Hence, you can get access to many Solidworks resources which otherwise require you to pay. So if you are someone who is still a student this is the perfect time to get yourself involved in one of their project competitions and break some eggs. You can even reach out to your teachers, if your school has a Solidworks license, your teachers will surely help you with the exam coupons as Solidworks provides 2 exam coupons per year on every license. I myself used this opportunity when I was a student and got myself certified. 

 

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I will share some strategies that I used myself to score all points in my CSWA exam on the 1st attempt. 

 

KNOW YOUR EXAM AND ITS WORTH

While it is tempting to start out wild for your endeavours it is advised to know on what basis you will be tested during the examination. This can be done by visiting the Solidworks certification program page and reading about the CSWA examination. Know that you will be getting 3 hours for the examination (for me this was the most important information as I took almost all 3 hours to complete the exam and submit it). Know that if you are competent in the tool and you want to showcase it then these exams are meant for you regardless of whether you are a student, professional or a business owner in this domain. Remember this exam is the first and foundational step towards your Solidworks certification journey and employers/ customers do notice it when your skills are listed with your credentials. 

 

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PLAN YOUR PREPARATION

After getting a clear idea about the examination you can plan the preparation for it. By planning, I mean planning what to learn and where to learn it from. See where you fall short by referring to the exam syllabus. I mostly relied on the official Solidworks training course for the CSWA but also tried out other exercises where I needed extra effort. YouTube is a good secondary resource.

START THE LEARNING PROCESS

Give some amount of time every day and get comfortable using the tool under time constraints. It may feel tempting to just watch the lectures and take beautiful notes but that alone won’t help as your practical design skills will be tested here not your information retaining capability. So, you must get used to the user interface of Solidworks to be able to finish this exam on time. For me, the process was to complete the official test course provided by Solidworks and then start working on the tool right away. I also made notes for new features and their start/ end conditions. My notes were more like a map for each new feature with its use and capabilities listed around it. 

 

TAKE UP THE SAMPLE EXAM

As soon as you think you are ready for the CSWA exam try the sample exam provided on the official CSWA information page. This is necessary to give you a reality check on your skills. Don’t worry if you did not complete the sample test on time but try to respect the process of taking the test sincerely, remember you’re not proving anything here this is just for self-introspection like all exams are meant to be. In my case, I couldn’t complete the sample exam on time but scored the 70 percent criteria and was confident for the main exam after doing rework on my skills. 

TAKE UP THE EXAM

Finally, take up the exam once you have given the sample exam and have even completed 60 percent of the questions correctly. As waiting for the perfect time is also a time-waster you will have to take a deep breath and dive into it. If you can arrange a secondary screen that will be beneficial because on one PC you can use the Solidworks tool and on another screen, you can answer your questions. Keep the unit system preset to SI (mostly CSWA exam is conducted on this unit system only but check once the exam has started) to avoid confusion. Keep power back up where I live. There are occasional power cuts and one can’t afford a power cut during an important examination. Keep calm and proceed with the exam. The most critical experience is that this exam may try to catch you up on some questions and you will end up wasting much of your time without any input. The moment you feel you’re not progressing on the question in spite of giving enough time then you must realize that is the trick question to be left off. You can come to that later after completing all other questions that way you will be calmer.