How To Pass The CSWE

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This post is one in a series by Jim Lucas, a CSWP on the road to the CSWE.

So- you’ve passed the CSWP… you’ve taken a bit of a breather, and you’re convinced that you should go to the next level- CSWE.  If you aren’t sure- go to checkout the first article in this series (Why should I go for the CSWE?). Even if you have already decided it is good to double check are you going for the credential or for the knowledge or for the sake of conquest?    For most people it’s a combination of two. I submit that this is NOT the exam to take if you are just going for credentials.  There is a LOT of effort that is involved, and I’m not sure if it’s effectively recognized by industry yet.  You may be better off by investing in another activity. If you have chosen knowledge and conquest, onward!
This is a 10,000 foot strategy.   If you are semi-serious,  I suggest to attempt an intermediate CSWP specialty test every 4-6 weeks, then spend about 2 months studying for the CSWE.  Plan on practicing SolidWorks for about 30 minutes a day.  This will result in getting the CSWE in less than a year.
This could be compressed to about 2-3 months if you study about 3 hours a day for 9 working days- then take an exam.  (Editor’s Note: This timeline can be greatly compressed depending on your skill level in certain areas but those looking for maximum knowledge are wise to take a more thorough and academic approach.)

Three Step Plan to Pass the CSWE

Use the following information to develop your own strategy:
  1. Gather the pre-requisites. You need to pass (3) intermediate tests in addition to the CSWP.  The current list of intermediate tests are below. I have put them in order of difficulty.  Surfacing has the most application to the final Certified SolidWorks Expert exam.  The others will build your modeling stamina, but will not directly help on the exam.  I suggest that you start with the easiest and most relevant to your interest & work, and proceed until you have finished three.
  2. Learn the tricks, there are a number of them on these exams.  I submit that some of them are “bugs” that SolidWorks needs to fix.  You need to know alternate ways to do things.  You also need to not freeze and attempt the same solution if your current methodology doesn’t work the first time.  If it took you less than 5 minutes, and it didn’t work- you should bail out and figure out another way of accomplishing it.  The reason it’s important for you to know this NOW, is because you need to practice different ways of accomplishing the SAME thing.  Do not avoid configurations or equations just because it’s easier for you figure stuff out on a scrap piece of paper. 
  3. Get proficient at some hot keys.   Just like Kobe Bryant doesn’t know every juke (only a few very well- like the cross-over) you don’t need to know every hot key, but there should be some in your arsenal.  Read my article of top 10 speed moves and top 7 configuration settings.  It will get you started in the right direction.
In summary- make a game plan, practice what you don’t know and get fluid.

Let me know what your game plan is.  I’d love to track it and hear about your progress.

Learn How To Pass The CSWE – See The Complete Article Series

Jim is a CSWP and on the road to getting his CSWE.  He works for HawkRidge Systems, an authorized reseller of SolidWorks. Jim also runs i-elf, a product development consulting company.  He can be reached at Jim.Lucas@i-elf.com.


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