The Experience of an Autodesk Certified Examinee
Here’s my experience in taking the Autodesk 3ds Max Design 2011 Certification Exam -- both the Associates and Professional exams:
With a packed schedule, I did not get to prepare until about three weeks before the exam. Even then, I was only preparing during the off hours--in the evenings, when I wasn’t fried from a long day, and on some weekends. I sped through the first few chapters, but worked through most of the later chapters in the Mastering Autodesk 3ds Max 2011 book ($42 on Amazon). I took notes of the new methods I learned, but there was probably much that I forgot, due to the additional stress and fatigue of squeezing an extra weight into my day.
For Autodesk 3ds Max 2011, it took me two tries to pass the Associates, and then I took the Professional exam. The first time through for each exam, I missed the pass by one question. I should have studied harder. I should have played with the features new to this version more--being labeled with a year-date, of course, there would be that one pass-or-fail question I could have answered had I spent time looking at the features new to the version. Like many 3d modelers, my usage of 3ds Max tends to be limited to my “little domain of comfort," and most of my 400+ hours were spent on the select toolset that I’ve become adept at and continually use and reuse. (Moreover, I am typically commissioned to work on only a section of a project -- I don't usually get to use 3ds Max in full bloom.)
When you take the exam, you're not allowed to bring data receiving and transmission devices, such as mobile devices and computers--the exam triage at the Autodesk conference offered a kiosk where we could check in our bags. The Associates exam is closed-book and closed-software; the software will not let you switch to a different screen. Like the practice exam, it’s a monotonous process of selecting radio buttons in a multiple-choice exam. On the flip side, it’s kind of like Trivial Pursuit for Autodesk nerds. But beware--it’s a timed exam, so pace yourself! If you’re unsure about a question, click the “mark" button to review the question later.
I finished the Associates exam early -- should have checked my answers more fully. I missed by one question! The exam software gives a printout of the exam areas, with the questions you got correct or incorrect in each.
The Professional exam is “performance based" and consists of entering text-based data into the exam software according to a set of directions. The exam software lets you open the Help option, but like the Associates exam, the session is otherwise “closed book." Being more of a tactile-action learner with my knowledge base partly “stored" within the context of the software, I felt the closed-software multiple choice nature of the Associates exam was like swimming in the wrong murky waters or groping my way around spiky territory in the dark. This time around, I was working with my hands again (even if my 3dconnexion mouse wasn’t handy nearby). But, the caveat was that I wasn’t working in a setup that I’d grown way too used to.
Continue on Page 2 for more on test setup and additional advice