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That’s right C-E-R-T-I-F-I-E-D baby! I Passed both the Inventor 2009 Professional and the Civil 3D 2009 Professional.

So after listening to me gripe for months about studying, and dealing with delays in publishing, here’s what went down…

Motivation and AU 07

While most of the people that take this test are validating for their employers, I validate for my self. I can’t help it.  I am self taught, self motivated, and just can’t stand the thought that something is bigger than me, or beyond my capabilities. While planning my 2007 AU classes, I noticed the Inventor Certificate Classes at the last minute, and decided to completely screw up my class schedule at the last minute.  They don’t tell you that it’s too late, you just find out when you get there and you have no class handouts. The cutoff is November something.

I took 3 certificate study classes that all looked at the tests differently.  After Barbara, Nancy, Dan, and Matt were done, I was hooked.  Dan said “If everyone had all afternoon to take the test, no one would fail”. Oooh pressure…(small sadistic grin). Clearly I have issues.

I purchased my tests in January 2008, and studied for the 2008 Inventor Expert and Civil 3D 2008 Expert tests.  I won Dan’s Expert AOTC book in Vegas.  There was only 1 book, and I guarantee the nearby classes knew it when my number was called.  I purchased the User book.  All my books were Inventor books, thinking “I run Civil 3D day in and day out, what do I need a book for?”.  This is the reason people read my blog.  I make every stupid decision know, and then talk all about it.


Autodesk cancelled the Inventor 2008 Expert test (mostly due to candidate fear I suspect, no one would pay to torture themselves that way).  They kindly helped me migrate all my tests over to 2009, so I studied for the 4 new tests.  For Inventor I alternated, reviewing each test’s requirements, and then studied the 2008 AOTC guides from cover to cover. When one AOTC guide was over, I’d go to the next.  During each requirement, I’d study Dan’s course from AU 07.  During the process I’d use everything I studied in various things I was working on. When my exam dates got moved back, I’d repeat the process. This is the way to study for that test.  Trust me.

The way I did Civil is NOT the way to study.  All I could do was to practice a start to finish development, using every option I could find. When the Civil Associate exam went from the performance based user, to the question answer based Associate, I choked.  I have no book.   C%#p!!!!  It was a bit late, but I borrowed a copy of Dana Probert and James Wedding’s 2008 book, and bit down hard.  I skimmed over everything, looking for things that would be in a ‘check all that apply’ question.

Even though I moved up to 2009 tests, I had to keep using 2008 books, because we were slam broke, and couldn’t afford the gas to get to Orlando.

Sample Tests

I begged for sample tests. I begged Barbara, “Pleeeeaaassseee”.  I mean Microsoft has them, and the FAA has them, why can’t I get sample questions?  They just weren’t available.  I thought certainly that if I had the samples, I’d be able to get a feel for how prepared I was.  I was right.

Finally, they were released in December.  Thank you Barbara. This is the #1 thing that you will do to pass your test. Period!

I took every test there was.  The Assessment test is the closest thing to the Associate there is.  I took them both.  The Sample tests parallel the real Professional test, and I took those too. The Inventor Sample test was fun, and I’d do it again just for the heck of it.

Not so for Civil.  The Civil 2009 Professional sample is not a fun test.

Whether fun or not, it seriously showed me deficiencies and I studied the sections that I missed again, especially in the books.  Ever go to a restaurant and see some poor SOB with his family, wife angry from being ignored, 3 huge books stacked in front of him next to his drink.  Yeah, that was me!!!!!

Scheduling 4 tests in 1 day

If you are going to do 4 tests in 1 day, schedule way in advance, but NOT so far that you might change your plans.  If you do have to change your schedule, don’t mention my name.

I said “God, I’m gonna do this, so don’t let me screw it up”.…and then I hit go.  Jan 16th 2009.

I had spent a great deal of time on the phone with IMAGINiT trying to work out the details for previous dates.  The thing is, in order to get the schedule loaded, you have to enter the stuff online.The online scheduling software wouldn’t allow me to force that many tests into 1 day.  I only got 1 day. Autodesk and IMAGINiT put their heads together and over the span of a week, got it worked out.

Radu Stancescu (Inventor) was my original proctor, but he decided to go climb the tallest mountain in the Americas (only because it is the only thing taller than he is), so I needed someone else.  Michael Thomas (Civil 3D, and no shrimp either) stepped up and really worked hard for 2 weeks to get the scheduling all worked out. I don’t think you can be an IMAGINiT instructor unless you are taller than 6’2”.

I got word 48 hours before the test date…..”It’s a go!!”  I packed up my bunch and headed for Orlando.  I showed up the day before, and introduced myself to the IMAGINiT team.  They were very helpful, and Michael agreed to come in early to get a jump on the test.  The next day I showed up before anyone else and tried to get some more study time in…….on ‘Vault’ .  I hear laughter……yes, this is what I saved until the last minute to brush up on.


Soon we were all booted up, and the test began.

I sat for the Inventor Associate test.  60 minutes of interesting fairly interesting questions.  The problem is if I don’t pass this test, half my day is shot.  I have to get through this to get to the Professional.  I passed.

Then the test I have been waiting for: Inventor Professional – 90 minutes of stress filled fun. I reviewed the answers, but unless you can recreate all the models and solutions in 30 minutes, there is not much point.  You just look to see that there is something in the answer field, and suck it up.

I hit the button, the END button. It gives you that “what did I just do” feeling that CAD delivers when it flashes “Do you want to save this…?” You know the gut in your throat feeling because you just hit ‘NO’ without thinking. You realize it’s a mistake, and you try to stop, but it’s too late…You just can’t stop the pick finger. The screen refreshed the results for the certificate I wanted so badly. I jumped out of my chair..

“YYYYYYYYYYYYYEEES! Whooooo!” I walked in circles like I had just made the game winning basket or something.

Lunch time

They let me use their facilities for lunch, and I ate there. If you are going to spend time there around lunch hour, then I recommend bringing your lunch.  The
traffic gets crazy on Colonial Drive, and not the kind of stress you want on test day.  They were very open to me using the kitchen.  I would like to apologize to some of the staff, because I didn’t get everyone’s name that I spoke with.  I was terribly preoccupied. During lunch, the staff asked about the tests, and how I was doing.  A very nice bunch, especially considering being surrounded by the City of Orlando where most people did not seem to care about anything but themselves.

One odd note.  Every time I spoke with the testing facility in previous months, people (no names) would say “You know…..there is a very high failure rate in these tests….”.  After hearing it for the fourth of fifth time, I just say, “thank you, please help me with the dates”.  If Nancy or Michelle read this I’d like to propose another way to say this.  How about “You seriously need to study for these tests. Those individuals that didn’t study, have consistently failed”.  This is a true statement, and doesn’t sound like you want the people to decline the opportunity.  It just made me study harder, but those that are not self motivated might give up after hearing that.

I remember discussing the tests with an individual, and the infamous quote came up again.  I never gloat (I only gloat to my wife because it’s fun to do so), but after hearing “…most people fail…”, it did feel good to say “I’m taking 4 tests, and I’ve passed 2 already”.

This wore off rapidly as I walked into the test room for the last half.

High Noon at the OK Corral

It was like a scene from High Plains Drifter.  I walked in to the test room.  You could hear a pin drop.  Michael looked up from behind his computer like one of the bystanders at a gun fight.

CIVIL 3D!!!  I sat down and entered in my session number.  Civil 3D Associate test was 60 minutes of ‘Check all that apply’, ‘Matching’, and ‘Choose the BEST answer’.  I know the software fairly well, but that test is like grinding salt into an open wound.  I marked half the test to review again.  If there is anything I am going to fail today, it is this.  I reviewed ALL the answers twice!  I suspect I second guessed myself out of a 100% by being so frustrated by the test. Finally I just pulled the plug.  Passed.

The Professional exam was not harder than the sample test, but with half an hour less to do it in, the pressure started to mount.  Let me tell you, I watched that clock. 90 minutes screamed by. I second guessed myself about what format to enter an answer with, and got it wrong.  GRRRR.  I passed THEM ALL.

IMAGINiT was really a great bunch.  They gave me some parting gifts, and wished me luck.

Everyone was so happy……………….to see me go.


It is not like I graduated college or sewed on NCO. It is just that I refused to fail this test, and after an enormous amount of study, and the grace of God, I have passed.  Seriously, any 5 year technician with an AOTC guide and some motivation can pass these tests.  Study the AOTC guides until you are familiar with everything in them.  Take the Sample tests and Assessment tests, and if you pass both and don’t feel confused, you are ready.  Practice your speed!!!! Restudy the AOTC sections that you missed.  Twice!

The Thank You list

I would like to thank the people that generously and kindly gave of their time and patience so I could succeed.  They are listed here, not necessarily in the order of importance, but in the order of patience and grace:

God – “I know I recently asked for a Ferrari, but 1 test is not enough, I need 4”.

Lovely wife on camera (reads a book in an afternoon and CLEPS at 95%+, she extends no pity, but is still there in the restaurant next to the ‘pile of books’ that used to be her husband)

Barbara Bowen – Certification goddess and patience beyond belief.  I feel like I delivered a baby and she was the midwife.

Dan Banach – Master Graphics Director of Learning, His classes were the best investment of my preparation time

Michelle Rasmussen – IMAGINiT Big dog, she bought me an assessment test and helped get the test scheduled properly too

Michael Thomas – Civil 3D Instructor and test proctor at IMAGINiT – This man spent days trying to get all the glitches out of the schedule and test machines before I arrived.

Nancy Tremblay – ATC overlord at Autodesk – She was involved in the beginning, and I appreciate it.

Radu Stancescu – Inventor Instructor and test proctor at IMAGINiT, kind enough to climb down a mountain to see how I was doing.

Allen Tucker – President of my company – First listening to AU 08, and then Certification tests, and still letting me keep my job.

Matt Murphy – Autodesk Certification classes