Monday, May 27, 2013

Prepping for the CLD-R (part 3 of 3)

Last month I wrote about refreshing my Labview skills before I passed the CLD-R exam.  This topic turned into a set of three additional posts.  The first two were about available seminar materials and online help topics.

Now I'll write about the third (and last) thing I did to prep for the test:

Study the sample tests

I found two sample tests that NI had posted on their website for the CLD-R exam.  Who knows - if you dig hard enough maybe there are more.  The first thing I did was take one of the tests as if it were real - no cheating.  Then I followed these steps:

  1. Examined every write answer I got to make sure I understood why.
  2. Looked at every wrong answer to figure out the correct answer.
  3. Researched the specific topics that were a little fuzzy.
  4. Looked online to see if anyone else had worked out answers.  A few examples are here and here.  You can try looking at LAVA as well.
  5. Worked out IN DETAIL every single problem that had code attached to it.  
  6. Took the second test as if it were real.
  7. Repeated steps 1 through 5 for the second test.
  8. Took the first test again.  A couple weeks had passed since I first tried it, which was enough time for me to gauge whether I had improved.
  9. Took a couple days to digest my second pass.
  10. Repeated steps 8 and 9 for the second test.

I know all that effort may seem excessive, but what can I say?  Engineers tend to be like that.  Regardless of the effort involved, following those steps definitely helped me understand the topics NI thought were important for the test.

The fifth step - working the problems out - was particularly useful.  In my opinion just memorizing answers stimulates only one part of your brain.  I created a separate VI for each problem, added as much detail as I needed, and ran the VI until I got a satisfactory (an understandable) answer.  Going through that effort helped to create a sort of "muscle memory" that I could call on during the test itself.  Besides which, I think going over those topics helped me improve my programming skills in general, even if only a little.

So that's all I'm going to write about the CLD-R exam.  Good luck to anyone taking the exam, and I hope this helped.

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