Civil 3D Proficiency Exam Cheat Sheet

I may have told this story before but I’m old and I repeat things.  I’m certain I’ll do it again.  Once upon a time I taught AutoCAD to a group of high school juniors.  I was required to test them twice a week with one test provided by the university and the other composed by yours truly.  The university’s goal was for my students to pass the AutoCAD Certification Exam.  My goal was to simply teach them how to draw.

The first week every single student failed the university test.  Only two students failed mine.  I admit to a certain amount of satisfaction when I saw the results but I have a suspicious nature honed by raising six children.  Everybody can’t pass a test anymore than everybody can fail.  What can you learn from a test like that?  I needed a good test.

So I set out to improve mine and after just a few short weeks I started seeing results.  This next part may sound a bit twisted.  My students continued to do poorly on the university test but now more were failing my test too.  What a relief!  Finally, I could objectively evaluate their skills based on their test results and focus their training accordingly.  It’s all about balance.

The final few weeks were so exciting they just flew by.  My young professionals made great progress but hold on to your warm and fuzzies.  The grand inspirational finale you might be hoping for simply did not materialize.  Bummer.

As it turns out, everybody can fail a test and they did.  Not a single one passed that AutoCAD Certification Exam.  In my defense, they could draw and every one of them snagged internships with local companies.  There may be a lesson there somewhere but I don’t have a clue what it might be.

The point of this little excursion is that I don’t want you to fail.  I think you will agree that my Civil 3D test is fairly simple – if you know Civil 3D.  I simply want to know what it is that you know.  Here is what I look for when you take the exam I posted last month.

  1. Finish the exam.
  2. I expect you to be disciplined about managing project data so your project folder is the first place I look.  There should be a project folder and sub-folders for the survey data and design data.  All project folders should have logical, intuitive names.
  3. The new design drawing should have a unique, logical name.
  4. The design drawing coordinate system should be set according to the survey legal description.
  5. The property boundary should be created using transparent commands.
  6. The property boundary labels should be created using a label style with bearings and distances set to a reasonable precision.
  7. The property boundary corner labels should be created using a label style with coordinates set to a reasonable precision.
  8. I’m not as interested in the fence as I am your dimensions.  Dimensioning is one of the most productive features in AutoCAD.  By now you should be a master.  Dimension appearance and precision are critical.
  9. I will not hire you if you cannot create and manage points.
  10. My specialty is surface modeling and I like mine unbelievably simple.  Don’t be sloppy with surface boundaries.  It makes me suspicious of the rest of your modeling.
  11. I am particularly interested in how you determine the high point of the east property line. Here’s a hint: Feature lines are one of the most versatile features in Civil 3D.  It is rare that I build a proposed surface without them.
  12. The proposed surface labels are pure style but here I’m looking at label placement.  No trick.  No razzle-dazzle.  I simply want to see how you label a site.
  13. The two biggest challenges in Civil 3D are layering and naming.  I look hard at layers.  If you get sloppy I will catch you.


This position pays very well.  As I am so fond of saying, they call it the Oil & Gas Industry because you will be able to afford oil and gas.  If you’re interested email me.

This entry was posted in General and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.